qs-world-uni-IASTopper-(1)
Current Affair Analysis

20th June 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

QS World University & Business School Rankings;India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge 1; Ramgarh upazila port; Generalized System of Preferences (GSP); Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC); Joint sitting of Parliament; Motion of Thanks; Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) for solar/wind sector; African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); Location of Niger; Internet of Things (IoT)? Internet protocol (IP); IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6); Domain Naming System (DNS); Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN); Small Island Developing States (SIDS); Forced retirement; Hidden Hunger of South Africa; Generalised System of Preferences (GSP); Reciprocal Trade Agreement (RTA); etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
June 20, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • President of India addresses the joint sitting of Parliament
  • 15 more Finance Ministry officials forcibly retired over graft charges

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Government approves Dispute Resolution Mechanism for solar/wind sector

Issues related to Health & Education

  • IIT-Bombay tops Indian institutions in QS World University rankings

Economy

  • Finance Minister discusses budget proposals with financial sector regulators
  • India levies retaliatory tariffs on 28 American products

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • United Nations report shows that many SIDS might not achieve SDG goals by 2030

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India gives $15 million to Niger for African Union summit in July
  • Indian high commissioner visits Indo-Bangladesh bridge in Khagrachhari
  • US open to discuss trade issues and pushes India for access to its local markets
  • NASSCOM and ICANN join hands for global research in IoT

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Hidden Hunger of South Africa

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Polity & Governance

President of India addresses the joint sitting of Parliament

The president of India, on address to the joint sitting of both houses of Parliament, said the government is moving ahead to create a strong, secure and inclusive India.

President’s address to both Houses of Parliament 2 IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis

President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament

President’s address to both Houses of Parliament 3 IASToppers

  • As per Article 87(1), the president addresses the joint sitting of both houses of the parliament at the commencement of the first session after every General Election and the first session of every fiscal year.
  • As per First Constitutional Amendment – Originally, the Constitution required the President to address both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of “every session”. This requirement was changed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
  • This address is discussed by Rajya sabha and Lok sabha on a motion called ‘Motion of thanks’.
  • Article 87 of the constitution provides power to the President to addresses both Houses of Parliament.
  • No other parliamentary business can be transacted till the President has addressed both Houses of Parliament assembled together.
  • The President reads the Address in Hindi or English. The other version of Address in English or Hindi, as the case may be, is read out by the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
  • National anthem is played before and after the president’s address.

Content of the President’s Address:

  • The President’s Address is the statement of policy of the Government which contains a review of past/future activities of the Government.
  • The Address also indicates items of legislative business which are proposed to be brought during the sessions to be held in that year.

Discussion on the President’s Address by Motion of Thanks:

  • The president’s address is followed by the motion of thanks which is moved in each house by a member (of Ruling party) and seconded by another member. Members who are to move and second the Motion are selected by the Prime Minister.
  • The analysis on this motion last for three to four days in which opposition critically discusses the government’s policies which could be postponed in favour of an urgent Government Bill or other business.
  • The time allotted by the House for discussion on the Motion of Thanks is distributed amongst various parties and groups in proportion to their strength in the House. At the end of the discussion, the Prime Minister replies to the debate.
  • Thereafter, the amendments by opposition party are disposed and then the Motion of Thanks is put to vote in the House.
  • If any of the amendments is accepted, then the Motion of Thanks is adopted in the amended form. A motion of thanks must be passed or else it is considering defeat of government and leads to collapse of government.

Amendment to the Motion of Thanks:

  • Amendments may refer to matters contained in the President’s Address which, in the opinion of the members, the Address has failed to mention.
  • Every year, a large number of amendments are moved by members of the opposition highlighting the issues.
  • There have been only three instances so far, when the Motion of Thanks was adopted by Rajya Sabha with amendments in 1980, 1989 and in 2001.

Session begun without the President’s Address:

  • The president’s Address has to be to both Houses of Parliament assembled together.
  • If at the time of commencement of the first session of the year, Lok Sabha is not in existence and has been dissolved, Rajya Sabha can have its session without the President’s Address.
  • This happened in 1977, when the Lok Sabha was dissolved and Rajya Sabha started its session without the President’s Address.
[Ref: PIB, Indian Express]

 

15 more Finance Ministry officials forcibly retired over graft charges

In an action aimed at cleaning up government service, President of India ordered the forced retirement of 15 senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

Who were ordered to retire forcefully?

  • In exercise of the powers conferred by the Fundamental Rules, the President of India has retired 15 officers of Indian Revenue Service (C&CE) with immediate effect on completing 50 years of age.
  • The forcefully retirement order was announced for the senior officers of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

Why were they forced to retire?

  • Due to complaints of corruption, extortion, acquisition of movable and immovable assets that were not disclosed to the proper authorities, smuggling and bribery against them.

Provision in Fundamental Rules of Indian Constitution:

  • Rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules state that the ‘Appropriate Authority shall, if it is of the opinion that it is in the public interest to do so, have the absolute right to retire any Government servant by giving him notice of not less than three months in writing or three months’ pay and allowances in lieu of such notice’.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Government approves Dispute Resolution Mechanism for solar/wind sector

Government has approved a proposal to set up a Dispute Resolution Committee to consider the unforeseen disputes between solar/wind power developers and SECI/NTPC, beyond contractual agreement.

Solar Wind Sector

About the Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) for solar/wind sector:

  • The Dispute Resolution Mechanism for solar/wind sector is established by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

Order-Dispute-Resolution-Mechanism-IASToppers

Objective:

  • To resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes rising beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers / wind power developers and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI)/ National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC).

Significance:

  • Give boost to the smooth implementation of solar/wind energy projects in India.

Key Features of Dispute Resolution Mechanism (DRM) for solar/wind sector:

  • It is a three-member Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) with the upper age for the eligibility of member of DRC set as 70 years.
  • The mechanism of DRC will be applicable for all solar/ wind Schemes/ Programmes/ Projects being implemented through/ by SECI/ NTPC.

Cases that will be handled by DRC:

  • All cases of appeal against decisions given by SECI on Extension of Time requests based on terms of contract (Extension of time needed due to flood, earthquake, delay in connectivity, delay in handing over of land by Solar Park Developers)
  • All requests of Extension of Time not covered under the terms of contract (such as delay in land allotment due to policy change, delays in grant of proposed connectivity due to court stays).

Final decision:

  • The recommendations of the ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ (DRC) along with MNRE’s observations, will be placed before Hon’ble Minister (NRE) for final decision.
  • The Ministry shall examine and put up such recommendations to Minister (NRE) with the comments of IFD within twenty one (21) days of receipt of recommendation from the DRC.
  • To arrive at any decision, Committee will be free to interact with the relevant parties of the case and shall record their views. For presenting the case before the DRC, no lawyers shall be permitted.
[Ref: PIB, Business Standard]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

IIT-Bombay tops Indian institutions in QS World University rankings

IIT-Bombay has been ranked 152 in the QS World University Rankings for 2020 gaining the status of best university of India for the second year in a row.

IIT-Bombay-1-IASToppers

About QS World University & Business School Rankings:

QS-IASToppers

  • The QS World University Rankings is launched by a global higher education company named QS (Quacquarelli Symonds).
  • Launched in 2004, World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings which comprises the global overall and subject rankings (in 48 different subjects and five composite faculty areas).
  • QS also produces: Graduate Employability Rankings, Best Student Cities, Higher Education System Strength Rankings, Rankings by Location and the suite of Business School Rankings (i.e., Global MBA, EMBA, Distance Online MBA etc.).

World Best Universities Ranking 2 IASToppers

Indicators used for QS Rankings:

  • Academic Reputation
  • Employer Reputation
  • Faculty/Student Ratio
  • Citations per faculty
  • International Faculty Ratio
  • International Student Ratio

Indian universities in QS World University Rankings 2020

  • IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology) Delhi (182) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bengaluru (184) are in the top 200.
  • There are total of 23 Indian institutions in the top 1,000. While most are government-funded universities, five are privately funded.
  • The Manipal Academy of Higher Education, which falls within the 701-750 ranking band, is the top private university in the country. The O.P. Jindal Global University, founded in 2009, is the only new entrant in the list this year, ranking in the 751-800 band.
  • Indian science and technology institutions funded by the government scored high in terms of citations per faculty, with the IISc, Bengaluru, achieving a perfect 100 in that indicator.
  • For private institutions on the list, on the other hand, it was other indicators such as teacher-student ratio, and international faculty and student populations that propelled them to the top.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Economy

Finance Minister discusses budget proposals with financial sector regulators

The 20th meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), compromising of finance minister and financial sector regulators, deliberated on the state of the economy as well as various budget-related issues.

f-minister-IASToppers

Key Highlights of the meeting:

Following points were discussed: 

  • The current economic situation and financial stability issues including those concerning Banking and Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFCs).
  • The progress made towards setting up of the Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC) to facilitate integrated data aggregation (which also act as a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-Fin) towards strengthening the cybersecurity framework for the financial sector).

About Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

  • Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was set up by Indian government in 2010.
  • It replaced the High Level Coordination Committee on Financial Markets (HLCCFM), which was facilitating regulatory coordination prior to the setting up of FSDC.
  • What distinguishes FSDC from other such similarly situated organizations across the globe is the additional responsibility given for development of financial sector.

Objective:

  • To strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial stability and enhancing inter-regulatory coordination
  • To monitor macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates.
  • To address inter-regulatory coordination issues focusing on financial literacy and financial inclusion.

Sub-committee of FSDC:

  • A sub-committee of FSDC was set up under the chairmanship of Governor RBI in 2011.
  • As a result of the deliberations of the Sub-Committee, two Technical Groups were set up – i) a Technical Group on Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy and ii) an Inter Regulatory Technical Group.
  • The Inter Regulatory Technical Group is chaired by an Executive Director of RBI. Meeting once every two months, it discusses issues related to risks to systemic financial stability and inter regulatory coordination.
  • The Technical Group on Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy is headed by the Deputy Governor of RBI and comprises of representatives of all Regulators and Ministry of Finance.
  • In addition, an Inter-Regulatory Forum for Monitoring of Financial Conglomerates has also been set up under the aegis of FSDC.

Composition:

  • The Chairman of the FSDC is the Finance Minister of India.

Arun-Jaitle-IASToppers

Members:

  • Heads of the financial sector regulatory authorities (i.e, SEBI, IRDA, RBI, PFRDA and FMC),
  • Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs
  • Secretary, Department of Financial Services
  • The Chief Economic Adviser
  • Forward Markets Commission (FMC)

Functions of FSDC:

  • The Council deals, inter-alia, with issues relating to financial stability, financial sector development, inter–regulatory coordination, financial literacy, financial inclusion and macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates.
  • No funds are separately allocated to the Council for undertaking its activities.

Background:

  • High Level Coordination Committee on Financial Markets (HLCCFM) was formed in 1992 to deal with inter-regulatory issues arising in the financial and capital markets as India follows a multi-regulatory regime for financial sector.
  • However, it was an informal body having its own limitations as it did not had clear specifications as to its functions/powers.
  • As a result, some committees such as High Level Expert Committee on Making Mumbai an International Financial Centre (MIFC 2007) and Committee on Financial Sector Assessment (CFSA 2009) suggested integrated and holistic approach to financial regulatory mechanism.
  • Moreover, The Raghuram Rajan Report (CFSR) report suggested the creation of a statutory body called Financial Sector Oversight Agency (FSOA) to do the macro prudential supervision of the economy.
  • As a cumulative result, Financial Stability and Development Council was established in 2010.

Key Facts:

  • India’s economy observed five-year low growth of 6.8 per cent during 2018-19.
[Ref: Business Today]

 

India levies retaliatory tariffs on 28 American products

India will impose higher tariffs on 28 American products including almonds, apples and walnut from June 16.

us-tARIIF-IASTopperes

Retaliatory tariffs imposed by India:

  • The US announced higher duties on Indian steel and aluminum in 2018. Hence, India retaliate by imposing higher tariffs on 28 American products.
  • The new tariffs are expected to bring in $220 million of revenue to India.
  • India had decided to levy higher tariffs following US’s withdrawal of preferential benefits for $6.35 billion of Indian exports in June 2019.

US tarrif

Why did US withdraw Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits to India?

  • The US administration argues that India has failed to assure America that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors.
  • Moreover, as per USA, India has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on US commerce.

us-tarrif-1-IASToppers

About Generalized System of Preferences (GSP):

  • Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a preferential tariff system under which developed nations extend reduced MFN tariffs (Most Favoured Nation) or duty-free entry of certain goods into their markets, to the developing nations.
  • The objective of GSP was to give development support to poor countries by promoting exports from them into the developed countries.
  • The developed countries, or the countries that extend this trade preference are called donor countries, and the benefit-receiving countries are called beneficiary countries.
  • The GSP is an exemption from the MFN principle under which the WTO members are obliged to treat all other WTO members equally as their ‘most favoured’ trading partner-nation.
  • It also helps new exporters find a new market and established exporters to improve margins in a donor country.
  • The US has a strong GSP regime for developing countries since its launch in 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974.

What is the difference between GSP and the usual trade arrangement under WTO?

  • Under the normal trade laws, the WTO members must give equal preferences to trade partners without any discrimination between countries. This trade rule under the WTO is called the Most Favored Nation (MFN) clause.
  • The MFN instructs non-discrimination that any favourable treatment to a particular country. At the same time, the WTO allows members to give special and differential treatment to from developing countries (like zero tariff imports). This is an exemption for MFN. The MSP given by developed countries including the US is an exception to MFN.
[Ref: Economic Times]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

United Nations report shows that many SIDS might not achieve SDG goals by 2030

According to the United Nation’s report on World Population Prospects 2019, many small island developing states (SIDS) may fail to achieve several Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 because of increasing population and climate change risks.

United-Nations-report-shows-that-many-SIDS-might-not-achieve-SDG-goals-by-2030 IASToppers.com

Challenges countering SIDS’s 2030 SDG goals:

  • Increasing population and climate change issues are seen as responsible factors for the likely failure of achieve SDG goals by 2030 by SIDS.
  • Several SIDS have higher population growth rate than the global average.
  • Moreover, these small countries are vulnerable to climate change and sea-level rise as one-third of the entire population of SIDS lives on lands that are less than five metres below the sea level.
  • The total population of these countries will increase to 78 million by 2030 and 87 million by 2050 (from current 71 million).

What are Small Island Developing States (SIDS)?

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) were recognized as a distinct group of developing countries facing specific challenges that were established as a distinct group at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992.

SIDS-logo-IASToppers

  • There are 38 UN nations as well 20 Non-Un Members/Associate Members of Regional Commissions in SIDS group.
  • Three geographical regions have been identified for the location of SIDS, namely, i) the Caribbean ii) the Pacific and iii) the Atlantic Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS).
  • To assist SIDS, The United Nations, through the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, finalized ‘Barbados Programme of Action’ (BPOA) at the Conference held in Barbados in 1994.
  • After revamping BPOA, it was renamed as the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (MSI).
  • SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway (SAMOA Pathway) was adopted in 2014, at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa.

Common challenges faced by SIDS:

  • Growing populations
  • Susceptibility to natural disasters
  • Excessive dependence on international trade
  • High costs for energy, infrastructure, transportation etc.
  • Long distances from export markets and import resources
  • Low and irregular international traffic volumes
  • Little resilience to natural disasters
  • Fragile natural environments

Key Facts:

  • Year 2014 was dedicated to the United Nations’ International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
  • UNESCO has developed, in consultation with its SIDS Member States, a long-term SIDS Action Plan (2016-2021) to enhancing island capacities to achieve sustainable development.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India gives $15 million to Niger for African Union summit in July

India has extended $15 million grant assistance to Niger in support of organising of the African Union (AU) summit scheduled in June, 2019 in Niamey, the capital of Niger.

African Union (AU)4 IASToppers

Significance of the grant:

  • India sees the grant assistance as a reiteration of India’s commitment to its developmental partnership with Africa where it is competing for influence with China.

About the 2019 African Union summit:

  • The 2019 African Union summit is being hosted for the first time by Niamey in Niger.
  • This Summit is also expected to launch the historic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

African Union (AU) 1 IASToppers

Relations between India and Niger:

African Union (AU) 3 IASToppers

  • Bilateral relations between India and NIger have expanded significantly since the opening of the Indian Resident Diplomatic Mission in Niamey in 2009.
  • India is establishing ‘Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre’ under grant assistance in Niamey honouring the memory of Mahatma Gandhi whose 150th birth anniversary is in 2019.
  • Moreover, due to huge formal and informal export business of Uranium in Niger, India is seeing Niger as potential supply source of Uranium.

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

new_AfCFTA-logo

  • Signed in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2018, The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a free trade area, outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 52 of the 55 African Union nations. Three African countries which have not signed this agreement yet are – Benin, Eritrea and Nigeria.
  • It came in to force in May 2019 after necessary ratification of minimum 22 countries. The Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify the agreement.
  • It is the largest free-trade area in terms of participating countries of the World Trade Organization.

Objectives:

  • Create a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of business persons and investments.
  • Progressive elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
  • Cooperation on technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary.
  • Development and promotion of regional and continental value chains.
  • Socio-economic development, diversification and industrialisation across Africa.

Potential benefits of AfCFTA:

  • A bigger and integrated regional market for African products.
  • Improved conditions for forming regional value chains (RVCs) and integration to global value chains (GVCs).
  • Consumer access to cheaper imported products from other African countries.
  • Higher intra-African and external direct capital flows to African countries.
  • Elimination of challenges associated with multiple and overlapping trade agreements.
  • The structural transformation of the African countries from resource and low technology-based economies to more diversified, knowledge-based economies.
  • Stronger cooperation in other areas, such as technology transfer, investment, innovation and continent wide infrastructure development

African Union (AU) 

  • The African Union (AU) is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent.
  • It was officially launched in 2002 in Durban, South Africa as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was formed in 1963 in Ethiopia by the African countries that had achieved independence at the time.
  • To ensure the realisation of AU’s objectives, ‘Agenda 2063’ was developed as a strategic framework for Africa’s long term socio-economic transformation.
  • The African Union Commission (AUC), based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is the AU’s secretariat which undertakes the day to day activities of the Union.
  • The official languages of the AU are Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Kiswahili and any other African language.

Objectives of AU:

  • Achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and their people
  • Defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States
  • Protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • Coordinate the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union
  • Work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health
  • Ensure the effective participation of women in decision-making, particularly in the political, economic and socio-cultural areas
  • Develop common policies on trade, defence and foreign relations to ensure the defence of the Continent

Location of Niger:

Location of Niger IASTopper.com

  • It is located in African continent.
  • It is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River.
  • Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin to the southwest, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest.
  • Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert.

Key Facts:

  • Initiated by the OAU Organisation of African Unity, International Day of the African Child is celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991 to honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day.
[Ref: Times of India, Financial Express]

 

Indian high commissioner visits Indo-Bangladesh bridge in Khagrachhari

Indian High Commissioner visited the construction of the India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge 1 and land port in Ramgarh upazila of Khagrachhari.

Indian-high-commissioner-visits-Indo-Bangladesh-bridge-in-Khagrachhari-1-IASTopers

About the bridge:

  • The construction of the India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge over Feni River was started in 2017. The river Feni demarcates boundaries between India and Bangladesh in south Tripura.
  • The bridge is also known as Maitree Setu and is expected to be completed by April 2020.
  • It will connect Sabroom (Tripura) and Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
  • Government of India is bearing the entire expenditure towards the construction of this bridge.

Significance of the bridge:

  • It will improve the economy of the hill tracts.
  • It will improve the communication and trade of Bangladesh with Tripura and other regions.
  • It will facilitate implementation of a protocol India earlier signed with Bangladesh to use Chittagong sea port as a port of call and will also help promote trade tourism and people to people ties.

About the Ramgarh upazila port:

  • The Ramgarh upazila port is among the three ports undertaken by Bangladesh to improve the infrastructure of these land ports in order to raise trade with India.
  • It is located in Khagrachari district of Bangladesh.
  • The other two ports are, Shaola of Sylhet district and Bhomra in Satkhira district.
  • With support from the Indian government, the port construction will start soon
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]

 

US open to discuss trade issues and pushes India for access to its local markets

US is asking India to further open its economy as well as diversify its energy portfolio saying countries that have provided American companies ‘fair and reciprocal trade’ to their local markets have seen real opportunity.

Visit of United States Secretary of State to India:

Modi-Mike-PompeoIASToppers

  • During the Visit of US Secretary of State to India, he emphasized India to drop trade barriers with US and asked to trust in the competitiveness of US business.
  • He also emphasised on the benefits US can provide to India given the economic openness of India.
  • He shows willingness to build ‘Westinghouse civil nuclear project’ in India which was put to halt by India when Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

Background:

  • Recently, US ends India’s preferential trade treatment under generalised system of preferences (GSP) that allows $5.6 billion worth of Indian exports to enter the United States duty-free.
  • US also withdrew the exemption for India from safeguard measures on CPSV (crystalline silicon photovoltaic) products and large residential washers.

Reason for withdrawal:

  • The US administration argues that India has failed to assure America that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors.
  • Moreover, as per USA, India has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on US commerce.

Impact of withdrawal:

  • India was the largest beneficiary of the programme in 2017 with $5.7 billion in imports to the US given duty-free status. Hence, from now onwards, American importers have to pay more in the production of goods.

gsp-india-usa-relation-IASToppers

  • On the other hand, as per Indian government, this move will not have a significant impact on exports (to America from India) as the benefits were only about USD 190 million annually.

Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)

  • The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), instituted in 1976, is a the largest and oldest U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry of products.
  • The objective of GSP was to give development support to poor countries by promoting exports from them into the developed countries.
  • It seeks to aid developing countries by giving some of their products non-reciprocal, duty free access to U.S. markets.

GSP-IASToppers

How does GSP works?

  • The US government selects a group of poor countries and a set of products and offers these countries lower-than-normal tariffs than it applies to imports from all other World Trade Organisation (WTO) countries.
  • There are eight mandatory and seven discretionary criteria for GSP eligibility. Mandatory criteria include a beneficiary not being a communist country and committing to end the worst forms of child labour. Discretionary criteria include the level of economic development and assurances on market access.
  • The United States Trade Representative (USTR) makes annual reviews about the types of commodities to be selected under GSP and the countries to be benefited.
  • The products covered under GSP are mainly agricultural products including animal husbandry, meat and fisheries and handicraft products.
  • Imports from China and some developing countries are ineligible for GSP benefits.

What is the difference between GSP and the usual trade arrangement under WTO?

Hidden hunger IASToppers

  • Under the normal trade laws, the WTO members must give equal preferences to trade partners without any discrimination between countries. This trade rule under the WTO is called the Most Favored Nation (MFN) clause.
  • The MFN instructs non-discrimination that any favourable treatment to a particular country. At the same time, the WTO allows members to give special and differential treatment to from developing countries (like zero tariff imports). This is an exemption for MFN. The MSP given by developed countries including the US is an exception to MFN.

What is Reciprocal Trade Agreement (RTA)?

  • Bilateral/regional trade agreements, used by a country with another country/countries, to increase market access and expand trade in foreign markets by granting special advantages to each other is called reciprocal trade agreements (RTAs).
  • RTAs include many types of agreements, such as preferential arrangements, free trade agreements, customs unions, and common markets, in which members agree to open their markets to each other’s exports by lowering trade barriers.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

NASSCOM and ICANN join hands for global research in IoT

Global internet body ICANN and NASSCOM are working together on developing standards that will feed into the global consultation for managing Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

NASSCOM and ICANN join hands for global research in IoT

About the collaboration:

  • Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Indian IT industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) are working together on developing standards for the management of IoT devices.
  • Under the current agreement, both the bodies will focus on updating IoT devices using domain name system (DNS) even in a situation where the manufacturer or supplier has closed down the business.
  • The current collaboration aims to explore the industrial and large-scale deployment issues associated with IPv6-only devices.

Background:

  • ICANN has announced its partnership with Nasscom in 2018 with focus on building standards for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

ICANN-Primary-Logo-CMYK.jpg-IASToppers

What is Internet of Things (IoT)?

Internet-of-Things-(IoT-IASToppers

  • The Internet of Things refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.
  • It extends internet connectivity beyond traditional devices like desktop and laptop computers to a diverse range of devices that utilize embedded technology to interact with the external environment all via the Internet.

Examples:

  • Connected security systems, thermostats, electronic appliances, lights in household, speaker systems, vending machines etc.

What is internet protocol (IP)?

internet-protocol-IASToppers

  • The Internet Protocol (IP) is the method or protocol by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet.
  • Each computer (known as a host) on the Internet has at least one IP address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers on the Internet.
  • When one sends or receive data (for example, an e-mail note or a Web page), the message gets divided into packets. Each of these packets contains both the sender’s Internet address and the receiver’s address.
  • Any packet is sent first to a gateway computer which reads the destination address and forwards the packet to destination according to IP address.

What is IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6)?

  • Internet Protocol version 6 is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet.
  • It was published by Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
  • IPv6 is an upgrade of IP version 4 (IPv4).
  • In 2004, Japan and Korea were acknowledged as having the first public deployments of IPv6.
  • An Ipv6 address uses 128 bits as opposed to 32 bits in IPv4. Moreover, IPv6 addresses are written using hexadecimal, as opposed to dotted decimal in IPv4.
  • ‘192.0.2.53’ is an example of IPv4 while ‘2001:db8:582::ae33’ is an example of IPv6.
  • IPv6 is often referred to as the next generation Internet because of its expanded capabilities.

What is Domain Naming System (DNS)? 

  • The Domain Naming System, DNS, is one of the Internet’s most important components.
  • The Domain Name System (DNS) is used to resolve human-readable hostnames like into machine-readable IP addresses like 192.169.176.151
  • DNS also provides other information about domain names, such as mail services.
  • It pairs the easy-to-remember web addresses with their relevant servers.
  • Without DNS, one would only be able to access websites by typing in its IP address, a series of numbers such as “194.66.82.10”.

Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

  • ICANN is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable.
  • It is often called the phone book of the internet which matches domain names with appropriate IP address numbers.

Functions of ICANN:

  • Approval of companies that can become accredited registrars for domain names.
  • Decision making regarding the addition of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) to the Root system.
  • Coordinating technical parameters to maintain universal connectivity.
  • Creating a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for competing domain names.
[Ref: The Hindu, Business Standard]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Hidden Hunger of South Africa

South Africa faces a double burden of hunger and obesity with associated non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it can reduce by adopting Brazil’s food and nutrition security policies

Hidden hunger 1 IASToppers

What is Hidden Hunger?

  • Co-existent of obesity and malnutrition in the same person is known as hidden hunger.
  • It can be caused by poverty, inequality, urbanisation and industrialisation of the food system which leaves low income households with very limited access to fresh and healthy foods.
  • As a result, many people subsist on diets high in sugar and processed starch (cheap and easily available foods) which contribute to increasing levels of obesity. However, they don’t meet nutritional needs, causing Hidden Hunger.

What causes the Hidden Hunger in South Africa?

  • Due to absence of any connections between South Africa’s agricultural and health policies, policies to address hunger and malnutrition are only confined to the Agricultural department.
  • They have focused on increasing production, whether through urban agriculture or support to small-scale farmers in rural areas.
  • On the other side, the Department of Health of South Africa remains confined to treatment with medication and limited advice like diet and exercise despite the fact that the department recognises there needs to be a multi-pronged approach to NCDs.
  • Without addressing higher cost, physical access and nutritional knowledge, South Africa will be unable to address the Hidden Hunger.

Integrated food and nutrition security policies in Brazil:

  • In the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, innovative policies such as – Popular restaurants serving subsidised healthy meals, Shops selling subsidised fresh fruit in underserved areas, school gardens, food banks, enabling small-scale farmers to sell directly to consumers etc. have been implemented to ensure the well-being of the residents along with overall economic development. 
  • One of the most remarkable aspects of these policies are its low cost which, in this case, is only 2% of city’s budget.
  • This innovative polices, if adopted by South Africa, may substantially decrease its double burden of hidden hunger.

Worldwide efforts made to reduce Hidden Hunger:

  • Culinary medicine, which is the practice of helping patients use nutrition and good cooking habits to restore and maintain health, is evolving in many countries.
  • A number of hospitals are creating food gardens to serve healthy meals to patients.
  • In the US and Canada, food banks and other organisations that combat hunger are attempting to distribute healthier foods.
  • In the US, a non-governmental organisation incentivises recipients of the US government’s food assistance programme, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to buy fresh produce at local farmers’ markets through a double value coupon programme which aims to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to under-served communities.
  • The United Nation’s ‘Purchase from Africa for Africans’ Programme leverages public procurement for school meals to improve children’s health while supporting small-scale family farmers.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

 

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