Daily Current Affairs: 19th October 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. India – Israel relation / Quadrilateral Meeting
  2. International Solar Alliance
  3. Facts for Prelims
  4. Places in News

1. India – Israel FTA / Quadrilateral Meeting


Context: India and Israel agreed to resume long-pending negotiations on a free trade agreement, as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid in Jerusalem. Both leaders also joined a virtual quadrilateral meeting with Mr. Lapid, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. 

Background

  • Since the two countries established diplomatic ties almost three decades ago, bilateral trade has grown from $200 million in 1992 and reached $4.14 billion (excluding defence deals) during April 2020-February 2021. The balance of trade is in India’s favour.
  • India is Israel’s third-largest trade partner in Asia and seventh largest globally. Bilateral trade has diversified into several sectors such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, IT and telecom, and homeland security.
  • Even as high-level political engagement increased between the two countries, the focus is increasingly on business and investment. During PM Modi’s famous visit in July 2017, the first meeting of the newly established India-Israel CEOs Forum took place. The second meeting of the forum took place during PM Netanyahu’s visit to India.
  • India continues to be a ‘focus’ country for the Israeli Government’s efforts at increasing trade (along with China and Brazil). India’s major exports to Israel include precious stones and metals, electronic equipment, plastics, organic chemicals, engines, machines, pumps, vehicles, clothing and textiles, medical and technical equipment. In 2014, Israel’s imports from India amounted to about $2.3 billion or 3.2% of its overall imports. Israel’s major exports to India include precious stones and metals, fertilizers, machines, electronic equipment, engines, medical and technical equipment, pumps, organic and inorganic chemicals, salt, stone, sulphur, cement, and plastics

Benefits of FTA with Israel

  • The implementation of the proposed free trade agreement between India and Israel is expected to boost the bilateral trade multi-fold
  • The FTA would lead to two other significant advantages of promoting interaction between the private sector of the two countries and also enable the workforce of both the nations to work together to “invent, produce and market” things together in areas that are not traditionally covered

Details of the Quadrilateral meeting

  • India on Monday joined Israel, United Arab Emirates and the United States to launch a new quadrilateral consultation.
  • The virtual meeting took place about a year after the Abraham Accord signed in Washington DC in September 2020.
  • They discussed cooperation among the four nations for post-Covid-19 economic recovery, ways to boost trade and ensuring supply chain resilience, cooperation in science and technology.
  • This was the second quadrilateral consultation with the participation of India and the US, which in 2017 also re-launched another four-nation coalition with Japan and Australia, primarily to build a coalition of democracies to counter communist China’s expansionist aspirations in the Indo-Pacific region.

About Abraham Accord

  • The Abraham Accords are joint statement between State of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America, reached on August 13, 2020.
  •  The term was used to refer collectively to agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (the Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement) and Bahrain, respectively (the Bahrain–Israel normalization agreement)
  • The Accords normalizes relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel and Bahrain.
  • According to the deal, the United Arab Emirates formally recognised the state of Israel, while the latter halted its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank of Palestine.
  • The Abraham Accords is the first Arab-Israeli peace deal in 26 years.

Abraham Accord: Implications for India

  • India has welcomed the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel
  • The signing of the Accords has removed a significant strategic obstacle for New Delhi — that of a trapeze wire delicate balancing act India has had to play out between the Arab Gulf and Israel over the decades. 
  • Abraham Accords peace agreement signed between Israel and the UAE has certainly paved the way for friendships and business partnerships across the region. India, being a friend of both the UAE and Israel, is the preferred partner to leverage the global potential of the UAE, Israel, and India Trilateral.
  • India – Iran relation – The possibility of the southern Gulf becoming the new arena of the proxy war between Iran and Israel cannot be ruled out. India would have to be on its guard to monitor and even pre-empt any threat to its interests in the Gulf..

2. International Solar Alliance


Context: Israel announced it would join the India-France led International Solar Alliance (ISA), ahead of the next U.N. Climate Change COP26 summit in Glasgow this November.

About International Solar Alliance

  • The ISA, is an Indian initiative that was launchedby the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on 30 November 2015 at Paris, France on the side-lines of the COP-21, with 121 solar resource rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn as prospective members.
  • The overarching objective of the ISA is to collectively address key common challenges to the scaling up of solar energy in ISA member countries. 
  • It also aims to undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology, mobilize investments needed for massive deployment of solar energy, and pave the way for future technologies adapted to the needs.
  • ISA has been positioned to help create the conditions that would make funding, developing and deploying solar applications on a large scale a reality. ISA is now perceived as key to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Membership

  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was conceived as a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries (which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn) to address their special energy needs.
  • The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization. Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights.

Governance

  • The Assembly of the ISA is the apex decision-making body which comprises of representatives from each Member Country.
  • The Assembly deliberates matters of substance such as the selection of the Director General, achievement of ISA objectives, its functioning, approval of operating budget and more.
  • This ultimate cohort of the ISA also assesses the implementation and aggregate effect of the Programmes and other activities under the Alliance, in terms of deployment of solar energy, performance, reliability, as well as cost and scale of finance. Thereupon, the Assembly determines the course of coordinated actions to be taken for the development and furtherance of the ISA Programmes.
  • The Assembly convenes annually wherein the ISA Member Country representatives exercise their votes to make all necessary decisions regarding the said matters, in the presence of non-voting participants including observers, prospective member nations, partner organizations and special invitees. The ISA Framework Agreement asserts that the Assembly may also meet under special circumstances.
  • It is headquartered in Gurugram, India.

Objectives of the ISA

  • To collectively address key common challenges to scale up solar energy applications in line with their needs;
  • To mobilize investments of more than USD 1000 billion by 2030;
  • To take coordinated action through programmes and activities launched on a voluntary basis, aimed at better harmonization, aggregation of demand, risk and resources, for promoting solar finance, solar technologies, innovation, R&D, capacity building etc.;
  • Reduce the cost of finance to increase investments in solar energy in member countries by promoting innovative financial mechanisms and mobilizing finance from Institutions;
  • Scale up applications of solar technologies in member countries, and
  • Facilitate collaborative research and development (R&D) activities in solar energy technologies among member countries.
  • Promote a common cyber platform for networking, cooperation and exchange of ideas among member countries;

3. Facts for Prelims


Kushinagar International Airport

  •  The Kushinagar International Airport in Uttar Pradesh is set to be opened on October 20.
  • The airport is expected to provide seamless connectivity to tourists from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and so on. 
  • Kushinagar is the centre of the Buddhist circuit, which consists of pilgrimage sites at Lumbini, Sarnath and Gaya.
  • Buddhist pilgrims consider Kushinagar a sacred site where, they believe, Gautama Buddha delivered his last sermon and attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’ or salvation.

Arahat Bhikkhu & Ther Bhikkhuni

  • Arahat Bhikkhu’ Mahinda, son of Emperor Ashoka delivering the message of the Buddha to King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka.
  • Arrival of ‘Theri Bhikkhuni’ Sanghamitta, the daughter of the Emperor, in Sri Lanka, bearing a sapling of the ‘sacred Bodhi tree’ under which Siddhārtha Gautama is believed to have obtained enlightenment.

Line of Actual Control

  • The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
  • India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
  • It is divided into three sectors: the eastern sector which spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the western sector in Ladakh.

Stagflation

  • Stagflation is characterized by slow economic growth and relatively high unemployment—or economic stagnation—which is at the same time accompanied by rising prices (i.e. inflation). Stagflation can be alternatively defined as a period of inflation combined with a decline in the gross domestic product (GDP)

Dengue fever

  • Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection, found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas.
  • Dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti and, to a lesser extent, Ae. albopictus.
  • These mosquitoes are also vectors of chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses.
  • The virus responsible for causing dengue, is called dengue virus (DENV). There are four DENV serotypes, meaning that it is possible to be infected four times.
  • Dengue prevention and control depends on effective vector control measures. Sustained community involvement can improve vector control efforts substantially.
  • Transmission : The virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can become infected from people who are viremic with DENV. This can be someone who has a symptomatic dengue infection, someone who is yet to have a symptomatic infection (they are pre-symptomatic), but also people who show no signs of illness as well (they are asymptomatic).
  • Vaccination against dengue : The first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia (CYD-TDV) developed by Sanofi Pasteur was licensed in December 2015 and has now been approved by regulatory authorities in ~20 countries.

4 . Places in News


Bomdila Monastery

  • Bomdila Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Arunachal Pradesh
  • The Bomdila Gompa or monastery is one of the most prominent centres of the Lamaistic faith of Mahayana Buddhism.
  • A replica of the Tsona Gontse monastery atTsona in the southern Tibet, the Bomdila monastery (also known as the Gentse GadenRabgyel Lling monastery) was set up by the twelfth reincarnate of the Tsona GontseRinpoche. 

Central Institute of Himalayan Culture

  • With a view to orienting its officers and men posted along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibetan culture and also preparing them to better understand the information warfare, the Army has begun a course in Tibetology in a tie-up with the Central Institute of Himalayan Cultural Studies in Arunachal Pradesh.

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