Modi-Xi-informal-summit-IASToppers
Current Affairs Analysis

15th October 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Modi-Xi informal summit; What are informal summits? Mahabalipuram; Economic Significance of coromandal coast; Dark Grey list; Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s blacklist and grey list; What are Non-tariff measures (NTMs)? Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2019; Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report (APTIR); 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; Erythropoietin; Nobel for Literature; Nobel Peace Prize; Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict; Nobel Economic Award 2019; Libra Cryptocurrency; Illegal uses of cryptocurrency; The Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUS-HR) project; World Standards Day 2019;
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
October 15, 2019

Contents

Economy

  • Economics Nobel for India-Born Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer

Bilateral & International Relations

  • PM Modi, China’s Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram
  • Pakistan isolated by all FATF countries
  • UN reports demands review of non-tariff measures to boost world trade
  • Indo-Dutch cooperation: 2nd phase of LOTUS-HR project launched

Science & Technology

  • Despite defections, Facebook officially launches Libra
  • Nobel Prize: How 2019’s winners are revolutionising medicine

Key Facts for Prelims

  • World Standards Day 2019
  • Olga Tokarczuk Wins 2018 Nobel for Literature, Peter Handke for 2019
  • Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister

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Economy

Economics Nobel for India-Born Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer

Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer have been awarded Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

Nobel-Economics-Prize-2019-3

  • Esther Duflo has become the second woman to win prize after Elinor Ostrom (2009) of US.
  • This year’s Laureates have introduced a new approach to obtaining reliable answers about the best ways to fight global poverty.
  • In brief, it involves dividing this issue into smaller, more manageable, questions – for example, the most effective interventions for improving educational outcomes or child health.
  • They have shown that these smaller, more precise, questions are often best answered via carefully designed experiments among the people who are most affected.

About the Nobel Economic Award 2019

  • The Nobel Economic Award 2019 was given for the experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

Nobel-Economics-Prize-2019-1

  • This approach involves dividing the issue into smaller, more manageable questions, for example, the most effective interventions for improving educational outcomes or child health.

Significance of this approach

  • As a direct result of this approach, more than five million Indian children have benefitted from effective programmes of remedial tutoring in schools.
  • It was also successfully implemented in introducing heavy subsidies for preventive healthcare in many countries.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

PM Modi, China’s Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram

Prime Minister of India and Chinese President took part in an informal summit in the coastal town of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu.

PM-Modi-Chinas-Xi-Jinping-in-Mamallapuram-5

  • This was the second informal meeting between Indian PM and the Chinese president after their first one in Wuhan, China, in 2018.

What are informal summits?

  • Informal Summits act as supplementary exchanges to annual Summits and other formal exchanges such as the G20 Summit, EU-India Summit and the BRICS Summit among others.

Significance of informal summits

  • It allows for direct and free exchange of views between countries, something that may not be possible to do through formal bilateral and multilateral meetings that are agenda driven, where specific issues are discussed.
  • They are impromptu in the sense that they may not take place on a fixed schedule, they take place when a need for them is perceived by the concerned nations.
  • Informal Summits sometimes considered to play bigger roles in diplomatic dialogue than formal exchanges as they tend to be more in-depth and relatively flexible in intent.

Highlights of the second informal summit

Both nations,

PM-Modi,-China's-Xi-Jinping-in-Mamallapuram-9

  • agreed on establishment of sister-state relations between Tamil Nadu and Fujian Province, to study links between these two province on the lines between Ajanta and Dunhuang.
  • agreed to organize 70 activities including a conference on a ship voyage that will trace the historical connect between the two civilizations to celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and China in 2020.
  • decided to designate 2020 as Year of ‘India-China Cultural and People to People Exchanges’.
  • decided to establish a High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue mechanism to achieve enhanced trade and commercial relations.

About Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram

  • Mahabalipuram (or Mamallapuram) is an ancient port city in the Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu. It is known for its great monuments, cave sanctuaries and sculptures.
  • The king Narasimha Varman Ichanged the name from Mamallapuram to Mahabalipuram.
  • It is located on the Coromandel Coastalong the Bay of Bengal.
  • Narasimhavarman II (c.700-728 AD), also known as Rajasimhan, built on the work of earlier Pallava kings to consolidate maritime mercantile links with southeast Asia.
  • Narasimhavarman II sent a mission to the Tang court in 720 AD.
  • The emissaries of the Pallava king sought the permission of Emperor Xuangzong to fight back Arab and Tibetan intrusions in South Asia.
  • Pleased with the Indian king’s offer to form a coalition against the Arabs and Tibetans, the Chinese emperor bestowed the title of ‘huaide jun’ (the Army that Cherishes Virtue) to Narayansimha II’s troops.
  • The Descent of the Ganga/Arjuna’s Penance, a rock carving commissioned by Narasimhavarman I, with its depiction of the Bhagirathi flowing from the Himalayas, may serve as a reminder of the geography of India-China relations, and their shared resources.
  • A monument complex at Mahabalipuram, known as the Group of Monumentsincluding Shore Temple and the Five Rathas, is a UNESCO world site.
  • Madras Atomic Power Station (MPAS) at Kalpakkam is located near the Mahabalipuram. It is India’s first indigenously constructed power station.

How china and Mamallapuram is correlated?

  • In 8thcentury, a security pact was signed between China and a Pallava king (Rajasimhan, or Narasimha Varma II), from whom the Chinese sought help to counter Tibet.
  • Tamil-Chinese links continued after the Pallavas, flourishing under the Cholas as the Coromandel coast became the entrepot between China and the Middle East.
  • The links extended to a wider area beyond Mahabalipuram, through a layered history that has left a rich tapestry of society, culture, art and architecture, which is diverse and complex, and reaches up to modern times.
  • The trading missions that the Cholas sent to the Song court included Muslims.
  • A trader named Abu Qasim was second-in-command of a mission sent in 1015; the next mission, in 1033, included one Abu Adil.

Economic Significance of coromandal coast

  • In 9th century, Islam arrived on coromandal coast. During this period, Muslims had already started trading with China by maritime routes. These Tamil-speaking Muslim community on the Coromandel coast is known as The trading missions that the Chola dynasty sent to china included Muslims.
  • In later centuries, the Coromandel coast retained its importance for trade between China and the west.
  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was a staging post for the Dutch, French and British for control of the seas between South Asia and Southeast Asia, as the Europeans fought to protect their trade routes with China and other countries in the region.
  • The ancient port city of Pondicherry, south of Mahabalipuram, was a French colony famous for its Chinese exports known as “Coromandel goods”, including light and fine plain woven dress fabric.
  • After establishing their power on the Coromandel Coast, the British established control over the Straits of Malacca to protect their trade routes to China.
  • Dutch East India Company established their second fort on this coast which is known as Sathurangapattinam (Sadras). Sadras became a huge centre for the Dutch-controlled manufacture of cotton and muslin.

Other recent India-China meetings

  • Meeting at Qingdao in June 2018: India and China signed two bilateral agreements, enabling China to release hydrological data to India, which are crucial to preventing flooding in the Northeast.
  • 21st Round of Special Representatives Talks in Chengdu, China in November 2018.
  • Meeting at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek in June, 2019.

Key Facts

  • Japan and Russia are the only two countries with which India has annual Summits at present.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Pakistan isolated by all FATF countries

Pakistan is on the verge of strong action by FATF, given its inadequate performance, whereby it managed to pass in only 6 of 27 items.

Pakistan-isolated-by-all-FATF-countries

Background

  • Pakistan was placed on the Grey List by the FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete it by October 2019, or face the risk of being placed on the black list with Iran and North Korea.

What is Dark Grey list?

Pakistan-isolated-by-all-FATF-countries-3

  • According to FATF rules there is one essential stage between ‘Grey’ and ‘Black’ lists, referred to as ‘Dark Grey’.
  • ‘Dark Grey’ means issuance of a strong warning, so that the country concerned gets one last chance to improve. Currently, Pakistan is on the verge of getting in Dark Grey list.
  • ‘Dark Grey’ was the term used for warning upto 3rd Phase. Now it’s just called warning — that is the 4th phase.

Implications:

  • If Pakistan continues with the ‘grey list’ or put in ‘Dark Grey’ list, it would be very difficult for the country to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union, making its financial condition more precarious.

About Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Pakistan-isolated-by-all-FATF-countries-2

  • FATF is an inter‐governmental policy making body with ministerial mandate to establish international standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • It was created in 1989 at the behest of the G7, and is headquartered at
  • The FATF’s decision making body, the FATF Plenary, meets three times per year.
  • It does not address at all issues related to low tax jurisdiction or tax competition.
  • The FATF is a policy-making body and has no investigative authority.

Functions

  • The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.
  • In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

Participants

  • A large number of international organizations participate in the FATF as observers, each of which has some involvement in anti-money laundering activities.
  • Organizations such as Interpol, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and World Bankare observers.

What is blacklist and grey list?

  • The FATF identifies countries with weak measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT) in two FATF public documents that are issued three times a year: Grey list and Black list.
  • Those that have deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering /Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CTF) regimes, but they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes are put in grey list and those that do not end up doing enough are put in black list.
  • Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced counter measures and increasing the cost of doing business with the country.

is blacklist and grey list

Key Facts

  • Although the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a full Member of the FATF, the individual Member countries of the GCC (of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are not.
[Ref: Economic Times, India Today]

 

UN reports demands review of non-tariff measures to boost world trade

Non-tariff measures (NTMs) have increased in the past two decades and are affecting trade as well sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Asian countries, according to UN report of Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment 2019.

non-tariff-measures-to-boost-world-trade

What are Non-tariff measures (NTMs)?

Non-tariff measures

  • Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) are all measures other than normal tariffs which have the effect of restricting trade between nations.

List of non-tariff barriers

  • The UN Conference on Trade and Development classifies 16 types of non-tariff barrier.
  • It is based on the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development- UNCTAD Coding System and was developed by several international organizations forming what was called the MAST group (MultiAgency Support Team).

Case study:

  • Sri Lanka earned a lot revenue by exporting seafood. But then, the European Union (EU) instituted an import ban on Sri Lankan seafood because of the country’s systematic failure to regulate IUU fishing. This was a type of NTM.
  • On the one hand, the ban helped in conservation of marine resources and encouraged sustainable fishing. At the same time though, fisherfolk in Sri Lanka became poor.
  • The ban led domestic prices to plummet, which in turn, translated into a decrease in fishing.

Examples of NTMs:

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures:

  • Measures that are applied to protect human or animal life from risks arising from: additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in food.
  • Geographical restrictions on eligibility: Imports of dairy products from countries.

Technical Barriers to Trade:

  • Measures referring to technical regulations, and procedures for assessment of conformity with technical regulations and standards.
  • Labelling requirements: Refrigerators need to carry a label indicating their size, weight and electricity consumption level.

Contingent Trade-protective Measures:

  • Measures implemented to counteract particular adverse effects of imports in the market of the importing country contingent upon the fulfilment of certain procedural and substantive requirements.
  • Anti-dumping duty: An anti-dumping duty of between 8.5 per cent and 36 per cent has been imposed on imports of biodiesel products from country A.

Highlights of the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2019

  • NTMs affect 58 per cent of the trade in Asia-Pacific.
  • The implementation of NTMs raises the cost of trade, especially in developing economies.
  • The average cost of these measures alone amounts to 1.6 % of GDP.

Impact on SDGS

Impact on SDGS

  • NTMs can have impact on issues such as health, safety, environment, climate, public security and peace, which in turn, influence Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • In countries of the Asia-Pacific, almost 50 per cent of NTMs directly address SDGs.
  • Around half of the Asia-Pacific’s economies have at least one NTM addressing water and energy efficiency and only 10 % have measures addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and illegal timber trade.
  • The developed economies have a higher standard of NTMs which affects trade of developing economies. Also, NTMs affected foreign direct investment negatively, which slowed countries’ economic activities.
  • The major trade costs came from the adoption of SPS and TBT of international standards.
  • However, NTMs can even boost trade under certain conditions and are important public policy objectives linked to sustainable development.

Suggested measures:

  • Ensure that NTMs are designed and implemented effectively so that costs are minimised.
  • Build capacity in developing economies to adapt, coordinate or harmonise the use of international standards.
  • Increase cooperation with developed economies to work out regional mechanisms and develop common guidelines on sustainability impact assessment of NTMs.
  • To address trade costs while maintaining the benefits of NTMs, countries need to further enhance cooperation at all levels.
  • Regional initiatives should be actively pursued, such as NTM harmonisation and mutual recognition initiatives in regional trade agreements.
  • Review current NTMs and ensure that new NTMs are systematically follows and monitored.

About Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report (APTIR)

  • The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report (APTIR) is a biennial publication prepared by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
  • It provides insights into the impact of recent and emerging developments in trade and foreign direct investment on countries’ abilities to meet the challenges of achieving sustainable development.
  • The theme of APTIR 2019 is Navigating Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) towards Sustainable Development.
[Ref: Down to Earth]

 

Indo-Dutch cooperation: 2nd phase of LOTUS-HR project launched

The second phase of an Indo-Dutch project that seeks to treat dirty water of Barapullah Drain before it deposits into Yamuna was launched in the presence of Netherlands King and Queen.

2nd-phase-of-LOTUS-HR-launched-3

About The Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUS-HR) project

  • The Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUS-HR) project was set up in 2017 as part of a collaboration between the governments of India and the Netherlands.
  • The project is jointly supported by the Department of Biotechnology and Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.
  • The project aims to demonstrate a novel holistic (waste-) water management approach, that will produce clean water that can be reused for various, while simultaneously recovering nutrients and energy from the urban waste water, thus converting drain into profitable mines.
  • In India, it is coordinated by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi with participation of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and National Environment Research Institute, Nagpur.
  • This project focuses on the reclamation of urban sewage water for multiple use and will use ‘wetland technique’ for Cleaning the Barapullah Drain in Delhi.
  • In the first phase, only around 100 litres per day of sewage water was being treated. However, in second phase, the plan is to scale up water treatment capacity from 100 to 10,000 l/day.
[Ref: Business Today]

 

Science & Technology

Despite defections, Facebook officially launches Libra

Facebook officially moved forward with its plans to create a new digital currency called Libra, despite several high-profile defections from the project and intense criticism from US regulators and politicians.

Facebook-officially-launches-Libra

About Libra Cryptocurrency:

  • Libra is a digital asset built by Social media company named
  • Libra is connected to a mix of global assets to prevent the level of volatility common in the other digital currencies.
  • Users can transact Libra cryptocurrency through a digital wallet named Calibra, which was also developed by Facebook.

Libra-Association-3

  • Libra will be governed by a collective of companies called the Libra Association, a not-for-profit organisation based in Switzerland. Libra Association will validate transactions on the Libra blockchain and will manage the reserve and allocate funds to social causes.
  • The name Libra comes from the basic Roman measurement of weight. The abbreviation lb for pound is derived from Libra, and the £ symbol originally comes from an ornate L in Libra.

Significance:

  • It will allow consumers to send money to each other as well as potentially pay for goods and services using this currency instead of their local currency.
  • It is being touted as a means to connect people via mobile phones who do not have access to traditional banking platforms.

Criticism

  • The recent privacy breach scandal by Facebook can affect its Libra currency.

What is cryptocurrency?

CRYPTOCURRENCY-1

  • A cryptocurrency is a form of digital asset that relies on a peer-to-peer network of users.
  • Cryptocurrencies rely on distributed ledger technology which enables the authentication of transactions without them needing to be handled by a central authority.
  • For that reason, they are outside the control of governments and are unregulated.

Illegal uses of cryptocurrency

Money Laundering

  • Money laundering is a process through which money acquired from undertaking illegitimate activities like drug trafficking and terrorist activities are disguised as money received from legitimate sources.
  • According to the Financial Action Task Force, around 2% of the global annual gross domestic product, amounts to money laundering.
  • In the one of the biggest money laundering cases in the US named Liberty Reserve case, a company was accused by the U.S. in 2013 for laundering for cyber-criminal other deleterious actors. Silk Road, a bitcoin based online market, was seized for money laundering.
  • Face-to-face trading of bitcoins called Satoshi Squares has also taken shape in some cities like Bangkok and London. Individuals participating in this type of setting meet at marketplaces to purchase bitcoins in exchange of cash. These face-to-face transactions are a matter of concern as they are becoming a platform to launder money as people can either purchase bitcoins or exchange them for illegal services or products.

Unethical Hacking

  • Unethical hackers are getting access into various elements of bitcoin like exchanges, marketplaces, wallets and mining activities.
  • There are two parts to of Bitcoin wallets that are at risk – the wallet and private key. Wallet holders can access these wallets using a private key. The private key can be stored digitally either online or offline through means that don’t include using the Internet.
  • Unfortunately, there is no central regulation authority that stores passwords or issues replacement keys. Hackers can target wallets as well as wallet providers.

Fraud

Fraud can be happened in two ways: 1) Ponzi schemes 2) Phishing

Ponzi Schemes

  • A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam, which promises high returns to investors with low risks. Returns to existing investors are paid through the funds contributed by the new investors.
  • Bitcoin has been accused of being a Ponzi scheme. In 2014 some raised a concern about fraudsters trying to coax investors into Ponzi schemes in which the virtual currencies are used to enable investments.

Phishing

  • Phishing is a fraudulent practice of mailing people by disguising oneself as a reputed and trusted entity to obtain personal and confidential information like security number, password, or credit card details.
  • Bitcoin holders can be targeted by phishing emails in numerous ways. One of the predominant ways includes a person sending their wallet file and private key to a user and requesting them to forward the bitcoin to another address.
  • The bait for the user is that they will be tempted to retain the bitcoin sent to them and not forward it. This will release a file that drains all their bitcoins.

Terrorist Financing

  • Since cryptocurrency is borderless, it can be really attractive for terrorist finances as they can transfer funds across countries in a cheap way. They can avoid legal barriers, which makes it really beneficial for them.
  • Even though the real currency is way better as a medium to finance terrorist activities, certain characteristics of cryptocurrency like speed, cost, security make it a lucrative source to finance such activities.

Crypto Extortion

  • The anonymity of cryptocurrency has made way for cybercriminals to hold victims’ hard drives hostage to extort payment from them in terms of bitcoins.

Exploitation of Women and Children

  • Cryptocurrency is being also used to fund child pornography, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.
  • Even though credit card companies have blocked the criminals indulging in these crimes, they are pushed to use bitcoins for these transactions because of its anonymity.
  • Usually, the children and women who are exploited are from deprived countries around the world and are forced into such crimes.
[Ref: The Hindu, The Guardian]

 

Nobel Prize: How 2019’s winners are revolutionising medicine

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded jointly to three physician-scientists William Kaelin, Peter Ratcliffe, and Gregg Semenza.

2019-Nobel-Prize-Kaelin,-Ratcliffe,-Semenza

Background

  • Human body cells use oxygen combining with carbon to release energy. However, Cells cannot store oxygen, so they require a constant supply of it.

oxygen-levels-affect-cell-metabolism-1

  • Oxygen is carried by red blood cells. If red blood cells are deficient, oxygen transport fails and cells die, leading to brain damage and death.
  • Interestingly, when there is a low oxygen levels (hypoxia) the kidney secretes a protein called erythropoietin (EPO) that travels to the bone marrow where it stimulates production of new red blood cells. (Patients with kidney failure or on chemotherapy are also given erythropoietin injections to boost their red blood cell count).

What did they discover?

  • They were given Nobel prize for discovering how cells can sense and adapt to changing oxygen availability.
  • They found that oxygen-sensing mechanism is not restricted to kidneys where the erythropoietin is produced but by diverse cells in tissues other than the kidney.

Finding of Gregg Semenza:

  • He studied how did human body can sense low levels of oxygen. They found that a protein was binding to a piece of DNA near the gene called an enhancer and named that protein as hypoxia inducible factor or When the oxygen level is low, one of the proteins (HIF-1alpha), increase the production of erythropoietin.
  • He found that the amount of HIF increases when cells are deprived of oxygen and activates the EPO gene.

Finding of Ratcliffe and Kaelin:

  • Ratcliffe and Kaelin identified another protein, called VHL (von Hippel-Lindau), responsible for destroying the HIF protein when oxygen levels are high. They found that people are at increased risk of cancer when they inherited VHL diseases mutations.
  • The function of the HIF-1alpha protein, to produce more oxygen, is blocked when the oxygen level is normal but remains intact when oxygen level is low to ensures that excess red blood cells are not produced when the oxygen level is normal.
  • They found that enzyme named dioxygenases, present in the HIF, is responsible for attracting VHL toward HIF and then destructing it.

Significance of the discovery

  • The discovery of oxygen-sensing pathway has huge implications in treating several diseases. It helps to understand the diseases such as cancers that proliferate using the oxygen-sensing system to grow tumors and chronic kidney disease that leads to anemia.
  • Using this knowledge, Pharmaceutical companies are developing drugs that can either suppress or activate this oxygen-sensing machinery. China has created a drug called Roxadustat to treat kidney cancer. The drug works by inhibiting or suppresses HIF. This drug received approval in China for the treatment of anaemia caused by chronic kidney disease (CKD).
  • There are similar drugs that are now under development aiming to treat patients with heart disease and lung cancer who struggle with hypoxia.

Why do athletes use erythropoietin?

  • Athletes have been found to use erythropoietin, synthetic oxygen carriers and blood transfusions for blood doping. Each of the three substances or methods is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

What are the risks?

  • In the case of healthy people who have a normal red blood cell count, the use of external erythropoietin is highly likely to make the blood thick (increase viscosity) leading to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and cerebral or pulmonary embolism (clot that blocks the flow of blood).
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

World Standards Day 2019

world-standards-day-2

  • World Standards Day (WSD) is celebrated each year all over the world on 14 October by the members of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
  • It is celebrated to pay tribute to the collaborative efforts of experts, who develop voluntary technical agreements that are published as International or National Standards.
  • The first WSD was observed in 1970.
  • The theme of this year is- “Video Standards Create a Global Stage”.
  • The aim of WSD is to raise awareness among regulators, industry and consumers as to the importance of standardization to the global economy.
  • It is also called International Standards Day.

 

Olga Tokarczuk Wins 2018 Nobel for Literature, Peter Handke for 2019

Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian novelist Peter Handke have been named the 2018 and 2019 winners of Nobel Prize for Literature.

Nobel-Prize-In-Literature-2019-2

  • The prize was postponed in 2018 for the first time in 70 years after the Swedish Academy (which gave Nobel Prize) was accused for a sexual assault scandal.

Olga Tokarczuk:

  • She, author of ‘Ksiegi Jakubowe’ (‘The Books of Jacob’), won the prize ‘for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life’.

Peter Handke:

  • He won the prize ‘for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience’.

The Nobel Sex Scandal

  • In November 2017, a Swedish poet Katarina Frostenson, one of the 18 Academy members, resigned after a row over the handling of sexual assault charges against her husband. Academy members are elected for life and prior to this scandal, could not have resigned. After this candle, Academy allows members to resign.
  • The academy elects four or five members for a three-year term to a Nobel Committee which shortlists the candidates for the prize. Since the scandal, the Nobel Foundation has insisted that five external members join the committee.
[Ref: NDTV]

 

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to end the country’s conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

Nobel-Peace-prize-award-2019-3

History of the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict

the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict

  • In 1962, the Ethiopia annexed Eritrea. In 1993, Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia and became an independent country that was located strategically at the mouth of the Red Sea on the Horn of Africa, in close proximity to one of the world’s most crucial shipping lanes.
  • In 1998, a war broke out between the two countries over the control of Badme which is a border town of no much significance.
  • In 2000, the two countries signed an Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities which established a Boundary Commission to settle the dispute. The Commission gave Badme to Eritrea in 2002.
  • However, Ethiopia refused to accept the decision of Commission without additional conditions. On the other side, Ethiopia refused to give up control over Badme as well. This gave rise to the current conflict. As the conflict evolved into a major refugee crisis, thousands of Eritreans fled to Europe.
  • In April 2018, Ethiopian Prime Minister announced that Ethiopia will abide by the full terms of the 2000 Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities.

Significance of the peace deal with Eritrea

Significance of the peace deal with Eritrea

  • Ethiopia is landlocked country and had been dependent heavily on Djibouti (located in the Bab al-Mandab strait) for access to the Gulf of Aden and onward to the Arabian Sea.
  • The peace deal with Eritrea opened up Eritrean ports for Ethiopian use, most prominently the port of Assab.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

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