GS PAPER II NEWS

Great power summit between USA and Russia

Why in News

Recently, the summit concluded between two great powers, U.S. and Russian President, wrapping up more quickly than expected.

Key Points

  • The meeting between both nations held at the ‘Geneva’, Switzerland.
  • In a meeting, Russia have agreed to return their ambassadors to their posts in a bid to lower tensions.
  • Russia’s Ambassador to the was recalled from Washington about three months ago after the U.S. described Russia as a killer. of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia left Moscow almost two months ago, after Russia suggested he return to Washington for consultations.
  • Both plunged into the face-to-face talks recently at a lush lakeside Swiss mansion, a highly anticipated summit at a time when both leaders say relations between their countries are at an all-time low.
  • The USA called it a discussion between “two great powers” and said it was “always better to meet face to face.”

Relations between US and Russia

  • Fully-fledged diplomatic ties were established between two nations in 1809.
  • For more than 200 years, Russia and the United States have shared a multi-faceted diplomatic relationship.
  • Over this period, the two countries have competed for political and economic influence, and cooperated to meet mutual global challenges.
  • After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the Cold War, the U.S.-Russian relationship took on a new dimension, and contacts between citizens expanded rapidly in number and diversity.
  • Russians and Americans work together on a daily basis, both bilaterally and multilaterally, in a wide range of areas, including combating the threats of terrorism, nuclear arms proliferation, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and other global challenges.

Hard time for relation between both

  • It was hard to imagine relations between Washington and Moscow could possibly get worse than the moment in December 2012 when Russia signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian orphans.
  • Suddenly, innocent children were being held hostage — literally, in group homes — in retaliation for U.S. President signing the Magnitsky Act, a law cracking down on human rights abuses in Russia.
  • It gets more worsen over the next few years.
  • In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, after accusing the U.S., falsely, of fomenting revolution in Ukraine.
  • In 2016, Russia stuck its cyber-fingers into the U.S. presidential election, stirring chaos and hoping to tilt the outcome against Hillary Clinton, much despised in the Kremlin from her days as Obama’s secretary of state.
  • The earlier election at the USA and his efforts to forge a bond with Russia, siding with the Russian president over the U.S. intelligence services, for example, at their summit in Helsinki in July 2018, only soured relations further.
  • And that was followed by the attempted assassination in the U.K. of a former Russian military intelligence officer, and a similar attempted poisoning of the Russian opposition figure.
  • By April of 2021, the countries’ respective ambassadors had returned home for consultations.
  • Crucial treaties, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Treaty on Open Skies, have collapsed. Only the 2010 New START accord was spared, extended in February for five years just two days before it was due to expire.

US-Russia Summit at Geneva

  • A highly anticipated first summit meeting between the USA and Russia President ended early and was described by both sides as a series of polite but adamantly stated disagreements about which country is the greater force of global disruption.
  • The two leaders emerged, separately, and offered professional respect for each other, like two skilled boxers describing the other’s prowess.
  • Both expressed a desire for a better relationship, but announced no dramatic actions to arrest the downward spiral that has already hurtled them toward the worst U.S.-Russian tensions since the Cold War.
  • The main outcomes of the summit were the agreement on U.S.-Russian dialogue on strategic stability and cybersecurity, as well as the agreement for U.S. and Russian ambassadors to return to their posts in Moscow and Washington. Russia stated that there was “potential for compromise” on the issue of several Americans imprisoned in Russia and Russians imprisoned in the United States.

ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus

Why in News

Defence Ministry of India called for an ‘open and inclusive order in Indo-Pacific’ based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations while addressing the 8th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus on June 16, 2021.

Key Points

  • India has strengthened its cooperative engagements in the Indo-Pacific based on converging visions and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
  • Premised upon the centrality of ASEAN, India supports utilisation of ASEAN-led mechanisms as important platforms for implementation of our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific.
  • The Raksha Mantri reiterated India’s support to freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded commerce for all in international waters in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • Maritime security challenges are a concern to India. The Sea lanes of Communication are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region.
  • On the ‘Act East Policy’, announced by Prime Minister in November 2014, Defence Ministry stated that the key elements of the policy aim to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
  • Terming terrorism and radicalisation as gravest threats to world peace and security, defence ministry called for collective cooperation to fully disrupt terror organisations and their networks; identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable and ensure that strong measures are taken against those who support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists. As a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • To deal with cyber threats, the Raksha Mantri called for a multi-stakeholder approach, guided by democratic values, with a governance structure that is open and inclusive and a secure, open and stable internet with due respect to sovereignty of countries, that would drive the future of cyberspace.

ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus

  • The ADMM Plus is an annual meeting of Defence Ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and eight dialogue partner countries.
  • The eight dialogue partner countries are: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.
  • Brunei is the Chair of the ADMM Plus forum 2021.
  • Defence Minister also stressed on “peaceful resolutions of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.”

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

  • It is an intergovernmental organization of ten Southeast Asian countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • It is a regional grouping that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation among its members.
  • The group has played a central role in Asian economic integration, spearheading negotiations among Asia-Pacific nations to form one of the world’s largest free trade blocs and signing six free trade agreements with other regional economies.
  • The group was united in 1967, originally with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, which sought to create a common front against the spread of communism and promote political, economic, and social stability amid rising tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
  • In 1976, the members signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, which emphasizes mutual respect and non-interference in other countries’ affairs.
  • The group was joined by other countries in 1990s.
  • With the addition of Brunei (1984), Vietnam (1995), Laos and Myanmar (1997), and Cambodia (1999), the group started to launch initiatives to boost regionalism.
  • The members signed a treaty in 1995, for example, to refrain from developing, acquiring, or possessing nuclear weapons.

AdiPrashikshan Portal

Why in News

Minister of Tribal Affairs launched ‘ADI PRASHIKSHAN’ portal and inaugurated a three-day training programme on “Capacity Building Training of Master Trainers for ST PRI Members” as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav in New Delhi.

‘ADI PRASHIKSHAN’ portal

  • ADI PRASHIKSHAN portal developed by the Ministry would act as a Central Repository of all training programs conducted by Tribal Research Institutes (TRIs), different divisions of Ministry, National Society for Education of
  • Tribal Students (NESTS), Centre of Excellences funded by Ministry of Tribal Affairs and National Tribal Research Institute.
  • The unique challenges and concerns of Scheduled Tribes must be addressed to achieve the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas, SabkaVishwas’.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is dedicated to frame policy and programmes recognizing the distinct needs of the tribal communities and their areas and provides a comprehensive framework for their protection, empowerment and development.
  • Ministry also inaugurated a three-day training programme on “Capacity Building Training of Master Trainers for ST PRI Members” jointly organized by National Tribal Research Institute and Tribal Research & Development Institute, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh from 16th -19th June 2021.
  • The ‘AdiPrashikshan Portal’ should be interactive and should also include feedback in the form of actual experiences of the PRIs in implementation which will also help to improve the programme.

GS PAPER III

Foreign exchange Reserves

Why in News

According to a new research from the central bank, India records more than $600 billion of foreign exchange reserves might not be good enough, as it falls short on some measures including import cover and liability outflows.

Key Points

  • Foreign exchange reserves surged to $605 billion in the week to June 4 as the RBI mopped up dollars flowing into the nation’s booming stock market as well as via foreign direct investments.
  • The pile is the world’s fifth-biggest after China, Japan, Switzerland and Russia, and is enough to cover 15 months of imports.
  • According to the RBI researchers, the reserve is less than the 39 months cover offered by Switzerland’s reserves, 22 by Japan’s, 20 by Russia’s and 16 months by China’s pile.
  • Besides, India’s net international investment position which is assets over liabilities, is (-)12.9% of gross domestic product.

Foreign Exchange Reserves

  • Foreign exchange reserves are assets denominated in a foreign currency that are held by a central bank.
  • These may include foreign currencies, bonds, treasury bills, and other government securities.
  • Most foreign exchange reserves are held in U.S. dollars, with China being the largest foreign currency reserve holder in the world.
  • These assets serve many purposes but are most significantly held to ensure that a central government agency has backup funds if their national currency rapidly devalues or becomes all together insolvent.
  • Foreign exchange reserves are not only used to back liabilities but also influence monetary policy.

Importance of Foreign Exchange Reserves

  • The Foreign Exchange Reserves is needed to support imports of the nation.
  • More importantly, they are needed to support, maintain confidence for central bank action, whether monetary policy action or any exchange rate intervention to support the domestic currency.
  • It also helps limit any vulnerability because of a sudden disruption in foreign capital flows, which could happen during a crisis.
  • Holding liquid forex thus provides a cushion against such effects and gives the confidence that there would still be enough forex to support the country’s crucial imports in case of external shocks.

Deep Ocean Mission

Why in News

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister, has approved the proposal of Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) on “Deep Ocean Mission”, with a view to explore deep ocean for resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources.

Deep Ocean Mission

  • It is a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Government of India.
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will be the nodal Ministry implementing this multi-institutional ambitious mission.
  • The Deep Ocean Mission consists of the following six major components:
  • Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, and Manned Submersible:
  • A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean with suite of scientific sensors and tools.
  • An Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining Polymetallic Nodules from 6000 m depth in the central Indian Ocean.
  • This component will help the Blue Economy priority area of exploring and harnessing of deep-sea minerals and energy.
  • Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services:
  • A suite of observations and models will be developed to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales under this proof-of-concept component.
  • This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of coastal tourism.
  • Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity:
  • Bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep-sea bio-resources will be the main focus.
  • This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Fisheries and allied services.
  • Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration:
  • The primary objective of this component is to explore and identify potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges.
  • This component will additionally support the Blue Economy priority area of deep-sea exploration of ocean resources.
  • Energy and freshwater from the Ocean:
  • Studies and detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant are envisaged in this proof-of-concept proposal.
  • This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of off-shore energy development.
  • Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology:
  • This component is aimed as development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering.
  • This component will translate research into industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities.
  • This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Biology, Blue trade and blue manufacturing.
  • The estimated cost of the Mission will be Rs. 4077 crores for a period of 5 years to be implemented in a phase-wise manner.

Significance of Deep Ocean Mission

  • The Mission will help India to explore and mine strategic polymetallic nodules such as Copper, Nickel, Cobalt and Manganese.
  • The main features of the Mission include conducting mineral study 6000 meters deep in the sea, deep-sea survey, research on climate change variables and its impact, and study of marine biodiversity.

Speed, scale of vaccination to shape recovery

Why in News

According to an RBI bulletin article, the speed and scale of vaccination against COVID­19 will shape the path of recovery of the economy, which has the resilience and the fundamentals to bounce back from the pandemic and unshackle itself from pre-existing cyclical and structural hindrances.

Key Points

  • As per the current assessment, the second wave of the pandemic has mainly hit domestic demand.
  • Observing that vaccines by themselves would not end the pandemic.
  • The pandemic is a real shock with real consequences. Hence, there is a need to ensure that the recovery is built on a solid foundation of business investment and productivity growth.
  • The central bank said views expressed in the article were those of the authors and did not necessarily represent those of the RBI.
  • On the brighter side several aspects of aggregate supply conditions — agriculture and contactless services were holding up, while industrial production and exports had surged amidst pandemic protocols.
  • Going forward, the speed and scale of vaccination will shape the path of recovery.
  • The economy has the resilience and the fundamentals to bounce back from the pandemic and unshackle itself from pre-existing cyclical and structural hindrances.