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16th July Current Affairs

Waiver to India for purchase of S-400 missile system

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

US House of Representatives has passed a legislative amendment that approves a waiver to India against the punitive CAATSA sanctions for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia to help deter aggressors like China.

Details:

Ro Khanna, the US representative from California’s 17th congressional district said, “The United States must stand with India in the face of escalating aggression from China.

The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

About CAATSA

CAATSA authorises the US administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia.

Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)‘s core objective is to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.

It was passed in 2017 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea (2014) and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.

Sanctions that may be imposed: prohibition on loans, prohibition of Export-Import bank assistance,  prohibition on procurement of goods or services, denial of visas to persons.

About S-400:

The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system developed in the 1990s.

It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

India signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia (in 2018) to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems.

Assam, Arunachal Pradesh sign pact aiming to solve the border dispute

(GS-II: Inter-State relations, special provisions for some states, Namsai Declaration etc)

In News:

A boundary line delineated in 1960 by a committee will be the basis for the realignment of the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh interstate boundary as the two states attempt to solve their longstanding border disputes.

Details:

Assam CM and his Arunachal counterpart held their third meeting on the disputes at Namsai in Arunachal.

Later, they jointly issued the ‘Namsai Declaration’.

Key Highlights:

Boundary line delineated by High-Powered Tripartite Committee taken as a basis: The boundary line delineated and signed on the 29 toposheets by the High-Powered Tripartite Committee as notified boundary during the year 1960 would be taken as the basis for realignment of boundary by both states,” the declaration reads.

12 Regional committees: Both states decided to constitute 12 “regional committees”, each covering 12 districts of Arunachal and the counterpart districts of Assam for joint verification of 123 villages.

They will make their recommendations to the respective governments keeping in view the historical perspective, administrative convenience, contiguity and people’s will to delineate the interstate boundary.

Both agreed in principle regarding 37 villages.

Final decision on the basis of regional committees: The final decision will be made based on the recommendations of the regional committees.

Distribution of villages: Twenty-eight villages, which are within the constitutional boundary of Arunachal, will remain with it.

Three villages, on which claims were withdrawn by Arunachal, will remain with Assam. The locations of six villages could not be located in Assam and if they exist in Arunachal, they will continue to be with it.

Final tranche before august 15: It was also agreed upon that the regional committees will submit their first tranche of reports on areas where consensus is arrived at before Aug. 15.

Present-day Arunachal Pradesh, which attained Statehood in February 1987, used to be the North East Frontier Tract, administered by the Governor of Assam as an agent of the President of India. It was renamed North East Frontier Agency and brought under the Central government’s control in 1954.

Namsai Declaration:

This declaration is signed between the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh on July 15, 2022, at Namsai, Arunachal Pradesh to minimize the border dispute between the two states in respect of 123 villages placed before the Local Commission by Arunachal Pradesh.

According to the declaration, all border issues between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will be confined to those raised before the local commission in 2007.

Iran, and Belarus to be the newest SCO members

(GS-II: Global grouping involving India, SCO etc)

In News:

Iran and Belarus are likely to be the two newest additions to the China and Russia-backed Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)

Details:

India will host the SCO summit next year, and Varanasi has been selected as the SCO region’s first “Tourism and Cultural Capital”.

Key Highlights:

Iran to become a member and call on Belarus’s membership: Iran will become a full member after completing the formalities while Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states who follow the system of consensus in deciding admission of new members will take a call on Belarus’s application.

First expansion after 2017: This is the first expansion of the SCO after India and Pakistan were admitted to the grouping in 2017.

Counter to west: China and Russia are looking to frame the grouping as a counter to the West — particularly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

SCO’s rising international influence: The significance of this round of expansion is that it shows SCO’s rising international influence and that the principles of the SCO charter are widely accepted, Secretary General SCO Zhang Ming said.

SCO is different from NATO: The expansion of NATO is totally different as the SCO is a cooperative organization based on non-alignment and not targeting a third party, while NATO is based on Cold War thinking

Security at the expense of other countries: The SCO believes one should not build its security at the expense of other countries while NATO is creating new enemies to sustain its own existence.

International order fairer and more reasonable: The SCO member states are thinking of how to adapt to the profound changes that the international situation is undergoing so as to make the international order fairer and more reasonable.

Agreements on connectivity and high-efficiency transport corridors: Samarkand summit is expected to have agreements on connectivity and high-efficiency transport corridors and a roadmap for local currency settlement among member states.

Financial Inclusion

(GS-III: Inclusive growth and associated issues/challenges)

In News:

An article by David Malpass (president of the World Bank Group) on financial inclusion.

Data: Global Findex found that 71% of adults in developing economies now have a formal financial account.

Details:

Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.

Benefits of the financial inclusion revolution:

Easier, cheaper and safer for people to receive wages from employers, and send remittances to family members.

Mobile money accounts can better handle high-volume, small-denomination transactions

Women empowerment: Individual accounts also give women more privacy, security and control over their money.

Reduce leakage and delay in government transfers –It benefits directly the people through their Aadhaar seeded bank accounts.

For example – MGNREGA has been attached to the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) platform, which aims to prevent leakages and delays and is a right step in this direction.

Government of Andhra Pradesh launched a smart-card program for MGNREGS and social security pensions where payments were delivered to bank accounts linked with biometric smart cards has resulted in a faster, less corrupt payment process.

It enhances financial resilience (the ability to deal with an unexpected financial event)- Financial access facilitates day-to-day living and helps families and businesses plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies.

Against corruption: It helps to increase transparency as money flows from a government’s budget to public agencies to citizens.

Suggestions given by the world bank chief:

Create a favourable operating and policy environment: E.g. enable the interoperability of systems (e.g. UPI), access to the mobile-phone system for banking, Consumer protections and stable regulations.

Establishing digital-identification systems: g. Aadhar in India

Promote the digitalization of payments: This will also promote formal-sector employment without making compliance excessively burdensome.

Inclusion: The gender gap in financial access has narrowed, but it still exists. Women, along with the poor, are more likely to lack a form of personal identification or a mobile phone, to live far from a bank branch, and to need support to open and use a financial account.

Expanding people’s access to finance, reducing the cost of digital transactions, and channelling wage payments and social transfers through financial accounts will be vital to mitigating development setbacks resulting from the ongoing turbulence.