INDIA-RUSSIA JOINT COOPERATION IN HYDROCARBON
Context: A Joint Statement on Cooperation between India and Russia in Hydrocarbon Sector for 2019-2024 has been recently conducted in Vladivostok, Russia.
The two countries share а common understanding that energy is highly crucial for the development of their people and the economy. Hence, both of them affirmed their determination to deepen cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector, both bilaterally as well as in third country projects.
Key Highlights of the joint statement
- After recognizing the significance of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) which is supplied from Russia to India, it is agreed to strengthen the LNG imports to India.
- As a part of the joint statement of cooperation, Russia will encourage its private and public sector companies to take part in gas projects in India, that too specifically in the development of gas pipeline networks and city gas distribution infrastructure in India.
- On the other hand, private and public companies of India will explore the possibility of collaborating in LNG projects, including in the Arctic.
- With respect to the cooperation in the Arctic Region, possibility of development of closer cooperation with Russian companies will be examined from the Indian side, which will also include the LNG Arctic projects of JSC NOVATEK.
- India is also planning to invite further investment from Russian public and private sector entities into the refining, petrochemical and other associated sectors of India.
- As part of Training and Technology, the joint statement of cooperation ensures that the both sides will strengthen and diversify existing training exchange program and will create new ways of enhancing exchange of knowledge, joint research in energy sector, including those in emerging technologies.
‘Loktantra Ke Swar’ and ‘The Republican Ethic’
Context: 2nd Volume of ‘Loktantra Ke Swar’ and ‘The Republican Ethic’ – The Compilation of Selected Speeches of President of India – is published by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
What are these?
These are a compilation of 95 speeches which has been delivered by the President Ram Nath Kovind during his 2nd year in office i.e., July 2018 to July 2019. These speeches covers issues which range from diplomatic focus to good governance, from quality education to the pursuit of excellence and from welfare of our brave armed forces to the overriding spirit of Constitution. These speeches are divided into eight categories:
- ‘Addressing the Nation’
- ‘Windows to the World’,
- ‘Educating India: Equipping India’,
- ‘Dharma of Public Service’,
- ‘Honouring our Sentinels’,
- ‘Spirit of the Constitution and Law’,
- ‘Acknowledging Excellence’ and
- ‘Mahatma Gandhi: Moral Exemplar, Guiding Light.’
Declaration of terrorists under the UAPA Act, 1967
Context: Certain individuals have been declared as terrorists by the Government of India under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. The individuals declared as terrorists are those who were involved in terrorist attacks within India and are declared as Global Terrorists by the United Nations. Before such a declaration, when certain terrorist organizations were banned, their associated individuals simply changed their names and continued to their terrorist activities in India. Following names has been added to the Section 4 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 following the recent amendments by the central government:
- Maulana Masood Azhar: chief, founder and key leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad
- Hafiz Muhammad: chief, founder and key leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamat-ud-Dawa.
- Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi: chief operation commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba and one of its founder members.
- Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar: runs an international underworld crime syndicate and is involved in perpetrating acts of terror.
|Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar|
REPORT ON STATUS OF TIGER
Context: A Report on Status of Tiger Habitats in high altitude ecosystems has been released by Union Ministry of Environment.
Key Highlights of the Report
The study is led by the Global Tiger Forum(GTF) with the range country governments of Bhutan, India and Nepal, along with WWF and country specific collaborators. The study has also been supported by the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme(ITHPC) of the IUCN. The study revealed the compatibility of even higher altitude with the tiger growth and has called for a master plan for Tigers at High Altitude in order to help them grow and survive in these altitudes. The study also provides the rationale for promoting the high altitude conservation of tiger, along with recognizing the possible viable habitats, corridor linkages, induced landscape level changes and the anthropogenic pressures for evolving on in-situ conservation roadmaps.
About Global Tiger Forum (GTF)
It is the only inter-governmental international body which is established with members from willing countries to embark on a global campaign to protect the remaining five sub-species of Tigers distributed over the 13 Tiger Range countries from across the world.
It was formed in 1993 and since 1997 has been working as an independent organization.
It has a General Assembly meeting every 3 years and Standing Committee meetings at least once a year. The Chairperson, who is usually a minister from one of the Tiger Range countries, is in the leading role for a fixed tenure of 3 years.
The GTF has its secretariat in New Delhi.
REPORT on Cardiovascular Diseases in India
Context: A study looking into the “Cardiovascular Diseases risk factors in middle-aged adults in 21 countries” has recently been published by the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiologic (PURE) in the Lancet and the European Society of Cardiology 2019.
Key Highlights of the Report
- According to the study, CVDs remains the major cause of mortality among the middle aged adults globally. Of the 55 million deaths across the globe in 2017, approximately 17-7 million were due to the CVD.
- Looking at the high income countries, death from cancer is twice that of CVD, but in low income countries, including India also, death from CVD was three times that of cancer.
- CVDs in India are a mostly a result of Household air pollution. This is a greater risk factor for cardiac arrests than for diabetes, tobacco use, low physical activities and poor diet.
- For cooking and heating, at least 65% of the homes in India use biomass fuel, which is a leading cause for household air pollution. But, in case of urban areas, the use of mosquito coils, dhoop sticks and agarbattis contribute to the high household air pollution.
- The High Income Countries involved in the study were Canada, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and United Arab Emirates whereas Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, Iran, Malaysia, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Turkey and South Africa made up the Middle Income countries.
- The Low Income Countries were Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
HIGHER PROCUREMENT PRICE FOR ETHANOL
Context: Higher procurement price for ethanol purchased by oil marketing companies for the ethanol blended petrol (EBP) programme was approved by the Cabinet recently.
According to the approval given by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, the price of ethanol derived from C-heavy molasses will be increased from Rs. 43.46 per litre to Rs. 43.75 per litre. The price of ethanol derived from B-heavy molasses will be increased from Rs. 52.43 per litre to Rs. 54.27 per litre. The price of ethanol derived from sugarcane juice, sugar, and sugar syrup has been set at Rs. 59.48 per litre. Goods and Services Tax and transportation tax associated with the ethanol supply is also to be paid by the Oil Marketing Companies and are advised to continue according to priority order of ethanol derived from: (i) Sugarcane Juice/Suger/Sugar Syrup, (ii) B heavy Molasses, (iii) C Heavy Molasses (iv) Damaged Food grains/other sources.
ABOUT ETHANOL BLENDED PROGRAMME (EBP)
The Ethanol Blending Programme (EBP) tends to achieve blending of Ethanol with motor sprit with a view to reduce pollution, conserve foreign exchange and increase the value addition in sugar industry, hence, enabling them to clear cane price arrears of farmers. Under the EBP, the Central Government has scaled up blending targets from 5% to 10%. The procedure of procurement of ethanol under the EBP has also been simplified in order to ease the entire ethanol supply chain. This programme has been extended to the whole of India except UTs of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands w.e.f. 1st April 2019.
INDIA’S POSITION IN GOLD RESERVES
Context: World Gold Council (WGC) has recently released the rankings of the countries with respect to the gold reserves.
According to the report, U.S. is at the top with 8,134 tonnes followed by Germany with 3,367 tonnes. INDIA has pulled back the Netherlands to move into the list of top 10 countries in terms of total gold reserves. As WGC findings, India has a total gold reserves of 618.2 tonnes, which is marginally higher than that of Netherlands’ reserves of 612.5 tonnes. In terms of individual nations, India occupies the 9th rank since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) occupies the 3rd position after the U.S. and Germany. Apart from U.S. and Germany, the top 10 list includes IMF at 3rd with a holding of 2,451.8 tonnes, which is followed by Italy (2,451.8 tonnes), France (2,436.1 tonnes), Russia (2,219.2 tonnes), China (1,936.5 tonnes), Switzerland (1,040 tonnes) and Japan (765.2 tonnes) with India at the 10th spot. Gold reserves of India have grown substantially in the past couple of decades from 357.8 tonnes in the first quarter of 2000 to the current 618.2 tonnes. Pakistan is standing unchanged at the 45th position with total gold reserves of 64.6 tonnes.
About World Gold Council
The World Gold Council is the market development organisation for the gold industry whose purpose is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold, provide industry leadership, and be the global authority on the gold market. Its members are the world’s largest and most forward-thinking gold mining companies. It is based in the UK, with operations in India, China, Singapore and the US , and is the lead for the gold industry worldwide. The World Gold Council has 26 members which are headquartered across the world and have mining operations in over 45 countries.
GLOBAL LIVEABILITY RANKINGS 2019
Context: Global Liveability Rankings 2019 has been released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
According to the EIU,its ranking of 140 cities is based on their scores in 5 broad categories, each of which in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable. These factors includes:
- Culture and environment
- The Austrian capital Vienna has again topped the ranking to become the world’s most liveable city.
- Vienna has also won top position in another survey, the annual quality of living index by human resources consulting firm Mercer, for the 10th time in a row in 2019.
- Vienna once again came ahead of Melbourne – which had held the top ranking for 7 years until losing it to Vienna in 2018.
- These top notches were followed by Sydney, Osaka and Calgary.
- Europe claimed 8 of the top 20 spots, with cities in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada making up the rest.
- The City of Light, Paris, dropped 6 places to 25th due to the anti-government “yellow vest” protests.
- It was for the first time, that the index noted the effects of climate change on liveability, with New Delhi and Cairo plunging in the rankings to 118th and 125th place respectively. These poor rankings is mainly due to “poor air quality, undesirable average temperatures and inadequate water provision”.
- London and New York rank 48th and 58th respectively as they continue to struggle under the perceptions of the risk of crime and terrorism and overstretched infrastructure.
- The least liveable cities were Karachi, Tripoli, Dhaka, Lagos and, at the very bottom, Damascus.
- The Union Cabinet has approved the Infusion of Rs 4,557 crore by the Government in IDBI Bank which will enable it to return to profitability and normal lending.
- Megalithic Sword has been unearthed from a rock-cut cave in Kozhikode. The artifacts unearthed includes Megalithic era iron sword, a chisel and a few decorated pottery from a rock-cut cave at Pothuvachery in Kannur district.
- The 105-cm sword is believed to be 2,500 years old.
- The grim situation of police in the country.
- Actoress Priyanka Chopra and her pop star husband Nick Jonas were named the best dressed of 2019 by People magazine.
- This was the first time in the celebrity magazine’s history that a couple has shared top style honours.