December 2019

Daily Current Affairs (16-12-19)

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

‘PHASE-ONE’ CHINA-US TRADE DEAL

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

International Relations [Paper-II]: International Treaties and Forums, their structure and mandate

News

China and the U.S. announced that they have reached a phase one trade deal including some tariff relief, increased agricultural purchases and structural change to intellectual property and technology issues.

Key Highlights

  • As part of the deal, the US will halve its 15 per cent tariff on about $120 billion in Chinese goods.
  • It will also suspend indefinitely planned duties that were set to take effect on 15th December, 2019 that would have covered consumer favorites such as smartphones and laptops.
  • China didn’t agree to specific tariff reductions in the deal. Instead, the nation’s obligation is to make the purchases and to have an exclusion process for its tariffs.
  • According to the US, China has agreed to increase its total purchases of US goods and services by at least $200 billion over the next two years.
  • China also committed to increase its buying of US agricultural products to $40 billion to 50 billion in each of the next two years.
  • The specific breakdown of targets for individual commodities will be classified and not disclosed to the public.
  • The deal will center around “state-of-the-art” IP commitments and a breakthrough on forced technology transfer.
  • The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that China has agreed to end its long-standing practice of forcing or pressuring foreign companies to transfer their technology to Chinese companies as a condition for obtaining market access, administrative approvals, or receiving advantages from the government.
  • The agreement will include a dispute-resolution mechanism that will serve as the enforcement arm. That process is in line with how other US trade agreements are enforced.
  • The first phase of the trade deal leaves contentious issues unresolved, including US demands that China curb subsidies to state-owned firms.
  • As per United States, the future talks will also focus on digital trade, data localization, cross-border data flows and cyber intrusions.
[Source: Livemint]

 

INDIAN OCEAN DIALOGUE (IOD) & DELHI DIALOGUE

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

International Relations [Paper-II]: International Treaties and Forums, their structure and mandate

News

  • Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) hosted the 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue and Delhi Dialogue XI at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in New Delhi from from December 13-14, 2019.
  • For the first time, these two dialogues were held consecutively and on similar Indo-Pacific themes.

Indian Ocean Dialogue (IOD)

  • It is a flagship initiative of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), with its origins in the 13th Council of Ministers meeting, held in November 2013 in Perth, Australia.
  • The first IOD was held in Kerala, India in 2014.
  • IOD is IORA’s premier 1.5 track forum for dialogue between academia and officials on strategic issues of interest and concerns facing the Association.

6th IOD

  • During the summit, member states held high-level discussions on the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) role within the Indo-Pacific.
  • The theme for 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue is Indo-Pacific: Re-imagining the Indian Ocean through an Expanded Geography”.
  • The summit was preceded by the 25th Indian Ocean Rim Academic Group (IORAG) on December 12, 2019.

Delhi Dialogue

  • Delhi Dialogue is a premier annual track 1.5 event to discuss politico-security, economic and socio-cultural engagement between India and ASEAN.
  • It has been held annually since 2009 and is aimed at finding a common ground and expanding the scope of cooperation between India and ASEAN nations.

Delhi Dialogue XI

  • The theme for Delhi Dialogue XI is “Advancing Partnership in Indo-Pacific”.
  • It is being organized with assistance of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), a New Delhi–based autonomous policy research.

[Source: All India Radio, iora.int]

 

ENVIRONMENT

NATIONAL GANGA COUNCIL

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Environment [Paper-II]: Policies and treaties for the protection of environment at the National and the International level, Pollution

News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the first meeting of the National Ganga Council in Kanpur.

Key Takeaways

  • The first meeting of the Council was aimed at reinforcing the importance of a ‘Ganga-centricapproach in all departments of the concerned states as well as relevant Central Ministries.
  • Prime Minister urged for a holistic thinking process where Namami Gange evolves to Arth Ganga or a sustainable development model with a focus on economic activities related to Ganga.
  • Priority should be given to women Self Help Groups and ex-servicemen organizations for these programs. Such practices, along with creation of infrastructure for water sports and development of camp sites, cycling and walking tracks etc, would help to tap the ‘hybrid’ tourism potential of the river basin area- for purposes of religious as well as adventure tourism.
  • The income generated from encouraging eco-tourism and Ganga wildlife conservation and cruise tourism etc. would help to generate sustainable income streams for cleaning of Ganga.
  • Digital Dashboard will be set up where data from villages and urban bodies should be monitored on a daily basis by NITI Aayog and Ministry of Jal Shakti.

About National Ganga Council

  • The council was constituted in 2016 to oversee the cleaning of the Ganga and is supposed to meet at least once a year.
  • It is chaired by Prime Minister.
  • It is also known as the National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection, and Management of River Ganga. It replaced the National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA).
  • The Council has been given overall responsibility for superintendence of pollution prevention and rejuvenation of River Ganga Basin, including Ganga and its tributaries.
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is the implementation arm of the National Ganga Council.

[Source: The Hindu, PIB]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

STRANDHOGG
  • Union Home Ministry has sent an alert to all States warning them about the vulnerability of the Android operating system to a bug called ‘StrandHogg’.
  • It allows real-time malware applications to pose as genuine applications and access user data of all kind.
  • These malware can potentially listen to the conversations, access photo album, read/send messages, make calls, record conversations and get login credentials to various accounts.
  • Things that such malware can access include private images, files, contact details, call logs, and location information.
  • Pop-ups asking for permission to send notifications, messages etc., are one of the main entry points for ‘StrandHogg’ to launch the attack.
ROHNE AND RABODIH COAL MINES
  • Ministry of Coal has allotted two Coking Coal mines, Rohne and Rabodih, to the Steel Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE’s) under the Coal Mines (Special Provision) Act, 2015.
  • These mines located in Jharkhand will add about more than 10 MT per annum and boost the coking coal production in the country.
  • This is a significant step towards reducing the dependence of Steel Industry on imported coal.
  • ‘Rohne’ Coal Mine has been allotted to National Mineral Development Corporation Limited for Sale of Coal and will also serve the purpose of captive use of coking coal to NMDC’s upcoming steel plant at Nagarnar, Chhattisgarh.
  • ‘Robodih OCP’ coal mine has been allotted to Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited for captive use of production of Iron & Steel.
OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (OHCHR)
  • The office of the United Nations Human Rights has criticized India’s new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 by stating that it is fundamentally discriminatory in nature.
  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is commonly known as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) or the UN Human Rights Office.
  • UN Human Rights is the UN’s leading entity on human rights that is currently being led by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
NATIONAL PHARMACEUTICAL PRICING AUTHORITY (NPPA)
  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has hiked the ceiling price of 12 essential first-line treatment drugs, crucial in the public health programme, by 50% to ensure availability of these drugs.
  • The 12 drugs consist of 21 drug formulations of varying doses – BCG vaccine, Benzathine Benzylpenicillin, Benzypenicillin, Choloroquine, Dapsone, Furosemide, Metronidazole, Ascorbic Acid or Vitamin C tablets, Co-trimoxazole, Pheniramine, Prednisolone and Clofazamine.
  • NPPA invoked extraordinary powers in public interest under para 19 of DPCO 2013 for upward revision of the ceiling prices.
  • The increase in prices of these key drugs was on account of a sharp rise in the cost of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from China, and as the increase in prices of these medicines had not been enough to offset the rising cost.
  • The price increase was based on a recommendation by the Standing Committee on Affordable Medicines and Health Products (SCAMHP) under Niti Aayog, which had suggested a one-time price increase of 50% for 12 medicines.
  • NPPA is an independent body under Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CELL (SDC)
  • Ministry of Coal has decided to establish a Sustainable Development Cell (SDC) in order to promote environmentally sustainable coal mining in the country and address environmental concerns during the decommissioning or closure of mines.
  • This move gains significance as the new private entities are now going to form a significant part of the future, a set of guidelines for proper rehabilitation of mines need to be evolved in tune with global best practices.
  • The SDC will advise, mentor, plan and monitor the mitigation measures taken by the coal companies for maximising the utilisation of available resources in a sustainable way, minimising the adverse impact of mining and mitigating it for further ecosystem services
  • The SDC will focus on land amelioration and afforestation, air quality, emission and noise management, mine water management, sustainable overburden management, sustainable mine tourism, planning and monitoring.
  • It will also monitor the effective utilisation of the Mine Closure Fund and environment budgets of different coal companies.
WORLD’S OLDEST CAVE ART
  • According to a study by a team of Australian and Indonesian researchers, a cave painting found on Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi, depicting human-like figures hunting animals, appears to be the earliest known pictorial record of story-telling.
  • The painting, found in a limestone cave in 2017, was dated to nearly 44,000 years ago using uranium-series analysis.
  • It shows eight therianthropes, or humans with animal characteristics, appearing to chase and kill six animals such as the warty pigs native to the island, using what seem to be spears and ropes.
  • Until now, the oldest rock art showing a character with the characteristics of an animal had been an ivory sculpture found in a cave in Germany. Thought to date back 40,000 years, it depicts a human body attached to a feline-like head.

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