01 st Oct, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Russia –India agenda on S-400 Air Defense System (GS3: Defense, prelims)
- India has signed a defense deal worth nearly Rs 39,000 crore with Russia to purchase five states of art S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defense systems.
- The state-of-the-art S-400 Triumf is considered one of the most advanced long-range defense systems in the world also known as SA-21 Growler by NATO.
- The S-400 was developed as an upgrade of the S-300 series of surface-to-air missile systems.
- Its powerful radars can track hundreds of targets simultaneously and destroy a range of targets.
- S-400 capable to destroy all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles
- It has a range of 400 km and can hit targets at a height of up to 30 km.
- The Kamov-226T helicopters will replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleets.
- The helicopters will be made by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with Russian cooperation under Make In India.
- Ka-226T is a powerful, light and multirole helicopter operated day and night in the difficult adverse condition like high mountains, hot climate, and marine areas.
- It has the speed of 205 Km/h having the range of 600km
- It is used for reconnaissance, monitoring, targeting, and transportation.
Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/s-400-kamov-on-the-agenda-of-modi-putin/article25090371.ece 59 plant species in IUCN threat categories (GS3: Environment, prelims)
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently identified the threat status of 59 Indian plant species.
- The study revealed 59 plant species that are at risk of “elimination” if the threat levels they face are not assessed soon.
- In the report, there are 10 species which are critically endangered, 18 endangered, six vulnerable, five near threatened and one species each are data deficient and least concern.
Palm Bentinckia Nicobarica
- The palm is endemic to Great Nicobar Island which is listed in Critically endangered from the currently listed endangered based on its distributional attributes
Responsible Factors declining the species:
- Habitat loss was a huge factor affecting many declining plant population in wild.
- The seed show low viability also caused the decline in the natural environment.
Impact of report
- This would help the conservation efforts for the palm
- Also, help to provide the funding to sponsor research and conservation activities to save them.
Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention (GS2: Intervention in Development)
- The Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention will be organized by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in New Delhi.
- It also coincides with the fourth anniversary of the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission and also the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
- It will provide a platform for Sanitation Ministers and other leaders in WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) from around the world.
- The UNO Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6.2), i.e. to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.
- India is close to becoming open defecation free.
- Overall, 503 districts and 24 States have been declared open defecation-free.
- The rural sanitation coverage of India has increased significantly, from 39% in October 2014 to 94.44% as of 30 September 2018
- The Union government had informed Lok Sabha that 11 states, including Gujarat, have been declared as ODF under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).
Competition Law Review Committee enacted to review the Competition Act (GS3: Economy)
- The objective of this to ensuring that Legislation is in sync with the needs of strong economic fundamentals.
- Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs is the Chairperson of the Committee along with other members.
- The Competition Act was passed in the year 2002.
- The Commission started functioning in right earnest from 2009.
- The Commission from 2009 onwards plays an important role in creating competition and fair play practices in the Indian market.
- India is today amongst the top five Economies in the World and poised to forge ahead further.
- Competition Law is strengthened and re-calibrated to promote best practices which result in the citizens of this country achieving their aspirations and value for money.
Committee focused areas are:
- To review the Competition Act/ Rules/ Regulations in the volatile business environment.
- To look into international best practices in the competition fields eg. anti-trust laws, merger guidelines and handling cross-border competition issues.
- To study other regulatory regimes, institutional mechanisms, government policies which overlap with the Competition Act.
India sees highest seizure of black spotted turtles(GS3: Environment, prelims)
- India accounts for 29% of black spotted turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) seized from across seven countries in South Asia, states a recent report by TRAFFIC, an international network monitoring trade in wildlife.
- Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of threatened species, the black spotted turtle or spotted pond turtle is native to South Asia, and a heavily trafficked chelonian. The medium-sized freshwater turtle has a black shell with yellow streaks. The species was once smuggled for its meat and is now sought after as an exotic pet.
- The highest number of seizures occurred in India, accounting for a total of 3,001 (29.33%) specimens. Of the 53 seizures across these seven countries, 38% (or 20) seizures were from India.
- In India, the species is distributed across the north, northeast and a few parts of central India in States such as West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and parts of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Meghalaya. But an analysis of the trade route places Chennai as an important centre for the trade.
- The report describes the India-Bangladesh border, part of the species’ natural range, as another hotspot for trade in the black soft-shelled turtle.
- Bangladesh capital Dhaka “is in closer proximity to the Indian Black Spotted Turtle trade hotspots than most large Indian cities and may therefore function as a regional collection centre,” the publication states.
- The report also highlights that 47% of the seizures involved smuggling via commercial rights. Of the 55 suspects arrested for smuggling black spotted turtles, the number of known convictions was only 20, a phenomenon that experts described as lacunae in the preparation of cases, and in procedural lapses in prosecution.
- Apart from increasing public awareness, the report emphasises the need for better law enforcement and cooperation among international authorities.
Charminar declared Swachh Iconic Place (GS2: Governance)
- The Central government has announced Charminar as ‘Swachh Iconic Place’, in recognition of eorts towards its renovation and development and also historical monuments close by.
- The award has been declared by the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry.
- Along with Charminar, Chudi Bazar, Murgi Chowk, Clock Tower, Zulkan Kaman, and Moazzamjahi Market too were being renovated, by allotting special funds for the same.
- The letter acknowledged implementation of sanitation programmes and efforts to make the sites tourist friendly.
- The award would be presented at the fourth annual celebration of Swachh Bharat Mission in New Delhi on October 2.
WTO, IMF, World Bank seek ‘urgent’ international trade reforms (GS2: IR)
Joint report raises concerns
- The World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank had issued an emergency call to reform the multilateral trading system as the US retreats from prior agreements.
- The slow pace of reforms since the early 2000s, fundamental changes in a more interconnected modern economy and the risk of trade policy reversals call for urgency to re-energize trade policy reforms.
American arrogance on rise
- US has harshly criticized globalism in general and questioned America’s participation in multilateral institutions like the WTO during the UNGA meeting.
- The fallout from the escalating US-China trade conflict led the WTO to cut its trade growth forecast.
- WTO also warned that a full-blown trade war would knock around 17% off global trade growth, and 1.9% off GDP growth.
Focus on E-commerce
- The WTO, IMF and World Bank jointly called for new rules to address the expanding role of electronic commerce along with investment and services trade in the 21st century.
- The opportunities provided by information technology and other fundamental changes in the global economy are yet to be reflected in modern areas of trade policy.
- The three institutions also advocated the more so-called use of plurilateral talks to help unblock trade negotiations that have failed to advance at the multilateral level.
Emphasis on Plurilateral Accords
- Plurilateral accords are deals negotiated among a group of like-minded members that are limited to certain sectors of goods or services.
- Such agreements are typically easier and faster to negotiate than multilateral accords, which require a consensus among the WTO’s 164 members.
Revitalizing the Dispute Settlement Mechanism
- The joint report urged WTO members to work together to fix the impasse in the WTO dispute settlement system, which risks paralysis due to the Trump administration’s refusal to appoint appellate body members.
- Over the past year the US has cited a pattern of judicial overreach at the WTO and has blocked the appointment of experts to the appellate body, which has the final say in WTO dispute rulings.
- If the US continues to oppose new appointments to the panel beyond December 2019, the body will not have enough panelists to sign off on rulings.
- The WTO will lack the ability to fully adjudicate trade disputes involving the world’s largest companies.