News Snippet

News 1: ‘India can lead G20 on education, climate and debt sustainability’ (G20 discussions and India’s role in guiding and leading this idea. Important as it comes under UPSC GS Mains Paper 2)

News 2: Respect and guarantee human rights to Uighurs of Xinjiang (Uighurs are one of the worst affected minorities. It is important as questions related to minorities and associated places have been asked)

News 3: India-U.K. free trade pact may miss October deadline (Free trade agreement deal and associated implications)

News 4: Agri-credit societies to be set up in all panchayats (Agri-credit societies will help reduce the burden of borrowing while promoting financial inclusion)

News 5: Nobel Prize for peace

News 6: Aatmanirbhar in defence production (important to understand defence expenditure statistics and role in Indo-Pacific security)

News 7: Panel to study SC status of Dalits post conversion (Recently in news as positive affirmation and its role in upliftment of marginalized communities. Questions related to objective of commission has been asked in UPSC prelims)

Other important news:

  1. Disinvestment
  2. Solomon Islands

News 1: ‘India can lead G20 on education, climate and debt sustainability’


Background

Debt sustainability, education and climate action are three areas of potential for India when it takes on the presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) in December this year.

Education

The World Bank said there had been a very concerning increase in education poverty – with 70% of children in developing countries unable to read the basic texts – and that India could play a leadership role in education.

Backsliding in education caused by COVID-19 school closures, including children losing interest because they could not keep up with their grade/class, and decline in educational spending.

Climate issues

The importance of climate change adaptation for many of the countries in terms of saving lives on the ground.

India had suffered from rising interest rates and inflation, globally, as well as climate events . However, expansion of the social safety net during the COVID pandemic was a mitigating factor as was digitization (which increases the effectiveness of the net).

World Bank had downgraded India’s growth estimate for FY22-23 by 1 percentage point to 6.5%.

Debt sustainability

India is a creditor for Sri Lanka and also some of the “heavily indebted countries of Africa”.  India has provided some $4 billion in assistance to Sri Lanka this year and is involved with restructuring its debt.

G20

The G20 is a strategic multilateral platform connecting the world’s major developed and emerging economies. The G20 holds a strategic role in securing future global economic growth and prosperity.

G20 members represent more than 80 percent of world GDP, 75 percent of international trade and 60 percent of the world population. 

Established: 1999

Purpose: Bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy

Members:

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S. and the European Union (EU).

Spain is also invited as a permanent guest.

G20 Troika

The presidency of the G20 rotates every year among its members, with the country that holds the presidency working together with its predecessor and successor, also known as Troika, to ensure the continuity of the agenda.

India is currently part of the G-20 Troika [current, previous and incoming G20 presidencies] comprising Indonesia, Italy and India. During our Presidency, India, Indonesia and Brazil would form the troika. This would be the first time when the troika would consist of three developing countries and emerging economies.


News 2: Respect and guarantee human rights to Uighurs of Xinjiang, says MEA


Background

India on Friday addressed the issue of the Uighurs of Xinjiang directly for the first time saying that the community’s human rights should be “respected”.

Uighurs of Xinjiang

The statement from the MEA came a day after India abstained on voting on a draft resolution at the 51st Regular Session at the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold a debate on the human rights situation in Xinjiang.

The resolution was sponsored by the U.S., Finland, and other members of the western group at the HRC but at the end only 17 of the 47 members voted in favour, 19 voted against and 11, including India, abstained.

Explaining India’s decision to abstain at the HRC, Mr. Bagchi said, “India remains committed to upholding all human rights. India’s vote is in line with its long-held position that country-specific resolutions are never helpful. India favours a dialogue to deal with such issues.”

In a rare gesture, Mr. Bagchi also recognised the importance of the OHCHR’s report on Xinjiang that had drawn China’s strong opposition earlier. The delay to release the OHCHR’s report which contains details of atrocities against the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang was criticised by Amnesty International that had sought international investigation into the findings.

  • Uighurs are Turkic ethnic group who speak their own language, which is similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. They make up less than half of the Xinjiang population.
  • The Uyghurs, mostly Muslims, are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China.
  • The Uyghurs in recent decades have seen a mass migration of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) into Xinjiang, allegedly orchestrated by the state to dilute the minority population there.

Importance of Xinjiang

  • Xinjiang is a mostly desert region and produces about a fifth of the world’s cotton. 
  • The region is also rich in oil and natural gas and because of its proximity to Central Asia and Europe is seen by Beijing as an important trade link.


News 3: Agri-credit societies to be set up in all panchayats


Background

Union Home and Cooperation Minister said that primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) will be set up in all panchayats of the country to boost various activities over the next five years, such as marketing of dairy products, and people of Northeast will largely benefit from the move.

The Minister noted that there are only 65,000 active PACS in the country at present, and it is imperative that all panchayats must have one such body by 2027 to promote farming and dairy activities at the grassroots level.

Such PACS will carry out activities like sale of gas and petrol and storage and marketing of dairy and farm products with an aim to alleviate poverty and empower women.

The eastern and northeastern states will benefit the most from the establishment of the PACS as its farm and dairy products will be efficiently marketed, thus generating optimum financial benefits for people engaged in animal husbandry and allied sectors.

Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS)

The rural co-operative credit system in India is primarily mandated to ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector. It comprises short-term and long-term co-operative credit structures.

The short-term co-operative credit structure operates with a three-tier system – Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) at the village level, Central Cooperative Banks (CCBs) at the district level and State Cooperative Banks (StCBs) at the State level. PACS are outside the purview of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and hence not regulated by the Reserve Bank of India.


News 4: Nobel Prize for peace


Background

2022 Peace Prize is awarded to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties.

In total there are 3 winners: –


News 5: Aatmanirbhar in defence production


Background

India ranks fourth among 12 Indo-Pacific nations in self-reliant arms production capabilities, according to a study released this month by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

China tops the list, Japan is second, South Korea is in third place, and Pakistan is at number 8.

SIPRI study

The study, which measures self-reliance until 2020, is based on three indicators of self-reliance in each country.

Arms procurement — imports, licensed and domestic production as a proportion of the government’s total procurement of major conventional arms.

Arms industry — the study presents the five largest arms companies in each country.

Uncrewed maritime vehicles, the sea equivalent of drones — covering both uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) and uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs), meant to provide a qualitative understanding of how countries are engaging domestic research institutes and firms to produce such cutting-edge systems.

The study’s choice of maritime domain was because the Indo-Pacific region is a “maritime theatre”, and most of its flashpoints involve navies.

The 12 countries in the study were selected because they have the highest military spending in the region — Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to the study, understanding and determining the extent of self-reliance in the Indo-Pacific region, which has several ongoing flashpoints, is crucial for trust and confidence-building among states. This region has also seen a growing allocation by states for defence procurement. Eighteen arms manufacturing companies based in the region were ranked among the world’s largest arms companies in 2020.

China’s defence expenditure

China was the world’s fifth largest arms importer in 2016-20. Its self-reliance policies, and its high economic growth in that period meant that the Chinese arms industry now increasingly fulfills the requirements of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

India’s defence expenditure

India is ranked as the second largest importer of arms for its armed forces in 2016-20. India is highly dependent on imports of complete foreign major arms, including many produced under licence or as components for its domestic production.

Of India’s total volume of procurement in 2016–20, 84 per cent was of foreign origin. Domestic arms companies provide only 16 per cent of its total procurement. 

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Indian Ordnance Factories, Bharat Electronics, Mazagaon Docks and Cochin Shipyard are among the major Indian arms servicing companies.

Ashok Leyland, one of the largest suppliers of trucks to the Indian Army, is the only company ranked in the top 50 in the Indo-Pacific.

India has seven Uncrewed Maritime Vessel projects ongoing. In the private sector, Larsen & Toubro has been developing AUV prototypes on its own and in collaboration with foreign partners, such as Italy’s EdgeLab, while DRDO and the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute have been considering development of AUV prototypes.


News 6: K.G Balakrishnan Panel to study SC status of Dalits post conversion


Background

The Union government has now formed a three-member Commission of Inquiry headed by former Chief Justice of India, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, to examine whether the Scheduled Caste (SC) status can be accorded to Dalits who have over the years converted to religions other than Sikhism or Buddhism.

Commission’s study

Currently, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 provides for only those belonging to Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist communities to be categorized as SCs.

When enacted, the Order only allowed for Hindu communities to be classified as SCs based on the social disabilities and discrimination they faced due to untouchability. It was amended in 1956 to include Sikh communities and again in 1990 to include Buddhist communities as SCs.

The three-member commission will also comprise Professor Sushma Yadav, member, UGC, and retired IAS officer Ravinder Kumar Jain, and has been given a two-year deadline to submit a report on the issue — starting from the day Justice Balakrishnan takes charge of the commission.

The Department of Social Justice and Empowerment has said the commission’s inquiry will also look into the changes an SC person goes through after converting to another religion and its implications on the question of including them as SCs.


Other important news


Disinvestment

Divestment or disinvestment means selling a stake in a company, subsidiary or other investments. Businesses and governments resort to divestment generally as a way to pare losses from a non-performing asset, exit a particular industry, or raise money. 

Governments often sell stakes in public sector companies to raise revenues.

In recent times, the central government has used this route to exit loss-making ventures and increase non-tax revenues. 

The Indian government started divesting its stake in public-sector companies in the wake of a change of stance in economic policy in the early 1990s — commonly known as ‘Liberalisation, Privatisation, Globalisation’. This has helped the Centre pare its fiscal deficits.

Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands chain consists of several large volcanic islands to the south-east of Papua New Guinea, as well as outlying islands and atolls. The terrain is mountainous and heavily forested.

More than 90% of the islanders are ethnic Melanesians, but there has been intense and bitter rivalry between the Isatabus on Guadalcanal, the largest island, and migrant Malaitans from the neighbouring island.

The former British protectorate is striving to recover from civil unrest between the groups in 1998-2003 that brought it to the brink of collapse.

An Australian-brokered peace deal was signed in October 2000. But lawlessness continued and an Australian-led multinational peacekeeping force arrived in July 2003. It only left in 2017.

During the Second World War the island of Guadalcanal saw some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific theatre as the US battled to wrest control of the territory from Japanese occupiers.

India-U.K. free trade pact may miss October deadline

Background

The India-U.K. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) may not be ready in time for its “Diwali” or October-end deadline indicated both New Delhi and London, as India reacted sharply to British Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s statement linking the FTA with migration issues and the U.K. government said “quality”, not “speed” would determine the FTA’s launch.

“We remain clear that we won’t sacrifice quality for speed and will only sign when we have a deal that meets the U.K.’s interests,” a British government spokesperson said in response to a question from The Hindu, stressing that the trade deal is a “huge opportunity to deepen our already strong trading relationship worth £24.3bn a year, which will benefit businesses and sectors right across both our countries.”


 

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