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

World Bank Allocates $8 Bn For China’s Silk Road Project.

Background-

  • The World Bank allocated about $8 billion for infrastructure projects of the Chinese initiative – Silk Road Economic Belt.
  • This was stated by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on September 12, 2017 at a roundtable with the heads of international financial and economic organizations in the “6 + 1” format.
  • Kim noted that the World Bank will help the countries of this initiative to take maximum advantage of the opportunities provided, in accordance with their own development strategies.

 

Highlights Of The Development–

  • Azerbaijan is a key link in the Silk Road Economic Belt, the Chinese vision for a route connecting Asia, Europe and the rest of the world. China has huge development projects in this region, involving billions of dollars of investment and trade.
  • In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, signifying multidirectional cooperation between Eastern and Western countries throughout Central Asia and the Caucasus region.
  • In 2015 Chinese President Xi Jinping and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed “Memorandum of Understanding on Promotion of Silk Road Economic Belt Construction between Chinese and Azerbaijani Governments“.
  • The Silk Road Economic Belt comprises 6 corridors which connect five central Asian countries, Iran and the Persian Gulf region, Transcaucasia, Turkey and the Saudi Arabian Peninsula.
  • Traditionally, trade between China and West Asia takes place mostly via maritime routes, and the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor is a land-based substitute for these traditional routes.
  • The shortest way to approach West Asia from China is via Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. China is the manufacturer of the world’s fastest and most luxurious trains and a rail track is already operational from Aktau and Turkmenbashi, transporting goods to the New Baku International Sea Trade Port and then westward to Turkey and Europe.
  • According to estimates, the trans-Caspian route could be transporting around 300,000-400,000 containers by 2020, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sources- CBC.

GS Paper II- Governance, Social Justice.

Pension Regulator Proposes Maximum Entry Age Limit For NPS To 65 Years From 60 Years.

Background

  • Pension fund PFRDA regulator has proposed to raise maximum entry age limit for subscribing National Pension System (NPS) to 65 years.
  • The entry age to NPS is now proposed to be increased to 65 years from 60 years and there is an option to continue up to age of 70 years, a Finance Ministry statement issued on 15th September, 2017, said.
  • NPS should also be explored, as an additional retirement benefit, for corporates where superannuation funds are not available and employees are covered only under the mandatory EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation) schemes, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Chairman Hemant Contractor said.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • With opening up of economy people started getting more job opportunities, switching jobs suitable to their skills and talents. Job switching has become more frequent and people seek more controls on their finances, when they start moving jobs and place from one to another.
  • The concept of portability came in and people started thinking about having better control on their retirement savings.
  • Currently, NPS has more than 1.71 crore subscribers with total Asset under Management (AUM) of more than Rs. 2.04 lakh crore.
  • Defined benefit pension schemes, which were predominant earlier, became unsustainable not only for the government sector but also for the private sector because of various factors.
  • A Defined contribution scheme was, therefore, launched in 2004 which was initially only for central government employees, but which was later extended to state government employees and later to the private sector. This scheme is the NPS, which is regulated by PFRDA.

Sources- The Hindu Business Line.

 

GS Paper III- Disaster Management.

First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017 To Begin From Oct 10, 2017.

 

Background

  • The First ‘BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise- 2017’ (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) will be conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the lead agency from October 10-13, 2017 in New Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • This exercise will be a platform for sharing best practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for disaster management among the BIMSTEC member countries.
  • At the 17th BIMSTEC Senior Officials Meeting held in Kathmandu, Nepal on February 7, it was decided that India would organise the first annual Disaster Management Exercise for the region.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Delegates from all seven nations of the ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC) grouping, – namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, representatives from Embassies/High Commissions of BIMSTEC nations in Delhi, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and Senior Officers from the Nodal Ministries will be participating in the event.
  • The main focus of the BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 will be on testing the region’s preparedness and resilience towards effective activation of inter-Governmental interaction/dialogue/agreements for immediate deployment of regional resources for disaster response.
  • It will help create synergy and synchronise efforts to institutionalise regional cooperation among the member countries.
  • At the end of the four-day exercise, a publication will be brought out on the outcomes and recommendations of the Joint/Common Exercise and include Agreement among BIMSTEC Nations on regional cooperation for Disaster Management and Emergency Response. This would be presented to the BIMSTEC Leaders at the Summit to be hosted by Nepal in October/November, 2017.
  • India has been at the forefront of DRR efforts by hosting the South Asian Annual Disaster Management Exercise (SAADMEx) and the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR).
  • India has also offered its expertise and capabilities in DRR such as the South Asia satellite, GSAT-9, and the Tsunami Early Warning Centre to other countries. Disaster Management was one of the important Agenda items the BIMSTEC leaders deliberated upon during the Goa BRICS Summit in  October, 2016.
  • The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people, constituting around 22% of the global population with a combined GDP of US $2.7 trillion economy.

Sources- Outlook India.