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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 28 April 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. ADB sees India grow by 11%, adds caveat
  2. India 3rd highest military spender: SIPRI Report
  3. Project DANTAK completes 60 years in Bhutan
  4. Aid pours in from the world for India

ADB sees India grow by 11%, adds caveat

Context:

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised its forecast for India’s growth in 2021-22 to 11%, from 8% earlier, even as it warned that failure to control the resurgence of COVID-19 cases including April’s exponential jump poses a “considerable downside risk to the recovery”.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Economic Growth and Development, Important International Organizations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  2. About the recent assessment of the ADB

About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966 to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • It is headquartered in the city of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank and an official United Nations Observer.
  • Japan holds the largest proportion of shares in ADB followed by the USA, and it has a weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions (just like the World Bank).
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
  • ADB defines itself as a social development organization that is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.
  • ADB aids in reducing poverty through investments in the form of loans, grants and information sharing (in infrastructure, health care services, financial and public administration systems), helping nations prepare for the impact of climate change or better manage their natural resources, as well as other areas.
  • ADB is an official United Nations Observer.
  • India was a founding member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1966 and is now the bank’s fourth largest shareholder and top borrower.
Asian Development Bank - Overview, Members, Financing Programs

About the recent assessment of the ADB

  • The ADB cited 2021’s ‘more targeted’ containment measures compared with 2020’s ‘large-scale’ national lockdown and said these would prove ‘less costly’ to the economy.
  • A stimulus-fuelled surge in the U.S., India’s largest export market, will support the revival, but a severe second COVID-19 wave is threatening the recovery.
  • Asian Development Outlook report projected Indian Economy’s growth to moderate to 7% in 2022-23, after a 11% expansion this year.
  • ADB sees India’s average inflation rate slowing to 5.2% this year from 6.2% last fiscal, and reverting to 4.8% (recorded in 2019-20), over the succeeding 12 months.

-Source: The Hindu


India 3rd highest military spender: SIPRI Report

Context:

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) recently published the latest data on the military spending across the world – which has increased to USD 1,981 billion in 2020, during Covid-19 pandemic.

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Security Challenges & their Management), GS-III: Indian Economy (Budgeting)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About SIPRI
  2. India-Specific Highlights of the SIPRI Report on Military spending
  3. General Highlights of the SIPRI report

About SIPRI

  • Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent international think-tank institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • It was established in 1966 at Stockholm (Sweden).
  • It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

India-Specific Highlights of the SIPRI Report on Military spending

  • India was the third largest military spender in the world in 2020 – The top 2 were the US and China.
  • India’s military expenditure accounted for almost 4% of the global military expenditure share.
  • India’s spending since 2019 grew by more than 2% which is largely attributed to India’s ongoing conflict with Pakistan and renewed border tension with China.
  • India accounted for 9.5% of the total global arms imports during 2016-2020.

Reasons for this Increased Spending

  • The continuing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh, of course, has led India to make several emergency arms purchases from abroad since the crisis erupted in early May 2020.
  • India has to maintain an over 15-lakh strong armed forces because of the two active and unresolved borders with China and Pakistan.
  • India’s annual military expenditure also includes a huge pension bill for 33-lakh veterans and defence civilians.
  • With a weak domestic defence-industrial base, India of course continues to languish in the strategically-vulnerable position of being the world’s second-largest arms importer just behind Saudi Arabia.

General Highlights of the SIPRI report

Military spending as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reached a global average of 2.4% in 2020, up from 2.2% in 2019.

The five biggest spenders in 2020, which together accounted for 62% of global military expenditure were:

  1. United States
  2. China
  3. India
  4. Russia
  5. United Kingdom.
  • Nearly all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) saw their military burden rise in 2020.
  • The countries with the biggest increases in military burden among the top 15 spenders in 2020 were Saudi Arabia, Russia, Israel and US.
  • In addition to China, India (USD 72.9 billion), Japan (USD 49.1 billion), South Korea (USD 45.7 billion) and Australia (USD 27.5 billion) were the largest military spenders in the Asia and Oceania region.
  • The combined military spending of the 11 Middle Eastern countries for which SIPRI has spending figures decreased by 6.5% in 2020.

-Source: The Hindu


Project DANTAK completes 60 years in Bhutan

Context:

Project DANTAK is commemorating its Diamond Jubilee in Bhutan – Indian Ambassador to Bhutan laid a floral wreath at the DANTAK Memorial in Simtokha on April 24, 2021.

As DANTAK celebrates six decades in Bhutan, the project reaffirms its commitment to support the march of Bhutan towards realising the dreams of His Majesty Druk Gyalpo, the plans of the Royal Government of Bhutan and aspirations of the people of the kingdom.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India and its Neighbourhood, India’s investments in foreign countries)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Project DANTAK
  2. India – Bhutan relations

About Project DANTAK

  • Project DANTAK is one of the oldest Projects of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) established on 24th April1961.
  • It was a result of the visionary leadership of the third King of Bhutan and then Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru.
  • DANTAK was tasked to construct the pioneering motorable roads and over the years, the Project has completed approximately 1600 km of blacktopped roads and 120 km of tracks in Bhutan with 5000 meters of bridges over them.
  • The medical and education facilities established by DANTAK in far flung areas were often the first in those locations.
  • The food outlets along the road introduced the Bhutanese to Indian delicacies and developed a sweet tooth in them.

Notable projects executed by the project include:

  1. Paro Airport,
  2. Yonphula Airfield,
  3. Thimphu – Trashigang Highway,
  4. Telecommunication & Hydro Power Infrastructure,
  5. Sherubtse College,
  6. Kanglung and India House Estate.

India – Bhutan relations

  • India and Bhutan have been sharing ties since 1910 when Bhutan became a protectorate of British India, allowing the British to “guide” its foreign affairs and defence.
  • When India declared independence in 1947, Bhutan was among the first nations to recognise it.
  • Since then, the relationship between the countries has become stronger, especially because Bhutan also has a historically tense relationship with China.
  • India and Bhutan also share deep religio-cultural links. Guru Padmasambhava, a Buddhist saint played an influential role in spreading Buddhism and cementing traditional ties between people in both nations.
  • The basis for bilateral relations between India and Bhutan was formed by the Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1949.
  • Bhutan shares border with four Indian States: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Sikkim.
  • Nestled in the Himalayas, Bhutan serves as a buffer between India and China.
  • Security of Bhutan’s present borders especially its western border is very important for India.
  • Bhutan provides a market for Indian commodities and is a destination for Indian investment. Also, for India, Bhutan is a rich source of hydropower.
  • About 60,000 Indian nationals live in Bhutan, employed mostly in the hydro-electric power construction and road industry.
What would happen if Bhutan ignore Indian concern and seek closer  diplomatic ties with China -allowing them to build an embassy in Bhutan? -  Quora

Click Here to read more about the Border Roads Organisation (BRO)

-Source: PIB


Aid pours in from the world for India

Context:

Around 15 countries including the US, Russia, France and the United Kingdom are rushing critical emergency use equipment to enable India counter the COVID-19’s deadly second wave.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India and its Neighbourhood, Foreign Policies affecting India’s interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Assistance from the U.S.
  2. Assistance from Other Countries
  3. India’s Vaccine Diplomacy Plan before the second wave

Assistance from the U.S.

  • Out of the promised international assistance, a bulk is expected from the United States – which is likely to include emergency medical care units, oxygen-related supplies, vaccine-related items and therapeutics – following President Joe Biden’s telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • An important part of support from the United States will include raw materials required for production of the vaccines here.
  • In that regard, US will approve supply of filters that are necessary in the production of Covishield vaccines.
  • The U.S. is also expected to release at least 10 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine after the authorities give a green signal for export to India.
  • In addition, to vaccines and oxygen-related items, agencies of India and the U.S. will collaborate more closely in the coming months to defeat the virus. Under the Quad Vaccine Initiative, US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India.

Assistance from Other Countries

  • Assistance from the leading economies of the world is expected to reach in multiple phases with France this week sending eight large Oxygen Generating Plants and a large number of items like respirators and electric syringe pushers.
  • The French government is on track to send 5 liquid oxygen containers.
  • Germany will make an oxygen production plant available for the 3 months (May-July) along with 120 ventilators and protective equipment like KN95 masks.
  • Australia too announced that it will send 500 ventilators, 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, and other protective items for the frontline health workers.
  • 4 cryogenic oxygen containers were sourced from Singapore.
  • Saudi Arabia has sent 80 MT of liquid oxygen which is currently en route via sea.
  • Thailand and the United Arab Emirates have sent 4 and 6 cryogenic oxygen tanks and 800 oxygen concentrators were sent by Hong Kong, China.
  • Ireland is on track to send 70 oxygen concentrators.

India’s Vaccine Diplomacy Plan before the second wave

  • Shipments of vaccines were sent by India to the Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles.
  • The only exception to India’s regional vaccine diplomacy would be Pakistan, which has cleared the AstraZeneca vaccine for use, but has neither requested nor discussed any doses from India.
  • By financing shipments from India’s assistance programmes for cash-strapped neighbouring countries desperately needing such assistance, India shall earn the long-term goodwill of its immediate neighbours and across Indian ocean countries.
  • Beyond India’s immediate neighbours, South Korea, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and South Africa have all shown inclinations to purchase vaccines from India which is estimated to be 60% of the global supply of inoculants.
  • If India becomes the manufacturing hub to corona vaccines across the world, it shall give a boost to the GDP of India.

-Source: The Hindu

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