We are very interested in joining Exercise Malabar: Julie Bishop
- Ms Julie Bishop, Australian foreign affair minister, talk about the deepening economic and strategic relation between India and Australia.
- Australia Foreign Affair minister insisted to achieve an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region in which the rights of all states are respected.
- Indo-Pacific embraces India and the nations of the Asia Pacific not just geographic description but the strategic and economic dynamics of our broader region.
- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
- The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by talks between member countries.
- It is a natural extension of these mini-lateral relationships and one of important subgroupings in the Indo-Pacific. It will allow our four nations (Japan, Australia, India and US) to discuss all matters of common interest.
- Australia already has a trilateral strategic dialogue with the U.S. and Japan
- Australia will engage with partners to shape region at a time of geostrategic and technological and economic change.
- Australia pulled out of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue years ago. The Labour government that pulled out because of apprehensions over how this might play out with Australia’s economic relationship with China.
- Australian government said that they undermine the importance of India and said that India has significant strategic partner for Australia and share converging interests, particularly in the Indian Ocean.
- Australian government has pointed out that relationship with India is at stronger pace based on these key pillars:
- Security cooperation
- Economic engagement
- People-to-people links
- India and Australia government has expanded greatly in the field of security and defense relationship.
- Australia government has joint exercises across all three services and we’ve most certainly got a shared interest in maritime security, upholding international law, regional stability and countering violent extremism.
- India is becoming increasingly integrated with the economies of East Asia and North Asia.
- Malabar naval exercises
- Malabar is a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S., and Japan where Australia wasn’t invited to join the exercise.
- Austria minister said that they possess interest in joining Exercise Malabar but was not giving priority to the deepening of our bilateral exercises.
- She said Australia and India are natural defense partners. Both the country conducted the second iteration of the bilateral navy exercise AUSINDEX in June 2017.
- AUSINDEX is a bilateral exercise aims to enhance interoperability and professional interaction between Australia and India for strengthening defense cooperation between both countries.
- Australia and India also maintain a regular programme of dialogue and reciprocal ship visits.
- Australia has envisaged its engagement with Asia as ASEAN’s which is central to regional architecture.
- The U.S. has been the dominant power in Australia but in current scenario the relative strategic weight of China and other regional powers, including India, is growing in the region.
- The national security statement of recent times speaks about the Indo-Pacific as an area of significant priority for U.S. foreign policy.
- India Economic Strategy
- India is already seventh largest trading partner in terms of two-way trade.
- Australia has focused on ensuring India as a priority economic partner.
- Strategy of India Economic Strategy include:
- Identifying practical measures
- Deepening trade and investment ties
- Building on similarities between our economies
- Providing a roadmap to cement Australia as a priority economic partner for India out to 2035.
- India Economic Strategy will have a discussion between prime minister and the National Security Committee to give it a final shape.
- Australia has emerged as a major destination for Indian students. But majority of Indian students who arrive have opted to getting employed there as they finish their course.
- This reflects the employment opportunities that Australia has offer.
- Australia has provided a flagship programme called New Colombo Plan to supporting more Australian students to study abroad this is much more two-way exchange than there has been in the past.
- Scholarship scheme
- The New Colombo Plan is providing opportunities for Australian undergraduates to undertake part of their study in a country in our region.
- Forty locations have partnered with Australia on the New Colombo Plan and so Australian students have this opportunity to live, study and undertake internships.
- It will give them an unparalleled opportunity to understand the region in which we live, become more aware of the culture, political, economic, social side of the countries in the Indo-Pacific and enable them to create networks and lifetime connections
- India-Australia nuclear agreement
- Australia is an important partner to supply uranium to India. The first sample for testing took place in July 2017.
- Australia has a framework for uranium producers to engage with Indian uranium customers.
- Australian government remains prepared to support commercial shipment to India.
- When U.S. pull out deal from the Iran, Australia has recognized that it’s by no means a perfect agreement but in the absence of a viable alternative, they have supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
17. Paris-Delhi-Canberra axis
- France has called for the creation of a new strategic alliance among France, India and Australia to respond to challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and the growing assertiveness of China.
- France had talked about a Paris-Delhi-Canberra axis, as a regional structure. In regards to this the Australian government forecasted a positive response to it.
- France has interests in both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
- Australia and India have complementary interests in the Indian Ocean.
- Australia is considered its cooperation through the Indian Ocean Rim Association, where Australia and India are members and France is a dialogue partner
- France have mooted for the idea of a three-way partnership which include Australia, India and France in relation to the Indian Ocean.
Keeping each other on edge
N.L Rajah, a Senior Advocate of Madras High Court discusses the conflict between executive and judiciary
- The tussles between the executive and judiciary has long history
- Historical examples:
- The case of Moro Raghunath-Conflict between Government of Bombay and Supreme Court, 1829:
In this case Governor of Bombay presidency refuses to obey the order of Supreme Court. Governor wrote to the court to refrain itself from case. The judges and the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Bombay felt that it was an attempt to influence them and impede the course of Justice. The conflict was resolved by the intervention of the Privy Council
- Emergency in India (1975-77)
- In UK: Abolition of Lord Chancellor
In 2003, UK government abolished the Lord Chancellor and declared the establishment of Supreme Court. This resulted in a large-scale public debate. The erstwhile Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor started discussions involving judiciary and the government on the principles that should govern the establishment of Supreme Court. The Constitution Reform Act, 2005 to large extent resolved the tensions between executive and judiciary
- NL RAJAH suggests that the tussles between executive and judiciary could be resolved amicably within the larger constitutional framework.
Small farmers get raw deal
According to an RBI report, small farmers get only 30-40% of agricultural credit meant for the farm sector.
- The priority sector lending mandate does not mention about the target of lending
- According to RBI rules, 18% of banks’ Adjusted Net Bank Credit should be provided to the agricultural sector. Small and marginal farmers should receive 8% of the total credit provided to the agricultural sector.
- Highlights of RBI’s Report
- Small farmers received only 42.2% of agricultural credit disbursed in 2016-17
- Rural-Urban Divide: Rural farmers received only 34.5% of agricultural loans outstanding as of 2017
- The burden of providing agricultural credit has been on public sector banks- In 2017, 12 out of 23 private sector banks failed to meet RBI’s lending target
- Disparity in performance between states: Example: Meghalaya gives 93.6% of its agricultural credit to small and marginal farmers. On the other hand, in Sikkim, agricultural credit provided to small and marginal farmers accounts for only 1.6%
- The data from RBI report highlights that the priority sector lending is poorly targeted. This problem of targeting arises out of lending costs.
- Banks tend to lend large farmers or farmers close to urban areas as the cost of lending is low.
- There is an urgent need to examine the priority sector lending mandates and bring necessary changes.
Nipah Virus Outbreak
- The recent outbreak of Nipah Virus infection in Kerala
- Nipah Virus is a contagious and deadly virus which was first identified in Malaysia in 1999
- The virus figures in the WHO’s list of 10 priority pathogens needing urgent research
- The virus is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus and mutates very fast
- The death rate from the Nipah virus is estimated to be about 70%.
- Symptoms: encephalitis, brain inflammation, disorientation, after-effects such as convulsions
- The natural host of the virus is fruit bats
- According to a WHO report, a major cause of the outbreak of bat-related viral infections is the loss of bat’s natural habitats. Loss of natural habitats forces bats to move near urban areas.
- According to a study in Malaysia, rapid urbanization leading to the destruction of bat-rich rainforests contributed to the outbreak of Nipah virus
- Nipah virus infection generally has a stuttering chain of transmission- Once the virus moves from bats to humans; it generally spreads to people in close contact with the patients
8. During 2007 outbreak in Nadia, West Bengal, after the first patient got infected, the virus generally spread among close contacts and caregivers. A similar pattern is observed in the current outbreak.
9. This highlights the fact the spread of the virus can be restricted by taking preventive measures. Proper infection control should be practised.
10. Important preventive measures for hospital staff include using masks, a strict hand wash routine.
A sweet break on Asian Highway 1
- Rahul Karmakar has expressed his view about the National Highway 37 and the achievement of Sitajakhala Dugdha Utpadak Samabai Samiti Ltd. cooperative society.
- The National Highway 37 that ran from Goalpara in western Assam to Roing in Arunachal Pradesh is now part of National Highway 27.
- National Highway 27 is India’s second longest highway from Porbandar in Gujarat to Silchar in southern Assam.
- The National Highway 37 is the lifeline of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur.
- In three decades, National Highway has witness huge changes leading to two-lane road to a concrete four-lane highway which is part of the East-West Corridor.
- The Reporter has stated the growth story of the Sitajakhala Dugdha Utpadak Samabai Samiti Ltd. cooperative society.
- Sitajakhala had started in 1961 with 17 cattle farmers. Today, 900 members produce 15,000 liters of milk per day to help Sitajakhala record a turnover of ₹50 crore.
- The launch of the Gonand brand in 2015 was a grand Success for Sitajakhala Dugdha Utpadak Samabai Samiti Ltd. cooperative society.
- The Success of Sitajakhala Dugdha Utpadak Samabai Samiti Ltd. cooperative society has led to beginning of white revolution in the state.
Draft Air Passenger Charter
- Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has released the Draft Air Passenger Charter
- The Draft Air Passenger Charter aims to improve passenger experience in India
- Key Provisions:
- Passengers will be compensated if an airline is at fault for any delay. Passengers are eligible for a full refund if a domestic airline cancels a flight 1 day before departure or delays it for more than 4 hours.
- Delay resulting in flight departing next day- Airline to provide free hotel stay
- Compensation for missing connecting flights: Rs. 5000-Rs.20000
- Free Cancellation of air tickets 24hrs of booking and within 4 days before scheduled departure
- Cancellation charges cannot be more than the sum of basic fare and fuel surcharge.
- Compensation for lost baggage: Rs. 3000/kg. Compensation for delayed or damaged baggage: Rs. 1000/kg
- Grievances regarding non-payment of compensation can be filed on AirSewa App
Premature Deaths due to Air Pollution: Study
- According to a recent study, air pollution is the principal reason for high number of premature deaths in 11 North Indian cities
- The study titled ‘Know what you breathe’ has been conducted jointly by IIT-Delhi and Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED)
- The study was conducted in 11 cities: Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Varanasi and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Patna, Gaya, and Muzaffarpur in Bihar and Ranchi in Jharkhand
- The study calculated annual mortality burden. It used averages of recorded deaths caused due to: i) Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), ii) Acute Lower Respiratory Infection (ALRI), iii) Coronary Disease, iv) Stroke and v) Lung Cancer
- Major Findings of the Study:
- Mean annual ambient PM2.5 concentration: 75-120%. This is higher the Indian annual air quality standard in the 10 of the 11 cities.
- Level of PM2.5 exposure has been moving downward from west to east of the Indo-Gangetic plain.
- Highest increase of PM2.5 in Varanasi- Increase of 28.5 microgram / m3 in last 17 years
- Annual particular matter exposure: Highest in Meerut (99.2 ug/M3)followed by Agra and Lucknow
- Sources of annual ambient PM2.5 concentration: residential (73.8%) followed by industry, transport and energy sectors
- Annual Mortality Linked to Air pollution: 150-300 persons/ lakh population
- The highest number of premature deaths/year: Kanpur (4,173) followed by Lucknow, Agra, Meerut, Varanasi, Allahabad and Gorakhpur
- Largest cause of mortality burden: COPD (29.7%)
- Lowest cause of mortality burden: Lung cancer (0.6%)
- ALRI largest cause of mortality burden in Agra and Meerut; COPD in other cities
- According to the report, the achievement of Indian air quality standards in these 11 cities would reduce premature mortality burden by 14-28% annually
Trade in Tokay geckos continues in Bengal
- Border Security Force have reported the smuggling of three Tokay geckos from West Bengal’s Malda and Murshidabad districts.
- About Tokay geckos
- Tokay gecko is a lizard species with orange-spotted blue-grey skin.
- It is protected under the Schedule III of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act.
- Tokay geckos are one of the largest geckos alive today which can grow up to 14 inches in length.
- Tokay geckos are insectivorous, and eat pests such as cockroaches.
- Tokay geckos communicate vocally to find members of the opposite sex during the breeding season.
- Tokay geckos are found from northeast India to the Indo-Australian Archipelago and tropical rain forests.
- The Siliguri Frontier of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in north Bengal seized 24 tokay geckos between November 2017 and April 2018.
- The Expert from wildlife have raised the concern arguing that:
- The seizures at border checkpoints would yield no results unless there was some intervention at the forests and habitats from where the animal was seized.
- Smugglers raised false hype about the medicinal value of these wildlife species to create a demand for them both within and outside India.
- Wildlife Crime Control Bureau said the high rate of smuggling of Tokay geckos have led them to bring under the Schedule III of wildlife protection Act.
- Tokay geckos which is above 13 cm in length and over 350 grams in weight fetch exorbitantly high prices in China and parts of South Asia.
- May 22 is observed as International Day for Biological Diversity.
Model Law for Contract Farming
- Recently, the government has released a model law for contract farming: Model Agriculture Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2018
- Reduce farmer’s risk by providing an assured market for the produce
- Encourage investment from agribusiness and food processing industries
- Key features:
- Applicable to crops, livestock, dairy and poultry products
- Provides for setting up State-level boards to promote contract farming, registering and recording agreements between buyers and sellers
- Provides for setting up of a dispute settlement authority
- Sponsors cannot develop any permanent structure on farmers’ land
- Seeks to keep contract framing outside the ambit of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act
Humans form only a minuscule part of life on earth: Study
- According to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, though humans form a tiny fraction of all life forms on Earth, they have a massive impact on the environment
- The recent study is the most comprehensive global census of living organisms
- The researchers calculated dry biomass (dried organic mass; excluding water) of all organisms using information from different studies.
- Important Findings:
- Biomass of Plants accounts for 80% of earth’s biomass and outweigh human by 7500 to 1
- Bacteria represent 13% of worlds’ biomass
- Fungi, mold and mushrooms account for 2% of the total biomass
- Domesticated animals overweigh wild animals. For example, domesticated cattle and pigs outweigh all wild animals by 14 to 1.