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

India-Bound Gas Pipeline TAPI Breaks Ground On Afghan Section.

Background

  • Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India on 23rd February, 2018 ceremonially broke ground on the Afghan section of an ambitious, multi-billion dollar gas pipeline expected to help ease energy deficits in South Asia.
  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov joined Pakistani premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India’s minister of state for external affairs Shri M. J. Akbar for the ceremony at gas-rich Turkmenistan’s border with Afghanistan.
  • Dignitaries including diplomats from the foreign missions in Turkmenistan were greeted by Turkmen national songs and traditional nomadic tents serving up food on an overcast day at the border post of Serkhetabat, once the southernmost tip of the Soviet Union.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The quartet aims to complete the 1,840-kilometre (1,143-mile) pipeline and begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh gas field by the beginning of 2020.
  • While the pipeline will traverse war-wracked Afghanistan, raising security concerns, the bulk of the 33 billion cubic metres of gas to be pumped annually through the conduit will be purchased by South Asian rivals Pakistan and India.
  • Turkmen strongman Berdymukhamedov, whose country currently depends heavily on China as a market for its natural gas exports, called diversification of gas deliveries an “important part of the politics” of the isolated Central Asian country.
  • And he said work on the Turkmen section of the pipeline was still ongoing.
  • India’s commitment to the pipeline has previously been questioned over its relationship with Pakistan and easy-access to liquified natural gas markets seen as potential stumbling blocks.
  • But its external affairs minister hailed the project as “a symbol of our goals” and “a new page in cooperation” between the four countries in a speech at the ceremony.
  • The overall funding picture for the mammoth gas pipeline remains unclear, with commercial energy giants such as France’s Total failing to follow up on reported interest in the project.
  • Turkmenistan sits on the world’s fourth-largest gas reserves but lost a major buyer in Russia after Russian energy giant Gazprom wound down imports of Turkmen gas and then ceased purchases completely in 2016.

Sources- Livemint.

GS Paper II- International Relations.

India Contributes $1 Million For Tonga Devastated By Cyclone Gita.

Background

  • India in contributing $1 million for relief efforts in the Pacific Ocean kingdom of Tonga that was devastated by cyclone Gita last week, according to the UN.
  • Of that $500,000 would be given as immediate relief to Tonga and another $500,000 would be allocated to it from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund (I-UNDPF), the UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) announced on 19th February, 2018.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Following the assessment of the damages caused and priorities needing support, the Government of Tonga will identify the rehabilitation projects to be supported through the I-UNDPF, UNOSSC said.
  • The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the Category 4 cyclone was the worst on record to hit Tonga.
  • Cyclones of that intensity can have gusts between 225 and 279 kilometres per hour.
  • The nation’s parliament was destroyed by the storm, which caused extensive damage across the archipelago.
  • The International Red Cross said that according to initial assessments about 70 per cent of Tonga’s population are affected. Tongatapu, where the capital of the country’s capital NukuEalofa is situated, is among the worst hit areas, it said.
  • Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a message of sympathy to Tonga’s Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva, according to a press release from the Suva, Fiji-based Indian High Commission that also covers Tonga.
  • India stands in solidarity with the friendly people of the Kingdom of Tonga in this difficult hour of adversity, Modi said in his message offering the $1 million aid, according to a High Commission press release on Twitter.
  • The first project under the I-UNDPF is a Climate Early Warning Systems in Pacific Island Countries including the Cook Islands, which covers Tonga and other island nations in the region, UNOSSC said.
  • The project aims to increase resilience from natural disasters of these seven Pacific island countries and contribute toward the Sustainable Development Goal of Climate Action, it added.

Sources- Hindustan Times.

GS Paper III- Security.

Indian Navy To Host ‘Milan-2018’ Between 6-13 March, 2018: Biennial Event Themed ‘Friendship Across The Seas’ To Be Held At Port Blair.

Background

  • The Indian military’s Andaman and Nicobar Command is going to host biennial multinational naval event ‘Milan-2018’ at Port Blair from 6-13 March, 2018 with the underlying theme of “friendship across the seas”, it was announced on 25th February, 2018.
  • The event will see a mix of professional exercises and seminars, social events and sporting fixtures. The inaugural address will be delivered by Navy chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba.
  • The theme of this year’s Milan International Maritime Seminar is “In Pursuit of Maritime Good Order — Need for Comprehensive Information Sharing Apparatus“.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The social interactions planned during Milan 2018 include display by Indian Army and navy bands, ship visits and colourful cultural evenings. Several events will be open to the public including displays by sky diving team, Beating the Retreat and naval continuity drill, an official release said.
  • An International City Parade will be held along the Marina Park Road, with marching contingents from all participating foreign naval ships as well as the Indian armed forces.
  • The parade will include a flypast and aerobatic display by military aircraft and demonstrations of various military operations. Besides, visiting foreign ships will also be open for visits by school children and local public. Milan-2018 will culminate with passage exercise at sea by all the participating naval ships.
  • Milan 2018 aims to showcase the rich heritage and pristine natural beauty of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the foreign visitors, the release said.
  • Besides fostering co-operation through naval exercises and professional interactions, the event is also aimed at providing an opportunity to the participating navies to come together in a spirit of collaboration to nurture stronger ties.
  • The growing participation over the years bears testimony to the success of this multilateral initiative. From an event of sub-regional context started in 1995, Milan has now grown into a prestigious international event and encompasses participation by maritime forces from not just the Bay of Bengal and South East Asia but the larger Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the release said.
  • The interactions during Milan encompass sharing of views and ideas on maritime good order and enhancing regional cooperation for combating unlawful activities at sea.

Sources- Firstpost.