CAO Weekly News Roundup- December WEEK -01

 India, France’s International Solar Alliance (Bilateral Relation)


 In news

The International Solar Alliance is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by PM Narendra Modi and the president of France on 30th November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference.

Objective

International Solar Alliance (ISA) that aims at increasing solar energy deployment in member countries, came into legal, independent existence.

Highlights

  • It is the first treaty-based international intergovernmental organisation to be based in India.
  • So far, 19 countries are part of the compact — Bangladesh, Comoros, Fiji, France, Ghana, Guinea, India, Mali, Mauritius, Nauru, Niger, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tuvalu, Australia, Cuba, Malawi and Peru.

Key features

  • The ISA, also sees itself as on a mission to mobilise more than $1000 billion in investments needed by 2030 for “massive deployment” of solar energy, pave the way for future technologies adapted to the needs of moving to a fossil-free future and keep global temperatures from rising above 2C by the end of the century.
  • India has committed itself to having 175,000 MW of renewed energy in the grid by 2022.

India’s contribution

  • As part of the agreement, India will contribute $27 million (Rs.5 crore approx) to the ISA for creating corpus, building infrastructure and recurring expenditure over five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
  • In addition, public sector undertakings of the Government of India, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), have made a contribution of $1 million (Rs.5 crore) each for creating the ISA corpus fund.

Another major initiative is establishment of Digital Infopedia which will serve as a platform to enable policy makers, Ministers and corporate leaders from ISA countries to interact, connect, communicate and collaborate with one another.

The interactive platform was operationalized on 18th May 2017.

 Digital Infopedia will have three heads

  • Member countries counter for investment opportunities.
  • At least 1000 best practices on solar energy (audio/visual).
  • Member countries of ISA and the ISA Secretariat audio and visual interaction.

Target


 India gets admission into Wassenaar Arrangement (International Relation)


In news

In a significant development earlier this week, India was admitted into the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)—a multilateral export control regime that regulates the transfer and access to conventional weapons and (dual use) technology used for both peaceful and military aims.

Wassenaar Arrangement

The WA is made up of 42 nations including all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, except China. 

  • The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.
  • Participating states seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.
  • Every six months member countries exchange information on deliveries of conventional arms to non-Wassenaar members that fall under eight broad weapons categories: battle tanks, armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), large-caliber artillery, military aircraft, military helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems, and small arms and light weapons

Way Forward

  • Since India signed a historic nuclear deal with the United States in 2008, India has acquired a seat on the table of two (WA and Missile Technology Control Regime) major non-proliferation regimes in the world, despite not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • The other two regimes are the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Australia Group. In the coming months, India is expected to get admission into the Australia Group.

Benefit to India

  • India’s membership (in Wassenaar Arrangement) is expected to facilitate high technology tie-ups with Indian industry and ease of access to high tech items for our defence and space programme.
  • The membership would create the grounds for realignment of India in the export control policy framework or other WA members, including eligibility for certain licensing exemptions,” a spokesperson from the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday at a press briefing.
  • For greater access to such necessary technology and product exports, India will still have to apply for licences, but the entire application procedure is expected to get easier
  • As a non-signatory to the NPT, India had trouble accessing dual-use technology from member nations of these export control regimes, even after signing the nuclear deal with the United States. ‘Dual-use’ refers to technology that can have peaceful and military applications.
  • The technology used to harness nuclear energy, for example, is a good example of ‘dual-use’

 The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) {Defence}


It is a multilateral export control regime. It is an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km.

Objective

  • To contributes to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies thus preventing destabilising accumulations.
  • To prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.

Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG)

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

NSG was established in response to India’s nuclear test Pokhran1 (known as ‘Operation Smiling Buddha) in May 1974.

  • It has 48 members and they work by consensus and not by majority.
  • India is still not a member of NSG.

 Objective

  • It prevents nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

 Why India needs NSG’s membership?

  • It will give confidence to nuclear investors to invest in India.
  • It will help India to fulfil its INDC’s (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions).
  • India will be able to export its Thorium (which is found in abundance in monazite sands of Kerala).
  • It will provide access to technology for a wide range of uses from medicine to building nuclear power plants.
  • With access to latest technology, India can commercialise the production of nuclear power equipment.
  • It will boost innovation and high technology manufacturing in India and can be leveraged for economic and strategic benefits.
  • It could give the Make in India programme a big boost

 China’s Struggle for Market Economy Status {Business & Economy}


In news

Recently, the Trump administration joined the EU and rejected the view that under the WTO terms China should have graduated last year to market-economy status. Now Trump is using Obama’s accession legacy to undermine world trade.

A battle that does not involve the US directly is heating up at the World Trade Organization.  China is arguing that under the 2001 accession to the WTO, China should automatically be considered a market economy.  The market economy status (MES) is important for China.  It would make it for difficult for countries to demonstrate dumping accusations against China.

Basic Gyan

A market economy is an economic system where decisions regarding investment, production, and distribution are based on the interplay of supply and demand, which determines the prices of goods and services. Under WTO norms, once a country gets MES status, exports from it are to be accepted at the production costs and selling price as the benchmark.


 India successfully test-fires surface-to-air Akash missile (Defence)


Akash, the supersonic missile, is the first surface-to-air missile with indigenous seeker to be test fired and is being inducted into the Army as short-range surface to air missile.Image result for Akash missile infographic

The Ministry of Defense claims that India now has the capability to make any type of surface to air missile.

Features

  • It has a strike range of about 25 km and carries a 55- kg fragmentation warhead that is triggered by proximity fuse.
  • It is an all-weather area air defence weapon system for defending vulnerable areas against medium range air targets penetrating from low, medium and high altitudes.
  • Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Akash missile system has the capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles as well as ballistic missiles.
  • The system is designed to neutralise multiple aerial targets attacking from several directions simultaneously.
  • The system is autonomous and its operation is fully automated. There is flexibility in deployment.
  • It uses state-of-the-art integral ram jet rocket propulsion system and the onboard digital autopilot ensures stability and control.
  • Electro-pneumatic servo actuation system controls cruciform wings for agile response and thermal batteries provide onboard power supply

 2 kiwi birds are rare bright spot in grim extinction report (Biodiversity)


In newsImage result for 2 kiwi birds are rare bright spot in grim extinction report

Two types of New Zealand kiwi birds are rare bright spots in a mostly grim assessment of global species at risk of extinction.

Credits to New Zealand’s progress in controlling predators like stoats and cats.

Three reptile species are now considered extinct in the wild. The whiptail-skink, the blue-tailed skink and Lister’s gecko from Australia’s Christmas Island all have mysteriously disappeared.

The group said a disease or the arrival of an invasive species, the yellow crazy ant, might be to blame.


 Arctic sea ice melt to exacerbate California droughts: study

(Environment)


In newsImage result for Arctic sea ice melt to exacerbate California droughts: study

Melting Arctic sea ice could render sun-soaked California vulnerable to a recurrence of the severe drought suffered in recent years as it is likely to cause high pressure systems that push away rain-bearing storms

How?

  • As temperatures rise, the Arctic Ocean is expected to become ice-free within two or three decades, resulting in more of the sun’s heat being stored in the Arctic Ocean, leading to atmospheric circulation changes and cloud formations in the tropical Pacific that move north.
  • That will lead to the building of high pressure system known as an atmospheric ridge in the northern Pacific off California’s coast, steering storms north into Alaska and Canada.
  • Modeling by the scientists showed that the loss of sea ice could cause a 10 to 15 percent decrease in California’s rainfall when considering a 20-year mean, with some years becoming much drier and others becoming wetter.

 UAE and Saudi form new group separate from GCC (International)


Why in News?Image result for UAE and Saudi form new group separate from GCC

United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia has formed a new economic and partnership group separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Key Points

  • This move could undermine the GCC amid a diplomatic crisis with Qatar.
  • It is not yet clear whether any other Gulf Arab countries would be invited to join the new group.

 UAE and Saudi Arabia relationship

  • Both the countries have cultivated closer ties in recent years.
  • Emirati troops are deeply involved in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
  • The committee has been assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries.

GCC

  • It is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries.
  • It is a regional political organisation comprising of the energy rich Gulf monarchies: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • It was formed when its leaders converged in Abu Dhabi, UAE on May 25, 1981 to form a cooperative organisation.
  • The city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia is the headquarters of the Council.

Objective

  • It aims for the coordination, integration and interdependence of these countries in various fields.
  • It aims to achieve unity among its members based on their common objectives and their similar political and cultural identities, which are rooted in Islamic beliefs.

 

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