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Hindu Notes from General Studies-02

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U.S. may end zero-tariffs for India

News

India could lose a vital U.S. trade concession, under which it enjoys zero tariffs on $5.6 billion of exports to the United States, amid a widening dispute over its trade and investment policies.

Beyond News

  • A move to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from India, the world’s largest beneficiary of a scheme that has been in force since the 1970s, would be the strongest punitive action against India since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, vowing to reduce the U.S. deficit with large economies.
  • Trump has repeatedly called out India for its high tariffs. Indian Prime Minister has courted foreign investment as part of his Make-in-India campaign to turn India into a manufacturing hub and deliver jobs to the millions of youth.
  • Trump, for his part, has pushed for U.S. manufacturing to return home as part of his Make America Great Again campaign. The trigger for the latest downturn in trade ties was India’s new rules on e-commerce that restrict the way Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart-backed Flipkart do business in a rapidly growing online market set to touch $200 billion by 2027.
  • That, coming on top of a drive to force global card payments companies such as Mastercard and Visa to move their data to India and the imposition of higher tariffs on electronic products and smartphones, left a broader trade package the two sides were working on through last year in tatters.
  • The GSP was tied to the trade package and since that deal had slipped further away, the U.S. was considering withdrawing or scaling back the preferential arrangement.

India, Bangladesh to investigate corruption together

News

  • India and Bangladesh sealed an agreement that will allow bilateral coordination between the anti-corruption authorities.

Beyond News

  • The agreement between the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Anti Corruption Commission of Bangladesh was signed during the 5th Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting .
  • They welcomed the fact that the relationship was now broadening to include new and high technology areas for partnership, such as space, nuclear energy, IT and electronics.
  • Apart from the anti-corruption agreement, both sides also sealed an agreement on training of mid-career civil servants from Bangladesh, and an MoU on cooperation in the field of new age and traditional medicines.
  • The Bangladesh Foreign Minister also extended Dhaka’s appreciation on the assistance India extended in dealing with the Rohingya refugee crisis in Chittagong.

Swine flu claims 250 lives in country this year

News

  • Swine flu has so far claimed over 250 lives in the country this year so far with 30 more deaths due to the disease being reported in last three days till February 7.

Beyond News

  • With the number of swine flu cases going up, the health ministry has asked the states to bolster their surveillance for early detection of the disease and also keep beds reserved in hospitals to deal with acute cases which require ventilator facility.
  • States have also been advised to involve district collectors in enhancing public awareness and outbreak response, a health ministry statement said.
  • The guidelines for influenza vaccination and the details of manufacturers of vaccine provided by Drug Controller General of India have been shared with all states. Communication material for preventive measures has also been shared. Video conferences are being held regularly to monitor the situation.
  • Advisory for preparedness to seasonal influenza A (H1N1) was issued and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and its state units have enhanced surveillance for Influenza like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI).
  • The Drug Controller General of India has been asked to coordinate with drug manufacturers and monitor the availability of Oseltamivir, the medicine recommended by WHO, in various states.
  • The health ministry has recommended vaccination for healthcare workers and other priority groups. The guidelines for influenza vaccination have been shared with all states.

Hindu Notes from General Studies-03

Foreign vessels coming to Lakshadweep under scanner

News

  • The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) under the Ministry of Finance has asked the Customs Kochi Preventive Division to thoroughly look into the arrival of all foreign vessels at the Lakshadweep islands in the last couple of years.

Beyond News

  • The move comes close on the heels of the detention of a Switzerland-registered foreign yacht, which was found to have called at Bangaram, Kalpeni, Agatti, Kadamat, Amini and Kavaratti islands of Lakshadweep which have no port notified by the Customs as per Section 29 of the Customs Act.
  • The objective is to analyse the entry of foreign vessels against the actual permission granted by the Union government since such entry without prior permission of the CBIC amounts to serious violation of law.
  • Such violations will be followed-up, investigated and showcause notices will be issued by the Customs in coordination with other Central agencies. It has to be examined how these foreign operators managed entry to Lakshadweep where even the entry of India citizens is restricted.
  • The Lakshadweep administration has only recently approached the Customs with a request to notify a couple of ports in Kavaratti and Minicoy and the airport at Agatti as Customs-notified entry points.
  • The process to verify whether these facilities have minimum infrastructure is under way.
  • A separate Customs unit would have to be sanctioned for Lakshadweep by the Union government in the event of such a notification for which the agency would have to be provided with necessary infrastructure.
  • Meanwhile, the Global Positioning System of the yacht bears evidence that it had been to Lakshadweep contrary to reported denials by the island police.
  • The Customs also plans to write to the Commandant of Lakshadweep Coast Guard inquiring whether they had any information about the yacht and whether it was picked by their radar stations.

One more reservoir for Chennai

News

  • One more reservoir would be built on the Chennai city fringes. As part of the flood mitigation measures in southern suburbs, a new reservoir would be formed in Orathur near Padappai that would be used to supply drinking water to the city and the neighbouring areas.

Beyond News

  • The reservoir would be formed across Orathur tributary of Adyar river in Sriperumbudur taluk.
  • The reservoir would be able to store 555 mcft which would otherwise drain into the Adyar river. If filled twice a year, it would supply about 1,000 mcft of water through a 25-km-long pipeline to Chembarambakkam water treatment plant.
  • Chennai and neighbouring areas along Adyar river basin would get an additional 85 million litres of water a day through this project.
  • Floodwater draining into the Adyar river could be saved by constructing an intra-basin transfer channel.

Vet institute, ambulances mooted in ₹97.85-cr. lion conservation plan

News

  • Three months after at least 20 lions in Gujarat succumbed to a virus, the Centre and the Gujarat government have announced a ₹97.85 crore Asiatic Lion Conservation Project.

Beyond News

  • A key outcome of the project is to have a dedicated veterinary institute, “lion ambulances”, and back-up stocks of vaccines that may be required.
  • There are close to 600 lions in Gujarat, according to State forest officials at the meeting. However, there has been no move yet to translocate lions to a location outside Gujarat.
  • There is a committee of experts from both States examining the suitability of Madhya Pradesh as a potential lion reserve. Secondly, they also have to comply with certain guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (on selecting suitable habitat, translocation).
  • The Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh was identified to be the most suitable for reintroducing the species, according to a Supreme Court-appointed technical expert committee, but there has been no progress on the proposal.
  • The lion deaths of last year brought these questions to the fore, they also pointed to the stark reality of lion numbers rising to an extent that several of them were now found outside protected areas and involved in human-animal conflict as well as in increasing contact with domestic animals as well as feral dogs, from where they could have contracted the virus.
  • Key aspects of the conservation project include undertaking “habitat improvement” measures, making more sources of water available, creating a wildlife crime cell, and a task force for the Greater Gir region.
  • It would also involve having in place a GPS-based tracking system, which would look at surveillance tracking, animal and vehicle tracking. There would also be an automated sensor grid that would have magnetic sensors, movement sensors and infra-red heat sensors.

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