India extends 1 million USD to Antigua and Barbuda to combat COVID-19
India extended 1 million USD to Antigua and Barbuda to combat COVID-19 outbreak. This is aimed at improving health infrastructure in the country.
India has also offered same level of assistance, that is, 1 million USD to each of Caribbean Community under CARICOM. CARICOM is a group of 20 developing countries in the Caribbean region.
Under the 1 million USD assistance, the countries are to be assisted with disposable impervious gowns, full cover goggles, ventilators, face shields, examination gloves, disposable masks, etc. Also, Antigua and Barbuda are to receive 10,000 Hydroxychloroquine tablets.
The proposals of Antigua and Barbuda for assistance was processed under the India-UNDP Funds. The funds are managed by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
CARICOM was formed in 1973. It has 15 members namely Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Dominica, Belize, Grenada, Haiti, Guyana, Montserrat, Jamaica, St Kitts, St Vincent, Suriname, Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago. The chairmanship of CARICOM is rotated every six months among the member countries. The CARICOM Single market aims to benefit people of the region by providing more and better opportunities. This is mainly in terms of buying and selling goods and services in order to attract investment.
Single Market Economy means that the economies allow free movement of goods across their borders. Here the return on investment is faster.
The GoI funded 1.66 million USD to the CARICOM for their information technology development, computer software and communication infrastructure development.
In 2019, PM Modi held the first India-CARICOM Summit in New York. The meeting focused on climate change and India’s participation in CARICOM grouping. India announced to provide 14 million USD grant for the development projects in the region. Also, India extended 150 million USD of line of credit for solar energy, renewable energy and climate change related projects.
The first India-CARICOM Conclave was held in 2009. During the conclave, investment in industries such as water pumps for irrigation, small scale industries, medicines were identified.
AMRUT Scheme Ranking: Odisha continues to be the Top Performer
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs recently released ranking of states under AMRUT scheme. Odisha has secured first position by scoring 85.67%.
AMRUT is Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation Scheme. The scheme aims to provide piped water supply to households in urban areas of the state. It also aims at construction of sewerage treatment plants and improving green spaces in the cities.
So far, under the scheme, 148 projects have been completed out of 191 projects. The rest are to be completed within the mission period of March 2021.
This year, Odisha has topped the ranking followed by Chandigarh, Telangana, Gujarat and Karnataka in the implementation of the scheme.
Nine cities of Odisha namely Bhubaneshwar, Sambalpur, Cuttack, Rourkela, Bhadrak, Balasore, Baripada, Berhampur and Puri were covered under the scheme. Around 2,400 kilo metres of pipeline laying has been completed in the state till date.
The mission was launched in 2015 by PM Modi. It was extended by 2 years in December 2019. The mission mainly focuses on the following.
Under the scheme, the states prepared their own State Annual Action Plans. The states will transfer funds to urban local bodies to implement the scheme. The fund transfer has to be done within seven days of transfer by central government.
Cities covered under the scheme:
Around 500 cities were selected under the scheme. All the cities and towns that have population more than 1 lakh according to the census 2011 are included in the scheme. The capital cities of states and Union Territories are not covered. The cities that are classified as Heritage cities by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs under HRIDAY scheme are also included in the scheme.
HRIDAY is National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana and was launched under Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. It was launched to preserve and revitalize rich cultural heritage of India.
United Nations defeats US demand to extend Arms Embargo on Iran
The United Nations defeated the US demand of extending arms embargo on Iran indefinitely. Embargo is an official ban on trade and other commercial activity on a country.
The United Nations Security council voted against extension of arms embargo on Iran. Of the 15 members, two voted in favor and two voted against and 11 abstained. Israel and six other Gulf countries supported the extension.
The United States had walked out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that stopped Iran from proliferation of nuclear weapons. The deal paved way for Iran to move out of sanctions.
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA):
In 2015, Iran agreed to reduce its nuclear weapon proliferation under a deal signed with the six major powers US, UK, China, Russia, France and Germany. Under the agreement, Iran agreed to reduce its enriched Uranium and heavy-water, cut its stores of centrifuges and also reduce other key components of nuclear weapons.
Concerns of JCPOA:
Why did US pull out of JCPOA?
According to the US, the deal provided Iran, its access to billions of dollars but did not address Iran’s support for groups (Groups that were named terrorists by the US) such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
India-Iran bilateral trade is around 12.89 billion USD. The major Indian exports are rice, iron and steel, tea, metals, organic chemicals, drugs, electrical machinery. The Indian imports from Iran include fertilizers, nuts, edible fruits, precious stones.
Central Water Commission and Google launch Flood forecasting Initiative
The Central Water Commission along with Google has launched flood forecasting initiative. Under the initiative, numerous alerts can be sent to the public regarding flood situation in the region. Also, people can learn about current water level in the flood affected regions in the country.
Google is already sending public alerts to people affected by floods in the country. With the new initiative, people can now use Google Search to enter a query and seek key information about the current situation of water level in the flood affected area.
This monsoon has brought long flood situation in many states such as UP, Bihar, and Assam. The water level has risen in regions near water bodies putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk. The initiative is being brought in at right situation. The flood alerts in India are issued by the Central Water Commission.
Now, with the initiative, any user with an Android phone can receive alerts. Google is currently issuing these alerts in Hindi, English and Bengali.
About the Initiative:
Google is offering colour-coded maps indicating flooded areas. Zooming the map will give better understanding about the current water level in these regions.
In order to avail the initiative, the user has to search for “flooding” followed by the name of the affected region on Google maps.
Central Water Commission:
The CWC was established in 1945. It operates under Ministry of Jal Shakti. The following are the main functions of the commission
The CWC is divided into three wings namely River Management Wing, Water Planning and Projects Wing and Design and Research Wing.
Currently, the CWC is implementing the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project that is to rehabilitate 225 dams in the country. The financial assistance to the project is provided by the World Bank.
Dams in India:
Most of the dams in India are maintained by the State Government. However, there are few organizations such as Bhakra Beas Management Board, National Hydro Electric Power Corporation and Damodar Valley Corporation that operate dams.
National Digital Health Mission launched
PM Modi launched the National Digital Health Mission during his address at the 74th Independence Day celebrations.
Under the mission, every Indian is to get a Health ID card. The ID card will contain all relevant information about the person’s past medical condition, treatment and diagnosis. The mission is completely technology based.
The mission aims to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of health care in India. It is to operate under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana or Ayushman Bharat.
About the Health ID card:
The details of the prescription is to be logged in the health ID card provided under the scheme. It will also contain results of tests conducted, reports, advised medication, etc. The ID is to hold information about every single test conducted, diagnosis, treatment and medicines.
The programme was launched in 2018 to address health issues at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. There are two main components of the scheme. They are Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana that was called the National Health Protection Scheme earlier and Health and Wellness Centres.
It is the largest Government funded health care programme in the world. It is also called Modicare.
It is important for GoI to provide so much importance to the health sector for the following reasons.