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GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World.

France To Loan €430 Million To Iraq.

Background-

  • France is to grant a €420 million loan to Iraq whose economy has been weakened by low oil prices and its fight against jihadists, a French foreign ministry official announced on 26th August, 2017.
  • Visiting Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a meeting with Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad that the €420 million ($512-million) would be released before the end of 2017.
  • The loan is aimed at helping the war-torn country implement reforms, improve public services and boost the performance of its state enterprises.

 

Highlights Of The Development–

  • The visit by France’s foreign and defence ministers come as Iraqi forces announced the ouster of the Islamic State group from the centre of Tal Afar, one of the jihadists’ last remaining strongholds in the north.
  • The advance, just days into an assault on the strategic town, comes six weeks after Abadi declared victory over IS in second city Mosul, where the jihadist group declared its “caliphate” in 2014.
  • One the plane to Baghdad, Le Drian said that Iraq now faced the dual challenge of “a war that is coming to an end and the beginning of the stabilisation and reconstruction”.
  • France is a key member of the US-led coalition that has been battling Isis in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
  • French forces have carried out air and artillery strikes in support of Iraqi operations against the jihadists, who have lost much of the swathes of territory they had seized in 2014.
  • France, which refused to take part in the 2003 American-led invasion that brought down Dictator Saddam Hussein, is keen to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq.
  • The cost of reconstruction has been estimated at between $700 billion and $1 trillion (€590 billion to €840 billion).

Sources- The Local.

 

GS Paper II- Governance, International Relations.

8 MoUs Signed With India On Second Day Of Nepalese PM Deuba’s Visit.

Background

  • India and Nepal on 24th August, 2017 inked eight pacts, including on cooperation in countering drug trafficking.
  • The pacts were signed after comprehensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba on strategic bilateral and regional issues.
  • Deuba said Nepal would never allow any anti-India activities from its soil.
  • The two leaders also jointly inaugurated the Kataiya-Kusaha and Raxaul-Parwanipur cross border power transmission lines.
  • Modi identified defence and security as an important aspect of bilateral ties.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Earlier, India and Nepal held delegation-level talks at New Delhi’s Hyderabad House to further enhancing the ties between the two sides.
  • Ahead of delegation level talks, Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba held bilateral talks with his counterpart Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj respectively in the national capital.
  • The Nepal Prime Minister, who is on a five-day visit to India, on Wednesday, 24th August, 2017, attended a programme in the Nepali Embassy where he addressed the Nepali community in India and business event organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

The Following MoUs Were Signed Between India And Nepal-

  • 1. MoU for Utilisation of India’s Housing Grant Component to support reconstruction of 50,000 houses
  • 2. MoU on implementation of reconstruction package in the education sector in Nepal
  • 3. MoU on implementation of reconstruction package in the Cultural Heritage sector in Nepal
  • 4. MoU on implementation of reconstruction package in the Health sector in Nepal
  • 5. MoU on agreement on cooperation in the field of standardisation and conformity assessment
  • 6. MoU for implementation arrangement on cost sharing, schedules and safeguard issues for construction of Mechi Bridge
  • 7. MoU on Drug demand reduction and prevention of illicit trafficking in Narcotic drugs, Psychotropic substances and precursor chemical and related matters
  • 8. MoU between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal.

Sources- Deccan Chronicle.

 

GS Paper III- Technology, Security.

Arun Jaitley Inaugurates Manufacture Of Light Combat Helicopter At HAL In Bengaluru.

 

Background

  • On August 26, 2017 in Bengaluru, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley underlined the growing capabilities of Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) by inaugurating the production of the indigenous design Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), which HAL has designed, developed and will now manufacture.
  • On November 7, 2016, the defence ministry had cleared a Rs 2,911-crore procurement of 15 LCHs as a “limited series production” (LSP) order – a little under Rs 200 crore per helicopter. But top HAL sources tell Business Standard the final cost would work out to Rs 231 crore per LCH at 2017-18 prices.
  • This is less than half the cost of the AH-64E Apache attack helicopters the Indian Air Force (IAF) has bought from Boeing, US. The Apache is more heavily armed and armoured and has the sophisticated Longbow fire control radar. The LCH does not yet have radar, but HAL intends to develop one before mass production begins.

 

Key Points Of The Development-

  • HAL is building the 15 LSP choppers at its Bengaluru helicopter complex. However, the army has committed to ordering 114 LCHs, and the air force another 65, which could be built at an upcoming helicopter production facility in Tumkur.
  • HAL has custom-designed the 5.8-tonne LCH to provide fire support to the army at mountainous deployment areas on the northern borders, which can be as high as 6,000 metres (almost 20,000 feet).
  • At these rarefied altitudes, where the shortage of oxygen prevents troops from carrying heavy weapons into battle, the LCH will provide crucial fire support with its 20-millimetre turret gun, 70-millimetre rockets and, to be incorporated later, a guided missile.
  • The LCH has demonstrated [the] capability to land and take off from Siachen Range (sic) with considerable load, fuel and weapons that are beyond any other combat helicopter.
  • The superb high-altitude performance of the LCH, like that of its precursor in service, the Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH), stems from twin Shakti engines, designed for HAL by French helicopter engine maker Turbomeca (now Safran Helicopter Engines), and built in Bengaluru. While the Shakti’s performance at low altitudes is comparable to other engines of its size, it outperforms them significantly at altitudes above 5,000 feet.
  • The LCH has a narrow fuselage, in which two pilots sit one-behind-the-other in an armoured cockpit that can protect them from small arms firing. Like the Dhruv ALH, on which many of the LCH’s flying technologies were tested, the new attack helicopter has a hinge-less main rotor, a bearing-less tail rotor, integrated dynamic system, crashworthy landing gear and a smart all-glass cockpit.
  • The LCH’s weapons and sensors were developed and tested on an armed variant of the Dhruv, called the Rudra. HAL’s chairman, T Suvarna Raju, says this evolutionary approach drastically cut down on the LCH’s development time.

Sources- Business-Standard.