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23rd June Current Affairs

Contents

  1. India’s trade deficit with China
  2. Ambubachi without fair
  3. India-China-Russia trilateral amidst LAC tensions
  4. China to join UN arms trade treaty
  5. India stares at biomedical waste crisis
  6. Trump admin suspends H-1B
  7. Mizoram Earthquake damages buildings, roads

INDIA’S TRADE DEFICIT WITH CHINA

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

  • India’s trade deficit with China is estimated to have narrowed to the Lowest in 5 Years – reducing by almost 5 billion $.
  • Study shows that India can potentially reduce its trade deficit with China by 17.3% of the deficit with China and 0.3% of India’s GDP over FY21-22.
  • The India government plans to curb pharma imports from China.

India’s trade deficit with China at 5-yr low

  • As imports from across the border dropped over 7% to $65 billion in 2019-20, India’s trade deficit with China has reduced.
  • India has been working on strategies to reduce imports and reduce the trade gap for the past several months and going forward the results will be better.
  • The fall in imports from China also helped the US extend its lead as India’s largest trading partner.
  • The move to opt out of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECEP) agreement will help bridge the deficit with other steps such as faster trade remedies against subsidised or dumped goods too coming to the rescue of Indian industry.

What a study says about reducing the trade deficit?

  • Massive Reduction in India’s trade deficit with China can be achieved by the rationalisation of just a quarter of India’s imports from that country in select sectors where India has well-established manufacturing capabilities.
  • Without any significant additional investments, the domestic manufacturing sector can substitute 25% of the total imports from specified sectors in the first phase.
  • While imports from China have moderately declined by 15% since FY18 due to imposition of anti-dumping duties on some products, the dependence of the domestic economy on Chinese imports remains high with direct contribution to over 30% of India’s aggregate trade deficit.
  • Over the past 3 decades, India’s exports to China grew at a CAGR of 30% but its imports expanded at almost 50%, leading to lower capacity utilisation of domestic players in a few sectors.

Govt. to curb pharma imports from China

  • The government plans to tighten the regulatory noose around pharmaceuticals imports from China through stricter scrutiny of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), key starting materials (KSMs) for medicines and medical equipments.
  • India imports more than 53 critical pharma APIs, including those used in TB medicines, steroids and vitamins from China.
  • It also imports raw material for medical devices, pharma packaging material like plastic, polymers and small components for medical equipments and devices from China.
  • Indian drug makers are also exploring options in EU markets to source APIs and other raw materials.

-Source: The Hindu, Times of India, Indian Express


AMBUBACHI WITHOUT FAIR

Focus: GS-I Art and Culture

Why in news?

Ambubachi, the festival marking the annual ‘menstruation’ of the presiding Goddess, began at the Kamakhya temple without mendicants, hermits and devotees for the first time in almost 500 years.

Ambubachi Mela

  • The Ambubachi Mela is an annual Hindu mela held at Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam.
  • This yearly mela is celebrated during the monsoon season and is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of goddess Kamakhya.
  • There is no idol of the presiding deity but she is worshipped in the form of a yoni-like stone instead over which a natural spring flow.
  • The ritualistic fair celebrating the Goddess’ period was one of the reasons why taboo associated with ‘menstruation’ was less in Assam compared to other parts of the country.
  • Health officials said Ambubachi Mela was also an occasion to promote menstrual hygiene through the use of sanitary pads.
  • A similar custom is followed at the Devi temple at Chengannur town in Alappuzha district of Kerala. (The temple is shut for the days the Goddess there is believed to undergo her period.)

Kamakhya Temple: One of 51 Shaktipeeths

  • Kamakhya is one of 51 Shaktipeeths or holy sites for the followers of the Shakti cult, each representing a body part of the Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion.
  • The temple’s sanctum sanctorum houses the yoni.
  • Situated on the Nilachal Hill in western part of Guwahati city in Assam, India, it is the main temple in a complex of individual temples dedicated to the ten Mahavidyas of Saktism : Kali, Tara, Sodashi, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamalatmika.
  • Among these, Tripurasundari, Matangi and Kamala reside inside the main temple whereas the other seven reside in individual temples.

-Source: The Hindu


INDIA-CHINA-RUSSIA TRILATERAL AMIDST LAC TENSIONS

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

India’s Minister of External Affairs will take part in the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral which in an indicator that India is prepared to press on with diplomatic moves with China.

Details

  • Officials in Moscow and Delhi have also underlined that “no bilateral issues” would be discussed during the video conference.
  • The three ministers are expected to discuss the current situation of the global pandemic and the challenges of global security, financial stability and RIC cooperation in that context.
  • The fact that the meeting is going ahead, despite heightened tensions at the LAC, is being seen as an indicator that the government is willing to put aside the bilateral issues with China for the moment.
  • A push behind the scenes from Russia is also understood to have ensured that the meeting is held.
  • Special session of the RIC grouping will “commemorate the 75th anniversary of the victory in the second world war over Nazism and creation of the United Nations”.

-Source: The Hindu


CHINA TO JOIN UN ARMS TRADE TREATY

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

China will join a global pact to regulate arms sales that has been rejected by the United States, with China saying that it is committed to efforts to “enhance peace and stability” in the world.

China is the Second largest producer of Arms in the world after U.S.

UN Arms Trade Treaty

  • The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is a multilateral treaty that regulates the international trade in conventional weapons.
  • It came into force in 2014 and 105 states have ratified the treaty, and a further 32 states have signed but not ratified it.
  • India had abstained from voting. Neither signed, nor ratified.
  • The ATT is an attempt to regulate the international trade of conventional weapons for the purpose of contributing to international and regional peace; reducing human suffering; and promoting co-operation, transparency, and responsible action by and among states.

Why India abstained from voting for/against the ATT?

  • From the beginning of the ATT process, India has maintained that such a treaty should make a real impact on illicit trafficking in conventional arms and their illicit use especially by terrorists and other unauthorised and unlawful non-state actors.
  • India has also stressed consistently that the ATT should ensure a balance of obligations between exporting and importing states. (The draft resolution is weak on terrorism and non-state actors and these concerns find no mention in the specific prohibitions of the Treaty).

-Source: Economic Times


INDIA STARES AT BIOMEDICAL WASTE CRISIS

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Introduction

The personal protective equipment, the mask, the gloves, the face shield, the shoe cover, and the sanitiser bottle are made up (mostly) of plastic.

The coronavirus pandemic has created a new waste crisis.

Rules of Engagement

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the country’s apex body on the regulation of waste disposal, released a set of guidelines on what to do with Covid-related waste generated by designated sites.
  • Used masks, tissues, head covers, shoe covers, disposable linen gowns, non-plastic and semi plastic coveralls were to be disposed of in a yellow bag meant for incineration at a Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF).
  • It was also stipulated that those in-home isolation, in containment zones, should deposit biomedical waste generated from suspected or recovered Covid-19 patients in yellow bags to authorised waste collectors, engaged by urban local bodies, or at designated centres or hand over these bags to CBWTF operators.
  • This waste is either taken to a CBWTF or a waste-to-energy plant, where it is then either incinerated, autoclaved (sterilised for shredding and recyling) or burnt to produce energy.

Facility Crunch

  • Before the Covid-19 outbreak, a government or a private hospital would typically produce 500 grams of biomedical waste (like syringes, gauze etc) per bed, daily and now that has increased up to between 2.5kg to 4kg.
  • Much of this is plastic – N-95 masks are made up of polyisoprene (natural rubber) and polypropylene (thermoplastic); face shields are all plastic.

-Source: Hindustan Times


TRUMP ADMIN SUSPENDS H-1B

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • The Trump administration suspended a range of work visas for foreigners, including all H-1B and H4 (for H-1B spouses) till the end of the current calendar year.
  • Also suspended are L1 visas (for intra-company transfer) and J1 visas (used by doctors and researchers).
  • These measures are said to be temporary, and that they would free up more than half a million jobs for US workers.

Click Here to read more about the H-1B visa and Indian Diaspora in U.S.

-Source: Times of India


MIZORAM EARTHQUAKE DAMAGES BUILDINGS, ROADS

Focus: GS-III Disaster Management

Why in news?

  • An earthquake, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, damaged several residential buildings, churches and roads in Mizoram’s Champhai district.
  • The quake, whose epicentre was at Zokhawthar on the India-Myanmar border shook Mizoram and tremors were also felt in other parts of the State and Manipur besides Myanmar.

Recently in news: Earthquake of 5.3 magnitude jolts parts of Gujarat –

Click Here to read more about Earthquake zones in India and the Measurement scales. (3rd Article)

-Source: The Hindu

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