GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Asia-Pacific Nations Sign Sweeping Trade Deal Without U.S.

Background

  • Eleven countries including Japan and Canada signed a landmark Asia-Pacific trade agreement without the United States on 8th March, 2018 in what one minister called a powerful signal against protectionism and trade wars.
  • The deal came as U.S. President Donald Trump vowed earlier in the day to press ahead with a plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that other nations and the International Monetary Fund said could start a global trade war.
  • The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will reduce tariffs in countries that together amount to more than 13 percent of the global economy – a total of $10 trillion in gross domestic product. With the United States, it would have represented 40 percent.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Even without the United States, the deal will span a market of nearly 500 million people, making it one of the world’s largest trade agreements, according to Chilean and Canadian trade statistics.
  • The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was thrown into limbo early 2017 when Trump withdrew from the deal three days after his inauguration. He said the move was aimed at protecting U.S. jobs.
  • The 11 remaining nations finalized a revised trade pact in Jan, 2018. That agreement will become effective when at least six member nations have completed domestic procedures to ratify it, possibly before the end of 2018.
  • The revised agreement eliminates some requirements of the original TPP demanded by U.S. negotiators, including rules to ramp up intellectual property protection of pharmaceuticals. Governments and activists of other member nations worry the changes will raise the costs of medicine.
  • The final version of the agreement was released in New Zealand on Feb. 21, 2018. The member countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
  • In January, 2018, Trump, who also has threatened to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that it was possible Washington might return to the TPP pact if it got a better deal. However, New Zealand’s trade minister said that was unlikely in the near term, while Japan has said altering the agreement now would be very difficult.
  • Trump vowed on 8th March, 2018 to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, although he said there would be exemptions for NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada.
  • Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, in Santiago for the CPTPP signing, told Reuters he would not allow the United States to use the tariffs to pressure it in the NAFTA talks. Champagne told Reuters that Canada would not accept duties or quotas from the United States.

Sources- REUTERS.

 

GS Paper II- Polity.

Rajasthan Passes Bill To Award Death Penalty For Those Who Rape Girls Under 12 Years Of Age.

Background

  • Rajasthan assembly on 9th March, 2018 passed an amendment bill awarding death penalty for convicts involved in the rape of girls below 12 years of age.
  • State Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria introduced ‘The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018’  in the assembly, which was passed in the House by a voice vote following a debate.
  • The new amendment added sections 376-AA and 376-DD to the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The amendment says that a person who is convicted of raping/gang-raping a girl up to twelve years of age will be given a death sentence or rigorous imprisonment, which shall not be less than fourteen years and 20 years, respectively.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Rajasthan home minister GC Kataria said that the amendment bill will award life sentence and life imprisonment to child rapists and will ensure that the convict doesn’t get out of the jail even after completing 14 years of sentence.
  • By doing so, it became the second state after Madhya Pradesh to award death penalty to child rapists.
  • Last year (2017), Madhya Pradesh assembly had unanimously passed ‘The Penal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill-2017’ awarding death to those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 and below. With this, Madhya Pradesh becomes the first State where those convicted of such rapes will face the gallows.
  • As per the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 2016 report, cases of crime against children have become rampant in Rajasthan in the recent past.
  • The BJP-ruled state recorded 4,034 such cases in 2016, which is 3.8 percent of the crimes against children (98,344) registered across the country. In 2015, the state had registered 3,689 cases of crime against children.

Sources- TOI.

 

GS Paper III- Economic Development.

Economic Partnership Signing Ceremony: Indian, French Companies Sign Pacts Worth 13 Billion Euros.

Background

  • Deals worth 13 billion euros (over Rs 1 lakh crore) across areas like aviation, renewable energy and waste management were signed between Indian and French companies and government entities on 10th March, 2018.
  • Indian and French companies exchanged 19 contracts and agreements worth over 13 billion euros in sectors including new and renewable energy, smart grid, nuclear energy, aviation, cement, telecom among others. The agreements were formalised at the Indo-French Economic Partnership signing ceremony in the context of French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The biggest deals signed, in terms of value, was from the civil aviation sector, where low-cost carrier SpiceJet inked a $12.5-billion (around 10.5-billion euro) agreement with French aviation major Safran Group for supply of 155 CFM LEAP-1B engines for the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, along with spare engines to support the fleet.
  • Safran also announced its eighth facility in India at Hyderabad, with 250 employees, for production of harnesses used in civil and military aerospace applications, for both local and foreign programs.
  • Airports Authority of India, too, signed an agreement with French engineering company Egis for conducting study of three airports in the country — Lucknow, Pune and Trichy. Apart from this, French cement maker Vicat announced an investment of Rs 1,200 crore in Karnataka to double its production capacity and an investment of Rs 510 crore in a cement-grinding unit in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Further, four French companies — EdF International Networks, Citelum, G2M and Solstyce — signed an agreement to work together for developing charging infrastructure in India to support electric mobility.
  • In the new and renewable energy sector, Bharat Light & Power and EDF renewed their contract pertaining to data acquisition to optimise wind and solar energy production; and a general collaboration agreement was signed between the French Commission for Atomic and Alternative Energy (CEA) and Vikram Solar to increase the production capacity of high performance solar cells and modules, apart from several other pacts on renewable energy.

Sources- The Indian Express.