GS II Topic- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India, Israel signed two agreements
India and Israel have signed two agreements in the field of water resources management and agriculture.
Evolution of India-Israel Relations
- India had formally recognised Israel in September 1950. Embassies were opened in 1992 after full diplomatic relations were established.
- Since the upgradation of relations in 1992, defence and agriculture have been the main pillars of bilateral engagement.
- In recent years, bilateral ties have expanded to areas such as education, science and technology and homeland security.
- The future vision of the cooperation is of a strong hi-tech partnership as both countries leading knowledge economies. Both countries have friendly political ties.
Trade and economic Relations
- The diamonds constitutes close to 50% of bilateral trade between both countries.
- Major exports from India to Israel include precious stones and metals, textiles and textile articles, chemical products, plants and vegetable products, and mineral products.
- Major imports by India from Israel include precious stones and metals, chemicals (mainly potash) and mineral products, base metals and machinery and transport equipment.
GS II Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Chinese ship opens new trade route via Gwadar port in Pakistan
A new international trade route in Southwest Pakistan has been opened up by a Chinese ship exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa. With this, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become a reality. This route that is being developed by the Chinese in Pakistan is expected to make huge amount of economic gains for the country
The CPEC is one of the most important projects of the ‘one belt, one road’ project initiated by China that aims to connect the Asian economic giant with Europe and Africa, thereby making the country a bigger player in world economic affairs.
- Consisting of a number of road, rail and pipeline ventures, the CPEC connects Xinjiang in Northwestern region of China with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian sea, going over the Pakistan occupied Kashmir territory of Gilgit-Baltistan and the disputed region of Balochistan.
- Reportedly, the port at Gwadar will have the capacity to manage 19 million tons of crude oil which will be directly transferred to China.
- As a multi-million dollar project, the CPEC is reported to have brought Pakistan twice the amount of foreign investments the country received since 2008.
- The $46 billion promised by China will be used in generating close to 17,000 megawatts of electricity at a cost of $34 billion through coal, nuclear and other renewable energy projects. The rest of the money would be utilised in building up transport infrastructure.
GS III Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
2016 will be hottest year on record
As the WMO’s preliminary assessment provided in its ‘Status of the Global Climate in 2016’, report, the year 2016 was the warmest year on record globally. WMO is the United Nations’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water.
Highlights of report
- GLOBAL TEMPERATURES for January to September 2016 were 1.2oC above pre-industrial levels and 0.88°C above the average for the 1961-1990 reference period (baseline).
- ICE AND SNOW COVER: Arctic sea ice remained at very low levels, especially during early 2016 and the October re-freezing period. In this region, temperatures were 6 to 7oC above the long-term average. Many other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least 3oC above average.
- OCEANS: The temperatures had spiked in the early months of the year 2016 because of the powerful El Niño event of 2015-16. The excess ocean heat by the El Niño event had contributed to coral reef bleaching, and above-average sea-level rise. However, the extra heat from the powerful El Nino event has disappeared, the heat from global warming will continue.
- HIGH-IMPACT EVENTS: Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen. Heat waves and flooding are becoming more regular. Sea level rise has increased exposure to storm surges associated with tropical cyclones. Besides, wildfires and major droughts affected several parts of the world.
- HUMANITARIAN CONSEQUENCES: The annual and long-term changes in the climate system will aggravate social, humanitarian and environmental pressure. Population migration is expected to increase as a result of more frequent and potentially more intense weather-related disasters. Rising sea levels will render coastal and low lying zones uninhabitable. Climate Change will also increase competition and conflict over shrinking resources.
Paris Agreement on Climate Change
The Paris Agreement in 2015 had adopted 2oC as the absolute threshold for staying within safe global warming levels. However, 1.5 oC was set as an ambitious target, especially bearing in mind the fate of small island countries that are threatened with submergence due to sea-level rise and extreme weather events. But World is coming dangerously close to breaching the 1.5 oC warming level, which is an ambitious target to stay safe from the worst impacts of climate change.
GS III Topic: Disaster and disaster management.
Special Committee for Inter-Linking of Rivers
The Union Cabinet has approved constitution of ‘special committee for inter-linking of rivers’ in compliance with a Supreme Court order.
Significance of this move:
- This move will help in monitoring of the precious Inter-linking of River Projects to be carried out under National Perspective Plan 1980 of Government of India.
- The Status-cum-Progress Report of Special Committee for Inter-linking of Rivers will be submitted bi-annually for information of Cabinet. This will facilitate faster and appropriate decisions in the interest of the country as expeditiously as possible.
The apex court of India had given the go ahead for the controversial inter-linking river project, seeking to transfer water from surplus to water deficit areas in the country. In its final judgement in 2012, the court had expressed the “pious hope of speedy implementation” to bring the project to a success.
- The court had also directed the Centre to constitute a ‘special committee’ forthwith for inter-linking of rivers for the benefit of the entire nation.
- The project, in the pipeline since 1980, has been touted by the Centre as one solution to a number of problems: making water available for irrigating 35 million hectares; enabling full use of existing irrigation projects; generating power to the tune of 34,000 MW with added benefits, including flood control.
GS III Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Hunar Haat inaugurated at 2016 India International Trade Fair
The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs for the first time had inaugurated Hunar Haat (Skill Haat) at India International Trade Fair (2016) at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. It is aimed at promoting and supporting artisans from Minority communities and providing them domestic as well as international market for display and sell their products.
- The Hunar Haat exhibition has been organised by the National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) under “USTTAD” scheme In it about 184 master artisans from across the country are showcasing their traditional art and skills at about 100 stalls at the international platform.
- It seeks to provide an excellent platform to artisans belonging to Minority communities from across nation to display their art and skills before domestic and international visitors.
About USTTAD scheme
- USTTAD stands for Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development.
- It was launched by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs.
- The scheme aims at preserving and promoting the rich heritage of the traditional arts & crafts of the Minority communities. In the light of globalisation & competitive market, these crafts have gradually lost their employability.
- It also envisages at boosting the skill of craftsmen, weavers and artisans who are already engaged in the traditional ancestral work
GS II Topic- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Government of India and ADB Sign $500 Million Loan to Help Build Longest River Bridge Across the Ganges River in India
It was built to Improve the Transport Connectivity Between North and South Bihar and Better Link Between the State Capital, Patna, and the Surrounding Areas
The new Ganga Bridge, to be located near Patna, will span both channels of the Ganges River and serve as an alternate route to the existing Ganga Bridge. The project will also build viaducts, embankments, and toll and service facilities, and will link to national highway networks.
- The bridge is expected to benefit over 9 million people.
- The new Ganga Bridge will significantly reduce travel time to Patna from the surrounding regions, in particular north Bihar, which will ease access of people to state’s administrative and social services.
- The bridge will be a boon for the inhabitants of Raghopur Diara river island who will gain year-round road access. Currently, the 250,000 inhabitants of the island rely on boats and a seasonal pontoon bridge as their only links to Patna.
- Bihar, the third most populous State in India with over 100 million inhabitants, has poverty levels above the national average, with seven out of 10 of the state’s poorest districts located in the north. Traffic volumes are rising but there are only four operational bridges along the 200 km stretch of the Ganges River that pass through Bihar state, and the capacity of existing bridges is already stretched, undermining connectivity and access to opportunities for northern communities.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
It is a joint military exercise between India and China which recently began in Pune.
- The exercise is aimed at sharing the expertise in drills and practices while tackling insurgency and terrorism and thereby promote healthy military-to-military relations between India and China.
- This is the sixth such joint exercise being organised between the two countries. First such exercise was held in China at Kunming of Yunnan province in 2007.
- It will be conducted in three phases. The first phase will consists of familiarization with weapons and equipment.
- The second phase will consist of basic training that includes combat conditioning, support weapon and practice of drills like establishment of covert observation post, firing of personal weapon, house clearing, cordon and search and humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
- The third phase of the exercise is the conduct of joint exercise. This exercise will enrich the two contingents of both armies in further honing basic military skills.
GS III Topic- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Maharashtra becomes first state to adopt Fly Ash Utilization Policy
- The policy seeks 100% use of fly ash generated from thermal power plants and biogas plants for construction activities.
- Facilitates use of fly ash to make bricks, blocks, tiles, wall panels, cement and other construction materials.
- The policy extends use of fly ash to 300 kms radius of power plant from earlier 100 kms radius of power plant.
- Recyclable Uses Fly ash can be used as a replacement for some of the Portland cement contents of concrete. It can be used in the production of bricks for building construction. Central Government has made it mandatory for use of fly ash bricks in construction activities happening 500km around thermal power plants.
- It will help in environment protection and save soil excavation.
- It also will make available raw material for construction at low cost to help ‘Housing for All’ projects.
- It will also help create new employment opportunities in the power plant sector and pave way for prosperity by generating Wealth from Waste.
What is fly ash?
- Fly ash is a fine, glass powder by-product recovered from gases of burning coal in thermal power plants during production of electricity. They are micron sized earth elements primarily consisting silica, alumina and iron.
- The Fly ash causes air, water and soil pollution. The wet disposal of Fly ash results in leaching of toxic heavy metals in ground water system.
Important Facts for prelims
New Initiatives for the implementation of Swachh Bharat Campaign
- States and cities asked to audit functioning of toilets from tomorrow under ‘Swachhata Pakwada’- Ministry of Urban Development has asked all the State and City Governments to undertake extensive audit of toilets in urban areas over the next fifteen days beginning tomorrow under ‘Swacchata Pakwada’, to ensure that they are functional and fully used.
- Special camps are to be organized to clear payments due to the beneficiaries for construction of individual household toilets.
- As a part of behavioral change communication, hoardings and posters of ‘Asli Tarakki’ campaign, prioritizing construction of toilets over other needs like owning a scooter or a TV set, are to be prominently and widely displayed during the fortnight.
- Triggering of construction of more toilets, ensuring water supply, behavioral change efforts to be stepped up.
- Google Toilet Locator to be launched for National Capital Region for the benefit of the people of National Capital Region which helps in locating the nearest toilet for use.
International Day for Tolerance
- The International Day for Tolerance is observed globally on 16 November to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance.
- The observance of the day seeks to educate masses about the need for tolerance in society and help them understand the negative effects of intolerance.
- The 2016 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence was bestowed upon Russia’s Federal Research and Methodological Centre for Tolerance Psychology and Education (Tolerance Centre).
11 products have been registered so far as GI in 2016-17
During this fiscal (2016-17), 11 products have been registered so far as GI from states across India. As many as 272 products have been registered as geographical indications since September 2003, according to data of Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.
11 GI products added this year are
- Sangli Raisins (Maharashtra),
- Parmigiano Reggiano (Italy),
- Banaras Metal Repouse Craft (Uttar Pradesh),
- Beed Custard Apple (Maharashtra),
- Jalna Sweet Orange (Maharashtra),
- Uttarakhand Tejpat (Uttarakhand),
- Waigaon Turmeric (Maharashtra),
- Purandar Fig (Maharashtra),
- Jalgaon Brinjal (Maharashtra),
- Solapur Pomegranate (Maharashtra) and
- Kashmiri Hand Knotted Carpet (Jammu & Kashmir)
What is Geographical Indication (GI)?
Geographical Indication is an insignia on products having a unique geographical origin and evolution over centuries with regards to its special quality or reputation attributes. The status to the products marks its authenticity and ensures that registered authorised users are allowed to use the popular product name.
Benefits of Geographical Indication Status
The GI registration confers: (i) Legal protection to the products (ii) Prevents unauthorised use of a GI tag products by others (iii) Helps consumers to get quality products of desired traits (iv) Promotes economic prosperity of producers of GI tag goods by enhancing their demand in national and international markets.
Which are legal Authorities associated with GI?
Geographical Indications are covered as an element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. At international level, GI is governed by World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In India, GI registration is governed by the Geographical Indications of goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. This had come into force from September 2003. Darjeeling tea was the first product in India accorded with GI tag.