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International Relations [Paper-I]: India’s Foreign Policy
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper hosted their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for the second annual India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Washington DC on December 18, 2019.
Second India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue
- This 2+2 Ministerial is the highest-level institutional mechanism between the two countries and provides for a review of the security, defence and strategic partnership between India and the United States.
- The first 2+2 dialogue was held in New Delhi in September 2018.
- Both sides reiterated their commitment to advancing a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
- Both countries also committed to further deepen military-to-military cooperation, including between the Indian Navy and the US Navy Fleets under US Indo-Pacific Command, Central Command, and Africa Command and intend to expand similar cooperation between their respective Armies and Air Forces.
- Three agreements were signed under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) to secure technology transfer and co-produce critical technologies.
- India and U.S. agreed to deepen their bilateral cooperation, increase defence trade, intensify their coordination with like-minded countries like Japan for a peaceful Indo-Pacific region and put up a decisive fight against terrorism.
Industrial Security Annex (ISA)
- A roadmap was chalked out to upgrade strategic relationship to a new level as India and U.S. signed Industrial Security Annex (ISA).
- ISA will facilitate collaboration between Indo-US defense industries by supporting the secure transfer of key information and technology.
- ISA in particular has significance as it will not only allow sharing of information during crisis through secure defence related channels but also helps in Make in India program in key items through collaboration between private entities of both sides.
[Source: Economic Times, India Today]
Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Economy [Paper-II]: Indian economy in post reform period
- According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), the Consumer Food Price Index increased from 5.11% in September 2019 to 7.89% in October 2019.
- In October and November 2019, retail inflation has soared. The October inflation was a 16-month high and the November inflation, at 5.54%, is at a three-year high.
- The recent NSO estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2019-20 reported a reduction in the growth rate of GDP to 4.5%, the lowest since 2012-13.
- With fast decelerating economic growth and sharply rising inflation, there is a growing murmur about India facing stagflation.
What is Stagflation?
- A combination of simultaneously rising inflation and unemployment is called stagflation.
- With stalled economic growth, unemployment tends to rise and existing incomes do not rise fast enough and yet, people have to contend with rising inflation.
- Thus, people find themselves pressurised from both sides as their purchasing power is reduced.
Is India facing Stagflation?
- Although it appears so at the first glance, India is not yet facing stagflation.
- It is a fact that India is not growing as fast as it has in the past. But, India is still growing at 4.5% and is expected to grow faster in the coming years.
- India’s growth hasn’t yet stalled and declined. It means that GDP of India has grown in absolute number, not declined.
- Retail inflation has been quite high in the past few months, yet the reason for this spike is temporary because it has been caused by a spurt in agricultural commodities after some unseasonal rains.
- With better food management, food inflation is expected to come down.
- The core inflation – that is inflation without taking into account food and fuel – is still benign (low and consistent).
Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Environment [Paper-II]: Issues and concerns related to environment, Pollution
Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) released The 2019 Pollution and Health Metrics: Global, Regional and Country Analysis report.
About the Report
- The Report updates findings from The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, and provides a ranking of pollution deaths on global, regional and country levels.
- The report uses the most recent Global Burden of Disease data from the Institute of Health Metrics Evaluation.
- In 2017, pollution was responsible for 15% of all deaths globally, and 275 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years.
- The report includes three lists on pollution-induced deaths. India is the only country that features in the top 10 in all three lists.
- Chad tops the list of top 10 countries with the most pollution-related deaths in proportion to their population with 287 deaths for every 1,00,000 people.
About Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP)
- It was formed in 2012 by Pure Earth, the World Bank, UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO, Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, Ministries of Environment and Health of many low- and middle-income countries to address pollution and health at scale.
- The overall goal of GAHP is to reduce death and illness caused by all forms of toxic pollution, including air, water, soil and chemical wastes especially in lowand middle-income countries.
- These efforts will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals related to pollution, particularly on Health (Targets 3.4 and 3.9).
- It is the first international alliance of its kind to respond to the threat of toxic pollution on a worldwide scale.
FACTS OF THE DAY
GANDHI CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION PRIZE
- Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa has announced that in order to help perpetuate Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals, Portugal will be launching a Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize, each year inspired by his different thoughts and quotes.
- The first edition of this prize will be dedicated to animal welfare as Mahatma Gandhi said that the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
- Portuguese Prime Minister announced the decision while attending the second meeting of the National Committee for the Commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary, chaired by President Ram Nath Kovind.
- Antonio Costa is known as the ‘Gandhi of Lisbon’ for his work along Gandhian principles.
BRAILLE EDITION OF BOOK “EXAM WARRIORS”
- Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot released the Braille Edition of the book “Exam Warriors” authored by Prime Minister Modi.
- The Braille Edition in Hindi and English has been prepared in the Braille Press of Rajasthan Netraheen Kalyan Sangh.
- Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has launched the ‘Jalsathi’ programme to ensure supply of safe drinking water to all households in the state.
- The initiative will engage women SHG members under Mission Shakti for collection of water cess.
- The Chief Minister paid Rs 593 as water cess of his own official residence to kick off the campaign.
- The ‘Jalasathis’ will act as link between consumers and the Public Health Engineering Organisation (PHEO) or Water Corporation of Odisha (WATCO).
- They ‘Jalasathis’ will be responsible for water quality testing, facilitating new water connections, regularising connections, reassessment of demands, meter reading, bill generation, bill delivery, collection of water charges and facilitating complaints redressal.
- Under the ‘Jalsathi’ programme, about 5,000 women will be engaged for supplying safe drinking water.
IMPEACHMENT OF DONALD TRUMP
- Donald Trump became the third US President to be impeached. The first was Andrew Johnson in 1868 and then Bill Clinton in 1998.
- The House of Representatives (Lower House) has impeached Trump on two counts, both of which are related to the Ukraine scandal.
- According to the US Constitution, while the House of Representatives has “the sole power of impeachment”, the Senate (Upper House) has “the sole power to try all impeachments”.
- The trial will consider all the evidence against Trump, after which there will be a vote to either acquit or convict him.
- In order for Trump to be impeached, at least two-thirds of the Senate needs to find the president guilty.