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13th November Current Affairs


  1. ‘India makes progress in vaccination coverage’
  2. China begins work on railway up to Arunachal border
  3. India and ASEAN to expand trade despite RCEP walkout
  4. Indian Navy’s fifth Scorpene class submarine Vagir


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

India has made significant progress in its vaccination coverage to prevent child pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths, according to the latest annual Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report released by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC).

Highlights of the IVAC report

  • This year’s report card finds that although overall the world’s health systems are falling short of ensuring that children have access to prevention and treatment services, India has achieved the global target of 90% coverage for three of the five vaccines whose coverage is monitored in the report.
  • These vaccines are Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) vaccine, Measles-containing-vaccine first dose, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and rotavirus vaccine.
  • While India’s coverage of rotavirus vaccine increased by 18 percentage points (35% rotavirus coverage in 2018 expanded to 53% in 2019), coverage against pneumococcal pneumonia increased by 9 percentage points (6% PCV coverage in 2018 expanded to 15% in 2019).

In relation with other countries

  • Of the 15 focus countries included in the report, India is one of just four countries that exceeded targets for exclusive breastfeeding.
  • However, nearly every country included in the report lagged in access to treatments against pneumonia and diarrhoea.
  • India failed to reach all four targets for treatment, the report stated, adding that the treatment for diarrhoea had the lowest coverage, with only 51% of children receiving ORS and 20% getting zinc.

100-day agenda

  • In 2019, India completed the “100-day agenda” — an unprecedented national scale-up of rotavirus vaccine.
  • This landmark vaccine expansion will help protect 26 million children born each year against life-threatening cases of rotavirus diarrhoea, stated the report.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

China has begun work on a strategically significant railway line – its second major rail link to Tibet – that will link Sichuan province with Nyingchi, which lies near the border with India’s Arunachal Pradesh.

Importance of the Railway line

  • Like the Qinghai-Tibet railway line, which in 2006 connected Lhasa to the hinterland, this will be the second such route linking the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to the hinterland.
  • It will run right up to Nyingchi near the border with India, which it will link to both Lhasa and Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan.
  • The entire line will run from Chengdu to Lhasa, connecting the two capitals of TAR and Sichuan and cutting the journey from 48 hours to 13 hours.
  • As the railway runs near China’s southwest border areas, it will largely improve the efficiency and convenience of military personnel and material transportation and logical supplies.
  • The difficulty involved in the construction is rarely seen elsewhere, due to the complex geological and climatic conditions and fragile ecological environment along the railway.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • India and ASEAN countries said they would explore ways to increase trade between them despite India’s exit from the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
  • The RCEP free trade agreement, which India walked out from in 2019, is expected to be signed on November 15th, between China, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and ten Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) Nations.

India’s Stance on the RCEP

  • PM Modi had told the RCEP summit that India was walking out of the Free Trade Agreement after negotiations for more than six years, as it did not address India’s concerns about being flooded by goods from China, trade deficits and need to protect its agricultural and dairy sectors. The remainder of the RCEP countries then continued with the talks minus India, and have decided to sign the FTA, which will encompass about 30% of global trade, on Sunday. However, they are expected to leave in a clause allowing India to rejoin at a later date.
  • Experts have warned that once the FTA is adopted, trade between RCEP nations will assume primacy, which could affect trade ties with other countries including India.

Other Highlights

  • PM Modi also highlighted India’s “Indo-Pacific policy” as an area of convergence for ASEAN and India.
  • All countries stressed the importance of a rules-based order in the region including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS.
  • There is ample closeness between India’s “Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative” and ASEAN’s “Outlook on Indo Pacific”.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership RCEP

  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega-regional economic agreement being negotiated since 2012, between ASEAN and Free Trade Agreement (FTA) member partners.
  • RCEP is a proposed Free Trade Agreement between the ten member states of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) – namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and the FTA’s six partners – China, South Korea, Australia, Japan, India, and New Zealand.
  • The objective of launching RCEP negotiations is to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement that will cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, electronic commerce, dispute settlement and other issues.
  • RCEP has the potential to deliver significant opportunities for businesses in the East Asia region, given the fact that the 16 RCEP participating countries account for almost half of the world’s population; contribute about 30 per cent of global GDP and over a quarter of world exports.
  • RCEP will provide a framework aimed at lowering trade barriers and securing improved market access for goods and services for businesses in the region.
  • It aims to cover the trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property and dispute resolution.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising Ten Countries in Southeast Asia.

Members of ASEAN

  1. Indonesia
  2. Malaysia
  3. Philippines
  4. Singapore
  5. Thailand
  6. Brunei
  7. Vietnam
  8. Laos
  9. Myanmar
  10. Cambodia

ASEAN’s Objectives:

  • To promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia.
  • To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations.
  • To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
  • To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations.

A major partner of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances and dialogue partners and is considered by many as the central union for cooperation in Asia-Pacific.

  • The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • ASEAN is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • 8th August is observed as ASEAN Day.
  • In 1967 ASEAN was established with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding fathers: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
  • ASEAN is the 3rd largest market in the world – larger than EU and North American markets.
  • ASEAN Plus Three
  • ASEAN Plus Three is a forum that functions as a coordinator of co-operation between the ASEAN and the three East Asian nations of China, South Korea, and Japan.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges

Why in news?

  • The fifth Scorpene conventional submarine, Vagir, being built by the Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) with technology transfer from France was launched into water recently.
  • The first two submarines of Project-75 have been commissioned into the Navy and the third and fourth ones are in various stages of sea trials.
  • As part of the Indian Navy’s Mission Sagar-II, which was on, INS Airavat delivered food aid to Djibouti at a ceremony.


  • In 1999, the Cabinet Committee on Security had approved a ‘30-Year Plan for Indigenous Submarine Construction’. It was to develop two production lines on which six submarines would be built each named Project 75 and Project 75 (I) with foreign submarine makers.
  • These two projects will replace ageing Sindhughosh and Shishumar class submarines of Indian Navy, which numbered around 13.
  • The submarines in the P75 Scorpene-Class are powered by the conventional diesel-electric propulsion system.
  • The first Scorpene submarine, Kalvari, was commissioned in 2017 and it would go for a normal refit after six years in 2023, during which time the Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) would be installed.
  • AIP technology is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to provide submarines long-range and extended endurance capabilities undersea.
  • Second Scorpene Khanderi was inducted in September 2019.
  • The third Scorpene submarine, Karanj, will be delivered to the Indian Navy by December 2020.

Kalvari-class submarine

  • The Kalvari class is a class of diesel-electric attack submarines based on the Scorpène-class submarine being built for the Indian Navy.
  • The class and submarines take their names from the first submarines inducted in the Indian Navy.
  • The submarines are designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS and are being manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

-Source: The Hindu

June 2024