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

Marshall Islands To Launch World-First Digital Legal Tender.

Background

  • The Marshall Islands will issue its own cryptocurrency that will be circulated as legal tender along with the U.S. dollar, according to one of the remote Pacific republic’s top officials.
  • The new currency will be called SOV and its legal tender status has been approved by the country’s parliament, said David Paul, minister-in-assistance to the president of the Marshall Islands on 27th February, 2018.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Plans for possible sovereign crypto-currencies have gained momentum in recent months, as digital tokens launched by private companies have jumped in value. Several governments, including China, Estonia, and Iran, have discussed plans for their own digital currency.
  • Venezuela, meanwhile, has gone ahead with a new digital token called the petro, backed by oil. It raised about $735 million on the first day of its presale earlier this month but is not expected to attract significant investment.
  • Paul said the SOV will be issued to the public through an initial coin offering, a financing strategy that has become popular among startups looking to raise funds for their projects.
  • The country has capped the SOV supply at 24 million tokens in order to prevent inflation, Paul said. The 24 million tokens represent the Marshall Islands’ 24 municipalities, he added.
  • The Marshall Islands is partnering with Neema, an Israeli financial technology startup, to issue the SOV, Paul said.
  • Paul said the government has not yet determined a launch date for the ICO but that a presale of the tokens to investors will start soon.
  • SOV is based on what the Marshall Islands government calls the “Yakwe framework”, which requires users to identify themselves on the blockchain, solving the anonymity problem that has plagued bitcoin and precluded its mainstream adoption.
  • Paul said that because bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are anonymous, they are not compatible with the framework of a regulated banking environment.
  • Part of the proceeds from the ICO will be used to help finance the Marshall Islands’ National Trust Fund, Paul said. The United States contributes to the fund, intended to support future generations.

Sources- Reuters.

GS Paper II- International Relations.

India, Vietnam Ink Pacts On Nuclear Energy, Trade, Agriculture.

Background

  • India and Vietnam on 3rd March, 2018 resolved to work jointly for an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific along with an efficient and rules-based regional security architecture, seen as a message to China over its growing military expansion in the region.
  • After wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, the two strategic partners inked three pacts providing for cooperation in nuclear energy, trade and agriculture, besides deciding to boost ties in oil and gas exploration.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • PM Modi said both sides expressed commitment for an open, efficient and rules-based regional architecture and to expand bilateral maritime cooperation further.
  • In an apparent reference to the South China Sea dispute, the Vietnamese president said it supports India’s multi-faceted “connectivity” with ASEAN and asserted that there must be freedom of navigation and over flight in the region. He said that disputes must be resolved through peaceful means.
  • Vietnam and several other ASEAN member countries have territorial disputes with China over the resource-rich South China Sea.
  • While India, the US and several other world powers have been pressing for resolution of the dispute on the basis of international law, China has been favouring a bilateral framework with respective countries.
  • The Vietnamese president said it was important to respect the diplomatic and legal process in resolution of the dispute.
  • He said both sides also agreed to work closely to address regional security challenges including in the domain of maritime and cyber security.
  • On defence cooperation, which is on an upswing, the prime minister said both sides decided to cooperate in defence production and explore opportunities in transfer of technology.
  • During the talks, Modi said India and Vietnam have also “agreed” to deepen trade and investment ties in sectors like oil and gas exploration, renewable energy, agriculture and textiles.
  • He said the two sides will also look for trilateral partnership in oil and gas sector.
  • The three pacts signed after the talks between the two leaders will provide for cooperation in areas of nuclear energy, trade and agriculture.

Sources- Business Today.

GS Paper III- Security.

Nirbhaya Fund: Centre Approves Rs 2,900 Cr To Make Cities Safer.

Background

  • The Centre on Thursday, 1 March, 2018 approved projects worth over Rs 2,900 crore under the Nirbhaya Fund, for eight major cities of the country in a bid to make them safer for women.
  • Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Lucknow have been sanctioned a total of Rs 2,919.55 crore after a meeting, on Thursday, of the Empowered Committee, which is headed by the secretary of Women and Child Development (WCD).
  • The Nirbhaya Fund was set up in the aftermath of the gruesome gangrape and murder of a paramedical student in Delhi in 2012, and aims at improving safety for women.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Delhi has been sanctioned Rs 663.67 crore for using latest technologies, such as video monitoring, facial recognition, analytics, and tracking of people. The national capital will also get more police patrol vans equipped with GPS and the ability to share video feeds.
  • Mumbai has been granted Rs 252 crore for projects, which include the mapping of criminal hotspots and video surveillance, as well as for strengthening the “Police Didi” programme which focuses on women police personnel interacting with women living in slums.
  • Kolkata will get Rs 181.32 crore for various schemes, including for strengthening nine women police stations.
  • Bengaluru has been sanctioned projects worth Rs 667 crore, which include setting up women police outposts and the creation of safety islands at vulnerable locations.
  • According to a senior official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, these proposals have been sanctioned for a period of three years on a cost sharing basis of 60:40 ratio with states.
  • Between 2013 and 2017, the corpus of Nirbhaya Fund has grown to Rs 3,100 crore. Another Rs 500 crore has been set aside for it for the next fiscal.
  • These programmes have been sanctioned after various rounds of meeting between the officials of the ministry, as well as municipal corporations and police commissioners of these cities.

Sources- The Quint.