Daily Current Affairs - 19-08-2021

Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy signed a ‘Joint Guidance for the Australia- India Navy to Navy Relationship’ document on August 18, 2021.

Highlights

About the Joint Guidance Document

Defence relations between India and Australia

Bilateral defence relations have strengthened over the years between both the countries. Significant milestones of the relationship include Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’, conduct of trilateral Maritime Security Workshop, Mutual Logistics Support Agreement and RAN participation in Exercise MALABAR.  These exercises highlight the role played by both Navies in strengthening their relationship in recent times.

Indian Navy and Vietnam People’s Navy conducted joint drills in the South China Sea as part of maritime cooperation between both the countries.

Key Points

Aim of the bilateral interaction

This bilateral military exercise was conducted with the aim of consolidating a strong bond shared by both the navies. It is a step towards strengthening India-Vietnam defence relations.

About the drill

Sea phase comprised of surface warfare exercises, helicopter operations, and weapon firing drills.

Defence relation between India and Vietnam

Regular bilateral interactions between both the navies have enhanced their interoperability and adaptability. Defence relationship between both the countries have been robust. They undertook a defence security dialogue in June 2021 and Indian Naval ships have been visiting Vietnamese ports frequently. Both the countries have also strengthened cooperation between the two navies over the years.

About INS Ranvijay

INS Ranvijay is a guided-missile destroyer. It is the latest INS of the Rajput class. It was commissioned on December 21, 1987. It has been equipped with several weapons and sensors comprising of a surface-to-surface missile, anti-air missiles and guns, anti-submarine rockets and heavy weight torpedoes. It is also capable of carrying anti-submarine helicopters called Kamov 28.

About INS Kora

INS Kora is  the lead ship of Kora class missile corvette. It is fitted with surface-to-surface missiles as well as anti-air guns.

Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Disaster Management between India and Bangladesh that was signed in March, 2021.

Key Points

Benefits of the MoU

MoU was signed to put in place a system where both India and Bangladesh will be benefited from Disaster Management mechanisms of each other. MoU will help in strengthening preparedness, response and capacity building in the area of Disaster Management.

Features of the MoU

External Affairs Minister (EAM), S Jaishankar, announced the rollout of “UNITE Aware” tech to help protect UN peacekeepers.

Key Points

India’s view

India believes in holding talks when it comes to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers. For India, peacekeeping continues to play a crucial role of ensuring international peace and security. External Affairs minister noted that, currently 5 thousand Indian personnel are deployed for nine missions and to protect the protectors, India provides 2 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccine to vaccinate UN Peacekeeping personnel across the globe.

4-point framework

Minister proposed a 4-point framework in order to lay out a possible architecture of securing UN peacekeepers in order to meet contemporary threats. UNSC has adopted a Resolution on Accountability of Crimes against the UN Peacekeepers and Presidential Statement on Technology for Peacekeeping.

India-UN MoU

India and the United Nations signed a MoU to support the Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping initiative and to UN C4ISR Academy for Peace Operations.

As per World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Goods Trade Barometer, Global merchandise trade is continuing its robust recovery post COVID-19 pandemic. The trade barometer hit a record high in its latest reading.

Key Points

Goods Trade Barometer

The Goods Trade Barometer was launched in 2016 by the WTO. It combines several trade-related component indices into a single composite index. It highlights the turning points in world merchandise trade as well as provides an indication for its trajectory in near future. It shows how latest data compare with short-run trends in goods trade. It was earlier known as World Trade Outlook Indicator.

How it indicates the trajectory?

Reading of 100 indicates for trade expansion in accordance with the recent trends. While, readings greater than 100 indicates above-trend growth. Readings below 100 suggests below-trend growth.

How this barometer is updated?

It is updated on a quarterly basis.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

It is intergovernmental organization, involved in regulating and facilitating international trade between countries. It officially started its operations on January 1, 1995 after the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement. It replaces the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). WTO is the largest international economic organization in the world comprising of 164 member states.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there has been more than threefold rise in number of trauma cases in Afghanistan.

Highlights

Background

Number has increased amid the intensification of violence in Afghanistan. Taliban took over the Afghan’s capital Kabul on August 15, 2021 following months of an offensive against civilians and Afghan forces.

What are the concerns?

With the takeover by Taliban, concerns regarding safety of minorities, rights defenders and others have increased in Afghanistan. Human Rights Council also announced a special session to address human rights concerns.

Taliban Offensive

Military offensive by the Taliban against the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan started on May 1, 2021. It coincided with the withdrawal of United States and allied troops from Afghanistan. In first three months, Taliban made significant advances in the countryside and gradually the number of districts it controlled increased from 73 to 223.  Taliban launched an assault on provincial capitals of Afghanistan on August 6. Most of the towns surrendered without a fight. Taliban captured all provincial capitals except Bazarak. President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country on August 15 and the Taliban captured Kabul. Thus, Afghanistan’s government fell.

Poor have sought 2 crore hospitalisations so far under the Ayushman Bharat Mission.

Key Points

Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

It is a national health insurance scheme of the state that was launched with the aim of providing free access to healthcare for low-income earners in India. Around bottom 50% of the country are beneficiaries under this scheme. People under this program access their own primary care services from a family doctor. For additional care, scheme provides free secondary health care to those who need specialist treatment and tertiary health care to those who require hospitalization.

When it was launched?

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched this scheme in September 2018. However, this scheme is administered by National Health Authority which was set by the ministry.

Nature of the scheme

This scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme. It is funded by the union government as well as the state government.

National Health Authority

This organisation is responsible for implementing Ayushman Bharat Scheme at the national level. In the States, State Health Agencies have been set up to implement the scheme.

According to UN atomic watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment to near weapons-grade.

Key Points

Background

In May, IAEA reported that Iran was using one cascade of advanced centrifuges in order to enrich up to 60 per cent at its Natanz plant. Now, IAEA notes that, Iran is now using a second cascade for that purpose.

What are the concerns?

Iran breached the restrictions that was imposed under 2015 nuclear deal. 2015 deal had capped the purity to 3.67 percent.

Iran nuclear deal 2015

Iran nuclear deal framework was signed in 2015 between the Islamic Republic of Iran and world powers including the P5+1 and the European Union. On the basis of the deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and P5+1 & EU was announced in Vienna on July 14, 2015.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Formal negotiations toward JCPOA started with the adoption of Joint Plan of Action, which was an interim agreement signed in 2013 between Iran and P5+1 countries.

P5+1 countries

It refers to five permanent members of United Nations security council namely China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany. It is also referred as E3+3 by European countries.

First batch of Indian athletes, including flagbearer Thangavelu Mariyappan have left for the Tokyo Paralympics on August 18, 2021.

About 2020 Summer Paralympics

2020 Summer Paralympics is branded as Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. They are an upcoming major international multi-sport parasports event. The Games are governed by International Paralympic Committee. This year will mark the 16th Summer Paralympic Games. Games are scheduled to be held in Tokyo from August 24 and it will conclude on September 5, 2021.

Background

The Games were originally scheduled to for August 25 to September 6, 2020. But they were postponed due to covid-19 pandemic. This year, games will be held behind closed doors and no public spectators have been permitted because of a state of emergency in Tokyo region.

Why games are still branded as Tokyo 2020?

The Games are still being branded as Tokyo 2020 for marketing purposes.

Host Country

Tokyo will be hosting the Games for the second time after 1964 Games. Overall, it will be third Paralympics held in Japan as it also hosted 1998 Winter Paralympics.

Which games have been added this year?

2020 Games will mark the introduction of badminton and taekwondo. Sailing and 7-a-side football games have been replaced this year.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC)

IPC is an international non-profit organisation and a governing body for Paralympic Movement. It organizes Paralympic Games and functions as an international federation for nine sports. It was established on September 22, 1989 in Dusseldorf, West Germany. It works for the mission of “enabling Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspiring & exciting the world”. IPC has a democratic constitution and structure. It comprises of representatives from 176 National Paralympic Committees, 4 international organizations of sport for the disabled as well as 5 regional organizations. It is headquartered in Bonn, Germany.

According to a lab study conducted in US, Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus cannot evade antibodies generated by vaccination.

Key Points

UK Study

However, a new UK study reveals that, Covid-19 vaccines are less effective against the Delta variant. According to UK study, messenger RNA vaccine by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE lost their effectiveness in 90 days after full vaccination. On the other hand, vaccine made by AstraZeneca Plc still staved off majority of Covid infections. They come to this conclusion after analysing over 3 million PCR tests from random sample of people. However, Covid-19 vaccines are protecting people from developing severe Covid.

Booster shots

Result from the study of Oxford university now call for giving booster shots to the fully vaccinated. US already announced that, citizens would get a third dose of the vaccine after eight months. On the other hand, UK authorities are deciding on how broadly boosters should be given. Israel started giving third doses of Pfizer-BioNTech in August 2021. Initial results from Israel points that, third doses have been 86% effective for people aged 60 and more.

Cabinet approved the ‘National Mission on Edible Oils — Oil Palm (NMEO-OP)” with the financial outlay of Rs 11,040 crore.

Key Points

About National Mission on Edible Oils

The National Mission on Edible Oils is a centrally sponsored scheme. Out of the total outlay of Rs 11,040 crores, share of central government is Rs 8,844 crores. Rs 2,196 crores would be shared by states. This scheme will subsume the “National Food Security Mission-Oil Palm programme. It was launched in line with the Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme.

Aim of the mission

The National Mission on Edible Oil was launched with the aim of covering oil palm in an additional area of 6.5 lakh hectare by 2025-26. It seeks to reach the target of 10 lakh hectares.

Why this scheme is significant?

Currently India is heavily dependent on imports of edible oils to meet the domestic need. Thus, it is necessary to make efforts towards increasing their domestic production. In order to increase the production, increasing area and productivity of oil palm becomes important. This target of increasing area can be achieved through the mission.  Furthermore, Oil Palm can help making farmers aatmanirbhar in accordance with Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative. This scheme will also help the Centre in ensure that farmers are not affected with market fluctuations.

Crisil Ratings have upgraded credit outlook of India Inc to positive. It is a broad-based recovery for India Inc currently.

Key Points

About CRISIL

CRISIL is formerly called as Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited. It is an Indian analytical company that provided ratings, research, and risk & policy advisory services. It is a subsidiary of American company S&P Global. It was the first credit rating agency of India. ICICI and UTI jointly introduced the agency in 1988. It was started with share capital from SBI, LIC and United India Insurance Company. US based S&P rating agency acquired majority shares of Crisil in 2005.

What is Credit Rating?

It is a quantified assessment of creditworthiness of the borrower in general terms. It also assesses the creditworthiness with respect to particular debt or financial obligation. This rating can be assigned to any entity which seeks to borrow money including an individual, a state, a corporation, any provincial authority, or sovereign government. Credit assessment and evaluation for companies and governments is usually conducted by a credit rating agency like Moody’s, S&P Global, or Fitch Ratings. These rating agencies are paid by the entity who want credit rating for itself.

United States President, Joe Biden and British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson agreed to hold a virtual G7 meet on Afghanistan.

Key Points

Group of Seven (G7)

It is an inter-governmental political forum comprising of France, Canada, Italy, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Members of G7 are the largest IMF advanced economies worldwide and wealthiest liberal democracies. G7 is organized around shared values of pluralism and representative government. Members account for 60 percent of global net wealth and 32 – 46 percent of global gross domestic product as of 2018.

History of G7

G7 grouping originated in 1973 from an ad hoc meeting of finance ministers. Since then, it is a formal, high-profile venue to discuss and coordinate solutions to major global issues such as on trade, security, economics, and climate change.

UK-US relations

Bilateral relations between the UK and the US have evolved amid two early wars and competition for world markets. Both the countries have been close military allies since 1940 and enjoy Special Relationship that was built as wartime allies and NATO partners. They are closely associated by shared history, common language, religion, legal system and kinship ties including ancestral lines among English Americans and Scottish Americans etc.