02, March 2017

JS Deepak named India’s next Ambassador to WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a global international organisation dealing with the rules of trade between nations.

India has been pushing for a trade facilitation agreement (TFA) in services at WTO which has 164 member countries. The WTO’s trade facilitation pact in goods came into force on February 22.

The appointment order has been issued by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister.


1.Swachh Bharat Milestone- 100 districts in India declared ODF

Source: PIB

Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation today  Swachh Shakti Saptah, a week-long programme of activities across the country to highlight the role of women in Swachh Bharat Mission and to recognize their leadership.

The leadership role being played by women across the rural India in the implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission and for making Swachhta a Jan Andolan.

The number of ODF (Open Defecation Free) districts in the country has now crossed 100. Over 1.7 lakh villages have become ODF.

2.Successful Test Firing of AAD Endo-Atmospheric Interceptor Missile

Source: PIB and The Hindu

DRDO conducted the successful launch of the interceptor missile Advanced Area Defence (AAD) from Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha.

It can tackle missiles at a range of 15 km to 30 km.

Key facts:

  • The weapon system radars tracked the target and provided the initial guidance to the interceptor which could precisely home on to the target and destroyed it in endo-atmospheric layer.
  • The complete event including the engagement and destruction was tracked by a number of electro-optical tracking systems using infrared imagery.
  • Radars and telemetry stations tracked the target and the interceptor till the destruction of the target. The launch has proved the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) prowess of the country.
  • The endo-atmospheric missile, capable of intercepting incoming targets at an altitude of 15 to 25 kms successfully destroyed the incoming missile. All the mission objectives were successfully met.


  • The BMD consists of two interceptor missiles, the Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) for exo-atmospheric ranges and the Advanced Area Defence (AAD) missile for endo-atmosphere or lower altitudes.
  • The BMD is critical to protect the country from the long-range ballistic missiles proliferating in the neighbourhood. DRDO expects to have shield ready for deployment by 2022.

3.Government Panel recommends legal framework to protect interests of migrants

Source: PIB

Government appointed ‘Working Group on Migration’ has recommended necessary legal and policy framework to protect the interests of the migrants in the country.

  • The panel in its report stated that the migrant population makes substantial contribution to economic growth and so it is necessary to secure their Constitutional rights.
  • The 18-member Working Group was constituted by Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) in 2015.

The ‘Working Group on Migration’ set by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviationin 2015 who submitted their Report to the Government

What are the Recommendations?

  • The Working Group has recommended that the Protocols of the Registrar General of India needs to be amended to enable caste based enumeration of migrants so that they can avail the attendant benefits in the States to which migration takes place.
  • It also recommended that migrants should be enabled to avail benefits of Public Distribution System (PDS) in the destination State by providing for inter-State operability of PDS.
  • Referring to Constitutional Right of Freedom of Movement and residence in any part of the territory of the country, the Group suggested that States should be encouraged to proactively eliminate the requirement of domicile status to prevent any discrimination in work and employment.
  • States are also to be asked to include migrant children in the Annual Work Plans under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) to uphold their Right to Education.
  • Noting that money remittances of migrants was of the order of Rs.50,000 cr during 2007-08, the Working Group suggested that the vast network of post offices need to be made effective use of by reducing the cost of transfer of money to avoid informal remittences.
  • It also suggested that migrants should be enabled to open bank accounts by asking banks to adhere to RBI guidelines regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and not insist on documents that were not required.
  • The Group suggested that the hugely underutilized Construction Workers Welfare Cess Fund should be used to promote rental housing, working Women Hostels etc., for the benefit of migrants.

According to census 2011 and National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), migrants constitute about 30% of the country’s population and also of the total working force. 2016-17 Economic Survey also noted that annual migration in the country increased to 9.00 million in 2016 from 3.30 million in 2011.

4.Navy successfully test-fires missile from Kalvari submarine

Source: Indian Express

The navy successfully test-fired an anti-ship missile for the first time from an indigenously built Kalvari class submarine, describing the launch as a significant milestone in enhancing its “sub-surface” warfare prowess.

  • The weapon was fired from the submarine, the first of India’s six Scorpene-class submarines which are being built under the Project 75, and it “successfully hit” a surface target during the trial in the Arabian Sea.
  • India’s first submarine scorpene class- Kalvari.

Key facts:

  • All the six diesel-electric attack submarines will be equipped with the anti-ship missile, which has a proven record in combat, noting these missiles will provide the vessels the ability to neutralise surface threats at extended ranges. The missile successfully hit a surface target at an extended range during the trial firing.
  • This missile launch is a significant milestone, not only for the Kalvari, which is the first in a series of Scorpene class submarines being built in India, but also in enhancing the Indian Navy’s sub-surface warfare capability.
  • The submarines, designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS, are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

5.Asia needs 1.7 trillion dollars a year till 2030 to keep up growth pace: ADB

Source: Indian Express

The 1.7 trillion dollars annual climate-adjusted estimate is more than double the 750 billion dollars that ADB estimated in 2009.

  • The developing Asia needs around USD 1.7 trillion of investment per year till 2030 to keep its growth momentum going that will help the region reduce poverty and fight climate change effectively, Asian Development Bank (ADB).
  • Developing Asia will need to invest USD 26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, or USD 1.7 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change (climate-adjusted estimate), the Manila-headquartered multilateral funding agency– ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK.

Key facts:

  • In its flagship report ‘Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs’, ADB said regulatory and institutional reforms are needed to make infrastructure more attractive to private investors and generate a pipeline of bankable projects for public-private partnerships (PPPs).
  • Countries should implement PPP-related reforms such as enacting PPP laws, streamlining PPP procurement and bidding processes, introducing dispute resolution mechanisms and establishing independent PPP government units. Report
  • Deepening of capital markets is also needed to help channel the region’s substantial savings into productive infrastructure investment, ADB said.
  • The report focuses on region’s power, transport, water, telecommunication and sanitation infrastructure. – Sectors.


  • Asia needs new and upgraded infrastructure that will set the standard for quality, encourage economic growth, and respond to the pressing global challenge that is climate change.
  • As per the ADB report, the region currently invests about USD 881 billion in infrastructure (for 25 economies with adequate data, comprising 96 per cent of the region’s population).
  • China has a gap of 1.2 per cent of GDP in climate-adjusted scenario. Without China, the gap rises to a much higher 5 per cent of the remaining 24 economies’ projected GDP.
  • Covering 45 countries under the report, ADB said infrastructure has grown drastically over recent decades. However, a substantial infrastructure gap remains.

Private sector is crucial to fill infrastructure gaps, ADB will promote investment friendly policies and regulatory and institutional reforms to develop bankable project pipelines for public-private partnerships.

6.IS withdraws from Palmyra again

Source: The Hindu

The Islamic State (IS) group again withdrew from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra in the wake of an army offensive, a war monitoring group reported.

In their retreat, the terrorists planted mines in various points of the city, whose ancient ruins are a Unesco World Heritage Site, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Aleppo report accuses all sides of brutal war crimes

  • A UN-established commission has issued a damning report on human rights violations in Syria’s war-ravaged Aleppo, accusing both sides to the conflict of committing war crimes.
  • The commission gathered evidence to confirm witness accounts that the Syrian and Russian governments used prohibited cluster munitions on civilians in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, suggesting the deliberate destruction of hospitals with repeated airstrikes, among other rights violations.


  • The report looked at violations committed last year between July 21, when the rebel-held part of Aleppo was besieged, and Dec. 22, when Syrian troops and allied forces assumed full control of the city. In perhaps the most damning discovery the commission said that evacuations were a military tactic — not a humanitarian effort.
  • The report concludes that the six-month siege of the city, “was a stage of unrelenting violence.”
  • It notes that civilians from both sides were left trapped in the eastern part of Aleppo without adequate food or medical supplies as Syrian and Russian forces conducted daily air strikes that killed hundreds and decimated hospitals, schools and markets. The situation was so severe that as civilians tried to flee they were violently forced to stay by armed groups and used as human shields. In the western part of the city, rebel groups would often fire indiscriminately killing and injuring dozens — including women and children.
  • By early September, pro-Government [forces] had renewed and secured the siege. Faced with a protracted humanitarian catastrophe, confined armed groups began a concerted campaign of shelling western Aleppo neighborhoods over the next three months.
  • Attacks were predominantly characterized by indiscriminate, indirect artillery fire into dense urban terrain, often with no apparent legitimate military objective, the effect of which terrorized the inhabitants of western Aleppo city.
  • Among the commission’s findings is that Russian and Syrian warplanes dropped unguided munitions, known as “dumb bombs,” and that the Syrian government intentionally carried out airstrikes on a humanitarian convoy in the rural outskirts of western Aleppo last September.
  • The report observed that by using air-delivered munitions with the knowledge that humanitarian workers were operating in the location, Syrian forces committed the war crimes of deliberately attacking humanitarian relief personnel, denial of humanitarian aid, and attacking civilians.


  • The northern Syrian city of Aleppo was caught in a brutal four-year deadlock. It was a key battleground in the war between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels who want to overthrow him.
  • In November, Syrian government forces launched a renewed assault, and rapidly retook almost all of the opposition-held east. By mid-December they had pushed the rebels into just a few neighbourhoods.
  • Tens of thousands of civilians fled those districts. The UN said it had received allegations that hundreds of men had gone missing since crossing into government-controlled areas – and that rebels prevented some civilians from leaving.


Aleppo was once Syria’s largest city, with a population of about 2.3 million. It was also the country’s industrial and financial centre. The old city is a Unesco World Heritage site and was famous for its 13th Century citadel, 12th Century Great Mosque and huge covered markets.

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