Gulf Cooperation Council
Gs Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims exam: Structure and function of Gulf Cooperation Council
Mains exam: Relation of India with GCC
Why in news
During the External affairs minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, MoU was signed on the mechanism of consultations between India and GCC.
• Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a bloc of six gulf countries namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE.
• Council aims at coordinating, cooperation, and integration between them and achieving Arab regional unity.
• GCC member nations constitute a total GDP of in excess of 3.464 trillion USD along with a population of 54 million people living under their umbrella.
Significance of GCC for India
• The Gulf constitutes the “immediate” neighbourhood of India separated only by the Arabian Sea. India, therefore, has a vital stake in the stability , security and economic well being of the Gulf.
• The Indian diaspora in the Middle East accounts for around 7.6 million people
o With UAE at 3,41,000 followed by Saudi Arabia with 25,94,957, Kuwait hosts 10,29,861 Indians, Oman 7,79,351 and Qatar 7,56,062.
• According to the RBI report remittances that this diaspora sends is around 30% of the total remittances received by India.
o However, earlier this figure used to be 50%.
• The GCC has emerged as a major trading partner of India. It has vast potential as India’s investment partner for the future.
• The GCC’s substantial oil and gas reserves are of utmost importance for India’s energy needs.
Economic and Commercial Relations
• India enjoys traditionally cordial relations and cooperation with the GCC.
• India’s old, historical ties with GCC States, coupled with increasing imports of oil and gas, growing trade and investment, and presence of approximately 6.5 million Indian workers in the region, are of vital interest to India.
• India’s economic linkage with the GCC have increased steadily, especially due to growth in oil imports.
• During 2020-21, India’s exports to GCC were US $ 28.06 billion. The bilateral two-way trade during the period was US$ 87.36 billion, registering a decline of about 27% over the previous year.
• India and GCC share the desire for political stability and security in the region. The common political and security concerns of India and GCC translate into efforts for peace, security and stability in the Gulf region and South Asia.
• Areas for cooperation are also widening beyond investments, trade & commerce and sharing & development of human resources to security.
• India has bilateral defence cooperation with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Qatar for military training, intelligence sharing, combating terrorism and money laundering. This is a paradigm shift in relations which have been dominated by oil and energy trade while security ties remained dormant.
India- GCC FTA
• India and GCC signed a Framework Agreement for enhancing and developing economic cooperation between the two sides in New Delhi in August 2004.
• Two rounds of talks for finalizing aspects like tariff rules, rules of origin, etc have been held. The India-GCC FTA is under negotiation.
• China Factor: India considers growing Chinese influence in Gulf region a challenge to its economic and strategic interests. China has become a significant partner for GCC states in several fields, such as infrastructure investment, trade in goods and services, digital technology, and defense.
• Growing multipolarity: One important change affecting India-GCC relations is the growing multipolarity among the external powers engaged in the Middle East.
o The United States is downsizing its regional role and Russia is returning in force, all while China’s importance continues to increase.
o These changes bring unpredictability and will spur increased Indian engagement with GCC to directly protect India’s interests and gain influence with GCC governments.
• The Gulf region is a volatile place because of prevalent threats to internal and external security to nations found in the area. The Gulf region has been going through massive strategic realignments in the aftermath of Arab Spring in 2011.
Rice Export Ban
Gs Paper 2: Government Policies and Intervention
Prelims exam: Facts related to rice cultivation and export
Mains exam: Export ban and it’s likely impacts on overall export
Why in news
The Union government has banned the export of broken rice.
Reason for this move
• Abnormal increase in exports: Broken rice exports have increased 42 times to 21.31 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) during April-August 2022 as compared to 0.51 LMT during the corresponding period of 2019
• Price rise: Price was around Rs 15-16 per kg as on January 1 this year, and has increased to Rs 22 per kg as on September 8.
• Decline in production: The possibility of India’s
rice production declining significantly because of deficient monsoon rainfall in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Gangetic West Bengal.
o Production will hamper even more if yields in Punjab and Haryana turn out lower due to a new virus that has caused “dwarfing” of paddy plants in many fields there.
Rice export from India
• The country has a 40% share of the world’s total rice exports, with its 21 mt-plus shipments last year way ahead of Thailand’s (7.2 mt), Vietnam’s (6.6 mt) and Pakistan’s (4.8 mt).
• Basmati Rice:
o More than 75% of basmati exports last year were to Iran and the Arabian Peninsula countries.
o The US, UK, Canada and Australia added up to another 10%.
• Non-basmati rice:
o Almost 55% went to African countries – including Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo, Guinea, Madagascar, Cameroon, Djibouti, Somalia and Liberia.
o Another 9.5% each was accounted for by the top two individual buyers China and Bangladesh, followed by Benin and Nepal (8-9% each).
o Much of exports to Africa and Bangladesh consist of parboiled rice, while China’s imports were predominantly broken rice that has now been banned.
What are parboiled and broken rice
• Rice is derived from milling of paddy grain produced by farmers. Paddy typically has 20-21% husk (the inedible covering of the grain) and 10-11% bran (the brown outer layer of the edible kernel).
• What remains after removal of the husk and bran is the white raw rice that constitutes 68-69% of paddy. The milled rice, in turn, has both whole and broken grains.
• Parboiling is a process where the paddy is soaked in water, steamed and dried while retaining its outer husk. It results in the rice becoming harder with less breakage on milling.
o The parboiled rice exported from India contains 5-15% broken grains.
o In raw rice, the brokens are normally up to 25%. It is the rice having 100% brokens whose exports have been prohibited.
Rice Cultivation in India
• Climatic Requirements: In India rice is grown under widely varying conditions of altitude and climate.
o Rice cultivation in India extends from 8 to 35 ºN latitude and from sea level to as high as 3000 meters.
o Rice crops need a hot and humid climate. It is best suited to regions which have high humidity, prolonged sunshine and an assured supply of water.
o The average temperature required throughout the life period of the crop ranges from 21 to 37 ºC. Maximum temp which the crop can tolerate is 40 ºC to 42 ºC.
• Soil Requirements: Rice can be grown on a variety of soils including silts, loams and gravels and can tolerate acidic as well as alkaline soils. However, deep fertile clayey or loamy soils which can be easily puddled into mud and develop cracks on drying are considered ideal for raising this crop.
o Such soil requirements make it dominantly a crop of river valleys, flood plains, deltas and coastal plains and a dominant crop there.
o High-level loams and lighter soils can be used for quick maturing varieties of rice.
Black lava soil is also useful for rice cultivation.
• India is the world’s second-largest producer of rice, and the largest exporter of rice in the world.
o Production increased from 53.6 million tons in FY 1980 to 120 million tons in FY 2020-21.
o Rice is one of the chief grains of India. Moreover, India has the largest area under rice cultivation.
National Conference on Sustainable Coastal Management
Gs Paper 3: Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation
Mains exam: Coastal management in India and its benefits
Why in news
The Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change inaugurated the first National Conference on Sustainable Coastal Management in India in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
• The Conference is focused on enhancing climate resilience of India’s coastal communities and discussion on steps that shall be taken towards coastal management.
• The Conference brought together officials from all 13 coastal states of India under one roof to focus on the three interrelated themes:
o Coastal and marine biodiversity
o Climate mitigation and adaptation
o Coastal pollution
Why Coastal areas need protection?
• The Indian coastline is of immense strategic, economic and social importance to the country. Spanning 7,500 kilometres, it is the seventh longest in the world, and is home to 20 percent of the country’s population.
• The Indian coastline touches nine states and two Union Territories. The two island territories of India are– Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea.
• Three of India’s four metropolitan cities lie on the coast.
• These support a great diversity of ecosystems with more than 17,000 species of plants and animals.
• However, these coastal regions face the threat of climate change in the form of coastal erosion.
• This also impacts the human population around the coast.
Other Initiative for Coastal management
• Enhancing climate resilience of India’s coastal communities Project: It is a 6-year project, implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change with support from UNDP.
o The Project aims to enhance the climate resilience of the most vulnerable populations, particularly women, in the coastal areas of India.
o Under the project, investments shall be made in ecological infrastructure to buffer against climate-induced hazards, especially storm surges, supporting climate-resilient coastal livelihoods, and enhancing climate-risk informed cross-sectoral planning and governance of the coastal zone.
o The project will also contribute towards the achievement of climate priorities outlined in India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008), the State Action Plans, and commitments outlined in India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (2015).
o The project is supported by the Green Climate fund.
Green Climate Fund:
• GCF is a unique global platform to respond to climate change by investing in low-emission and climate-resilient development.
• The Green Climate Fund (GCF), a critical element of the historic Paris Agreement is the world’s largest climate fund, mandated to support developing countries raise and realise their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) ambitions towards low-emissions, climate-resilient pathways.
• National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems: The Wetlands Division of MoEFCC is currently implementing this centrally sponsored scheme.
o It is being implemented for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) for conservation and management of wetlands in the country on cost sharing basis between Central Government and respective State/UT Governments.
o The scheme aims at holistic conservation and restoration of wetlands for achieving the desired water quality enhancement, besides improvement in biodiversity and ecosystems.
o It aims to promote mainstreaming of wetlands in developmental programming with States by supporting formulation and implementation of integrated management plans, capacity development and research.
o Various activities covered are
interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater,
in-situ cleaning i.e. de-silting & de-weeding,
catchment area treatment,
survey & demarcation,
biodiversity conservation education and awareness creation and community participation.
• Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reef: Under this programme, annual Management Action Plan (MAP) for conservation and management of mangroves are formulated and implemented in all the coastal States and Union Territories.
• Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP): It is a World Bank Assisted project, in identified stretches of Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal with a purpose of protecting and conserving the coastal and marine environment of the country.
Gs Paper 3: Infrastructure, Indigenization of technology
Prelims exam: Facts about Taragiri, Project 17A
Why in news
Taragiri, a Project 17A Frigate has been launched at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, Mumbai.
• ‘Taragiri’, named after a hill range in the Himalayas located at Garhwal, is the fifth ship of Project 17A Frigates.
• This ship has been built using an integrated construction methodology which involves hull block construction in different geographical locations and integration and erection on the slipway at the MDL.
• These ships are advanced versions of the P17 Frigates (Shivalik Class) with improved stealth features, state of the art weapons and sensors and platform management systems.
• ‘Taragiri’ is the reincarnation of erstwhile ‘Taragiri’, the Leander Class ASW Frigate, which saw numerous challenging operations in its illustrious service to the nation spanning over three decades from 16 May 1980 to 27 Jun 2013.
• The vessel has been constructed using composite materials which can decrease its infrared signal and maintain a low radar cross-section, making it almost undetectable.