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GS 2

Green shoots of revival

Article:

  1. Rajiv Bhatia, a former Ambassador has talked aboutoutcomes of 4th BIMSTEC summit.

Important Analysis

2. The 4th BIMSTEC summit in Nepal has ended with some hope and doubts.

3. Author has made the evaluation on the basis of past performance.Last two years seems to be promising for BIMSTEC meet.

4. Author has discussed positive outcomes of the Summit and the concern in the same context.

5. Positive outcomes.

  • Various stakeholders like BIMSTEC leaders, officials, experts and business shown strong desire for institutional foundation.
  • Drafting charter for BIMSTEC which will be the foundation of working of BIMSTEC grouping in future.
  • So far it was based on the Bangkok Deceleration of 1997.
  • Setup of Permanent working committee and Rule of Procedure to provide the directions.
  • Additional finance and human resources promised to the secretariat to enhance its role.
  • Provision for BIMSTEC development fund to enhance the efficiency.
  • Narrow down the area of cooperation currently from 16 to few core areas for better coordination and effectiveness.
  • Thailand has proposed five pillars to focus on namely (viz. connectivity, trade and investment, people-to-people contacts, security, and science and technology).

6. Concern raised by Authors.

  • Six legal agreements pending for approval. Only one, the Memorandum of Understanding on Grid Interconnection could be formalized.
  • Discussion on Free Trade Agreement was not convincing among BIMSTEC members.
  • Only Thai Prime Minister call for Free Trade Zone for BIMSTEC by 2021 as a common goal.
  • Delay in operationalization of Energy center which was established in 2009 by members.
  • Indian Prime Minister has been continuously emphasizing ontrade connectivity, economic connectivity, transport connectivity, digital connectivity, and people-to-people connectivity.
  • However delay in finalizingMotor Vehicle Agreement and the Coastal Shipping Agreement is a matter of concern.
  • Group is not clear about holding BIMSTEC summit whether it should be annually or timely based on the degree of progress.

7. Author has also discussed present status in various sector.

  • Plans to restore the Business Forum and the Economic Forum for better engagement of business and industry.
  • Cooperation in security domain has been progressing satisfactorily.
  • Meeting of National Security Advisors and First meeting of Army chiefs in coming months.
  • Establishment of forums for parliamentarians, universities, cultural organizations and the media community.
  • Security, connectivity and development has been seen as a common goal.

8. Finally Nepalese Prime Minister has urged the commitments from all grouping member to deliver on common goals.

 

Talks on for logistics deal with Russia

News:

  1. India and Russia are in the process of concluding a logistics agreement.

Important facts:

2. Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to each other’s military facilities for fuels and rations between countries.

3. The proposed agreement is expected to be on the lines of those signed with U.S and France.

4. It also calls for mutual agreement on simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround of military.

5. India signed Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with U.S. in August 2016.

6. India has also concluded such an agreement with France, Oman, The Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

7. This is basically aimed at increasing operational flexibility with long-term partner.

 

India, Cyprus vow to curb money laundering

News:

  1. India to sign agreement on money laundering and in the field of environment with Cyprus.

Important facts:

2. India is the fastest growing major economy in the world with the rate of 8.2% in the third quarter.

3. Cyprus has the niche (uniquely specific) expertise in financial services and investment banking which can provide much scope for deepen investment partnership.

4. Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement was revised in 2016, which led to the expansion of opportunities for the investment ties between the two countries.

5. Memorandum of Understanding has now been signed between Financial Intelligence Unit, India and Unit for Combating Money Laundering of Cyprus.

6. It seeks to further strengthening the institutional framework to facilitate investment cross-flows.

7. Mr. Kovind also held discussion on the prospects of promoting business collaboration in the field of IT and IT-enabled services, tourism, shipping and renewable energy.

8. They not only reviewed bilateral ties but also their multi-lateral engagements on global issues.

 

Xi offers $60 bn aid to Africa

News:

  1. China’s efforts for Africa’s all round progress through bolstering industry, countering hunger and enhancing security.

Important Facts:

2. President Xi Jinping announced the fund during the third summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, held in Beijing.

3. The outcome of the summit are:

  • Eight focal areas across trade, investment, infrastructure financing and aid were highlighted.
  • Setting up additional economic and trade cooperation zones to promote industrialization in Africa.
  • Local currency settlements, instead of hard currency usage such as the U.S. dollar, would be encouraged to settle transactions.
  • African countries will be able to tap new multilateral lenders such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the New Development Bank (NDB) of the emerging economies, as well as the Silk Road Fund marshaled by China.
  • Bolstering African security was openly flagged with the energy, transport, telecommunication and cross-water resource tapping as are on China’s radar for next phase of Africa’s infrastructural forays.
  • Peace and security fund in partnership with Africa will be set up.
  • 50 China-Africa assistance programmes will be launched under the flagship Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
  • China-Africa ‘green envoys programme’ to muscle Africa’s capacity for environmental management, pollution prevention and control, as well as green development program.
  • A China-Africa environmental cooperation center, for research on environmental issues, is announced.
  • Out of $60 billion that were on offer, For aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, Credit line Special fund for China Africa Development, Special fund for African importsChina’s also promised support to Africa for achieving ‘general food security by 2030’.
  • Chinese support will be extended to the countries in the Sahel region and others bordering the piracy-ridden Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Guinea.

4. China has already established a naval base in Djibouti on the edge of the strategic Gulf of Aden, which links the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.

5. China’s ties with Africa were ‘upgraded’ three years ago during the Johannesburg’s Summit of the Forum in which China had announced 10 major plans for ‘in depth’ development of Africa.

 

GS 3

Panel urges plan to save springs

News:

  1. NITI has requested government to prepare a dedicated mission to revive Himalayan Springs.

Important News:

2. Springs plays an important role in Indian Himalayan region as it provides water for drinking and irrigation.

3. States spanning across North and North east heavily dependent on these natural source of ground water.

3. Causes leading to declining of Himalayan Springs.

  • Urbanization has caused rapid development in the region and posing threat to climate.
  • Half of the perennial spring are drying up causing acute shortage of water in surrounding area.

4. In a recent report, 60 % of low discharge springs has declined during last decade.

5. Report has reminded Shimla Water crisis in past where.

  • More than Half dozens of district in Himachal Pradesh including Shimla faced severe drinking water crisis.
  • Poor water management was the main cause of the crisis and reduced snow melt further contributed in water shortage.

6. Reports also highlighted the pollution in spring’swater due to man-made and anthropogenic activity.

  • Microbial content, sulphates and nitrates were primarily because of anthropogenic reasons
  • Contamination from fluoride, arsenic and iron was mainly derived from geogenic sources.
  • Coliform bacteria in spring water originated from septic tanks, household wastewater, livestock facilities, and manure lagoons.
  • Nitrate sources were septic tanks, household wastewater, agricultural fertilizers, and livestock facilities.

7. Report has provided some statistical data on spring water availability.

  • Meghalaya with 3,810 villages with springs had the highest number Eastern Himalayan.
  • Sikkim had the greatest density with 94%.
  • Jammu & Kashmir had both the highest number of villages with springs at 3,313 and the greatest density of 50.6 %.

8. Report has noticed the increasing demographic pressure on Indian Himalayan Regions and made following recommendations.

  • Collaborative and Multi-disciplinary approach required for managing springs.
  • Community-support system for spring water management.
  • 8-year programme to overhaul spring water management through preparing a digital atlas of the country’s springsheds, training para-hydrogeologists and introduction of a Spring Health Card.

 

When the levee breaks

Articles:

  1. Sujatha Byravan, a scientist has talked about calamities arising from extreme weathers.

Important Analysis.

2. Author has made an argument,that metrological events may trigger the natural disaster but the main causes are different.

3. Damage in the Kerala hasnot only caused by heavy rain but it is also attributed to

  • Mismanagement of reservoirs
  • Illegal constructions
  • Destruction of forest and land use patterns
  • Along with heavy rain due to extreme weather has caused severe damage in Kerala.

4. Extreme events has also been experienced by other parts of the world.

5. Climate getting warmer causing dry condition and fire. Such as Sweden and Norway experienced wildfires due to heat waves.

6. Due to extreme weather, the frequency of cyclones, heavy downpours, flood, and droughtare very frequent in different part of the world.

7. Separate pattern of destruction has been noticed when extreme weather interacts with local activities such as

  • Landslides in Hilly areas due to little vegetation.
  • Severe flooding in homes constructed near the lake beds.
  • Flooded streets when drainage of storm water is not clear.
  • Destruction of property and loss of life.

8. Author has raised the concern over decision maker such as.

  • They focus on immediate measures which is not quite useful for long term.
  • Extreme events have low probability of occurrence but due to lack of management responses impact of disaster is more.
  • Long term planning often involve difficulties such as moving people out of flood plains during disaster and construction of flood resilient building.
  • They do not address long term changes taking place as a result of climate changes.
  • Fail to consider local ecology and landscape.

9. Certain problems associated with climate change.

  • Spread of Vector borne diseases.
  • Spraying insecticide boost resistance of pest to chemical used. In Brazil due to an extra effort to fight against dengue developed insecticide resistance.
  • Similarly, U.S forest department approach to suppress forest fire unexpectedly resulted into growth of denser and more flammable forest.

10. Few suggestion has been noticed by Author such as:

  • Long term decision to improve land use. It will help to absorb much of the rain water.
  • Limitconstruction activity in the area which are vulnerable in Western Ghats.
  • Designing of effective evacuation plan.
  • Developing system for integrated water management
  • Improving institutional mechanism to provide immediate response.
  • Finally Author has said, suitable long and short term action is crucial for an effective disaster response.

 

The bedaquiline boost

News:

  1. WHO to replace all injectable with oral drugs “Bedaquiline” to treat MDR-TB patients.

Important Facts:

2. WHO has recommended to change in method to treat MDR-TB patient by replacing all injectable with oral Bedaquiline.

3. MDR-TB is resistant to at least two of the first-line drugs.

4. Why treating MDR-TB using injectable drugs was objectionable.

  • Patient discontinued treatment due to adverse effect of injectable drugs.
  • Success rate for MDR-TB was only 54% for patient started treatment in 2014.

5 WHO has informed member states to take immediate steps to ensure effective treatment to MDR-TB patients in accordance with new guidelines.

6. According to WHO recommendation, Bedaquiline will be provided to MDR-TB patient as a last resort because clinical trial (Phase III) is still not completed for the new drugs.

7. In Phase IIb trials, the drug was found to have cardio-toxicity and also caused few deaths.

8. India had an estimated 84,000 new MDR/rifampicin-resistant-TB cases in 2016.

9. According to first ever drug testing carried out in India in 2014-16, 6.19 % were found to be multi-drug resistant.

10. Johnson and Johnson company has made an offer to drug at $400 to India.

11. India has been getting bedaquiline drug courses (11,000 so far) for free under the conditional access programme of USAID.

12. South Africa was the first country to scale up access to bedaquiline.

 

Reserve Bank tightens ombudsman scheme

News:

  1. RBI has taken steps to strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism for customers.

Important Facts:

2. Reserve Bank of India has tightened the Banking Ombudsman Scheme 2018.

3. Under the scheme the following recommendation were made with respect to customer:

  • Commercial banks having 10 or more banking outlets to have an independent internal ombudsman (IO) to review customer complaint.
  • Ombudsman will examine customer complaint in case of deficiency in services provided by bank.
  • However instructions are not applicable for Regional Rural Banks.
  • Bank to escalate the caseto Internal Ombudsman before giving final decision to complainant (IO)
  • Customer may not need to approach directly to IO

4. Features of the scheme includes:

  • It will provide appointment/tenure, roles and responsibilities, procedural guidelines and oversight mechanism.
  • Fixed term from three to five years for Ombudsmanwhich cannot be renewed.
  • IOs can only be removed by RBI.

5. The implementation of IO Scheme 2018 will be monitored by the bank’s internal audit mechanism apart from RBI.

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