US President Joe Biden administration has announced a new trilateral security partnership for the Indo-pacific. Security partnership was done between Australia, United Kingdom and United States.
This security grouping called AUKUS, will focus towards advancing strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
Officials noted that, the trilateral grouping was security focused and is different but complementary to arrangements like the Quad.
Features of the partnership
The central feature of this partnership comprises of a trilateral 18-month effort in order to help Australia in acquiring nuclear powered submarines which are quieter, more capable as compared to their conventional counterparts.
Such submarines can be deployed for longer periods and needing to surface less frequently.
These are nuclear powered submarines and not armed with nuclear weapons.
AUKUS will also involve a new architecture of meeting and engagements between three countries.
It also involves the cooperation across emerging technologies like AI, quantum technologies as well as undersea capabilities.
Why this partnership came into picture?
Australia has felt increasing pressure from assertive China, like other countries in the region felt. So, Australia has sought to strengthen its partnerships with India, the U.S., the U.K. and Japan as well as through other plurilateral forums.
Though QUAD is there but according to the officials, QUAD is not a response to China.
However, this initiative was launched in response of Australia wanting to strengthen its feet with regard to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.
AUKUS partnership is a very rare because U.S. shared this kind of technology on nuclear powered submarines only once to UK, before sharing it with Australia.
The World Bank cut back on the Covid-induced poverty estimates by 21 million on September 15, 2021.
World bank also said that, the global poverty may be turning the corner on pandemic in 2021.
It also warned that the number of poor in the backdrop of Covid was still unprecedented.
Implications of this estimate are that, the global poverty is projected to decline. Further, the pace of reduction is returning to pre-pandemic trend.
According to the World Bank, the covid-19 pandemic led to 97 million more people towards poverty in 2020. This was lower by 21 million from the last estimate.
The pace of reduction is similar to what was expected before the pandemic spread. Thus, recovery taking place will not be sufficient to bridge gap the pandemic has caused in 2020.
World Bank in January 2021 has estimated that Covid-19 will push some 119-124 million people in extreme poverty across the World in 2020. However, it has now revised these numbers on the basis of updates from global poverty data which occurred in March and June 2020.
It is an international financial institution, providing loans and grants to the governments in low- and middle-income countries in order to pursue capital projects. It consists of two institutions: International Bank for Reconstruction & Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA). World Bank is a component of World Bank Group.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been named among 100 most influential people of 2021 by the Time Magazine.
Apart from PM Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and CEO of Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla have also been named among the world’s 100 most influential people.
Time magazine unveiled its annual list of ‘The 100 Most Influential People of 2021’ on September 15, 2021.
This annual list is a global list comprising of US President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, Duke & Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry & Meghan, former US president Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and co-founder of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Time’s profile of Modi
According to Time’s profile of Modi, India has had three pivotal leaders namely Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Modi. Narendra Modi is the third who has been dominating the India’s politics like no one since them.
Time’s profile of Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee has been described as the face of fierceness in Indian politics on the time’s profile. Profile says, “the street-fighter spirit and self-made life in the patriarchal culture sets her apart.
Time’s profile of Poonawalla
According to Time profile of Poonawalla, the 40-year-old head of world’s largest vaccine maker “sought to meet the moment, from the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic.
It is an American news magazine and news website. It is published and is based in New York City. It was published weekly earlier, but by March 2020 it had switched to bi-weekly. First edition of the magazine was published on March 3, 1923.
SpaceX launched four amateurs on its first ever private flight on September 15, 2021.
SpaceX first ever “Earth-circling trip” was started onboarding two contest winners, a health care worker as well as their rich sponsor.
This is the most ambitious leap in space tourism.
This was the first time any rocket blasted off toward orbit with an all-amateur crew and no professional astronauts.
Two men and two women are looking forward to spend three days on Dragon capsule circling the world.
They will be circling the Earth on an unusually high orbit at 160 km higher than the International Space Station.
Their flight will splash down off the Florida coast by September 19th
Dragon capsule aimed for an altitude of 575 km, beyond the Hubble Space Telescope.
Who is leading the flight?
Jared Isaacman is leading the flight, who made his fortune with the payment-processing company. Isaacman is the third billionaire to launch so far, following the brief space-skimming flights of Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos in July 2021. Apart from this, Arceneaux is flying who is set to become the youngest American in space as well as the first person with a prosthesis, a titanium rod in her left leg, to travel space.
This flight is the first entry in the competition for space tourism dollars by SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX)
SpaceX is an American aerospace manufacturer, space transportation services & communications company. It is headquartered in Hawthorne, California. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the objective of reducing space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars. SpaceX manufactures Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, rocket engines, crew spacecraft, Dragon cargo, and Starlink communications satellites.
International Day of Democracy was observed on September 15, 2021, in order to review the state of democracy across the globe.
Theme of the day
Theme of International Day of Democracy for year 2021 is “Strengthening democratic resilience in the face of future crises”.
International Day of Democracy was established in 2007 by a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
It owes its existence to the Universal Declaration on Democracy, that was adopted on September 15, 1997 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
IPU is an international organisation of national parliaments.
Following this, Qatar led efforts to promote this day.
Finally, on November 8, 2007, this day was established.
UNGA’s resolution of establishing the day is titled as “Support by United Nations system of efforts of governments to promote and consolidate a new or restored democracies.”
Why this day is celebrated on September 15?
IPU had suggested to celebrate this occasion on September 15, every year in order to commemorate the adoption of Universal Declaration on Democracy 10 years ago. First such celebration was held in 2008. Every year, events are organised under an individual theme.
Significance of the day
United Nations notes that, the International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review “state of democracy” worldwide. Democracy is a process as a goal which can be made into a reality only with the full participation of international community. Essential elements of democracy include: values of freedom, respect for human rights and holding periodic & genuine elections by universal suffrage.
Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Italy on Cooperation in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management on September 15, 2021.
MoU was signed between National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India and Department of Civil Protection of the Presidency of Council of Ministers of Italy.
Significance of the MoU
MoU seeks to bring in place a system, where both India and Italy will benefit from the Disaster Management mechanisms of each other.
MoU will help in strengthening the areas of preparedness, response as well as capacity building in the field of Disaster Management.
MoU on cooperation in the Field of Disaster Risk Reduction and management was signed in June, 2021.
Political relation between India and Italy was established in 1947, after India’s independence. However, culturally both the countries share relation since ancient time. Classical languages namely Sanskrit and Latin belong to Indo-European language family. Peoples of these two ancient civilizations have interacted and traded with each other for more than 2000 years. Italian port cities acted as important trading posts on the spice route to carry spices from India to European nations. Indian troops were also active in Italy during World War II.
India is Italy’s fifth largest trading partner among the European Union whereas Italy is the fifth largest investor in India.
Agreement over cultural cooperation between both the countries was signed in 1976. It comprises of Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) between both the nations, that provides for exchange of students in language programmes and other academic courses.
The Indian military contingent consisting of an all arms combined force of 200 personnel, including 38 personnel from the Indian Air Force, is taking part in the Exercise PEACEFUL MISSION -2021. This exercise is being held in the Orenburg Region of South West Russia from September 13 to 25, 2021.
SCO Peaceful Mission 2021
SCO Peaceful Mission is a Multilateral & Joint Counter Terrorism Exercise.
The exercise is conducted biennially under the “military diplomacy” between the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states.
6th edition of Exercise Peaceful Mission
6th edition of the Exercise Peaceful Mission is being hosted by Russia, with the aim of fostering close relations between SCO member states. The exercise also seeks to enhance abilities of the military leaders for commanding the multi-national military contingents.
Indian contingent was inducted to exercise area by two IL-76 aircrafts. Before their departure, contingent underwent training and preparation under the aegis of South Western Command.
Significance of the exercise
This exercise will enable the sharing of best practices between the Armed Forces of SCO nations. It will also provide an opportunity to all the Armed Forces to train in Counter-Terrorism Operations in urban scenario and a multinational & joint environment. Key scope of the exercise comprises of professional interaction, mutual understanding of drills & procedures, elimination of terrorist threats, and establishment of joint command & control structures. It is a landmark event of military interactions and global cooperation against the counter-terrorism.
Heads of Tax Authorities of the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa held their virtual meeting on Tax matters from September 13 to September 14, 2021.
Meeting was held under the Chairship of India.
Meeting was presided by Tarun Bajaj, Secretary of Revenue, as Head of Tax Authorities in India,
BRICS Tax Authorities
BRICS tax authorities held discussion on the challenges faced by BRICS tax administrations in the digital era and amid the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
They shared their experience and devised strategies to overcome those challenges.
They also exchanged opinions and views on the basis of existing commitment to the principles of mutual respect, consolidation and continuity as it was highlighted during the thirteenth BRICS Summit’s “New Delhi Declaration”, which was issued on September 9, 2021.
Tax experts also discussed potential areas of cooperation, exchanged their views and experiences.
Discussion revolved around topics like digitisation of tax administration, leveraging technology to tackle tax evasion, changing role of tax administration, preparedness & strategies to deal with COVID-19 challenge and evolution of tax administration in order to enhance voluntary compliance by taxpayers.
They also issued a communique at the while concluding the session.
Theme of the meeting
The Tax authorities meeting was held with the broad theme of “redefining business processes of tax administration amidst the challenges posed by COVID-19 and in the digital era”.
NITI Aayog, in association with the RMI and RMI India, launched Shoonya campaign on September 15, 2021.
Shoonya campaign is an initiative to work with consumers and industry in order to promote pollution-free delivery vehicles.
This campaign was launched with the aim of accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in urban delivery segment and raise consumer awareness regarding the benefits of pollution-free delivery.
Industry stakeholders like e-commerce companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), fleet aggregators and logistics companies are expanding their efforts on electrifying last mile deliveries.
In the initial phase, about 30 companies like Tata Motors, Mahindra Electric, Ashok Leyland, Zomato, Sun Mobility, Lightning Logistics, Big Basket, Brudart, Swiggy and Hero Electric attended a kick-off meeting that was chaired by CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant.
Branding and certification programme
Under the campaign, a corporate branding and certification program has been launched in order to recognize and facilitate industry’s efforts of shifting towards EVs for final mileage delivery. Online tracking platform shares the impact of this campaign by providing data like kilometers of electrified vehicles, standard pollutant savings, carbon savings and other benefits from clean delivery vehicles.
Main Purpose of the campaign
The main purpose of the campaign is to eliminate pollution from urban freight sector. For this purpose, e-commerce companies, automakers, and logistics fleet operators have been asked to recognize the opportunity.
Urban freight vehicles in India
Urban freight vehicles account for 10% of India’s freight-related CO2 emissions. These emissions are expected to rise by 114% by 2030. Since EVs do not emit such emissions, they can contribute in improving air quality. They also emit 15-40 percent less CO2 as far as its manufacturing is concerned. Their operating costs is also low as compared to their internal combustion engine counterparts.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released its Trade and Development report on September 15, 2021.
Key findings of the report
According to the report, India’s economic growth rate will increased to a four-year high of 7.2 per cent in 2021 as compared to a contraction of 7 per cent in 2020.
With this growth rate, India will be the fastest growing economy after China.
China is projected to grow by 8.3 per cent.
These calculations were made on the basis of GDP at constant dollars in 2015.
UNCTAD has also projected that, India’s economy will outpace all other major economies in the year 2022 even though the growth would be slower, at 6.7 per cent.
According to the report, India’s economy that reduced by seven per cent in 2020, showed a strong growth of 1.9 per cent in first quarter of 2021, in the backdrop of the momentum of second half of 2020. It was also supported by government spending in goods and services.
Impact of Covid-19
According to UNCTAD, a severe and broadly unanticipated second wave of the covid-19 pandemic along with the bottlenecks in vaccine roll-out, hit India in the second quarter of 2021. Apart from that, rising food and general price inflation, widespread lockdowns and drastic consumption & investment adjustments also hit India.
As per report, other Asian economies have witnessed the largest portfolio outflows of all regions, throughout 2020 and 2021. Portfolios include substantive non-resident investor flight of the domestic sovereign bond markets, strong FDI etc.
Retail inflation in India
UNCTAD also raised the issue of high retail inflation in India. However, it does not take into account the easing of rate of price rise. According to UN body, consumer inflation was at six per cent before covid-19 pandemic. But pandemic caused a temporary drop in prices. However, as the economy recovered and food prices accelerated, India was back a 6% inflation rate in mid-2021.
Union Cabinet has approved a Rs. 26058 crore production linked incentive (PLI) scheme on September 15, 2021, for auto, auto-components and drone industries in order to enhance India’s manufacturing capabilities.
PLI scheme will help in incentivising the emergence of global supply chain of advanced automotive technologies in India.
Incentives of Rs. 26,058 crores will be provided to industry in the period of five years.
It is expected that in the period of five years, the PLI scheme for the automobile and auto components industry will result into the fresh investment of over Rs. 42500 crores as well as incremental production of about Rs 2.3 lakh crore.
PLI scheme will also create additional employment opportunities of more than 7.5 lakh jobs.
The scheme for auto sector is open to existing automotive companies and new investors that are currently not available in automobile or auto component manufacturing business.
PLI scheme for automobile and drone industries is a part of overall announcement of PLI schemes that was announced for 13 sectors during the Union Budget 2021-22. It was announced with an outlay of Rs. 1.97 lakh crore.
Significance of the scheme
This scheme for the auto sector will help in overcoming the cost disabilities related to industry, for manufacturing the advanced automotive technology products in India.
Incentive structure will also encourage industry in making fresh investments for the indigenous global supply chain of Advanced Automotive Technology products.
Components of the scheme
The scheme comprises of two components- Champion OEM Incentive Scheme and Component Champion Incentive Scheme.
Champion OEM Incentive scheme: It is a ‘sales value linked’ scheme. It is applicable on Battery Electric Vehicles as well as Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles of all segments.
Component Champion Incentive scheme: It is a ‘sales value linked’ scheme which is applicable on Advanced Automotive Technology components of vehicles, vehicle aggregates of 2-Wheelers, 3-Wheelers, commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles, and tractors.
The Union cabinet has approved a relief package for telecom sector on September 15, 2021. The relief package includes a four-year moratorium on payment of statutory dues by telecom companies.
Cabinet has also allowed 100 percent foreign investment (FDI) through the automatic route.
Overall, nine structural reforms have been approved for the telecom sector.
These measures are expected to relax the cash flow issues that some of the telecom industry is facing.
Definition of AGR
Definition of AGR has been a major cause for stress in the telecom sector. Its definition has now been rationalised by excluding the non-telecom revenue of telecom companies. AGR are the revenues, considered for payment of statutory dues.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
Any investment made from an individual or firm of a foreign country into a country is called Foreign Direct Investment. When a foreign company acquires ownership or controlling stake in shares of a company in one country or establishes businesses there, is called as FDI. It is different than the foreign portfolio investment in which foreign entity just buys equity shares of a company. Foreign entity gets a day-to-day say in operations of the company under FDI.
FDI routes in India
Automatic Route FDI: In this route of FDI, foreign entity does not require prior approval of the government or the RBI. For example, FDI in Medical devices, Thermal power, Services under Civil Aviation Services like Maintenance & Repair Organizations etc does not require prior approval.
Government Route FDI: Under this route of FDI, foreign entity is required to compulsorily take approval of the government. To get the approval, it should first file an application through Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal. Then this application is forwarded to the respective ministry or department, which lastly approves or rejects the application in consultation with the DPIIT.