30th September 2016
- Sports Sector Gets the Infrastructure Status
Bilateral & International Relations
- Pak. loses $7 bn. by avoiding India goods
- IMF to disburse $102 million to Pakistan
- Trilateral Meet between India, Afghanistan and Iran to Take Chabahar Agreement Further
Defence & Security Issues
- Target terror: India strikes across LoC
Key Facts for Prelims
- Progress Panchayat
- World’s deepest and largest high-speed railway station
- Region of the Americas as Measles free
- Roll On Trophy for BRICS U-17 Football Tournament
- Best Tourist Friendly Airport
Sports Sector Gets the Infrastructure Status
The Ministry of Finance after a series of meetings and discussions with different agencies including RBI have decided that sports infrastructure will be included under the Harmonized Master List of Infrastructure Subsectors.
- It also includes the provision of Sports Stadia and Infrastructure for Academies for Training / Research in Sports and Sports-related activities”.
- For addressing the issue of deficit of sports infrastructure in the country, the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports Affairs had moved a proposal for inclusion of Sports in the harmonized master list of infrastructure sub-sectors.
Why sports infrastructure is proposed to be accorded Infrastructure Status?
- If once sports sector gets Infrastructure Status, it becomes eligible for obtaining long term financial support from banks and other financial institutions on the same principle as is available to other infrastructure projects.
Significance of the move:
- This inclusion would encourage private investment in a public good which has socio-economic externalities in a country with young population.
- It will also bolster investment in sports infrastructure sector which will contribute to the economy and help in promotion of health and fitness of the people of this country as also provide opportunities for employment in the new and exciting sectors.
- The investment of the private sector will widen the platform from where the country can become a sporting power in future.
Bilateral & International Relations
Pak. loses $7 bn. by avoiding India goods
According to a study by the New Delhi-based Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), Pakistan suffered a loss of about $7 billion in 2014 by importing items from other countries at a higher cost instead of sourcing them from India.
Objective of the study:
- The objective of the study is to show Pakistan that they can save on the foreign exchange front if they cooperate in South Asia.
Items covered under the study:
- The study covered 5,200 items.
- These included refined petroleum, palm oil, aviation spirit, motor vehicle parts, edible oil, cotton, milk powder, marine products, machinery as well as chemicals and allied products.
Highlights of the study:
- The loss was substantial considering Pakistan’s GDP (nominal, 2015) was only about $270 billion.
- Pakistan incurred huge losses by importing items from the global market at prices higher than the price at which the same product is available from India.
- Many products that Pakistan imported from third countries were at least three times costlier than the price of the same item from India in export markets.
India-Pakistan bilateral trade:
- India-Pakistan trade is far below potential and negligible.
- Pakistan is a net-importing nation with a trade deficit of $22 billion in 2015.
- In 2015, it imported around $44 billion, while it exported only items worth $22 billion.
- Trade between India and Pakistan in 2015-16 was just $2.6 billion, while according to various estimates the annual bilateral trade has the potential to surpass $20 billion if both countries cooperate and remove barriers and restrictions.
Currently, most of the trade happens indirectly through Dubai, Singapore, port of Bandar Abbas (Iran).[Ref: The Hindu]
IMF to disburse $102 million to Pakistan
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board has completed the twelfth and final review of Pakistan’s three-year economic reform program supported by an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement.
- The Board’s decision enables the immediate disbursement of the final tranche in an amount equivalent to the SDR 73 million in the IMF currency or about $102.1 million.
- The go-ahead follows the approval on September 4, 2013, by the Executive Board of the 36-month extended arrangement under the EFF in the amount of SDR 4.393 billion (about $6.15 billion, or 216% of Pakistan’s current quota at the IMF).
What is Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement?
- It is an IMF lending facility to help members with balance of payments problems that need an adjustment period longer than that provided for under a standby arrangement.
- A country requesting an extended fund facility outlines its objectives and policies for the period of the arrangement, usually about three years, and each year presents a detailed statement of the measures it plans over the next 12 months.
What kind of assistance EFF provides?
The EFF was established to provide assistance to countries:
- Experiencing serious payments imbalances because of structural impediments; or
- Characterized by slow growth and an inherently weak balance of payments position.
The EFF provides assistance in support of comprehensive programs that include policies of the scope and character required to correct structural imbalances over an extended period.[Ref: The Hindu]
Trilateral Meet between India, Afghanistan and Iran to Take Chabahar Agreement Further
India, Afghanistan and Iran participated in a trilateral meeting with regard to discussing the modalities for establishing an international transport and transit corridor, a. k. a. the Chabahar Agreement forward.
What has been decided during the meeting?
- During the meeting, the three nations reiterated the importance of Chabahar as a hub for regional connectivity and their commitment to work towards this objective.
- It was decided to organize a connectivity event involving all stakeholders at Chabahar within two months to increase awareness about the new opportunities offered by Chabahar Port.
- The Chabahar Agreement was signed on May 23, 2016 in Tehran in the presence of the Prime Minister of India and the Presidents of Iran and Afghanistan.
Where is Chabahar port located?
The port of Chabahar is located on the Makran coast of Sistan and Baluchistan Province, next to the Gulf of Oman and at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz.
- It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the Indian Ocean.
- Being close to Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc., it has been termed the “Golden Gate” to these land-locked countries.
- The Chabahar port was partially developed by India in the 1990s.
How important the port is for India?
- India believes the Chabahar port is critical to its interests and wants to develop it as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port which was built with Chinese assistance.
- The port will allow India to bypass Pakistan to transport goods to Afghanistan and Central Asia using a sea-land route.
- Chabahar Port lies outside the Persian Gulf in Iran and will help India in expanding its maritime commerce in the region.
- It also provides opportunities to Indian companies to penetrate and enhance their footprint in the region.
- At present, majority of Iran’s seaborne trade is handled by the Bandar Abbas port. Chahbahar has much higher trading and shipping capacity than Bandar Abbas. The decision of the Indian government to invest in the Chahbahar port marks high trade prospects for both the countries.
- Since the partition of the country in 1947, India’s trade access to Afghanistan has been thwarted by Pakistan. While no Indian goods can move to Afghanistan through Pakistan, only a trickle of goods from Afghanistan can reach India. Trade interests in Afghanistan and in Central Asia, made it imperative for India to look for an alternative route, which was provided by Chabahar.
- Strategic importance of Chabahar Port is its location. Chabahar Port is roughly 70 kilometres west of Pakistan’s Gwadar port.
- The Chabahar Port provides a connectivity by road from Iranian port city of Chabahar to a point at Iran’s Northern border with Afghanistan, from where Delaram–Zaranj Highway starts.
Defence & Security Issues
Target terror: India strikes across LoC
Indian Army has successfully conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control.
- The motive of the operation was to hit out at the terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into the Indian Territory.
- The surgical strikes were India’s first direct military response to attack on Uri army base by Pakistan-based militants that had killed 18 Indian soldiers.
Why India has done a Surgical Strike?
- It is a matter of serious concern that there have been many infiltration bids by terrorists at LoC and it was reflected in the terror attacks in Poonch and Uri on 11 September and 18 September 2016.
- Pakistan gave a commitment to India in 2004 that it will not allow its soil to be used for anti-India terror activities. However, nothing was done despite India’s persistent request to Pakistan not to allow territory under its control to be used for terror activities.
What is Surgical Strike?
- A surgical strike is a military attack which results in only damage to the intended legitimate military target, and no or minimal collateral damage to surrounding structures, vehicles, buildings, or the general public infrastructure and utilities.
- A swift and targeted attack with the aim of minimum collateral damage to the nearby areas and civilians is a surgical strike.
- Surgical strikes that require not just detailed and exhaustive planning but also needs precision in execution are undertaken by forces across the world.
Significance of surgical strikes for India:
- Surgical strikes gain importance in India’s case as Pakistan has repeatedly shown its intention to use tactical nuclear weapons on Indian Forces, even risking the collateral damage to its own troops, to stop Indian military operations.
- Therefore, the covert surgical strikes are a powerful weapon for the Indian armed forces to carry out the necessary dirty work while ensuring the status-quo between the opposing armies on the LoC.
Key Facts for Prelims
The Union Government launched Progress Panchayat.
This Panchayat is aimed at reach out the minority community and publicize the various welfare measures taken by the government for their betterment.
The programme will be organized in 100 places across the country in the coming days where Union Ministers will interact with people about the several schemes.
During the programme, the government will also seek feedback and suggestions from the people for better implementation of the welfare schemes.
World’s deepest and largest high-speed railway station
China will build the world’s deepest and largest high-speed railway station at a popular section of the country’s Great Wall, as part of its preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The station will be at Badaling, the most visited section of the Great Wall which lies about 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Beijing.
The Badaling station will be located 102 metres (335 feet) below the surface, with an underground construction area of 36,000 square metres (387,501 sq feet), equal to five standard soccer fields, making it the deepest and largest high-speed railway station in the world.
Region of the Americas as Measles free
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the Region of the Americas as Measles free.
With this, the Americas became the first in the world to have eliminated measles, a viral disease that can cause severe health problems, including pneumonia, blindness, brain swelling and even death.
Roll On Trophy for BRICS U-17 Football Tournament
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, unveiled the Roll On Trophy for BRICS U-17 Football Tournament, scheduled to be held in Goa from October 5 to October 15.
The tournament aims at taking the ongoing interaction and cohesion amongst the BRICS nations to a new level of exchange between the youth of these countries in the field of sports.
Perceived as a Roll On Tournament, it will be a harbinger of similar exchanges in other sports also.
Best Tourist Friendly Airport
Airports Authority of India’s Tirupati Airport has been awarded as “Best Tourist Friendly Airport” under the category for “State Annual Excellence Awards for the year 2015-16” by Andhra Pradesh Tourism.
The State Annual Tourism Excellence Awards under various segments of Travel and Tourism Industry are awarded by Department of Tourism, Government of Andhra Pradesh for maintaining excellent Customer friendly relations with tourists and passengers, coinciding with World Tourism Day Celebrations.