GS 2 Related
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- China chairs meet with Afghan, Pak., Nepal Foreign Ministers
Why in news
China convened a rare quadrilateral dialogue with the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan.
- China pledged to strengthen cooperation among the four nations in dealing with the COVID-19pandemic as well as boosting their economic recoveries, including through regional connectivity projects.
- Four proposals were outlined at the meet, including for the four countries to cooperate under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- Extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)to Afghanistan was proposed.
- A proposal was made for taking forward, an economic corridor plan with Nepal, called the Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network.
INDIA-UK Free Trade Agreement
Why in News
Recently, India and the United Kingdom (UK) affirmed their shared commitment towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) during the 14 virtual Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting. The next meeting is scheduled to be held around September, 2020 in New Delhi to carry forward the dialogue.
- The meeting was held by India and UK to revive and revitalise the long standing trade and economic linkages between them.
- They agreed to an early harvest scheme or a limited trade agreement to lower tariffs on a small set of goods apart from easing rules for select services.
- They also resolved to cooperate in the health sector especially in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
- Previously, India and the UK were involved in discussing a preferential trading arrangement under the proposed India-European Union FTA.
- In FTA, two trading partners eliminate or significantly reduce import duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them.
- India-UK Trade: UK is a significant partner of India as an FDI investor after Mauritius and Singapore which ranked second and first respectively.
- the U.K. is one of the largest investors in India, among the G20 countries. The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at 5 billion USD in 2019-20 as against 16.87 USD billion in 2018-19.
- Brexit: The UK has been pushing India for a bilateral trading arrangement ever since it voted to leave the European Union (EU) in June 2016 and left finally in january 2020.
- India had been resisting these efforts as it decided that the Brexit process should complete first.
Exit from RCEP:
- India opted out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal in November 2019. Therefore, there is renewed focus on trade deals with the US, the European Union and the UK,
- The UK is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and one of the strategic partners of India.
- Strengthening bonds with the trade would seek UKs support at global issues like standoff with China in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and claim for permanent seat at UNSC.
Review of Trades:
- India could seek a review of trading agreements including renegotiating tariffs on some items along with the tightening of provisions governing country-of-origin certification.
Joint Economic Trade Committee
- JETCO provides a forum to United Kingdom companies to enhance their links and develop new partnerships with India business and decision-makers.
- Government to Government negotiations, which address issues of market liberalization and market access, are conducted through the JETCO process.
- According to policymakers, FTAs signed by India with the UK have not brought the expected tangible benefits and, on the contrary, have hurt the country’s manufacturing sector due to liberal rules of origin.
- Therefore, there is a need for a detailed assessment of FTAs in terms of goods, services and investment flows by all the stakeholders involved.
Category: environmental science
Segregation of Covid-19 Waste
Why in News
Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has observed that the segregation of Covid- 19 biomedical waste from general garbage is a must to avoid further contamination adversely affecting public health.
- The directions came on a suo motu matter pertaining to scientific disposal of Covid- 19 waste. It observed that segregation of Covid-19 from general waste is a must to avoid additional load on Common Biomedical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facilities (CBWTFs) incinerators and also to avoid further contamination.
- In India, Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016 deal with waste generated in infectious diseases like Covid-19.
- Generation of Covid-19 related biomedical waste in the country is about 101 Metric Tonnes (MT) per day.
- This quantity is in addition to the normal biomedical waste generation of about 609 MT per day. About 195 CBWTFs are providing the services of collection, transportation and disposal of Covid-19 biomedical waste from hospitals, sample collection centres, testing laboratories, etc.
- The pandemic has presented a challenge in terms of capacity to scientifically dispose of generated waste and a challenge for civic authorities in charge of its collection and disposal.
- States are not following the CPCB guidelines on Covid-19 related waste. In some states, improper segregation of waste has been reported from Covid-19 facilities and quarantine homes.
- The rise in residential biomedical waste and its collection without adhering to safety protocols could also trigger a surge in caseload.
- Without proper scientific management of such waste, it can potentially affect patients and can affect the concerned workers and professionals.
- Discarded masks and gloves risk the lives of thousands of sanitation workers who work often without any protection or training to handle such hazardous material.
- Left-over food, disposable plates, glasses, used masks, tissues, toiletries, etc used by Covid-19 patients should be put in yellow-coloured bags, while used gloves should be put in red bags and sent for sterilisation and recycling at the CBWTFs.
- Where waste is not going to CBWTF incinerators, deep burial systems should be properlymaintained as per protocols taking all due precautions to prevent harm to the environment.
- A deep burial system involves burying biomedical waste in 2-meter-deep ditches and covering them with a layer of lime and soil.
- The government should set up recycling plants across the country (as envisaged under the Smart cities project) under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Model.
- The Centre should form a national protocol combining the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016 with the guidelines on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for producers of plastic.
- The Centre should incentivise start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) offering solutions for Covid-19 waste segregation and treatment.
- There should be constant and regular monitoring by the central and state PCBs, Health Departments in the states/UTs and by the high-level task team at Central level with further coordination by CPCB..
Centre to proceed with divestment of 23 PSUs: FM
Why in news
The Finance Minister has said that the government is working on completing the stake sale process of about 23 public sector companies whose divestment had already been cleared by the Cabinet.
- Disinvestment means the sale or liquidation of assets of Central and state public sector enterprises, projects, or other fixed assets by the government.
- Divestment can be: Minority Divestment: where the government retains a majority stake in the company, thus ensuring management control (<51%).
- Majority Divestment: where, post divestment, the government holds a minority stake in the company.
- Complete Privatisation: it is a form of majority divestment where 100% of the control is passed on to the buyer.
- Strategic Divestment: It is the transfer of the ownership and control of a public sector entity to some other (private) entity. Strategic sale implies a kind of privatization, unlike simple divestment.
Reasons of disinvestment
- To reduce the fiscal burden on the exchequer.
- To raise money for meeting specific needs.
- To bridge the revenue shortfall from other regular sources.
- To introduce, competition and market discipline.
- To diversify the ownership of PSU in order to enhance the efficiency of individual enterprise.
- As part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharatpackage, the government had announced opening up of all sectors for private participation.
- For the 2020-21 fiscal, the Union Government has set a disinvestment target of 2.10 lakh crore.
- The Finance Ministry has asserted that “Strategic disinvestment has been guided by the basic economic principle that the government should not be in the business to engage itself in manufacturing/producing goods and services in sectors where competitive markets have come of age, and economic potential of such entities may be better discovered in the hands of the strategic investors due to various factors, e.g. infusion of capital, technology up-gradation and efficient management practices,”.
- In disposing of five entities — HPCL, REC, NPCC, HSCC and DCIL — in the last two years, the government did not make profitability a criterion.
5 Rafales make home run from France
Why in news
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) is scheduled to induct the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets from France at the Air Force Station.
- These include three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft. They would be inducted into the Golden Arrows squadron of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
- It is a powerful symbol of the strategic partnership between India and France.
- The introduction of Meteor Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile is widely recognised as a game-changer in air combat with a range of over 150 km.
- The SCALP long-range stand-off attack air-to-ground missile and the MICA multi-mission air-to-air missilesinto the IAF’s inventory will give the force an edge in the neighbourhood.
- The Storm Shadow/SCALP is a long-range, air-launched, stand-off attack missile. It is capable of engaging the targets precisely in any weather conditions during day and night.
- MICA is the multi-mission air-to-air missile system for the Rafale. It has a high level of tactical flexibility in order to meet Beyond Visual Range (BVR) multi-target/multi-shoot.
- In addition to these, with the ongoing border tensions, the IAF has decided to procure HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) medium-range air-to-ground missiles for the Rafales. It has a range of 60-70 km.
- The HAMMER missile lends India the capability to destroy bunkers, hardened shelters and other targets in all other terrains including the mountainous locations such as Eastern Ladakh. A single Rafale fighter jet can carry up to 6 HAMMER missiles to hit multiple targets simultaneously.