GK Today: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 27 August 2018

Exercise SCO Peace Mission 2018

Exercise Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Peace Mission 2018, the latest in ‘Peace Mission’ series formally started on 24 August 2018 at Chebarkul, Russia. The opening ceremony was conducted in Chebarkul, Russia with military contingents of the all eight SCO member nations participating in this exercise. The contingents were addressed by        Lieutenant General Alexander Pavlovich Lapin, Chief Commander Central Military District, Russia. The formal parade by military contingents was performed at the camp location of Combined Arms Range in Chebarkul, Russia. The exercise will provide an opportunity to the armed forces of SCO nations to train in counter terrorism operations in urban scenario in a multinational and joint environment.  The scope of the exercise includes professional interaction, mutual understanding of drills & procedures, establishment of joint command and control structures and elimination of terrorist threat in urban counter terrorist scenario. The Russian Army has the major participation of 1700 personnel followed by China with 700 & India with 200 personnel. The SCO Peace Mission Exercise is one of the major defense cooperation initiatives amongst SCO nations and will be a landmark event in the history of SCO defence cooperation.

 

G20 member nations to promote policies that bridges all forms of digital divide

At the G20 Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting in Salta, in the north-west of Argentina, G20 ministers and senior officials issued a declaration that reflects the G20’s commitment towards promoting “policies and actions that catalyze digital transformations. The Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting was attended by 33 heads of delegation- Ministers, senior officials and representatives from invited countries and international organizations, like EU, UNCTAD, ITU etc. India was represented by Union Minister for Electronics and IT & Law and Justice, Sh. Ravi Shankar Prasad. Building on the contributions of the G20 Digital Economy Task Force, delegates deliberated upon efforts to create conditions that help governments, the private sector and civil society maximize the benefits and confront the challenges posed by technological progress. The other focus area of the meeting was digital inclusion, in particular the gender divide. Other related issued such as Digital government, digital infrastructure and measuring the digital economy were also deliberated. The G20 member nations agreed to promote policies that will contribute to bridging all forms of digital divide, with special attention to the digital gender divide. The countries agreed to promote digital government and digital infrastructure, strengthen the digital skills of the workforce, deepen the analysis towards digital economy measurement, and to share experiences and lesson learned. The G20 Ministerial meeting allowed India to showcase the inclusive use of digital technology by the Government to empower the people. It also allowed India to articulate it’s views on global issues relating to cyber security, data protection and innovation for growth.

 

DAC Approves Procurement for Services amounting to Nearly Rs. 46,000 Crores

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Hon’ble Defence Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman accorded approval for procurement for the Services amounting to approximately Rs. 46,000 crores. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), in a landmark decision approved procurement of 111 Utility Helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs. 21,000 crores.  This is the first project under the MoD’s prestigious Strategic Partnership (SP) Model that aims at providing significant fillip to the Government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. SP Model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian Strategic Partner, who will collaborate with foreign OEM, acquire niche technologies and set up production facilities in the Country. The model has a long-term vision of promoting India as a manufacturing hub for defence equipment thus enhancing self-sufficiency and establishing an industrial and R&D ecosystem, capable of meeting the future requirements of the Armed Forces. In further quest for modernisation of the Armed forces the DAC also granted approval to a few other proposals amounting to approximately Rs. 24,879.16 crores, which included approval for procurement of 150 numbers of Indigenously Designed and Developed 155 mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems for the Indian Army at an approximate cost of Rs 3,364.78 crores. These guns have been indigenously designed & developed by DRDO and will be manufactured by production agencies, as nominated by DRDO. They are likely to be the mainstay of Artillery in the near future. A nod to these major schemes will provide a fillip to the ‘Make in India’ push by the Government, will help create self-reliance in the Country in Defence manufacturing sector and has the potential of making the Defence Industry as a major engine of India’s economic growth. To enhance the capability of Navy at sea, approval has also been granted for procurement of Anti-Submarine capable, 24 in number Multi Role Helicopters, which are an integral part of the frontline warships like the Aircraft Carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes. Availability of MRH with the Navy would plug the existing capability gap. In addition, procurement of 14 Vertically Launched Short Range Missile Systems was also cleared by the DAC. Of these, 10 systems will be indigenously developed. These systems will boost the self-defence capability of ships against Anti-Ship Missiles.

 

2nd Protocol Amending India – Singapore CECA Signed

India and Singapore signed the Second Protocol amending the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in New Delhi. The Protocol was signed by Deputy Chief Negotiators, Shri Rajneesh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India and Mr. Francis Chong, Senior Director, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Government of Singapore. The signing of the Second Protocol, amending CECA, will boost bilateral trade between India and Singapore. The CECA was the first comprehensive agreement covering trade in goods, services and investments, which India had signed with any of its trading partners.  The CECA was signed on 29th June, 2005 and its first review was concluded on 1st October, 2007. Signing of the Second Protocol formally brings to closure, the negotiations on second review of CECA, which began on 11th May, 2010.  India and Singapore have successfully reached mutual understanding and agreement in closing the second review.  Both sides agreed to expand the coverage of tariff concessions, liberalize the Rules of Origin, rationalize Product Specific Rules and include provisions on Certificate of Origin and Cooperation on its verification.  These measures will further facilitate trade between India and Singapore and also improve utilization of CECA. The Protocol amending CECA will give effect to the provisions agreed between India and Singapore during the closure of the Second Review of India Singapore CECA.  The conclusion of the Second Review of CECA was announced during the State visit of the Prime Minister of India to Singapore on 1st June, 2018.  The provisions of the Second Protocol will come into effect on 14th September, 2018. The two countries are exploring the possibility of launching the 3rd Review of India-Singapore CECA in September, 2018. Singapore is the second largest trading partner of India within ASEAN and India is the largest trading partner of Singapore in South Asia, with a bilateral trade of USD 17.7 billion in 2017-18.  Singapore’s trade with India constitutes about 21.8% of our total trade with ASEAN and 2.3% of our global trade.  India had a trade surplus of USD 2.73 billion with Singapore in 2017-18.

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