Daily Current Affairs - 07-01-2021

India and France held their annual strategic dialogue in New Delhi.

What are the key takeaways from the India-France Annual Strategic Dialogue?

The countries mainly focused on COVID-19 vaccines, nuclear, Indo-Pacific, space, environment, maritime safety, digital economy, environment and defence sectors.

Why is France important to India in terms of Indo Pacific?

France has a deep presence in the Indian Ocean Region. The territories of Mayotte Island and Reunion Island are under French control. These overseas areas provide France an area of 28 lakh square kilo metres in the Indian Ocean Region as Exclusive Economic Zone under the UNCLOS Treaty.

China has increased its presence in the Indian Ocean with its presence in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Djibouti and Maldives. On the other hand, the French has established permanent Naval Bases in Abu Dabi and Djibouti.

What are the recent military agreement signed by India and France?

India and France recently signed a logistics sharing agreement. This enables the countries to use the military facilities of the other. This is highly significant in terms of growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean Region.

About India-France Strategic Dialogue

The India-France Strategic dialogue is held annually with the countries alternating as hosts. The India-France Strategic Dialogue, 2020 was held in Paris.

India-France Trade

French companies are one of the top investors of India. India-France trade stands at 13 billion USD. The French imports from India are helicopters, satellites, airplanes, spacecraft launch vehicles.

India-France Relations

The countries have “Special Relationship” with each other. India and France signed the landmark Nuclear Agreement in 2008. According to the Agreement, France constructed six European Pressurised Reactors each of 1,650 MW.

France was the first country to sign a nuclear deal with India following India-specific NSG waiver.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently dedicated the Rewari-Madar section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor. The Prime Minister also flagged off the world’s first double stack long haul 1.5 km container train.

About the Rewari-Madar Section

It is situated in Haryana and Rajasthan. It runs for 227 km in Rajasthan. It crosses through Sikar, Jaipur, Ajmer, Nagaur and Alwar districts.

Why is Rewari-Madar Freight Corridor Section important?

Currently, the freight traffic does not get priority over passenger trains. After completion, at least 70% of the freight trains will be transferred to the DFCCIL (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India) network. This will help in timely movement of cargo.

With the new track, the freight trains are to run at maximum speed of 100 km/hr. This is because, the Indian Railways is planning to increase the maximum speed of freight trains to 100 km/hr. The line has compatible to achieve such speeds. The weight carrying capacity of the wagons in this route has been increased by 14%.

How will Rewari-Madar Freight Corridor Section help businesses?

The Rewari-Madar Freight Corridor section will be of great help to the E-Commerce companies such as Flipkart and Amazon. Apart from the E-commerce sector, the freight corridor will also open up doors for automobile sectors.

Which trains will use Rewari-Madar Freight Corridor?

The Rewari-Madar section will help to decongest the existing Kanpur-Delhi main line traffic. The Kanpur-Delhi line handles 150% of line capacity of Indian Railway. The section has more than 50 passenger trains and sixty goods trains. With the new route, more passenger trains and goods trains can be pumped in.

The route is highly important for the transport of food grains and fertilisers from the northern region to the eastern and north eastern regions. Also, the northern region receives coal, jute, iron ore, petroleum products from the eastern parts through this route.

The Food and Agriculture Organization recently released the Food Price Index. The Food Price Index has been released for the seventh consecutive month in December 2019.

Key Highlights

Oil prices

The vegetable oil prices increased by 4.7 % in December 2019 as compared to that of the previous month. This price increase was mainly due to the supply restrictions in major oil producing countries. Especially the trade of palm oil was affected due to a sharp hike in the export duties of Indonesia. Also, the prices of soy oil increased due to the prolonged strikes in Argentina.

Cereals

The price rise of cereals increased by 1.1 % in December 2019. For the year 2020 the price rise of the cereals was 6.6 % more than that of 2019 level. The export prices of sorghum, wheat, rice and Maize increased mainly due to price rise in North and South American countries as well as Russia.

Dairy

The price rise of dairy products increased by 3.2 % in December 2019 as compared to that of the previous month. In 2020, the overall price of dairy products was one percent less than that of 2019.

Meat

The meat index increased by 1.7% in the month of December 2019.  The prices of poultry in December 2019 rebounded due to the outbreak of Avian influenza in Europe. The Pig meat trade declined due to the suspension of German exports to Asian Markets and also due to African swine fever outbreak.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently flagged off the first double stack long-haul container train from New Ateli in Haryana to New Kishanganj in Rajasthan.

What are the Key Features of the Double Stack Long-Haul Container Train?

What is the speed limit of freight trains in India?

Currently, the freight trains are operated at maximum speed of 75 kilometres per hour. The speed is to be increased to 100 km/hr. The average speed of the freight trains are to be increased from 26 km/hr to 70 km/hr.

What is Mission Sheeghra?

The Indian Railways operated Mission Sheeghra in Uttar Pradesh. It was launched by the Lucknow Division of Indian Railways. Under the mission, the trains attained a maximum permissible speed of 100 km/hr.

Why are speed limits important in trains?

High speeds are not a problem if trains are travelling in a straight line. However, the bends and ups and downs might derail the trains when appropriate speeds are not maintained at these points. In India, the speed limits to the trains are universal, that is, applicable to all trains in the country.

What are Dedicated Freight Corridors?

The Dedicated Freight Corridors are high speed high capacity railway corridors that are exclusively meant for transportation of freight. The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor is from Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai to Dadri on Uttar Pradesh. The eastern Freight Corridor connects Dakuni in West Bengal and Ludhiana in Punjab. The South-West Dedicated Freight Corridor connects Chennai and Goa.

How are Dedicated Freight Corridors beneficial?

They reduce Logistics cost. They are more environment friendly. They help in faster movement of goods. They are huge boost for the real estate sector.

The Reserve Bank of India recently formed an advisory council under former deputy governor N S Vishwanathan to advise the director of the central bank on supervisory colleges.

What is the role of the council?

What is RBI Supervisory College?

The Reserve Bank of India Supervisory Colleges were introduced to reinforce supervisory skills among its regulatory bodies. This was done to facilitate unified and focused training inputs to the supervision staffs.

Why did RBI establish Supervisory Colleges?

The Reserve Bank of India established supervisory colleges to monitor Indian banks abroad.

To which banks were the Supervisory College established?

The Supervisory colleges were established for six banks namely State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, Axis Bank, Bank of India and Punjab National Bank. These banks have significant international presence.

What are the main objectives of Supervisory Colleges?

The main objectives of Supervisory colleges are to improve understanding of risk profile of the banking group, to enhance information exchange and cooperation among supervisors and facilitate effective supervision of internationally active banks.

Why is it important to promote international banking?

Why is Banking Supervision needed?

The Banking Supervision is needed to ensure safety of the banking system. It will help the banks to reduce their risk taking.

What forced RBI to launch Supervisory Colleges?

India launched the Supervisory colleges after the PMC Bank scam. The Supervisory colleges were launched to prevent PMC Bank scam scenarios in the future.

The Government of India recently formed a committee to protect language, land, culture of Ladakh and ensure participation of citizens in the development of Union Territory. The Committee is to be headed by Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy. It will include elected representatives from Ladakh, central government and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development council.

Why was the Kishan Reddy Committee formed?

A ten-member delegation from Ladakh met Home Minister Amit Shah to express their concerns about the threat to the unique culture, language and demography of the region in the development process. Concerns have also been raised about the rights and demand for the inclusion in the sixth schedule. Earlier, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes had recommended the inclusion of Ladakh under the sixth schedule.

What are the main provisions of Sixth Schedule?

Why should Ladakh be included in Sixth Schedule?

More than 90% of Ladakh population is tribal. The primary Scheduled Tribes of Ladakh are Bot, Balti Beda, Brokpa, Changpa, Mon, Garra and Purigpa. Including Ladakh in the sixth schedule will help to enhance the transfer of funds for speedy development of the region.

What is National Commission for Scheduled Tribes?

The commission was established under the 89th Amendment Act, 2003. It monitors matters related to safeguards provided for the Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution. It advises the planning process of socio-economic development of Scheduled Tribes. It also evaluates the development in the union and in the state.

On January 5 to January 6, 2021, the US President Donald Trump supporters gathered in Washington DC to protest against the results of recent US President Elections

What are the United States Capitol Protests?

On January 6, 2021, the protesters gathered for the “Save America” rally. During the rally the attendees heard speeches of President Trump. The rally culminated in a riot. Eventually the protesters invaded the United States Capitol building. President Trump instructed his supporters to march into the Capitol building to overturn the elections. It ended up in an armed standoff. The storming of the building and the riots are being described as sedition, infection and domestic terrorism. Some sources even refer it to an attempted coup. The series of these incidents leading to the invasion of US Capitol building are called United States Capitol Protests.

What are the key events of United States Capitol Protest?

Trump rally in Washington

On January 6, 2021, protestors gathered around the Washington monument to Rally against the recent US elections and its results. At the rally the President Trump told his supporters to March on the Capitol building.

What is Washington Monument?

It is an obelisk that was built to commemorate George Washington. He once served as the commander in chief of the continental Army. He was the first president of United States.

Rioting in the capitol building

The rioters attempted to storm the buildings in the US Capitol Complex. The buildings in the complex were evacuated and rioters broke passed the security and entered the national statutory hall. The protestors were so violent that the law enforcement had to use tear gas within the building.

What is National Statutory Hall?

It is a chamber in the United States Capitol building that is devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans.

What was the reaction of the US government?

A one thousand one hundred strong force of the DC National Guard was sent to quell the violence. The order was initially resisted by President Trump and was signed by the Vice President.

What is United States Capitol Complex?

The complex is a group of more than a dozen of buildings that is located in Washington DC. The buildings are used by the US Federal Government. The Capitol Building in specific is the meeting place of the United States Congress. It is also the seat of the legislative branch of the United States Federal government. It was built in 1800. Earlier to this violent protest, the Capitol building faced similar attacks during burning of Washington in 1814.

What is Burning of Washington?

On August 24, 1814, during the Battle of Bladensburg, a British force led by major general Robert Ross Set Fire to multiple government buildings including the White house and the Capitol Building. This is referred to as burning of Washington.

Here are today’s news headlines by GK today for January 7, 2021

India

Bird Flu: 5 states confirmed

On January 6, 2021, the Minister of State for animal husbandry Sanjeev Baliyan confirmed that five states have been affected by bird flu. The states are Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

Longitudinal ageing study of India

On January 6, 2021, the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan released the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India. It is a full scale National survey of scientific investigation of economic, health and social determinants and consequences of population ageing in India.

Government of India approves human wildlife conflict advisory

The National Board of Wildlife recently approved the advisory for management of human wildlife conflict. The advisory envisages to empower the gram panchayats to deal with human wildlife conflict under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Sabarimala rail project cost to be shared between Kerala and Centre

On January 6, 2021, the State Cabinet of Kerala decided to make available funds from Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board. Alongside the Kerala government has agreed to bear 50% of the cost of the Sabarimala rail project along with the centre.

Supreme Court to study anti conversion laws

on January 6, 2021, the supreme court agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the anti-conversion law was enacted by the state such as Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. These laws criminalize religious conversion via marriages. They mandate prior official clearance before marrying into another faith.

Bombay High Court: using God’s name to sell articles is illegal

The Bombay High Court recently declared that the advertisement of an article using the name of god and claiming that it has Supernatural qualities is illegal. The declaration has been made under the Maharashtra prevention and eradication of human sacrifice and other human, evil and Aghori practices and black magic act.

Economy and corporate

Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh get additional financial assistance for completing citizen centric reforms

The Government of India has provided additional financial assistance of 344 crores of Rupees to Madhya Pradesh and 660 crores of Rupees to Andhra Pradesh for capital expenditure after they completed three out of four citizen-centric reforms. The states have completed ease of doing business reforms, one ration card reforms and urban local body reforms.

PMI falls to 52.3 from 53.7

The Purchasing Managers Index fell from 53.7 to 52.3 in December.

KVIC signs MoU with ITBP

On January 6, 2021, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indo Tibetan Border Police to supply 1,72,000 cotton durries every year.

World

BRICS Bank Agreememt

on January 5, 2021,the Brazil economy ministry said it has defaulted on its penultimate capital installment to the new Development bank. In 2015, Brazil agreed to pay its contribution to capitalise the bank in 7 installments.

PM Modi holds video conference with the German chancellor

On January 6, 2021, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi held video teleconference with his German counterpart Dr Angela Merkel. The leaders discussed the key issues such as covid-19 pandemic, bilateral ties and issues related to India and European Union relations.

Government of India clears India Japan mobility of skilled workers

On January 6, 2021, the Union Cabinet approved the signing of agreement between India and Japan to institutionalize a mechanism for cooperation in sending skilled Indian workers to Japan. The Indian skilled workers should have qualified in Japanese language test.

External affairs minister meets his Srilankan counterpart

On January 6, 2021, the External Affairs minister S Jaishankar met his Srilankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena.

Sports

Claire Polosak becomes first woman to officiate in men’s test match

Claire Polosak of Australia has become the first woman to match official in men’s test. She is to take up as the fourth umpire role in the third test of Australia-India series starting at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Book on India-Australia cricket tours released

The Journey to Triumph in Australia book was released on January 6, 2021. It reflects on previous 12 tours of India.

The National Board of Wildlife recently approved advisory for Human-Wildlife Conflict Management.

About the Advisory

Caracal

Apart from providing the advisory the National Board of Wildlife has also included Caracal into list of critically endangered species. Caracal is a medium sized wild cat found in Currently there are twenty-two wild life species under the programme for Critically Endangered species.

What is the Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species?

It is one of the three components of centrally funded scheme Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats. The programme was started in 2009. The Critically Endangered species included under the Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species are as follows:

What is Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat?

It was launched during the eleventh five-year plan. The Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat is an ongoing Centrally sponsored scheme. The three main components of the programme are as follows:

The Reserve Bank of India recently announced operational guidelines to Payment Infrastructure Development Funds. The main aim of the funds is to deploy more digital payment infrastructure across tier-3 to tier-6 centres and in the north eastern states.

What are the guidelines issued by RBI?

What is the main function of the advisory council?

The advisory council will plan a transparent mechanism to acquire banks, non-banks in different locations. This will help to increase the banking infrastructure of the country.

Who are the primary targets of the scheme?

Merchants providing essential services such as hospitality, transport, health care facilities, public distribution systems.

Why is Payment Infrastructure Development Fund needed?

The payment ecosystem in the country has evolved with wide range of options such as mobile phones, bank accounts, cards, etc. It is essential to provide further fillip to the digitization of payment system to provide impetus to accept infrastructure in the country accordingly. The enhanced ability of Point-of-Sale infrastructure will reduce the cash demand over time. By 2021, there will be more than five million active Point-of-sale by 2021.

What is Acceptance Development Fund?

The Acceptance Development Fund was proposed by the RBI in 2019 to develop card acceptance infrastructure such as swipe machines in Tier III and Tier VI cities. The fund will ensure growth of card acceptance infrastructure such as swipe machines in the country especially in Tier III and Tier VI cities.