Daily Current Affairs: 13th February 2020: The Hindu+PIB
The following compilation has been made keeping in mind the need of the UPSC IAS exam. Each and every topic which has been included in this compilation is taken from very authentic and relevant source including The Hindu, The Indian Express, Business Standard, Press Information Bureau, etc.
As per the evolving pattern of the UPSC IAS prelims and mains exam each and every topic has been handpicked keeping in mind the syllabus of the exam.
Table of Contents
Context: As part of its mission to Mars this summer, National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) has planned to send a new laser-toting robot as one of seven instruments aboard the Mars 2020 rover.
- The robot, known as SuperCam, is used for studying mineralogy and chemistry from up to about 7 metres away. It might help scientists find signs of fossilised microbial life on Mars.
- SuperCam has an ability to fire a laser to study rock targets smaller than a pencil point from more than 7 m away. This laser lets the rover study spots it can’t reach with its arm.
- SuperCam basically looks at rock textures and chemicalsto find those that formed or changed in water on Mars long ago.
- SuperCam looks at different rock and“soil” typesto find ones that could preserve signs of past microbial life on Mars — if any ever existed.
- For the benefit of future explorers, SuperCam identifies which elements in the Martian dust may be harmful to humans.
- Scientists can also learn about how atmospheric molecules, water ice, and dust absorb or reflect solar radiation. This helps in better understanding and prediction of the Martian weather.
- SuperCam includes in it a microphone so that scientists can listen each time the laser hits a target. The popping sound created by the laser subtly changes depending on a rock’s material properties.
- The Mars 2020 rovermarks the3rd timethis particular microphone design will go to theRed Planet.
- It’s an improved version of the ChemCam laseronMars rover Curiosity: Supercam can additionally analyzeminerals and molecules, and takecolor instead of only black-and-white pictures.
ABOUT MARS 2020 ROVER MISSION
The Mars 2020 rover mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The Mars 2020 mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars exploration, including key questions about the potential for life on Mars.
The mission takes the next step by not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also searching for signs of past microbial life itself. The Mars 2020 rover introduces a drill that can collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a “cache” on the surface of Mars.
The mission is timed for a launch opportunity in July 2020 when Earth and Mars are in good positions relative to each other for landing on Mars i.e., it takes less power to travel to Mars at this time, compared to other times when Earth and Mars are in different positions in their orbits.
To keep mission costs and risks as low as possible, the Mars 2020 design is based on NASA’s successful Mars Science Laboratory mission architecture, including its Curiosity rover and proven landing system.
Context: The Government of India has decided to rename National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), Faridabad as Arun Jaitley National Institute of Financial Management (AJNIFM).
- Established in 1993, NIFM, Faridabad, was set up as a registered society under Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, Government of India with the mandate to train officers of various Finance and Accounts Services recruited by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) through the Civil Services Examination as also officers of Indian Cost Accounts Service (ICoAS).
- The Union Finance Minister is the President of the NIFM Society.
- The institute has emerged as a resource centre in order to meet the training needs of Central Government for senior and middle level of management in the fields of public policy, financial management, public procurement and other governance issues for promoting highest standards of professional competence and practice.
- NIFM also caters to the State Governments, Defence establishments, Banks, other Financial Institutions and PSUs.
- It has ventured beyond training into the field of management education and runs certain AICTE-approved programmes leading to Post Graduate Diplomas in Management, in various areas of Financial Management.
- Former finance minister Arun Jaitley oversaw the introduction of the path-breaking Goods and Services Tax (GST) which brought the country under one tax regime. Under his stewardship the merger of Railway budget with general budget was effected. He also ensured the introduction of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
ABOUT ARUN JAITLEY
Arun Jaitley (28 December 1952 – 24 August 2019) was an Indian politician and attorney. A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Jaitley served as the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs of the Government of India from 2014 to 2019.
He was a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India. He oversaw the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax which brought the country under one GST regime, demonetisation, merger of Railway budget with general budget and introduction of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
Context: The Quick Estimates of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) with base 2011-12 for the month of December 2019 stands at 133.5, which is 0.3% lower as compared to the level in the month of December 2018.
WHAT IS INDEX OF INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION? The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which shows the growth rates in different industry groups of the economy in a stipulated period of time. The IIP index is computed and published by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on a monthly basis (six weeks after the reference month ends). It is basically a composite indicator that measures the growth rate of industry groups classified under: 1. Broad sectors, namely, Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity 2. Use-based sectors, namely Basic Goods, Capital Goods and Intermediate Goods. The level of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an abstract number, the magnitude of which represents the status of production in the industrial sector for a given period of time as compared to a reference period of time. The base year was at one time fixed at 1993–94 so that year was assigned an index level of 100. The current base year is 2011-2012. The Eight Core Industries comprise nearly 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). These are Electricity , steel, refinery products, crude oil, coal, cement, natural gas and fertilisers.
TheOffice of the Economic Advisor, Ministry of Commerce and Industrymade thefirst attemptof compilation and release of IIP with base year 1937. The all-India IIP is being released as a monthly seriessince 1950. After 1937, the successive revised base years were 1946, 1951, 1956, 1960, 1970, 1980–81, 1993–94 and 2004-2005. REVISION OF IIP TO 2011-12 BASE YEAR The Central Statistics Office (CSO) revised the base year of the all-India Index of Industrial Production (IIP) from 2004-05 to 2011-12 on 12 May 2017. The revised IIP (2011-12) not only reflect the changes in the industrial sector but also aligns it with the base year of other macroeconomic indicators like the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI). IIP in the revised series continued to represent the Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity sectors. The basket of the new series contains 407 item groups ( 405 manufacturing sector item groups (comprising of 809 items) and one item group each of mining and electricity). The revised series uses the National Industrial Classification (NIC) 2008 for the purpose of classification of industrial production. Selection of items has been done at 3-digit level of NIC 2008 from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) data by ensuring that the selected items cover at least 80% of the output of each 3 digit group. The unit coverage of IIP, as before, covers entities in the organized sector units registered under the Factories Act, 1948. WHICH ARE THE SOURCES FOR THE COMPILATION OF NEW IIP SERIES? The new series has 14 sources namely: (i) Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP); (ii) Indian Bureau of Mines; (iii) Central Electricity Authority; (iv) Joint Plant Committee, Ministry of Steel; (v) Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas; (vi) Office of Textile Commissioner; (vii) Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals; (viii) Directorate of Sugar & Vegetable Oils; (ix) Department of Fertilizers; (x) Tea Board; (xi) Office of Jute Commissioner; (xii) Office of Coal Controller; (xiii) Railway Board; and (xiv) Coffee Board. IMPORTANCE OF IIP IIP is used as core ingredient in the compilation of annual and quarterly national accounts and forecasts of GDP. Furthermore, the availability of IIP on a monthly basis makes it amenable to be used as a reference series in the compilation of cyclical indicators. For instance, National Income Accounts (NIA) uses IIP figures to proxy the growth in unorganized sectors, which is otherwise available only with a gap of 5 years.
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Context: CPI (Rural, Urban, Combined) on Base 2012=100 for the month of January 2020 has been released recently.
The CPI has been released by National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. In addition to this, Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) for all India Rural, Urban and Combined are also being released for January 2020. WHAT DOES THE NUMBER SAYS? All India Inflation rates (on point to point basis i.e. current month over same month of last year, i.e., January 2020 over January 2019), based on General Indices and CFPIs are given as follows:
Jan. 2020 (Prov.)
Dec. 2019 (Final)
Jan. 2019 (Final)
ABOUT CONSUMER PRICE INDEX The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food, and medical care. It is calculated bytaking price changes for each item in the predetermined basket of goods and averaging them. Changes in the CPI are used to assess price changes associated with the cost of living; the CPI is one of the most frequently used statistics for identifying periods of inflation or deflation. A CPI can be used to index (i.e. adjust for the effect of inflation) the real value of wages, salaries, and pensions; to regulate prices; and to deflate monetary magnitudes to show changes in real values. The CPI measures the average change in prices over time that consumers pay for a basket of goods and services, commonly known as inflation. While it does measure the variation in price for retail goods and other items paid by consumers, it does not include things like savings and investments, and can often exclude spending by visitors from another country. The index is usually computed monthly. WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS THINGS EXCLUDED FROM CPI? The scope of coverage of the index may be limited and may exclude the following:
- Consumers’ expenditure abroad;
- Visitors’ expenditure within the country (may be excluded in principle if not in practice);
- The rural population may or may not be included;
- Certain groups such as the very rich or the very poor may be excluded.
- Saving and investment are always excluded (though the prices paid for financial services provided by financial intermediaries may be included along with insurance).
WHAT ARE VARIOUS TYPES OF CPI IN INDIA?
Consumer Price Index (CPI) in India comprises multiple series classified based on different economic groups. There are four series, viz the
- CPI UNME (Urban Non-Manual Employee) [Now, CPI(Rural/ Urban/ Combined)]: The Central Statistics Office (CSO) which is now the National Statistical Office (NSO) compiles this data.
- CPI AL (Agricultural Labourer): The Labour Bureau compiles this data to revise minimum wages for agricultural labour in different States.
- CPI RL (Rural Labourer): Also compiled by the Labour Bureau.
- CPI IW (Industrial Worker): It tries to measure the alterations over a time period on the prices of a fixed basket of goods and services utilised by Industrial Workers.The target group would be an average working-class family from any of these seven sectors of the economy ranging from factories, mines, plantation, motor transport, port, railways to electricity generation and distribution. It is compiled by the Labour Bureau.
NOTE: While the CPI UNME series is published by the Central Statistical Organisation, the others are published by the Department of Labour.
From February 2011 the CPI (UNME) released by CSO is replaced as CPI (urban),CPI (rural) and CPI (combined).
Consumer Price Index is used in calculation of Dearness Allowance which forms an integral part of salary of a Government Employee. Base year to calculate CPI is 2012=100.
CPI Formula: (Cost of basket in current period/ Cost of basket in base period) x 100
Context: National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to waive off the FASTag cost of Rs.100/- for NHAI FASTag between 15th and 29th February, 2020.
The move is taken to further increase digital collection of user fee via FASTag at NH fee plazas. NHAI had earlier announced for Free NHAI FASTag from 22 Nov to 15 December 2019 to encourage people to adopt FASTag. The pan-India roll out of electronic toll collection on national highways (NHs) has resulted in issuance of 1.10 crore FASTags till date, as per NHAI. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) started electronic toll collection through RFID-based FASTags on its 523 toll plazas across the country from December 15, 2019 for seamless flow of traffic. WHAT ARE FASTags?
FASTags are prepaid rechargeable tags for toll collection that allow automatic payment deduction from the FASTag, they are normally affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle. With the help of a FASTag, there will be no need to stop the vehicle at toll plazas to pay the toll. As soon as the vehicle crosses the toll plaza, the toll fee will get deducted from the bank account/prepaid wallet linked to the FASTag affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen. An activated FASTtag works on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. Moreover, these FASTags do not have any expiry date, i.e., they can be used as long as they are readable at the toll plaza and are not tampered.
WHAT TO BUY FASTAGS ?
FASTags are issued by 22 certified banks through various channels such as Point-of-Sale (POS) at National Highway toll plazas and select bank branches. They are also available on e-commerce platform such as Amazon. After buying the FASTag, you need to activate it to make it functional at the toll plaza.
IS THERE ANY CAP ON AMOUNT OF MONEY LOADED IN FASTAGS?
There is a cap on the maximum balance which can be kept in the prepaid wallet. As per regulations, these limits are:
- For limited KYC FASTag account holder: This type of FASTag cannot have more than Rs 20,000 in their FASTag prepaid wallet. The monthly reload limit is also capped at Rs 20,000.
- For full KYC FASTag account holder: This type of FASTag account cannot have more than Rs 1 lakh in their FASTag prepaid wallet. There is no monthly reload cap in this account, according to the Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) website.
WHAT IS THE PROVISION FOR NUMBER OF USER PER FASTAG?
One FASTag cannot be used with two or more vehicles. Two separate FASTags are to be purchased for the two vehicles and so on. As per the IHMCL website, “If you reside within a range of 10 km from the toll plaza, you can avail a concession on toll to be paid via your FASTag. In such a case, you need to submit the required documents – proof of residence at the bank, nearest POS location to validate that your residential address is within 10 km of a particular toll plaza. Once the address is verified, you can avail a concession on the toll paid via FASTag assigned to your vehicle.”
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Context: The Government has recently amended the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 by the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2019.
Previously, The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, was amended by theArbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015in order to make arbitration process user friendly, cost effective and ensure speedy disposal and neutrality of arbitrators. The recent amendment in the 2015 Act has been done in order to give a boost to institutional, arbitration vis-a-vis ad hoc arbitration and to remove some practical difficulties in applicability of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015. WHAT HAS THE RECENT AMENDMENT PROPOSED?
The Amendment Act inter-alia seeks to insert a new Part 1A to the Act of 1996 for the establishment and incorporation of an independent body namely, the Arbitration Council of India (ACI) for the purpose of grading of arbitral institutions and accreditation of arbitrators, etc. As per section 43C of the Act, the following composition has been proposed for the Arbitration Council of India (ACI):
- Headed by a Chairperson, who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice or Judge of a High Court or an eminent person, having special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration of arbitration, to be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
- Two Full-time Members from amongst eminent arbitration practitioners and academicians.
- In addition, one representative of a recognized body of commerce and industry shall be nominated on rotational basis as a Part-time Member.
- The Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice; Secretary, Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and Chief Executive Officer, ACI will be ex-officio Members.
Section 43M of the Act provides for the Secretariat to the Council consisting of such number of officers and employees as may be prescribed by the Central Government.
In this regard, the Department of Legal Affairs has prepared the following draft Rules:
The Arbitration Council of India (the Salary, Allowances and other Terms and Conditions of Chairperson and Members) Rules, 2020.
The Arbitration Council of India (the Travelling and other Allowances payable to Part-time Member) Rules, 2020.
The Arbitration Council of India (the Qualifications, Appointment and other Terms and Conditions of the service of the Chief Executive Officer) Rules 2020.
The Arbitration Council of India (the Number of Officers and Employees of the Secretariat of the Council and the qualifications, appointment and other terms and conditions of the officers and employees of the Council) Rules 2020.
WHAT IS ARBITRATION?
According to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Arbitration is a procedure in which a dispute is submitted, by agreement of the parties, to one or more arbitrators who make a binding decision on the dispute. In choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution procedure instead of going to court. The principal characteristics of Arbitration are:
- Arbitration is consensual: Arbitration can only take place if both parties have agreed to it. In the case of future disputes arising under a contract, the parties insert an arbitration clause in the relevant contract. In contrast to mediation, a party cannot unilaterally withdraw from arbitration.
- The parties choose the arbitrator(s): Under the WIPO Arbitration Rules, the parties can select a sole arbitrator together. If they choose to have a three-member arbitral tribunal, each party appoints one of the arbitrators; those two persons then agree on the presiding arbitrator.
- Alternatively, the Center can suggest potential arbitrators with relevant expertise or directly appoint members of the arbitral tribunal.
- The Center maintains an extensive roster of arbitrators ranging from seasoned dispute-resolution generalists to highly specialized practitioners and experts covering the entire legal and technical spectrum of intellectual property.
- Arbitration is neutral: In addition to their selection of neutrals of appropriate nationality, parties are able to choose such important elements as the applicable law, language and venue of the arbitration. This allows them to ensure that no party enjoys a home court advantage.
- Arbitration is a confidential procedure: The WIPO Rules specifically protect the confidentiality of the existence of the arbitration, any disclosures made during that procedure, and the award.
- In certain circumstances, the WIPO Rules allow a party to restrict access to trade secrets or other confidential information that is submitted to the arbitral tribunal or to a confidentiality advisor to the tribunal.
- The decision of the arbitral tribunal is final and easy to enforce: Under the WIPO Rules, the parties agree to carry out the decision of the arbitral tribunal without delay. International awards are enforced by national courts under the New York Convention, which permits them to be set aside only in very limited circumstances. More than 140 States are party to this Convention.
Context: Union Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank”, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhanjointly released curriculum for School Health Ambassador Initiative under Ayushman Bharat in New Delhi.
- Teachers are the best mentors for the children and now they will also act as “Health and Wellness Ambassadors” and will disseminate various key information by organising culturally sensitive activity based sessions for one hour per week for 24 weeks in a year to promote joyful learning.
- The first phase of implementation will be in all the public upper primary, secondary and senior secondary schools of aspirational districts.
- Subsequently, remaining districts will be taken up in the second year.
- In this new initiative, health promotion and prevention activities program has been added in addition to ongoing health screening program through Rasthriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) teams and provision of services (IFA, Albendazole and sanitary napkins).
- While health screening and provision of services are ongoing activities, the newly added health promotion and prevention component will be implemented by two teachers identified in every school as “Health and Wellness Ambassador”. These ambassadors will be supported by class monitors as “Health and Wellness Messengers”.
- A National Resource Group (NRG) of 40 members has already been constituted by NCERT who have sound training skills and experience in Adolescent Health.
- The NRG will train the State Resource Group which will comprise of 2 persons each from SCERT, SIHFW and DIET from each selected district at the 5 Regional Institute of Education (RIE) at Shillong, Mysore, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar and Ajmer.
- The School Health Programme (SHP) under Ayushman Bharat was launched on April 14, 2018 by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh.
- This is a joint collaborative programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Human Resource & Development, Department of School Education & Literacy.
- The initiative targets both Education and Health implementers and is envisaged to facilitate an integrated approach to health programming and more effective learning at the school level.
- Ministry of Human Resource & Development and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) along with NCERT has developed curriculum framework and training material for training of nodal teachers, in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG- 3).
ABOUT AYUSHMAN BHARAT SCHEME
Ayushman Bharat, a flagship scheme of Government of India was launched as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This initiative has been designed on the lines as to meet SDG and its underlining commitment, which is “leave no one behind”. Ayushman Bharat is an attempt to move from sectoral and segmented approach of health service delivery to a comprehensive need-based health care service. AIM: To undertake path breaking interventions to holistically address health (covering prevention, promotion and ambulatory care), at primary, secondary and tertiary level. COMPONENTS: Ayushman Bharat adopts a continuum of care approach, comprising of two inter-related components, which are –
- Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs): Designed to deliver Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) bringing healthcare closer to the homes of people covering both maternal and child health services and non-communicable diseases, including free essential drugs and diagnostic services.
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY): This component aims at providing health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to over 10.74 crores poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries).
- There is no cap on the family size, age or gender under the scheme.
- This scheme was earlier known as National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) before it was rechristened to PM-JAY.
- This scheme was launched on 23rd September 2018 by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
- PM-JAY has been rolled out for the bottom 40% of poor and vulnerable population.
- The households included are based on the deprivation and occupational criteria of Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011) for rural and urban areas respectively.
- The scheme subsumed then existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), launched in 2008.
- PM-JAY is completely funded by the Government, and cost of implementation is shared between Central and State Governments.
- All pre–existing conditions are covered from day one.
- Covers up to 3 days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days post-hospitalization expenses such as diagnostics and medicines.
- Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country i.e. a beneficiary can visit any empanelled public or private hospital for cashless treatment.
- Public hospitals are reimbursed for the healthcare services at par with the private hospitals.
- Services include approximately 1,393 procedures covering all the costs related to treatment, including but not limited to drugs, supplies, diagnostic services, physician’s fees, room charges, surgeon charges, OT and ICU charges etc.
Context: Field Training Exercise of 2nd BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise on flood rescue was inaugurated by Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai at the Ramachandi Beach, Puri (Odisha).
Delegates & rescue teams of five member nations namely- India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka & Myanmar, of BIMSTEC group participated in this exercise. KEY INFORMATION
- In order to bring in a feel of real disaster scenario, “simulated exercise sites including villages & Heritage Site (Konark Sun Temple)” were set up at Ramachandi Beach in Puri to depict flooded localities and houses due to the flood disaster.
- Flood disaster was painted due to cyclone followed by heavy rainfall. A large number of people were presumed to be stranded within the simulated villages and also the cyclone adversely affected a cultural heritage site.
- BIMSTEC member countries offered assistance to the Govt. of India for the flood rescue &relief operation. Govt. of India accepted the assistance offered by BIMSTEC member nations and thus participated in this joint field exercise.
- A Heli-born rescue operation was carried out to demonstrate the coordination among various stakeholders to deal with emergency situation.
- Relief activities such as providing medical care to the needy, distribution of food packets etc. were also simultaneously shown in a very coordinated and professional manner.
- For this Exercise, a Communication Centre, Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), Base of Operation, Medical Camp, Facilitation Centre, Media Enclave etc. were established by the NDRF as per the International Search & Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) guidelines for familiarization & exercise purpose.
- ThisJoint Field Training Exercisewas conducted under theleadership of , Director General, NDRF Shri Satya Narayan Pradhanby NDRF officials. International observers fromICCROM, INSARAG, UNDP also attended the exercise.
BIMSTEC stands for Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. It is an international organisation of 7 nations of South Asia and South East Asia, housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion (2018). The BIMSTEC member states includes—Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand , Nepal and Bhutan. These are among those countries dependent on the Bay of Bengal. 14 priority sectors of cooperation have been identified and several BIMSTEC centres have been established to focus on those sectors. Further, a BIMSTEC free trade agreement is under negotiation which is also referred to as mini SAARC. BACKGROUND: On 6 June 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation). Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997 during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, the Group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). In 1998, Nepal became an observer. In February 2004, Nepal and Bhutan become full members. On 31 July 2004, in the first Summit, the grouping was renamed as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. MAJOR SECTORS OF COOPERATION: There are14 main sectors of BIMSTEC along technological and economic cooperation among south Asian and southeast Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. These are:
- Trade & Investment (Lead Country: BANGLADESH)
- Transport & Communication (Lead Country: INDIA)
- Energy (Lead Country: MYANMAR)
- Tourism (Lead Country: INDIA)
- Technology (Lead Country: SRI LANKA)
- Fisheries (Lead Country: THAILAND)
- Agriculture (Lead Country: MYANMAR)
- Public Health (Lead Country: THAILAND)
- Poverty Alleviation (Lead Country: NEPAL)
- Counter-Terrorism & Transnational Crime (Lead Country: INDIA)
- Environment & Disaster Management (Lead Country: INDIA)
- People-to-People Contact (Lead Country: THAILAND)
- Cultural Cooperation (Lead Country: BHUTAN)
- Climate Change (Lead Country: BANGLADESH)
NOTE: Sectors 7 to 13 were added at the 8th Ministerial Meeting in Dhaka in 2005 while the 14th sector was added in 11th Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi in 2008. BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat: At Dhaka, opened in 2014 and India provides 33% (65% of region’s population) of its expenditure. Current Secretary General of BIMSTEC is Ambassador Mohammad Shahidul Islam from Bangladesh and former Secretary General was Sumith Nakandala from Srilanka. BIMSTEC FREE TRADE AREA NETWORK BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement (BFTAFA) has been signed by all member nations to stimulate trade and investment in the parties, and attract outsiders to trade with and invest in BIMSTEC at a higher level. BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement draft was discussed on 1 December 2017 at New Delhi, to facilitate coastal shipping within 20 nautical miles of the coastline in the region to boost trade between the member countries. Once the agreement becomes operational after it is ratified, a lot of cargo movement between the member countries can be done through the cost effective, environment friendly and faster coastal shipping routes. In 7-8th November 2019, First BIMSTEC Conclave of Ports, Vishakhapatnam was organised with the primary aims to provide a platform to strengthen maritime interaction, port-led connectivity initiatives and sharing best practices among Member Countries. BIMSTEC SUMMITS
- FIRST: On 31 July 2004, hosted by Thailand with Bangkok as Host City.
- SECOND: On 13 November 2008, hosted by India with New Delhi as Host City.
- THIRD: On 4 March 2014, hosted by Myanmar with Naypyidaw as Host City.
- FOURTH: On 30, 31 August 2018, hosted by Nepal with Kathmandu as Host City.
- FIFTH: To be held in 2022, to be hosted by Sri Lanka with Colombo as Host City.
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