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

WTO Talks Collapse, No Agreement On Food Security.

Background-

  • The World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires ended in an impasse on 13th December, 2017 evening as the US reneged on the commitment to give a permanent solution on public stockholding for developing countries.
  • It also objected to any reference to the Doha development mandate in the proposed Ministerial Declaration which was something that was not acceptable to India and many other countries.
  • New Delhi, however, said that it managed to protect all its defensive interests. The US position on a permanent solution led to a collapse of the agriculture negotiations. When there could be no agreement on agriculture, the possibility of an overall declaration also declined.

 

Highlights Of The Development–

  • The biggest takeaway from MC 11 was the commitment from members to secure a deal on fisheries subsidies which delivers on taking commitments for paring IUU (illegal, unregulated , unreported) subsidies by 2019, said Susana Malcorra, Argentinean Minister and chair of MC 11. Members also committed to improve the reporting of existing fisheries subsidy programmes.
  • Pushing back a commitment on curbing IUU subsidies to 2019, despite a number of members eager to have an interim solution with immediate cuts, is a victory for India, the official said. India now has more time to ensure that there are adequate safeguards in place to protect artisenal fishers.
  • A work programme on e-commerce was also adopted at the MC 11 which was exactly like the one proposed by India with the old work programme continuing and a two year continuation of the moratorium on e-commerce linked to the continuation of one on TRIPS and non-violation complaints.
  • During MC11 India stood firm on its stand on the fundamental principles of the WTO, including multilateralism, rule-based consensual decision-making, an independent and credible dispute resolution and appellate process, the centrality of development, which underlies the DDA.
  • In addition, members took a number of other ministerial decisions, including extending the practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions for another two years, and commitment to continue negotiations in all areas.
  • Some large groups of members have come together to advance issues of interest to them and to the global economy such as MSMEs, investment facilitation and e-commerce.

Sources- The Hindu Business Line.

 

GS Paper II- International Relations.

India, Australia And Japan Bat For Rules-Based Order In Indo-Pacific.

Background

  • India, Japan and Australia on 13th December, 2017 stressed their commitments to peace, democracy, economic growth and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region during a meeting in New Delhi.
  • The fourth India-Japan-Australia trilateral dialogue among India’s foreign secretary S. Jaishankar, Japan’s vice minister of foreign affairs Shinsuke J. Sugiyama and Australia’s secretary of the department of foreign affairs and trade Frances Adamson comes during a week when India hosted the foreign ministers of Russia and China for another trilateral meeting in New Delhi on 11th December, 2017.
  • On 12th December, 2017, India and Australia held their inaugural “2+2” dialogue involving defence and foreign secretaries, to discuss ways to ensure a “free” and “open” Indo-Pacific region.

 

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • All these sets of dialogues and conversations are taking place against the backdrop of officials from India, Japan, Australia and the US sitting down for talks last month that focused on the Indo-Pacific region against the backdrop of a rising China.
  • The four-nation “quad” of major democracies, which met in Manila on the margins of the East Asia Summit, is also seen as the possible nucleus of a probable new security architecture in Asia.
  • The four countries are expected to come together for naval drills in the near future with China warily eyeing the “quadrilateral exchanges,” and stating its hope that the group and its actions are not directed against Beijing.
  • A statement from the Indian government on the India-Australia-Japan trilateral talks said the three countries highlighted the growing convergence of their respective countries’ interests in the Indo-Pacific region and underscored their shared commitment to peace, democracy, economic growth and a rules-based order in the region.
  • The three countries underlined their support for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) centrality in the political and security architecture of the Indo-Pacific region. The countries also stressed the need for greater collaboration in the area of maritime security, disaster response, counterterrorism and strengthening regional connectivity.

Sources- Livemint.

 

GS Paper III- Economic Development.

J&K Bank Launches ‘Sahafat Finance Scheme’ For Journalists.

Background

  • Jammu and Kashmir Bank on 14th December, 2017 launched a finance scheme tailored for media fraternity in the state wherein a loan of up to Rs three lakh can be availed by journalists and employees of media houses in the state.
  • The scheme “J-K Bank sahafat finance scheme” was launched by the bank’s chairman and chief executive officer Parvez Ahmad in Srinagar.
  • Under the scheme, the journalists, media personnel and employees of media houses and newspapers can avail a loan of up to Rs three lakh for purchase of equipment like camera, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

 

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The scheme has two components: term loan which comprises 75 per cent of the total values of Rs three lakh and cash credit which is the rest 25 per cent.
  • The loan, which can be availed at an interest rate of Marginal Cost of Funds Based Lending Rate(MCLR) plus 3.4 per cent, has to be repaid in 60 monthly instalments and there are no pre-payment charges.
  • Speaking on the occasion, the bank’s chairman said the mission of the bank is to empower every individual of the state.
  • The empowerment of a society is not possible till every individual is empowered and that is the mission of the bank. The courage and zeal which the media persons have shown over the years, it is time to recognise their efforts and this scheme is just a beginning, Ahmad said.

Sources- Indiatoday.