Polity & Governance
- Inter-state council reconstituted
Bilateral & International Relations
- Range of BrahMos to be doubled
- Union Cabinet approves new Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan
- Arrest of staffer violates Vienna Convention, says Pakistan
Key Facts for Prelims
- India’s first Cybersecurity Engagement Center
- World’s Largest Marine Reserve
- Boxing Federation of India recognized
- Himachal Pradesh declared ODF
- Employees Online (EO) Mobile App of DoPT
Polity & Governance
Inter-state council reconstituted
The Inter-State Council, a constitutional body to facilitate coordination between states and the centre, has been reconstituted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the head.
- Besides, the Standing Committee of the ISC has also been reconstituted.
Composition of reconstituted Inter State Council (ISC):
- Chief Ministers of all states and Union Territories (having legislative Assembly), Six Union Ministers.
- Besides, administrators of Union Territories which do not have legislative Assembly are also members of the Council.
Six Union Ministers:
- Home Minister Rajnath Singh,
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley,
- Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar,
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj,
- Minister for Information and Broadcasting M Venkiah Naidu and
- Road Transport Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.
The Standing Committee of the Inter State Council will be headed by Union Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh
What is the Inter-State Council?
- The Inter-State Council is a constitutional body to facilitate coordination between states and the centre.
- It is a recommendatory body to investigate and discuss subjects, in which some or all of the states or the union government have a common interest.
- It is set up on the basis of provisions in Article 263 of the Constitution of India by a Presidential Order, 1990 based on the recommendation of Sarkaria Commission.
- The Inter-state council is not a permanent constitutional body for coordination between the states and Central government.
- Rather, President can establish it at any time if it appears to him that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a council.
Composition of the Inter-State Council:
- The Council is headed by Prime Minister (Chairman). Besides, Chief Ministers of all states and UTs (having legislative Assembly) are its members.
- Six Union ministers of cabinet rank nominated by the Prime Minister are also members.
Bilateral & International Relations
Range of BrahMos to be doubled
India and Russia have agreed to double the range of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that the two produce together.
- This follows India’s recent accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
- India and Russia had teamed up to develop the BrahMos missile in 1998.
- Its range was limited to 290 km as Russia was a member of MTCR but India was not. Due to restrictions under MTCR, Russia was not able provide the critical systems of the missile to increase its range.
Significance of this move:
- Extending the range will significantly enhance the stand-off capability and the operational radius in striking targets. Combined with its speed and accuracy it will be a major force multiplier.
Features of the BrahMos:
- BrahMos is one of its kind supersonic cruise missile.
- Named from the names of two rivers, India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moskva River.
- It operates on fire and forget principal and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets.
- It is capable of carrying conventional warheads and has top supersonic speed of Mach 3 (that is, three times the speed of sound).
- It is two-stage missile, the first one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant.
- The BrahMos Missile already been deployed by Indian Army and Indian Navy in anti-ship and precision strike roles respectively. The air version is at present undergoing testing.
The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime.
- It is an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries (India became the 35th country to join the regime) to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology.
- Established in April 1987 by the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States), the voluntary MTCR aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.
- MTCR aims at restricting the proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogramme payload for at least 300 kilometres, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
- The items included under MTCR guidelines are divided into Category I (complete rocket and unmanned aerial vehicle systems) and Category II (dual use missile related components and systems).
Union Cabinet approves new Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan
The Union Cabinet has approved a new agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan.
- The Agreement provides for a free trade regime between two countries.
- It also provides duty free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries.
- As per the agreement, bilateral trade between both neighbouring countries will continue to be transacted in Indian Rupees and Bhutanese Ngultrums.
- The agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan was renewed on in July 2006 for ten years.
- The validity of this agreement was extended, with effect from July 2016, for one year or till the new agreement comes into force.
How trade relations between India and Bhutan are governed?
- The bilateral trade relations between India and Bhutan are governed by the Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit.
- It facilitates mechanism for a free trade regime between two countries, and duty free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries.
- The bilateral trade between both countries had grown by 55% year-on-year in FY 2016 to $750 million.
Arrest of staffer violates Vienna Convention, says Pakistan
Pakistan has accused India of violating the international convention for protection of diplomats after New Delhi briefly detained a staffer of the Pakistan High Commission.
What’s the issue?
Indian security agencies recently arrested a Pakistani High Commission staffer on allegations of espionage. The charges are that he was found to be in possession of defence-related documents. Soon after the arrest, however, he was released, declared persona non-grata, and informed that he must leave India within 48 hours.
What is the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations?
- Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries.
- It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country.
- This forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity. Its articles are considered a cornerstone of modern international relations.
Key Facts for Prelims
India’s first Cybersecurity Engagement Center
- Recently, Microsoft has launched its first full-scale Cybersecurity Engagement Center (CSEC) in India, after a successful year-long pilot.
- Situated in Delhi, the center will bring together Microsoft capabilities to foster deeper cybersecurity collaborations with public and private sector organizations and build a trusted and secure computing environment, a critical enabler for India’s digital transformation.
- The CESC is a part of Microsoft Consultancy Services (MCS), a dedicated response team based in India, that’ll offer security consultancy services to business organisations.
- It is first-of-its-kind Cybersecurity Centre in India and overall 7th in the world including in Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Singapore, Berlin and Washington DC.
World’s Largest Marine Reserve
- Antartica’s Ross Sea was declared as world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) to protect the Earth’s most pristine marine ecosystem.
- It was declared after landmark international agreement among 24 countries and European Union in Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart, Australia.
- The Ross Sea is one of the last intact marine ecosystems in the world.
- MPA status to Ross Sea will bring blanket ban on commercial fishing across about three quarters of its area for 35 years.
- Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean is home to 38% of the world’s Adelie penguins, 30% of world’s Antarctic petrels and around 6% of world’s population of Antarctic minke whales. It is also home to huge numbers of krill, a staple food for species including whales and seals.
Boxing Federation of India recognized
Recently, Union Government has recognized Boxing Federation of India (BFI) as the National Sports Federation (NSF) for Boxing.
There has been no National Sports Federation for Boxing since 2012. Recognition of BFI by the Sports Ministry fulfils the requirement.
This will help Indian boxers prepare for 2020 Olympics with more national & international exposure, and training.
BFI, which is a body formed recently, conducted its elections on 25th September, 2016.
AIBA, the International Body for boxing, recognized the newly elected office bearers of BFI.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports considered the election report and other documents submitted by BFI for grant of recognition as NSF for Boxing.
Himachal Pradesh declared ODF
- The State of Himachal Pradesh was officially declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).
- With this, Himachal Pradesh becomes the second State in the country after Sikkim to achieve the feat. However, among bigger states Himachal Pradesh is the first state to become ODF.
- Every individual household in the state has functional toilet under the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’.
- Himachal Pradesh has successfully achieved total rural sanitation coverage of 100% in the state.
- This status will further entitle Himachal Pradesh to receive World Bank funding under Rs 9,000 crore project to sustain sanitation campaign.
Employees Online (EO) Mobile App of DoPT
- The Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has launched Employees Online (EO) App.
- The mobile application aims to update on Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) appointments and postings on real time basis and to bring transparency.
- The application would enable its users, which may include officers, media persons and all stakeholders to stay updated on real time basis with appointments and postings approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) and vacancies at senior level in the Government of India.
- The EO App will reduce speculations regarding transfers and postings in the Government of India and will make the system completely transparent as all the relevant orders and notifications will now be instantly available in the public domain.