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

Qatar Named World’s Richest Country.

Background-

  • Qatar has been ranked as the world’s wealthiest country in a new list compiled by the prestigious US magazine Forbes.
  • The Gulf State with a population of 1.7 million topped the list as the world’s richest country per capita, thanks to a rebound in oil prices and its massive natural gas reserves.
  • Adjusted for purchasing power, Qatar booked an estimated gross domestic product per capita of more than $ 88,000 for 2010, Forbes said, compared with $ 47,500 for the UAE, which was placed sixth while Kuwait stood at 15th in the list.

Highlights Of The Development–

  • Qatar, which will host the 2022 Football World Cup and is also in the running for the 2020 Olympic Games, has been a high-profile investor in recent times.
  • The government is pouring money into infrastructure, including a deepwater seaport, an airport and a railway network, all with an eye to making the country a better host for businesses and the 2022 World Cup,.
  • In second place on the list was Luxembourg, with a per capita GDP on a purchasing-power parity basis of just over $ 81,000.
  • In third place was Singapore, which thrives as a technology, manufacturing and finance hub with a GDP (PPP) per capita of nearly $ 56,700.
  • To rank the countries, Forbes said it looked at GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power for 182 nations. It used International Monetary Fund data from 2010.
  • Norway and Brunei rounded out the top five positions in the list followed by the UAE, the US, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
  • A trio of politically and economically fragile African nations were listed as the poorest countries – Burundi, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where GDPs (PPP) per capita are $ 400, $ 386 and $ 312, respectively.

Sources- TOI.

 

GS Paper II- International Relations.

Switzerland Ratifies Automatic Exchange Of Information With India.

Background

  • Switzerland on June 16, 2017 ratified the automatic exchange of financial account information with India and 40 other jurisdictions to facilitate immediate sharing of details of suspected black money, even as it sought strict adherence to confidentiality and data security.
  • Adopting the dispatch on the introduction of AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information), the Swiss Federal Council said the implementation was  planned for 2018 and the first set of data should be exchanged in 2019. The Council is the top governing body of the European nation.
  • The Indian government would soon be notified on the exact date from which the automatic exchange would begin.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • As per the draft notification approved by the Council at a meeting on June 16, 2017 the decision is not subject to any referendum. This means there should be no further procedural delay in its implementation.
  • The issue of black money has been a matter of great debate in India, and Switzerland has been long perceived as one of the safest havens for the illicit wealth allegedly stashed away by Indians.
  • The decision follows hectic parleys between India and Switzerland for the introduction of the AEOI on tax matters under the guidance of G20, OECD and other global organisations.
  • The Council said the proposal to introduce AEOI with India and others met with widespread approval from the interested parties who voiced their opinions in the consultations.
  • It noted that in concrete terms, the AEOI will be activated with each individual state or territory by means of a specific federal decree within the framework of this dispatch.
  • The exchange of information itself will be carried out based on the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information, which is in turn based on the international standard for the exchange of information developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
  • The Council said it would prepare a situation report before the first exchange of data, which was planned for autumn 2019.
  • In the process, it will be checked whether the states and territories concerned effectively meet the requirements under the standard, especially those concerning confidentiality and data security.

Sources- The Hindu.

 

GS Paper III- Technology.

NASA Launches Next-Generation Satellite To Improve US Weather Forecast.

 

Background

  • NASA on 18th November, 2017 successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) a highly advanced polar-orbiting satellite to improve weather forecasts up to seven days in advance.
  • The Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) lifted off on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, NASA said.
  • Launching JPSS-1 underscores NOAA’s commitment to putting the best possible satellites into orbit, giving the forecasters — and the public — greater confidence in weather forecasts up to seven days in advance, including the potential for severe, or impactful weather.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • This is the first in a series of four such satellites in a collaborative programme between NOAA and NASA.
  • Approximately an hour after launch, the solar arrays on JPSS-1 deployed and the spacecraft was operating on its own power.
  • JPSS-1 will be renamed NOAA-20 when it reaches its final orbit. Following a three-month checkout and validation of its five advanced instruments, the satellite will become operational, NASA said.
  • The satellite will improve weather forecastings, such as predicting a hurricane’s track and will help agencies involved with post-storm recovery by visualizing storm damage and the geographic extent of power outages.
  • JPSS-1 data will also improve recognition of climate patterns that influence the weather, such as El Nino and La Nina, according to NASA.

Sources- Business-Standard.