Polity & Governance
- Centre to evolve norms to enhance product quality
- India, ADB sign $120 million loan pact for irrigation in Odisha
- India becomes third largest oil consumer
- ADB approves $100 mn loan for irrigation system in Tamil Nadu
- India eases curbs on conference visas for Chinese participants
- India eyes uranium from Africa
Defence & Security Issues
- US names India as ‘major defence partner’
- Naval base in the Assumption Island, developed jointly by India and Seychelles
Also in News
- Thailand first in Asia to eliminate mother-to-child HIV, syphilis: WHO
Polity & Governance
Centre to evolve norms to enhance product quality
The Commerce Ministry will soon bring out a five-year ‘National Standards Strategy Paper’ to weed out substandard products from the domestic market and boost India’s exports of high quality goods.
- An inter-ministerial panel is already working on identifying goods that do not conform to safety, security, environment and health standards.
- The government is mulling improving regulations to ensure that India moves gradually towards adoption of more mandatory standards (also called technical regulations) that are harmonised with international standards.
- The move comes in the backdrop of the ministry preparing to organise a ‘Standards Conclave’ on June 23 and 24 in collaboration with industry body CII, Bureau of Indian Standards and National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies held in New Delhi.
- Soon, Regional Standard Conclaves will also be held in cities across India.
Significance of the proposed move:
- A strong standards and regulatory framework would help domestic industry in becoming competitive in the world as well as domestic market.
- This would help in increasing the exports by measuring up to standards and conformity assessment procedures both in quantitative terms and also getting higher value exports.
- A good standards regime shall fulfil the vision of PM Modi for ‘zero defect, zero effect (meaning, environment-friendly)’ and ‘Make In India’ campaigns.
- It would also help prevent flooding of domestic market with unsafe/sub-standard imports which adversely affect consumers and domestic industry.
India, ADB sign $120 million loan pact for irrigation in Odisha
India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $120 million loan pact to improve irrigation and water management infrastructure in Odisha.
- The financing will be used for modernising seven irrigation subprojects resulting in improved irrigation in over 1,00,000 hectares and strengthening of Water User Associations (WUAs) and the institutional capacity of Odisha’s Department of Water Resources.
- The project aims to improve existing irrigation infrastructure, operation and maintenance and water use efficiency that will lead to higher agricultural productivity.
- The selected areas for the investment program are the Baitarani, Brahmani, Budhabalanga and Subernarekha river basins and parts of Mahanadi delta.
India becomes third largest oil consumer
According to recently released BP Statistical Review of World Energy, India has surpassed Japan to become the world’s third-largest oil consumer.
- With demand of 4.1 million barrels a day, India is the third-largest consumer behind the U.S. and China.
- India accounted for 4.5 % of world oil consumption in 2015.
- Oil remained the world’s leading fuel, accounting for 32.9 % of global energy consumption and is gaining market share for the first time since 1999.
- Coal came in as the second-largest fuel by market share (29.2 %).
- Natural gas’ market share of primary energy consumption stood at 23.8 %.
ADB approves $100 mn loan for irrigation system in Tamil Nadu
Multilateral lending agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a USD 100 million (around Rs 660 crore) loan to strengthen a key irrigation system and improve water management in the Vennar sub-basin of Cauvery Delta in Tamil Nadu.
- Under the present situations, the Vennar irrigation network is no longer able to meet the needs of many of its poorest farmers particularly in coastal areas and the climate extremes worsens the situation.
- This project will support both physical improvements and stronger water management, giving a significant boost to the lives of coastal communities who often go without sufficient irrigation water.
- The project will strengthen the embankments of six major irrigation water channels in Vennar system to make them more resilient to floods and upgrade water regulators, sluices and pump stations.
About Cauvery delta:
- The Cauvery delta, on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, is known as the ‘rice bowl’ of the state, with over 70 % of the delta population engaged in farming and fishing, but access to water is unreliable and flooding common during the monsoon season.
India eases curbs on conference visas for Chinese participants
In a move aimed at garnering Beijing’s support for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India has removed “conference” visas for Chinese participants from the prior referral category.
- The timing of the move is being seen as an attempt to soften the atmosphere in the run-up to the meetings of the NSG in Vienna.
- However, Beijing is yet to reciprocate to India’s demand for a similar arrangement for its citizens.
- Not all categories of visas for Chinese have been removed from the restricted category. The relaxation is only for conference visas as it was a major hindrance for the Chinese to come here and share technological advancements and strategies.
- In line with the decision taken last year during Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to China, India has further liberalised the visa regime for Chinese citizens.
- India has already rolled out electronic tourist visa-on-arrival facility for Chinese and more recently, removed the need for prior approval for conference visas.
About Conference visas:
- Conference visas are issued for seminars, workshops and conferences organised by government departments, Union ministries, public sector undertakings, central educational institutions or public funded universities.
About Prior referral category:
- Prior referral category country means visas are issued by the respective Indian missions and consulates after running a thorough background check on individual applicants.
- Earlier, China was bracketed with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, foreigners of Pakistani origin and stateless persons under the restricted category, requiring prior security clearance from the intelligence agencies for obtaining a visa.
- China has, on several occasions, pressed India for lifting restrictions on conference and research visas.
India eyes uranium from Africa
India is likely to ask African countries to relax commitment to the Pelindaba Treaty.
- President Pranab Mukherjee would begin the process by trying to convince Namibia next week, during his June 15-18 trip, to implement a bilateral treaty with India and supply uranium to Indian nuclear energy projects.
- Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium.
What is Pelindaba Treaty?
- The Pelindaba Treaty also known as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty was signed in 1996.
- It aims at preventing nuclear proliferation and preventing strategic minerals of Africa from being exported freely.
- It covers the entire African continent along with few islands.
- Presently, the treaty has been ratified by 40 countries.
- Pelindaba Treaty controls supply of uranium from key mineral hubs of Africa to the rest of the world.
- The Treaty prohibits the research, development, manufacture, stockpiling, acquisition, testing, possession, control or stationing of nuclear explosive devices in the territory of parties to the Treaty and the dumping of radioactive wastes in the African zone by Treaty parties.
- The Treaty also prohibits any attack against nuclear installations in the zone by Treaty parties and requires them to maintain the highest standards of physical protection of nuclear material, facilities and equipment, which are to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.
- The Treaty requires all parties to apply full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to all their peaceful nuclear activities.
- In 2009, India and Namibia signed two MoUs on Cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources and Cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy during the visit of President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba to India.
- However, Namibia’s membership of the Pelindaba Treaty has prevented it from ratifying the agreements.
The visit by Mr. Mukherjee will give India a chance to persuade Namibia to ratify the MoUs of 2009.[Ref: Hindu, Wiki]
Defence & Security Issues
Naval base in the Assumption Island, developed jointly by India and Seychelles
India and Seychelles will start work this year in the Assumption Island to jointly develop a naval base.
- The country has allocated a plot on the Assumption Island for the base, which will help enhance maritime security along India’s west and south coast.
- This initiative has come following China’s announcement that it would build its first African naval base in Djibouti.
India- Seychelles relations:
- India is already helping Seychelles patrol the Indian Ocean. Seychelles alone cannot patrol this wide area and India is one of the supporting countries in this regard.
- The economy of Seychelles is heavily dependent on tourism and India is an important source of tourism for the island nation. Last year, about 8,000 Indians travelled to Seychelles to spend holidays. About 4,000 Indian tourists have travelled to Seychelles so far this year.
US names India as ‘major defence partner’
The US has recognised India as a “major defence partner”, a significant development which paves the way for the country to be treated at par with America’s closest allies for defence related trade and technology transfer.
- Under the ‘Major Defence Partner’ recognition, the US will continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
- US will support of India’s ambitious ‘Make In India’ initiative and also support the development of robust defence industries and their integration into the global supply chain.
- India will receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use defence technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives.
- US will continue to facilitate the export of goods and technologies, consistent with the US laws in support of official US-India defence cooperation.
Also in News
Thailand first in Asia to eliminate mother-to-child HIV, syphilis: WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently validated Thailand for having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis.
- By this announcement, Thailand becomes the first country in Asia and the Pacific region to do so.
- The country also gained the tag of becoming an AIDS free generation country.
- This is a remarkable achievement for a country where thousands of people live with HIV.
- Thailand’s unwavering commitment to core public health principles has made elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis a reality, a critical step for rolling back the HIV epidemic.
- According to WHO, Thailand’s achievement inspires its neighbours to greater action. There are still 21,000 infants who are born with HIV each year in the Asia-Pacific region, and more than 200,000 children who are growing up with HIV.
HIV in India:
- According to UNICEF, in India, there are 220,000 children infected by HIV/AIDS. It is approximated that every year 55,000 to 60,000 children are born to mothers who are HIV positive. Thirty per cent of these children are likely to be infected themselves.