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‘Three capitals’ in Andhra Pradesh: Page 7
- The Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to establish three capitals—Visakhapatnam as the executive capital, Amaravati as the legislative capital, and Kurnool as the judicial capital—has brought the development of Amaravati to a standstill.
- Farmers who contributed land for Amaravati allege that Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy wants to shift to Visakhapatnam because he does not want to continue the initiatives of his predecessor, N. Chandrababu Naidu.
- The concept of three capitals is seen as a failed experiment by the farmers and has resulted in the infrastructure created in Amaravati, including villas for High Court judges and senior IAS officers, lying abandoned.
- The fate of the massive investment in Amaravati and the impact of the proposed shift to Visakhapatnam on future land acquisitions remain uncertain.
- The government’s refusal to change its stance on the three capitals suggests that the future of Amaravati is bleak.
- The Amaravati project was initiated by N. Chandrababu Naidu, who chose the Vijayawada-Guntur region as the capital location and garnered global attention for the development plans.
- The High Court delivered a judgment in favor of the farmers who provided land for Amaravati, but the government has sought more time and challenged the judgment in the Supreme Court.
- The government’s allocation of house sites for economically weaker sections in Amaravati continues despite the High Court’s ruling against third-party interests on the land.
- The government believes that the decentralization plan will be rewarded with votes in the upcoming elections.
- The underlying objective of the three capitals plan is seen as political, and its success remains uncertain.
The latest China-Canada kerfuffle: Page 8
- Canada declared Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei “persona non grata” for allegedly targeting a Canadian lawmaker critical of China’s human rights record.
- China responded with a “reciprocal countermeasure” by asking a top Canadian diplomat in Shanghai to leave the country.
- The feud started with a report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) detailing potential threats to opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his family in Hong Kong due to his criticism of Beijing.
- Michael Chong had led legislative efforts in Canada’s House of Commons to declare China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang as “genocide,” which resulted in China barring his entry into the country.
- The Canadian government faced criticism for its inaction against China after the details of the CSIS report were revealed.
- Canada declared diplomat Zhao Wei “persona non grata,” citing intolerance towards foreign interference in internal affairs.
- China warned of retaliatory measures and accused Canada of violating international law and sabotaging China-Canada relations.
- Canada-China ties have been strained in recent years, particularly since the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and China’s subsequent detention of two Canadians on spying charges.
- The tension between the two countries has also been fueled by allegations of Chinese interference in Canadian elections and a technology battle over the presence of Chinese firms in Canada’s communications infrastructure.
Why are financial regulators transitioning from LIBOR?: Page 8
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced that some banks and financial institutions have not transitioned away from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) benchmark.
- LIBOR is a global benchmark interest rate used in various financial contracts and consumer lending products.
- The mechanism of LIBOR relied on banks to provide honest reporting, but there were controversies of manipulated submissions during the 2008 financial crisis.
- In 2017, the U.S. Federal Reserve introduced the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) as an alternative to LIBOR.
- In India, new transactions were to be conducted using SOFR and the Modified Mumbai Interbank Forward Outright Rate (MMIFOR).
- The RBI has asked banks to assess their LIBOR exposures and prepare for the adoption of alternative reference rates.
- Contracts entered after December 31, 2021, were not allowed to use LIBOR as a reference rate, and existing contracts were required to have fallback clauses.
- The transition from LIBOR to alternative reference rates aims to enhance transparency, consistency, and reduce the potential for market manipulation.
Drive against drugs, forest encroachment not against any tribe: Manipur govt.: Page 10
- The BJP-led Manipur government has denied targeting any specific community with its eviction and anti-drug drives, amid clashes between the Kuki and Meitei communities.
- Data released by the Superintendent of Police of the Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) shows that between 2017-18 and 2022-23, poppy plantations were identified on a total of 15,496.8 acres. Out of this, 13,121.8 acres were in areas dominated by the Kuki-Chin people, 2,340 acres in Naga-majority areas, and 35 acres in areas inhabited by other communities.
- During the same period, 2,518 people were arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Out of these, 873 belonged to the Kuki-Chin communities, 1,083 were Muslims (mostly Meitei Pangals), and 381 were Meiteis.
- The data also reveals that from 2017 to March 2023, poppy plantations on 18,664.5 acres and cannabis plantations on 20 acres were destroyed.
- Another set of data indicates that 291 encroachers were evicted from 20 reserve forests and protected forests across five districts in Manipur. Meitei people were uprooted from 16 of these areas, followed by Kabui Nagas, Kukis, Nepalese, Meitei Pangals, and Chiru tribals.
- Chief Minister N. Biren Singh emphasized that the government’s eviction drives and anti-drug efforts were not community-specific but aimed at preserving forests and addressing the drug issue in the state.
U.S., India, world want stability in Pakistan: envoy Garcetti: Page 11
- U.S. Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, stated that the United States, India, and the world desire stability in Pakistan amidst the ongoing turmoil in the country.
- He emphasized the importance of engagement with Pakistan while respecting their autonomy in determining their future.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the United States in June for an official state visit, marking India’s first such visit to the U.S. in 14 years.
- Garcetti highlighted the significance of the current moment in the U.S.-India partnership, as both countries have never worked together as closely as they do now.
- The U.S. is currently India’s biggest trading partner, with $191 billion in bilateral trade last year. India also sends the most students to the U.S. compared to any other country.
- The U.S. and India are collaborating to protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region, promote inclusive development and renewable energy, address global health and development challenges, tackle climate change, and develop critical and emerging technologies.
Take steps to reduce unnecessary hysterectomies, Centre tells States: Page 12
- The Health Ministry in India has expressed concerns about the higher risk of unnecessary and unjustified hysterectomies, particularly among poor and less-educated women in rural areas.
- The Supreme Court of India directed the States and Union Territories to implement health guidelines formulated by the Centre to monitor and prevent unnecessary hysterectomies within three months.
- A public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed in 2013 highlighted the issue of unnecessary hysterectomies in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan, including those performed under government healthcare schemes.
- The petitioner, Dr. Narendra Gupta, a doctor and public health expert, emphasized that women who should have been provided alternative treatments were subjected to hysterectomies, posing serious risks to their health.
- The petition also revealed that a significant number of women belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Communities underwent such hysterectomies. Private hospitals were also found to be involved in performing these procedures.
- The Health Ministry has requested states to share hysterectomy data and undertake compulsory audits for all hysterectomies in healthcare institutions, both public and private.
- The Ministry had previously issued guidelines in 2022 to prevent unnecessary hysterectomies, and states were instructed to comply with them.
- The Supreme Court judgment emphasized that the rising rates of hysterectomies in India among young women (age 28-36) contradicted the trend in developed countries, where such procedures are typically performed on premenopausal women above the age of 45.
- The judgment recognized the violation of fundamental rights of women who underwent unnecessary hysterectomies and stressed that the right to health is an integral part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Cabinet gives approval for fertilizer subsidy of X1.08 lakh crore for kharif: Page 12
- The Centre expects this year’s fertilizer subsidy in India to exceed ₹2.25 lakh crore due to high fertilizer prices caused by global factors such as reduced production and increased logistics costs.
- The Union Cabinet has approved a subsidy of ₹1.08 lakh crore for the ongoing kharif (monsoon) season, with ₹38,000 crore allocated for phosphatic and potassic (P&K) fertilizers and ₹70,000 crore for urea subsidy.
- Last year, the total fertilizer subsidy amounted to approximately ₹2.56 lakh crore.
- The Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya, announced that the prices of urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP) would remain unchanged during the season, benefiting around 12 crore farmers.
- The subsidized rate of urea is currently ₹276 per bag, while DAP is priced at ₹1,350 per bag.
- The country’s total urea consumption is estimated to be around 325 to 350 lakh tonnes, with 100 to 125 lakh tonnes of DAP, 100 to 125 lakh tonnes of NPK, and 50 to 60 lakh tonnes of muriate of potash (MoP) also being sold.
- The Minister emphasized the importance of timely availability of fertilizers to farmers without burdening them, especially considering the high international prices.
- The fertilizer subsidy typically ranges from ₹1 lakh crore to ₹1.25 lakh crore, but last year it reached ₹2.56 lakh crore.
- With cultivation taking place on 1,400 lakh hectares of land in the country, the fertilizer subsidy per hectare is ₹8,909, and each farmer receives a subsidy of ₹21,223.
- The actual price of a bag of DAP is ₹4,000, but farmers receive it at a subsidized rate of ₹1,350, resulting in a subsidy of ₹2,461 per bag.
Key climate threshold likely to be breached in 5 years: UN: Page 13
- The period from 2023 to 2027 is expected to be the warmest five-year period ever recorded, according to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
- There is a two-thirds chance that global temperatures will exceed the more ambitious target set in the Paris Agreement during at least one of the next five years.
- The hottest eight years on record occurred between 2015 and 2022, with 2016 being the warmest year.
- The WMO predicts a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years will be the warmest on record.
- The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a preference for 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- In 2022, the global mean temperature was 1.15 degrees Celsius above the average measured between 1850 and 1900.
- The WMO warns that there is a 66% chance that annual global surface temperatures will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one of the years 2023-2027.
- The combination of a warming El Nino weather phenomenon and human-induced climate change is expected to push global temperatures into uncharted territory.
- The increase in temperatures will have far-reaching consequences for health, food security, water management, and the environment.
- The concentration of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, is at a record high, contributing to the trapping of heat in the atmosphere.
- It may take thousands of years to return to normal climate levels due to the high concentration of carbon dioxide and the irreversible melting of glaciers and rising sea levels.
Australia cancels Quad meeting in Sydney after U.S. President pulls : Page 13
- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has ruled out a Quad summit taking place in Sydney without President Joe Biden.
- The four leaders (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) will instead talk at the Group of Seven (G7) meeting in Japan this weekend.
- President Biden pulled out of the Sydney summit to focus on debt limit talks in Washington, which are crucial for the U.S. economy.
- The domestic politics and the debt ceiling issue in the United States have caused disruption and necessitated President Biden’s decision.
- President Biden expressed disappointment at not being able to attend the Sydney summit or address the Australian Parliament.
- The four leaders will meet in Hiroshima, Japan, during the G7 summit.
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Sydney next week for a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Albanese and other business engagements.
- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will not be visiting Sydney.
- Prime Minister Albanese expressed disappointment at President Biden’s decision, as a Quad leaders’ meeting cannot take place without all four leaders present.
Iran, Russia ink deal to complete major transport network: Page 13
- Iran and Russia have agreed to collaborate on the construction of the final part of a commercial transport network that will link the Gulf and India, bypassing Western sea lanes.
- The agreement was signed by Iranian Transport Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash and his Russian counterpart in Tehran.
- The 164-kilometer railway in Iran’s north is expected to be completed within three years.
- This railway is the missing link in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which connects northeast Russia to Iran’s southern coastline and further to India by sea.
- Both Russia and Iran are under international sanctions that impose restrictions on trade.
- The INSTC freight network consists of ship, rail, and road routes, covering approximately 7,200 kilometers.
- By avoiding the Suez Canal, the transport corridor provides an alternative route for Russian seaborne cargo.
- Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who participated in the signing ceremony via videoconference, highlighted the economic opportunities presented by the agreement.
- The planned railroad will connect the Iranian city of Rasht to the Astara crossing on the border with Azerbaijan.
Centre more than doubles outlay on PLI for IT hardware to RI 7,000 crore: Page 14
- The Union Cabinet has approved an updated Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for IT hardware manufacturing with a budgetary outlay of ₹17,000 crore.
- Electronics manufacturing in India has shown a 17% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) in the last 8 years.
- India has achieved a major milestone in electronics production, crossing $105 billion this year.
- India has become the second-largest mobile handset maker in the world, behind China, and has crossed $11 billion in mobile phone exports.
- The PLI scheme provides incentives of more than 4% for incremental investment in domestic manufacturing for eligible firms.
- The scheme has been revised based on industry feedback, with the incentive increased to 5% and an additional optional incentive introduced for using domestically produced components.
- The total incentive, including optional incentives, could amount to 8-9% if availed as envisioned.
- Telecom hardware manufacturing has exceeded the projected ₹900 crore and reached ₹1,600 crore, with some companies becoming important exporters of complex radio equipment.
India, EU explore ways to resolve ‘carbon border tax’: Page 14
- India and the European Union (EU) are addressing the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) during a Minister-level meeting in Brussels.
- The CBAM is a mechanism implemented by the EU to place a price on carbon emitted during the production of goods entering the EU and promote cleaner industrial production outside the EU.
- The CBAM regulations came into effect on May 16 and will begin their transitional phase on October 1.
- The Indian delegation, led by Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, discussed the issue during bilateral meetings and the EU-India Trade and Technology Council (TTC).
- The two sides aim to intensify their engagement to address implementation issues related to the CBAM.
- India emphasizes the need to find the right solutions to ensure sustainability without creating trade barriers.
- The EU officials assert that the CBAM is in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and applies the same price of carbon to both imported and domestically produced goods.
- The sectors where India may experience some impact from the CBAM are steel and aluminium, while other areas of India’s exports to Europe are expected to be less affected.
- The Indian government is examining the compatibility of the overall carbon tax and the differential tax treatment proposed for different furnace technologies in the steel sector with WTO norms.
- The TTC aims to supplement trade deal talks between India and the EU and strengthen the bilateral relationship.
- The first meeting of the TTC covered topics such as strategic technologies, digital governance, digital connectivity, green and clean energy technologies, trade, investment, and resilient value chains.
- An MoU on semiconductors is expected to be concluded by September 2023.
- The working group on trade discussed resilient value chains, market access issues, screening of foreign direct investment (FDI), and multilateral trade issues.
Source: The Hindu Epaper
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