Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
India, Bangladesh Navies to join hands
Context: India and Bangladesh have agreed to institute a Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) as an annual feature between the two Navies.
Significance of this move:
- The commencement of CORPAT is a major step towards the enhanced operational interaction between both Navies.
- It is aimed to consolidate bilateral defense relations between India and Bangladesh and to explore new avenues for naval cooperation.
The Navy regularly conducts CORPATs with Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. It also conducts EEZ surveillance of Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles on their request.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) scheme
Context: In an attempt to promote solar energy, the Gujarat government has announced Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) scheme under which farmers would be encouraged to generate electricity and sell their surplus to power distribution companies.
Highlights of the project:
- Under the first phase of project, the state government would provide financial assistance to 12,400 farmers out of the state’s total 15 lakh farmers to generate an estimated 175 MW of power.
- The state government and the Centre would jointly share 60% of the cost of installing a solar generating unit in the fields, while the farmers would need to chip in only 5%. The remaining 35% would be in the form of a loan by the state government at the rate of four to 4.5%.
- The government would also enter in a 25-year power purchase agreement with the farmers. Till the farmers repay their loan, the distribution companies would buy electricity from them at the rate of Rs 7 per unit and at Rs 3.5 per unit once the loans are settled. After that, the farmers would get ownership of the solar system.
Significance of the project:
At present, the farmers consume power purchased from power companies. The project will help them set up solar systems in their fields. After they consumer power according to their requirement, they can sell the surplus back to the distribution companies.
Sources: the hindu.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Context: The board of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved $100 million investment in the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF).
What is AIIB?
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond.
- It is headquartered in Beijing.
- It commenced operations in January 2016 and has now grown to 84 approved members from around the world.
- By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors today, it aims to connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.
Various organs of AIIB:
Board of Governors: The Board of Governors consists of one Governor and one Alternate Governor appointed by each member country. Governors and Alternate Governors serve at the pleasure of the appointing member.
Board of Directors: Non-resident Board of Directors is responsible for the direction of the Bank’s general operations, exercising all powers delegated to it by the Board of Governors. This includes approving the Bank’s strategy, annual plan and budget; establishing policies; taking decisions concerning Bank operations; and supervising management and operation of the Bank and establishing an oversight mechanism.
International Advisory Panel: The Bank has established an International Advisory Panel (IAP) to support the President and Senior Management on the Bank’s strategies and policies as well as on general operational issues. The Panel meets in tandem with the Bank’s Annual Meeting, or as requested by the President. The President selects and appoints members of the IAP to two-year terms. Panelists receive a small honorarium and do not receive a salary. The Bank pays the costs associated with Panel meetings.
Significance of AIIB:
The United Nations has addressed the launch of AIIB as having potential for “scaling up financing for sustainable development” for the concern of global economic governance. The capital of the bank is $100 billion, equivalent to 2⁄3 of the capital of the Asian Development Bank and about half that of the World Bank.
- NIIF was set up in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects in the infrastructure sector. NIIF will invest in areas such as energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India.
- The corpus of the fund is proposed to be around Rs40,000 crore, with the government investing 49% and the rest to be raised from third-party investors such as sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds, endowments etc.
- India is hosting the annual meeting of AIIB for the first time in June 2018.
- India is the second largest shareholder in AIIB after China and is also the largest recipient of funds from the multilateral agency.
- Nearly 25% of the total funds committed by AIIB have been committed for projects in India, both in the government sector and the private sector.
Sources: the hindu.
OPEC agrees to increase oil production
Context: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed to increase its daily output to address the problem of rising crude oil prices. The cartel’s output would be increased by about a million barrels a day beginning in July.
What necessitated this move?
Countries across the world have been vocal in recent months about the need to bring down rising oil prices that threaten to put the global economy under stress. Emerging markets such as India that have been affected by the rising cost of oil imports, have also been exerting pressure.
The present deal could help the Saudis appease major oil consumers to some extent. Meanwhile, Iran, which has been opposed to raising OPEC output as it would lower prices, is set to suffer a marginal loss as it lacks spare capacity to ramp up production. This works in favour of its rival, Saudi Arabia, which can recover from the impact of lower prices by capturing market share.
OPEC has failed to address two uncertainties that will shape the oil market over the coming months and years.
- The first is the situation in Venezuela, which has gone from bad to worse over the past two months. In the short term, the situation remains the greatest uncertainty hanging over the oil market.
- The second, and potentially more destabilising, issue in the longer term is the prospect of a sharp increase in the production of so-called “tight oil” from shale rocks in the US.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a group of oil-producing nations that was first established in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1961. OPEC is one of the most powerful international organizations in the world and was a major player in the shift towards state control over natural resources.
The OPEC Statute distinguishes between the Founder Members and Full Members – those countries whose applications for membership have been accepted by the Conference.
- The Statute stipulates that “any country with a substantial net export of crude petroleum, which has fundamentally similar interests to those of Member Countries, may become a Full Member of the Organization, if accepted by a majority of three-fourths of Full Members, including the concurring votes of all Founder Members.”
- The Statute further provides for Associate Members which are those countries that do not qualify for full membership, but are nevertheless admitted under such special conditions as may be prescribed by the Conference.
- Tight oil (also known as shale oil, shale-hosted oil or light tight oil, abbreviated LTO) is light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of low permeability, often shale or tight sandstone.
- Relative to conventional sources, shale oil typically produces more pollution to extract, though the extent depends on whether or not the operators avoid wasteful and unnecessary emissions.
Sources: the hindu.
Context: The first spacecraft to demonstrate active space debris-removal technologies — such as a harpoon, a net and a drag sail — in orbit has been released from the International Space Station to commence its mission.
About the RemoveDebris mission:
- RemoveDebris is an EU (European Union) research project to develop and fly a low cost in-orbit demonstrator mission that aims to de-risk and verify technologies needed for future ADR (Active Debris Removal) missions.
- RemoveDebris is aimed at performing key ADR technology demonstrations (e.g., capture, deorbiting) representative of an operational scenario during a low-cost mission using novel key technologies for ADR. The project is based on and aimed at contributing to global/European ADR roadmaps.
How it works?
A microsatellite called here RemoveSAT, will release, capture and deorbit two space debris targets, called DebrisSats, in sequence using various rendezvous, capture and deorbiting technologies thus demonstrating in orbit, key ADR technologies for future missions in what promises to be the first ADR technology mission internationally.
Space junk is an ever-growing problem with more than 7,500 tonnes of redundant hardware now thought to be circling the Earth. Ranging from old rocket bodies and defunct spacecraft through to screws and even flecks of paint – this material poses a collision hazard to operational missions.
The rising population of space debris increases the potential danger to all space vehicles, but especially to the International Space Station (ISS), space shuttles, satellites and other spacecraft.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Plastic ban in Maharashtra
Context: Maharashtra government recently began enforcing a ban on plastic, a decision it announced in March. The government had given the manufacturers, distributors, and consumers a period of three months to dispose their existing stock and come up with alternatives to plastic usage.
What all plastic products are covered under the ban?
Under the notification products manufactured from plastic and thermocol have been covered under the ban. As a result usage of plastic bags with a handle and without handle, disposable cups, and plates, spoons, forks, glasses, and containers is prohibited in the state. Plastic packaging used to wrap and store the product is also included in the ban.
Apart from this plastic straw, non-woven polypropene bags, pouches and any other plastic used to store, package and transfer food items will no longer be permitted in the state. Besides, it has banned the use of plastic and thermocol for decoration purposes.
Plastic items excluded from the ban:
- Plastic used for packaging medicines and drugs.
- Food grade virgin plastic used for packaging milk.
- Compostable packaging bags used for horticulture and agriculture purposes.
- Plastic bags used for exporting goods.
- Plastic used at the manufacturing stage.
- Plastic used for handling of solid waste.
Who will implement and monitor the ban?
Officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and district and local administration have been authorised to implement it. For regulating this law at tourist locations, tourism police, or Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has been made responsible.
The government has also formed an association comprising of plastic manufacturers, ministry officials and environmental experts to oversee the implementation of the ban.
While environmentalists welcomed the cabinet’s decision, the plastic industry has slammed the government calling it “retrograde step.” With its huge dependence on plastic and lack of alternatives to the banned products, many also wonder if the plan would be a success.
On World Environment Day, June 5, India was the host nation, with the theme for this year being ‘Beat plastic pollution.’
Sources: the hindu.
- Why in news? Mongolia has launched construction of its first strategically important oil refinery funded by India in southern Dornogovi province.
- The strategically important oil refinery will make Mongolia independent from energy imports and stabilise fuel and commodity prices in its domestic markets.
Why in News? The Airports Authority of India has proposed to set up a water aerodrome in Chilika Lake for starting amphibious aircraft operations in Odisha.
About Chilika Lagoon:
- It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef in New Caledonia.
- It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.
- It is one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit in the lagoon for atleast part of their life cycle.
- On account of its rich bio-diversity and ecological significance, Chilika was designated as the 1st “Ramsar Site” of India.
- The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the National Wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, have also identified the lagoon as a priority site for conservation and management.
- Chilika Lagoon lies in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam of Odisha State along the eastern coast of India. It is well connected to the Chennai and Kolkata through National Highway No 5, and the Chennai Kolkata rail line passes along the western bank of the Lagoon Balugaon, with Balugaon, Chilika and Rambha being the main stations along the Western shoreline of the lagoon.
‘Chipko’ movement in Delhi:
Context: To save about 16,500 fully grown trees from being chopped down in the city, locals and social organisations have come together to hold a campaign on the lines of ‘Chipko’ movement for tree protection in Delhi.