1. Growth momentum needs to be strengthened
2. Maldives Parliament debates defence deal with India
3.Pakistan actions to be reviewed at FATF plenary
4. India for BRICS SUMMIT.
1. Successful Launches of VL-SRSAM Missile System
2. Khajurajo dance festival.
3. US Rejoins paris agreement
Growth Momentum Needs To Be Strengthened
#Gs-3 #Banking System #RBI
- The growth momentum needs to be strengthened for a sustained revival of the economy and a quick return to the pre-COVID trajectory, RBI Governor said, pitching for a status quo on rates, at the last meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
- All the six members of the MPC had voted for keeping the policy repo rate unchanged at 4% at the three-day meeting which began on February 3, citing similar reasons.
Recovering and gathering momentum
- Growth, although uneven, is recovering and gathering momentum, and the outlook has improved
- Significantly with the roll-out of the vaccine programme in the country.
- The growth momentum, however, needs to strengthen further for a sustained revival of the economy and for a quick return of the level of output to the pre-COVID trajectory.
- Given the sharp moderation in inflation along with a stable
- Near-term outlook, the monetary policy needed to continue with the accommodative stance to ensure that the recovery gained greater traction and became broad-based.
- The RBI kept the policy rate unchanged for the third time in a row in its last monetary policy review for 2020-21 on February 5.
- The MPC also decided to continue with the accommodative stance as long as necessary.
- The committee was committed to continuing with the accommodative stance as long as was necessary - at least during the current financial year and into the next fiscal.
- Overall, the near-term outlook for inflation appeared less risky than the near-term challenges for growth which warrant continuing policy support.
Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)
- The RBI has a government-constituted Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which is tasked with framing monetary policy using tools like the repo rate, reverse repo rate, bank rate, cash reserve ratio (CRR).
- It has been instituted by the Central Government of India under Section 45ZB of the RBI Act that was amended in 1934.
- The MPC is entrusted with the responsibility of deciding the different policy rates including MSF, Repo Rate, Reverse Repo Rate, and Liquidity Adjustment Facility.
Composition of MPC
- The committee will have six members. Of the six members, the government will nominate three. No government official will be nominated to the MPC.
- The other three members would be from the RBI with the governor being the ex-officio chairperson.
- Deputy governor of RBI in charge of the monetary policy will be a member, as also an executive director of the central bank.
Selection and term of members
- The government nominees to the MPC will be selected by a Search-cum-Selection Committee under Cabinet Secretary with RBI Governor and Economic Affairs Secretary and three experts in the field of economics or banking or finance or monetary policy as its members.
- Members of the MPC will be appointed for a period of four years and shall not be eligible for reappointment.
How decisions are made?
- Decisions will be taken by majority vote with each member having a vote.
- RBI governor’s role: The RBI Governor will chair the committee. The governor, however, will not enjoy a veto power to overrule the other panel members, but will have a casting vote in case of a tie.
Maldives Parliament debates defence deal with India.
#GS -2 #IR #BILATERAL RELATIONS.
- A day after Male and New Delhi signed an agreement to jointly develop the Maldives National Defence Force Coast Guard Harbour, Maldives’s Parliament, ‘the People’s Majlis’, took up an emergency motion, demanding greater transparency on the bilateral pact.
Opposition to the signing of the pact
- An MP from the Opposition Progressive Party of Maldives submitted an emergency motion in the House, objecting to the signing of the pact, linked to the “independence and sovereignty” of the Maldives, without the approval of Parliament, Male-based media reported.
- A total of 51 legislators in the 87-member House voted in favour of a debate on the motion.
- The project was “vital” to the effective functioning of the Maldivian Coast Guard.
- Given their expansive maritime territory, the need to enhance local coast guard capabilities cannot be overstated.
- This dockyard and harbour will, in time, afford them the opportunity to protect their maritime interests on their own thereby enhancing their sovereignty.
- The harbour development agreement, effectively a defence pact, was signed following a request from the government of Maldives - since former President Abdulla Yameen’s term in 2013 - for Indian assistance to enhance the capability of the Defence Forces, according to a Joint press statement issued by the two governments. Subsequently, Male made requests in 2015 and 2016.
- Concerns over “Indian military presence” were flagged in 2018 too, when the Yameen government asked India to take back two helicopters it had gifted, with a crew and support staff, causing a major strain in bilateral ties.
- Following the September 2018 defeat of the Yameen administration, which was known for its China tilt, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s government has been pursuing an “India first” policy.
- However, not all in the ruling coalition agree with the government’s current foreign policy.
Assistance on military matters are avoided.
- During debate in Parliament, government MP said Male should avoid seeking assistance on military matters from any big power.
- Whether it is India, China or the U.S., their agreements here are bound to have conflicting interests.
- They should not end up in a situation where they have to choose one partner over another, they should not become part of a proxy [geopolitical] war.
- Last year, New Delhi welcomed the Maldives’s decision to sign a military agreement with the U.S.
China’s strategic footprint
- China’s strategic footprint in India’s neighbourhood has increased. The Maldives has emerged as an important 'pearl' in China’s “String of Pearls” construct in South Asia.
- Given the Maldives's strategic location in the Indian Ocean, there are speculations about China trying to develop strategic bases in the archipelago.
- Given the uncertain dynamics of Sino-Indian relation, China’s potential strategic presence in Maldives remains a concern.
- Also, the Maldives have started using the China card to bargain with India.
Pakistan actions to be reviewed at FATF plenary
#GS-2 #INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION AND THEIR MANDATE.
- The three-day virtual plenary session of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), during which Pakistan’s performance in terms of measures taken against money laundering and terror funding will be reviewed once again, commenced on February 22.
The FATF’s ‘greylist’
- Pakistan has been in the FATF’s ‘greylist’ since June 2018 when it was presented with a 27-point action plan.
- Given the lack of full compliance on the part of Pakistan in certain key areas related to terror funding, it is likely to remain in the ‘greylist’.
- During the last FATF plenary in October 2020, Pakistan was given an extension for full compliance with the recommendations till the next session.
- It had not fully complied with six of the 27 directives, while the other obligations were largely met.
REFER TO THIS ARTICLE FOR MORE BASIC INFO ON FATF
India for BRICS SUMMIT.
#GS-2 #GOVERNANCE #INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.
- China’s President may visit India in the second half of this year to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders’ meeting, if a physical summit is held as is increasingly expected.
- The visit will come in the aftermath of the most serious border crisis between the neighbours in decades.
“Support” for India
- China expressed its “support” for India hosting this year’s meeting, and said the meet would not be impacted by the border crisis.
- China will work with India and other members to strengthen communication and dialogue, and consolidate the three-pillar cooperation.
- China was referring to economic cooperation, political and security cooperation, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
- Expectations are that by the second half of the year, the summit will not have to be held virtually.
- While the COVID-19 situation will determine whether that is the case, other major summits in Europe and the U.K. are likely to take place this summer, before the BRICS meet.
- Prime Minister is expected to make his first overseas trip after the pandemic to Bangladesh in March and is also likely to attend the India-E.U. meet in Portugal in May and the G7 summit in the U.K., where India has been invited as a guest country, the following month.
Deepening strategic partnership
- Preliminary discussions on a date for the BRICS summit were held during Foreign Secretary’s recent visit to Moscow.
- In recent years, BRICS has seen greater solidarity, deeper practical cooperation, and greater influence.
- It is now a positive, stable and constructive force in international affairs.
- China attaches importance to this mechanism and they are committed to deepening strategic partnership within it to consolidate solidarity and cooperation.
- China also was in favour of working with the grouping to “expand BRICS-plus cooperation and work for greater progress and help the world to defeat COVID-19, resume economic growth and improve global governance.
2017 summit outcome
- In 2017, Prime Minister visited China to attend the BRICS summit five days after Indian and Chinese troops ended a 72-day stand-off on the Doklam plateau.
- The timing of the summit pushed both sides to arrive at a deal. Four years on, however, the border crisis is of a far greater magnitude, having led to the biggest violence since 1967, the first loss of life since 1975 and a major rupture in the relationship.
- Also unlike Doklam, the crisis has not been limited to one spot and has involved the deployment of thousands of troops and armoured elements.
- While disengagement is under way along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, having been completed last week at Pangong Lake and now in progress in other areas, de-escalation is yet to take place, with thousands of troops on both sides still present in depth areas beyond the LAC and yet to return to their peacetime positions.
Importance of BRICS Summit for India and China
- BRICS, being one of the pillars of the emerging fairer polycentric world order, plays an important stabilising role in global affairs.
- It provides the Chinese and the Indian leadership an opportunity to exchange their thoughts on key priorities in the backdrop of the continued tension along their borders.
- Both the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS have provided recent opportunities for exchange of ideas between the two sides.
- 2021 BRICS Summit is scheduled in India.
12th BRICS Summit
- In November 2020, the Prime minister of India while addressing the 12th BRICS summit held online touched upon issues like terrorism, Covid-19 pandemic and the need for reforms in global bodies.
- Russia was the host and chair of BRICS that year.
India’s Stand at the 12th BRICS Summit
- Terrorism - Need to confront the countries that supported and sponsored terror and ensure that terrorists and those who support and sponsor terrorists should be held guilty and this problem is addressed in a collective manner.
- United Nation Security Council (UNSC) Reforms - India raised the issue of credibility and effectiveness of the institutions that were necessary for global governance, and urged for support from BRICS partners.
- Covid-19 pandemic - India addressed the issue of cooperation among the BRICS countries on the production of vaccines for Covid-19.
- Aatmanirbhar Bharat - India introduced Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) to the BRICS.
BRICS: Origins and Present.
- On November 30, 2001, Jim O’Neill, a British economist who was the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, coined the term ‘BRIC’ to describe the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
- It started as a investment banker.
- BRIC on the basis of econometric analyses projecting that the four economies would individually and collectively occupy far greater economic space and become among the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.
- It was agreed to expand BRIC to BRICS with the inclusion of South Africa at the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010.
- South Africa attended the third BRICS Summit in Sanya on April 14, 2011.
- During the sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil (2014), the leaders signed the Agreement for establishing the New Development Bank (NDB).
India and BRICS
- From the Indian perspective, BRICS has emerged the voice of developing countries, or the global south.
- With raising challenges on issues from WTO to climate change, New Delhi believes BRICS has to protect the rights of the developing countries.
- India has to maintain the balancing act between Russia-China on the one side and the US on the other.
- India should move closer to Latin America.
- BRICS has put counter-terrorism on top of the agenda, this has been a success for India.
- India is making efforts to address glaring gaps in areas such as counter-terrorism, the fight against climate change and UNSC reform
- India was the main BRICS country behind the establishment of the NDB and proposed the idea at the fourth BRICS summit in New Delhi.
1. Successful Launches of VL-SRSAM Missile System.
#GS-3 #SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY#PRELIMS FACT.
Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted two successful launches of Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM).
- Indigenously designed and developed by DRDO for Indian Navy, VL-SRSAM is meant for neutralizing various aerial threats at close ranges including sea-skimming targets. The current launches were carried out for demonstration of vertical launch capability as part of its maiden launch campaign
- The missiles were tested for minimum and maximum range. VL-SRSAM with Weapon Control System (WCS) were deployed during the trials.
- During the test launches, flight path and vehicle performance parameters were monitored using flight data, captured by various Range instruments such as Radar, EOTS and Telemetry systems deployed by ITR, Chandipur.
- The present trials have proved the effectiveness of the weapon system and few more trials will be conducted shortly before deployment on Indian Naval ships. Once deployed, the VL-SRSAM system will prove to be a force multiplier for the Indian Navy.
2. KHAJURAHO DANCE FESTIVAL
The annual Khajuraho Dance Festival began on February 20, 2021. The week-long annual event will end on February 26.
- The Khajuraho Dance Festival is an annual festival of classical dances held from February 20 to 26 every year.
- The festival is organized by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad.
- It is conducted beside the Khajuraho temples in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh.
- The festival sees various classical dance forms like Kuchipudi, Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Bharathanatyam, and Kathakali.
- This year, it is the 47th Khajuraho Dance Festival.
- Also, the most important thing is that this year almost after 44 years, the ceremony will be held once again in the temple complex of the Western Temple Group.
- The conduction of events in the temple complex was banned by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on account of the destruction of monuments and the defacement of idols.
- But this year, ASI has given permission for conducting the event in the temple complex and has also waived the fee for conducting the festival.
- After the ban by ASI, almost 44 years ago, the event was held in an open-air auditorium.
- The Khajuraho dance ceremony will start at 7 pm daily and there is no entry fee for visitors. Various dancers will perform different dance forms on each day till the culmination of the festival on February 26.
3. US Rejoins paris agreement
The United States has re-joined the Paris Agreement officially. It is a global treaty for a response to the climate crisis that was adopted in December 2015 by 195 countries.
- In November 2020, the US left the Paris Agreement. However, the Trump administration kept itself away from the international accord in terms of federal climate action for four years even as sub-national players were taking steps for a cleaner future.
- Now, after three months of official exit, the US has rejoined the Paris accord and is also looking forward to the successful UN Climate Conference- COP26 in Glasgow this year.
- It was a promise made by Joe Biden during his election campaign that the country will re-join the Paris accord if they come in power.
- Leaders from various coalitions have now urged the Biden administration to commit to ambitious targets like decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more by the year 2030 (from a 2005 baseline) and put the country on a path to net-zero emissions by the year 2050.
- The US is the biggest historical polluter and second biggest emitter after China. India is figured at 4th position after the European Union nations (put together) at 3rd position. The EU has already pledged to reach carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Japan, the UK, and South Korea have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by the year 2050. China aims to do so by the year 2060.
Emission Gap Report
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) ‘emission gap report’ has highlighted that the emissions of the richest 1% of the global population account for more than twice the combined share of the poorest 50%. It means wealthy countries like EU nations; the USA, Russia, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, etc. have greater responsibility to bring down their respective emissions to reach the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming this century to well below 2 degrees C and pursuing 1.5 degrees C.