GS Paper III- Economic Development.

India’s Forex Reserves Top $400 Billion For The First Time.

Background

  • India’s foreign-exchange reserves rose past $400 billion for the first time ever, strengthening policy makers’ buffers ahead of an expected reduction in US stimulus.
  • The stockpile stood at $400.7 billion 8 September, 2017, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in a release on Friday, 15th September, 2017.
  • With the Federal Reserve set to shrink its balance sheet—details of which could be announced next week—the holdings may help the rupee withstand any volatility even if global funds turn away from India’s slowing economy.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • India’s holdings are about $376 billion now if stripped of gold, enough to pay for about a year of imports. The pace of reserve accretion has been one of the strongest within Asia in the past 12 months, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley, creating a challenge for the central bank, which has been intervening and mopping up the inflows.
  • The RBI last month (August, 2017) cut interest rates to the lowest in seven years to boost flagging growth. At the same time, it has been absorbing surplus funds in the banking system to keep price pressures under control. Inflation has been rising sharply from record lows, and the central bank wants it to stay near the 4% mid-point of its target range.
  • The rise in foreign exchange reserves comes as yield-hungry global investors take advantage of high real rates of interest and a rupee that has gained more than 6% this year against the dollar. That may change in the months ahead as accelerating inflation in India erodes returns.
  • Foreign holdings of rupee debt have risen by just 20.9 billion rupees ($326 million) so far in September and August’s 126-billion rupee inflow was the smallest in six months, as investors have used up almost all of their eligible quotas to buy Indian bonds. In the freer equity market, overseas investors have withdrawn $810 million this month, extending last month’s $1.7 billion outflow.

Sources- Livemint.

 

GS Paper II- International Relations.

Bambawale India’s New Envoy To China, Bisaria Takes His Place In Pakistan.

 

Background

  • India’s high commissioner to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale has been appointed the ambassador to China and India’s ambassador to Poland Ajay Bisaria will be the next high commissioner to Pakistan.
  • The reshuffle was necessitated by appointment of India’s ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale as Secretary (Economic Relations) in MEA. Gokhale played the lead role in defusing the Doklam crisis with Beijing and is now being tipped as India’s next foreign secretary in case government doesn’t give another extension to S Jaishankar in January (2018).

 

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Bambawale and Bisaria are widely acknowledged as MEA’s best and both have in the past handled several sensitive postings.
  • A 1984 batch IFS officer, Bambawale has served as joint secretary of East Asia division where he handled both China and Japan. He, in fact, was one of the longest serving joint secretaries there with his tenure lasting from 2009 to 2014.
  • There are few who know China better than him as he has also served as India’s DCM in Beijing. His understanding of the region is also expected to help India deal with the North Korea situation more effectively.
  • A 1987 batch IFS officer, Bisaria has also had an impeccable career as a diplomat and is considered an expert on Russia and central Asia. Addressing Russia’s nascent strategic proximity to Pakistan will no doubt be an important focus area for him. A savvy diplomat, Bisaria is also considered one of MEA’s most presentable faces.
  • In one of his most significant career assignments, Bisaria served as private secretary and aide to then PM A B Vajpayee from 1999 to 2004 and in that capacity handled a range of defence, economic and foreign policy issues.
  • Fluent in Russian, Bisaria headed the Eurasia division from 2009 to 2014. As his official profile says, he helped articulate an ambitious policy vision for India in central Asia and coordinated India’s approach to 6 annual Indo-Russian summits. Bisaria also worked on India’s policy for multilateral entities like SCO and the Russia-India-China trilateral dialogue.

Sources- The Times Of India.

 

GS Paper IV- Integrity.

Arjan Singh, 1965 War Hero And Marshal Of Indian Air Force, Passes Away After Cardiac Arrest.

Background

  • Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh passed away on Saturday, 16th September, 2017, after suffering a massive cardiac arrest at the Research and Referral Hospital, New Delhi. He was 98.
  • Singh was the only five-star air force officer. The military veteran was admitted to hospital following a cardiac attack on Saturday morning.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three service chiefs — General Bipin Rawat, Admiral Sunil Lanba and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa — visited Singh at the hospital on Saturday.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • An icon of the Indian military history, Singh had led a young troop of armed forces into the India-Pakistan war in 1965, when he was 44-years-old.
  • In 1965, when Pakistan had launched Operation Grand Slam with an armoured thrust targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor, Singh led the Indian Air Force through the war with courage, determination and professional skill.
  • The Marshal was awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his leadership during the 1965 India-Pakistan war.
  • Singh has flown more than 60 aircraft; he remained a flyer till his career with the air force ended.
  • Singh is the only officer from Indian Air Force and the entire Indian armed forces to be promoted to a five-star rank, which is equivalent to Field Marshal.
  • Field marshals Sam Manekshaw and KM Cariappa of the army were the two other officers with a five-star rank.
  • Born on April 15, 1919, in Lyallpur in Punjab in undivided India, his father, grandfather and great grandfather had all served in the cavalry.
  • After his retirement from the air force, Singh was appointed as the India’s ambassador to Switzerland in 1971 and concurrently served as the ambassador to the Vatican. He was also the high commissioner to Kenya in 1974.
  • Singh served as a member of the National Commission for Minorities and was also the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. He was made Marshal of the Indian Air Force in January 2002.
  • The fighter aircraft base at Panagarh in West Bengal was named in his honour on his birthday last year (2016).

Sources- Firstpost.