Daily Current Affairs for 14th July 2023

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Indo-Pacific framework for Prosperity

Why in NEWS

Currently, India is negotiating the Pillar 1 of IPEF i.e. market access so as to become a part of IPEF.

What is IPEF?

  • The IPEF has 14 partner countries including Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the US with an aim to strengthen economic engagement among the member countries to advance growth, peace and prosperity in the region.
  • The 14-nation IPEF bloc is seen as crucial as it accounts for about 40 per cent of the world’s GDP and 28 per cent of the world’s trade in goods and services and is seen as an economic and trade strategy backed by the US to counter China’s economic influence in the region.

The IPEF framework is structured around four pillars relating to:

o Fair and resilient trade,

o Supply chain resilience

o Infrastructure, clean energy, and de-carbonization

o Tax and anti-corruption

IPEF not a traditional trading bloc

  • The IPEF will not negotiate tariffs or market access, and the framework will merely focus on integrating member countries in the four modules described above.
  • There will be no binding commitments regarding market access characteristic of trade deals like the RCEP or free trade agreements.
  • Instead, IPEF focuses on increasing regulatory coherence between the member nations.

Status of India

  • India has joined Pillars II to IV of IPEF
  • As of now, market access has not been agreed upon for India, which is being seen as a crucial factor to join the trade pillar (Pillar-1).
  • India has an observer status on the trade pillar negotiations.

Issues raised by India

  • Environmental and labour laws conditions have been stringent.
  • India had been reluctant earlier to join Pillar-I in view of concerns to protect its domestic agricultural, labour and digital sectors.
  • IPEF position on digital governance contained issues that directly conflict with India’s policy of data localisation.
  • The framework does not allow access to the U.S. market and does not mandate tariff liberalization.

Challenges surrounding the success of IPEF

  • The IPEF will not be able to dilute or counter China’s economic dominance in the region. This is owing to the lack of direct incentives offered.
  • There has been no discussion to expand market access to member countries.
  • US might try to dominate the rules and standards of digital technologies like artificial intelligence and 5G.



India’s trade with China: January to June 2023

Why in NEWS

  • India’s trade with China declined in the first half of 2023 after more than two years of record growth.

Key Points

  • Indo-China trade reached $66.02 billion in the first half.
  • India’s imports from China slid 0.9% to $56.53 billion.
  • India’s exports to China fell by 0.6% to $9.49 billion.
  • The January-June trade deficit stood at $47.04 billion, marginally narrower than first half of 2022’s $47.94 billion.
  • China’s overall first-half exports declined by 12.4%.
  • In 2022, trade reached a record $135.98 billion, driven by a 21% rise in imports into India.
  • The trade deficit crossed $100 billion for the first time last year.

Items of Export and Import

  • India’s biggest imports from China have included active pharmaceutical ingredients, chemicals, machinery, auto components, and medical supplies.
  • The main commodities that India exports to China include ores, slag, cotton, organic chemicals, and fish products.


  • Despite the challenges, there are significant opportunities for enhancing bilateral trade between India and China. Both countries have vast consumer markets and complementary sectors, such as information technology, pharmaceuticals, automotive, and renewable energy, where increased cooperation can be beneficial.
About Balance of Payment

  • The balance of payments (BOP) is the record of all international financial transactions made by the residents of a country.
  • There are three main categories of the BOP: the current account, the capital account, and the financial account.
  • The current account is used to mark the inflow and outflow of goods and services into a country.
  • The capital account is where all international capital transfers are recorded.



Wheat export from Russia

Why in NEWS

  • Russia is becoming the world’s top wheat exporter.
  • In 2021, Russia exported $8.92B in Wheat, making it the 1st largest exporter of Wheat in the world.
  • At the same year, Wheat was the 8th most exported product in Russia.

Key Trends

  • Russia’s wheat exports are:

o 2022-23 (July-June) stands at 45.5 million tonnes (mt),

o 33 mt in 2021-2022 (July-June)

o 39.1 mt in 2020-2021 (July-June) ,

o 34.5 mt in2019-2020 (July-June).

  • European Union had exported 39.8 mt in 2019-20, before slipping to 29.7 mt, 32 mt and 34 mt in the following three years.
  • Moreover, Russia’s wheat exports are expected to touch a new high of 47.5 mt in 2023-24, way ahead of the EU (38.5 mt), Canada (26.5 mt), Australia (25 mt) and Argentina (11 mt).

Reason for growth in export of Russia

  • Russia has gained largely at the expense of Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s exports fell from 21 mt in 2019-20 to 16.8 mt in 2022-23 and are forecast to further decline to 10.5 mt in the new marketing year.
  • While the Black Sea Grain Initiative helped Ukraine export 16.8 mt in 2022-23, about 39% of its wheat actually moved via the land route to Eastern Europe, instead of the specially-created corridors for shipping from the three designated ports of Odesa, Chomomorsk and Yuzhny.

Prelim Bits 01-11-2022 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs | Current Affairs

  • Ukraine’s markets have shifted dramatically from Asia and North Africa before the war to mainly Europe, mostly due to ease of shipment.

Destinations of Russian Wheat

  • The main destination of Wheat exports from Russia are: Egypt ($2.44B), Turkey ($1.79B), Nigeria ($493M), Azerbaijan ($339M), and Saudi Arabia ($316M).
  • The fastest growing export markets for Wheat of Russia between 2020 and 2021 were Saudi Arabia ($248M), Turkey ($132M), and Kazakhstan ($129M).

About Black Sea Grain Initiative

  • The Black Sea Grain Initiative is an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, made with Turkey and the United Nations during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • The initiative allows commercial food and fertilizer exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea – Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.



Aspartame: The Artificial Sweetener

Why in NEWS

  • The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm has labeled aspartame a “possible carcinogen to humans”.
  • The organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said recent studies suggest that aspartame may be linked to a higher risk of liver cancer.
  • The current acceptable daily intake is 40mg/kg.

Does aspartame cause cancer?

Concerns about aspartame causing a number of health problems, including cancer, have been around for many years.

  • World Health Organization (WHO) view
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
  • IARC is the cancer research agency of the WHO. One of its major roles is to identify causes of cancer.
  • IARC classifies aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, based on limited evidence it might cause cancer (specifically liver cancer) in people.
  • Three animal experimental studies have shown increased tumour incidence on mice and rats.
  • Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
  • JECFA is an international expert committee run jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the WHO.
  • One of its main roles is to evaluate the safety of food additives.
  • JECFA assesses the risk that a specific type of harm (such as cancer) will occur in certain situations, considering how, how often, and how much people might be exposed to a food additive.
  • After completing a dietary exposure assessment, JECFA has concluded that “the evidence of an association between aspartame consumption and cancer in humans is not convincing.”
  • Based on current dietary exposure estimates, JECFA has concluded that dietary exposure to aspartame does not pose a health concern.

Overall conclusions

  • Commenting on the assessments from both the IARC and JECFA, the Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety for WHO has concluded, “The assessments of aspartame have indicated that, while safety is not a major concern at the doses which are commonly used, potential effects have been described that need to be investigated by more and better studies.”

What is Aspartame?

  • Aspartame is commonly used as a table-top sweetener, as a sweetener in prepared foods and beverages, and in recipes that don’t require too much heating (since heat breaks down aspartame).
  • It can also be found as a flavoring in some medicines, chewing gums, and toothpastes.



UPI Payment in France

Why in NEWS

  • Recently, PM Modi visited France and announced that UPI payments in Rupees will be accepted in France.

Countries accepting UPI

  • Countries accepting UPI are: Indian digital payment systems like UPI and/or RuPay are available in Singapore, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, France, BENELUX markets – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – and Switzerland, USA, Qatar, United Kingdom.
  • These NRI accounts will be permitted to onboard and transact in UPI, provided the member banks ensure such accounts are only allowed as per the extant FEMA regulations and they adhere to the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The NPCI noted that all onboarding and transaction level checks — such as cooling period and risk rules — with be applicable as per existing UPI guidelines.


  • Simplicity and Convenience in transactions.
  • UPI transactions typically have lower transaction costs compared to traditional international payment methods.
  • UPI enables real-time fund transfers, ensuring that money reaches the recipient’s account almost instantly.
  • UPI employs robust security measures, including two-factor authentication and encryption, to protect user transactions.
  • UPI’s adoption in foreign countries can foster cross-border commerce between India and those nations.

UPI One World

  • RBI announced extending UPI payment facility for inbound travelers from G20 countries.
  • Transcorp International will enable UPI One World for nationals coming from G20 countries.

UPI Wallet

  • UPI Wallet facility has been introduced for foreign tourists in India.
  • Once set up, users can add funds using their preferred debit or credit card and start scanning to pay in India.

What is UPI?

  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
  • It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • As per the Economist Intelligence Unit Report 2021, UPI made India a leader in global real-time payment market followed by China and South Korea.



Revisiting Age of Consent

Why in NEWS

  • Bombay High Court has recently argued that Parliament should take into considerations the age of consent around the world.

Need to revisit laws

• Increasing number of cases under POSCO Act.

• Criminalisation of romantic relationship has overburdened the judiciary system.

• Various legislations are in conflict with personal laws.

• There is a significant gap between age of puberty and age of consent.

Various legislations in India with respect to Age of Consent

  • Age of Consent for Sexual Intercourse: The age of consent for sexual intercourse, as per Section 375 of the IPC, is 18 years. Any sexual activity with a person below this age, irrespective of consent, is considered an offense.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act: The POCSO Act, enacted in 2012, is a comprehensive law addressing sexual offenses against children. According to this act, the age of consent for sexual activity involving minors is defined as 18 years.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act: The Juvenile Justice Act deals with various aspects of juvenile justice, including the determination of the age of a person considered a child. According to the act, a person below the age of 18 is considered a child, and different provisions under this act apply to children of various age groups.
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act: The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act sets the minimum age for marriage in India. It specifies that the legal age for marriage is 18 years for females and 21 years for males. Child marriage, which involves marrying a person below these age limits, is a punishable offense under this act.

Age of Consent around the world

  • United States: The age of consent varies from state to state, ranging typically from 16 to 18 years old.
  • United Kingdom: The age of consent in the UK is 16 years old.
  • Japan: The age of consent in Japan is 13 years old.
  • Canada: The age of consent in Canada is generally 16 years old.


  • It’s important to note that while the age of consent for sexual intercourse is 18 years, the legal age for marriage differs, with 18 being the minimum age for females and 21 for males.
  • Also, there are “grey areas” in our legislations resulting in criminalising consensual adolescence relationships.

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