India, China hold fourth round of consultations
Mains: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Why in news:
- India and China held the fourth round of Corps Commanders talks at Chushul to work out details on the second phase of disengagement on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- The talks were still on at the time of going to print. This round of talks come about a month after the violent clash at Galwan on June 15 which left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
- The focus of the talks is to work out details of further disengagement from the standoff areas and also withdraw the massive deployment by China of troops, tanks, artillery and air defences along the LAC, including at the strategically important Depsang Plains.
- Like in previous rounds of talks, the Indian delegation was led by Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, and Chinese side by Major General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang military region.
- The earlier round of talks were held on June 6, 22 and 30. While the first two round of talks were held on the Chinese side at Moldo, the third round was held on the Indian side at Chushul.
- During the talks, India has consistently maintained restoration of status quo ante of April and complete withdrawal of massive deployment by China along the LAC.
- Indian and Chinese troops completed the first phase of disengagement from standoff areas in Galwan valley, Hot Springs and Gogra and also partial disengagement from Pangong Tso, where Chinese troops moved back from the base of Finger 4 to Finger 5. However, Chinese troops are still present on the ridge line of Finger 4.
- At each place, Indian troops also moved back couple of kilometres following pull back by the Chinese troops as per consensus reached, creating a temporary buffer zone with only a small group of soldiers left to verify the disengagement.
- Another defence source said restoration of status quo at Pangong Tso is going to be tough and could take more rounds of talks.
No evidence yet that itolizumab, tocilizumab reduces deaths: ICMR
Mains: Science and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Why in news:
There is yet no evidence from trials that itolizumab and tocilizumab, two drugs, one of which has been developed by Bengaluru-based Biocon Biologics, reduce death in severely ill coronavirus (COVID-19)patients, Director-General of the ICMR Balram Bhargava said at a Health Ministry press briefing.
- Both drugs are lab-cloned antibodies, and work at thwarting or reducing a rush of chemicals called pro-inflammatory cytokines that are released by the immune system to counter the coronavirus attack on lung cells.
- Biocon’s COVID-19 drug tested on too few patients to reliably conclude on benefits, say experts.
- However a ‘cytokine storm’ that’s manifested usually as an Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) ends up causing inflammation and aggravating lung damage and harm to other organs and is said to be responsible for killing a large fraction of the 3%-5% of COVID-19 patients that die.
Tocilizumab & Itolizumab
- Tocilizumab has a history of use in immune-system-disorder diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and itolizumab in acute psoriasis.
- The ICMR last month approved the use of tocilizumab on patients who need to be externally oxygenated and those who need ventilators but are not benefiting from steroids.
- Results from a phase-2 study meant to check a drug’s efficacy showed that the novel biologic, Itolizumab, “significantly reduced mortality” in moderate to severe ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) patients hospitalised with COVID-19, in India.
- There are two drugs which have been thought to be preventing the cytokine storm. One is Tocilizumab and the other is Itolizumab, which are being thought that they can prevent the cytokine storm.
- They have not yet demonstrated mortality reduction by any trial and therefore, trials are wanting, and are happening in different parts of the world, to look at whether there is mortality reduction with these two drugs.”
U.-India summit to launch talks on resuming FTA negotiations
Mains: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate and india.
Why in news:
Seven years after talks on a free trade agreement were suspended, India and the European Union (EU) are set to agree on a “High-level dialogue on Trade and Investment” to restart negotiations.
- The announcement is expected at a virtual “EU-India Summit” led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who will engage with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell.
- According to officials, tackling COVID-19 and its impact on economy and the global order will be high on the agenda. In particular, medical developments on testing vaccines and treating the virus will be discussed along with the withdrawal of the U.S. from multilateral organisations (like the World Health Organisation), along with concerns over an ‘assertive’ China.
- The E.U. officials said they had been fully briefed by New Delhi and Beijing about the situation at the Line of Actual control, as they were deeply concerned by the deadly clashes at the Galwan Valley last month, and they were ‘pleased’ that both sides have since agreed to military de-escalation and a continuation of dialogue to resolve the border issue.
- The E.U.-China summit was held on June 22 and similar summits were held with the leadership of Japan and South Korea as well last month.
Maritime security dialogue
- During this summit, India and the E.U. are expected to conclude several agreements including a roadmap for cooperation, an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation and launch a maritime security dialogue as well as negotiations between Europol and the CBI.
- The trade and investment dialogue, to be conducted between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and E.U. Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, is expected to give a kickstart to negotiations on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) as the EU-India FTA is known, which have failed to be resumed despite several commitments by the leaders, including at the last E.U.-India summit in 2017.
Reservations about model Bilateral Investment Treaty
- The official said trade with India formed under 3% of the E.U.’s global trade, which is “far below” what was expected of the relationship.
- The E.U. is India’s largest trading partner and investor, and accounts for 11% of India’s global trade. The official also said the E.U. has reservations about the model “Bilateral Investment Treaty” (BIT) that New Delhi has proposed, especially on dispute mechanisms in Indian courts.
- Speaking about the importance of multilateralism and cooperation on global forums, the officials said the E.U. had welcomed India’s election to the U.N. Security Council next year, and that India’s role would be important in reconciling the UNSC “paralysed by vetoes and infighting”.
S. rejects China’s claims in South China Sea
Mains: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Why in news:
The United States rejected China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, a move that Beijing criticised as inciting tensions in the region and which highlighted an increasingly testy relationship.
- China has offered no coherent legal basis for its ambitions in the South China Sea and for years has been using intimidation against other Southeast Asian coastal states, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
- “We are making clear: Beijings claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” said Pompeo.
- The U.S. has long opposed China’s expansive territorial claims on the South China Sea, sending warships regularly through the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there. Monday’s comments reflect a harsher tone. “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” Pompeo said.
- The Chinese embassy in the United States said in a statement dated Tuesday that Washington’s accusation is “completely unjustified…Under the pretext of preserving stability, (the U.S.) is flexing muscles, stirring up tension and inciting confrontation in the region,” it said.
The United States and China relationship and South China Sea
- The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.
- China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it, through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year. Beijing has built bases atop atolls in the region but says its intentions are peaceful.
- Beijing routinely outlines the scope of its claims with reference to the so-called nine-dashed line that encompasses about nine-tenths of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea on Chinese maps.