15&16, April 2018

  1. Exercise Gaganshakti-2018: Maritime Air Operations

Source: PIB

  • As part of the ongoing massive IAF exercise ‘Gaganshakti-2018’, on 14 Apr 18 the IAF conducted maritime air operations on the Western sea board, with the clear aim of air dominance and deep strike validation over the extended area of interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Key facts:

  • In the long range strike concept validation, the Su-30s, airborne from a base on the eastern coast engaged multiple targets, in the western seaboard, at distances beyond 2500 Km, and landed at a southern base, thus covering a total distance of 4000 Km, in a single mission.
  • These staggering ranges were made possible by support of IL-78 Flight Refueling Aircraft, thus ensuring long range strike capabilities for our fighter aircraft. These joint operations have Indian Navy P-8i aircraft and AWACS of IAF in support.
  • Exercise Gaganshakti has provided an ideal environment to evaluate Joint Operations with the Indian Navy, to test enablers such as AWACS and FRAs in the Op matrix and in conjunction with Su-30 and Jaguar ac.
  • The exploitation of the combat support assets helps to extend the reach in the entire IOR, our strategic area of influence.
  • This assault included paradrop of 560 paratroopers, combat vehicles and GPS guided cargo platforms. The landing force was dropped behind the simulated enemy lines to soften up the likely resistance to our own armoured offensive. The airborne force comprised six C-130J and seven An-32 aircraft launched from multiple IAF bases. The force was provided aerial surveillance by AWACS and protected by a Flight of SU-30 Air Superiority Fighters

Airborne operations:

  • Airborne operations are a means of aerial insertion of troops, equipment or supplies directly into the battle zone. Airborne operations are high risk operations which are based on accurate intelligence, dynamic air dominance by own forces and criticality of requirement by ground forces.
  • Airborne assault is a subset of Airborne Operations wherein combat troops and equipment are para dropped into the tactical battle area. These troops have specific tasks like disrupting enemy lines of communication, capture/ destruction of critical enemy infrastructure.

  1. Defexpo 2018

Source: PIB

  • The 10th edition of Defexpo India, a biennial exhibition on Land, Naval and Internal Homeland Security Systems, held from 11 to 14 April 2018 at Thiruvidanthai in Kancheepuram district on the East Coast Road near Chennai, concludes today.
  • On the sidelines of the DefExpo India – 2018, indigenously designed and built Indian Naval Ships
  1. Sahydari – a stealth frigate,
  2. Kamorta – anti submarine warfare corvette,
  3. Sumitra – a naval advanced offshore patrol vessel,
  4. Airavat – an amphibious ship and
  5. Kirch – a missile corvette were kept ‘Open to Visitors’ at Chennai Port for the first time in the history of DefExpo from 13 to 15 April 2018.

The ships visit witnessed overwhelming response from the citizenry of Chennai and adjoining districts.  

  1. Ayushman Bharat for a new India -2022

Source: PIB

The Government today announced two major initiatives in health sector , as part of Ayushman Bharat programme.

Aimed at making path breaking interventions to address health holistically, in primary, secondary and tertiary care systems, covering both prevention and health promotion.

The initiatives are as follows:- 

  • Health and Wellness Centre:- The National Health Policy, 2017 has envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India’s health system. Under this 1.5 lakh centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services. These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The Budget has allocated Rs.1200 crore for this flagship programme. Contribution of private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres is also envisaged.
  • National Health Protection Scheme:- The second flagship programme under Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage upto 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. This will be the world’s largest government funded health care programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme. ( Poor families only)
  • The Finance Minister further said, that these two health sector initiatives under Ayushman Bharat Programme will build a New India 2022 and ensure enhanced productivity, well being and avert wage loss and impoverishment. These Schemes will also generate lakhs of jobs, particularly for women.

  1. Prevention of Money Laundering Act will need more changes

Source: The Hindu

India will have to make money laundering an explicitly standalone offence to upgrade its compliance ahead of the on-site mutual evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is due in November-December 2020.

Key recommendations of the FATF:

  • Among the key recommendations of the FATF, an international body that sets global standards for fighting illicit finance, is that money laundering be made a standalone offence.
  • Despite several amendments, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) remains a predicate-offence-oriented law. This means a case under the Act depends on the fate of cases pursued by primary agencies such as the CBI, the Income Tax Department or the police. The latest instances are the verdicts in the 2G spectrum and Aircel-Maxis cases by the CBI courts, in which the money laundering angle probed by the Enforcement Directorate fell apart.

Karnataka case

  • On the issue of attachment of assets, however, the Karnataka High Court, in a 2016 judgment, appreciated the agency’s stand that money laundering was a standalone offence in view of Sections 5 and 8 amended in 2013, read with the definition of ‘property’ in Section 2(1)(v) of the Act.
  • The Enforcement Directorate is empowered to investigate the financial aspects of those crimes, as defined under the other penal laws, which are listed in the PMLA schedule.
  • The first FATF mutual evaluation of India was done in 2010 when the body expressed satisfaction with the measures taken by the country. However, in the same breath, the FATF highlighted, in its 256-page report, a number of lacunae in the then extant legislation, for which it suggested changes. Since then, a range of laws have been amended.
  • After analysing PMLA provisions, the FATF recommended that “legal measures are taken to allow for confiscation of the money laundered as subject of the ML [money laundering] offence and which is not contingent on conviction for the predicate offence [stand-alone ML offence].”
  • The report said: “The predicate offence conviction condition creates fundamental difficulties when trying to confiscate the proceeds of crime in the absence of a conviction of a predicate offence, particularly in a standalone ML case, where the laundered assets become corpus delicti [concrete evidence of a crime] and should be forfeitable as such

OBJECTIVES OF THE FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.  It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas.

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions.
  • The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and to promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF also works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

LEGAL EFFECT AND DURATION OF THE MANDATE; ACCOUNTABILITY

  • This Mandate is not intended to create any legal rights or obligations.
  • This Mandate will commence on 20 April 2012 and will be valid until 31 December 2020.
  • There should be a mid-term review of the work carried out under this mandate to ensure that it remains consistent with the aims and objectives of the FATF.
  • The implementation of this mandate will be carried out by the officials and technical experts of FATF Members and the FATF Secretariat. The FATF is accountable to its Ministers and reports to them on key aspects of its work through the annual reporting of the FATF President. The mid-term review and occasional ministerial meetings, as necessary, provide other mechanisms whereby
  • Ministers may shape the strategic direction of FATF policy-making.

  1. Asian premium

Source: The Hindu

India is planning to coordinate with China and other Asian countries to voice against the “Asian Premium” being charged by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Soon, the countries will chalk out the strategy that would result in getting better price from OPEC countries.

Asian premium

  • Asian Premium is the extra charge being collected by OPEC countries from Asian countries when selling oil. The premium is determined in large part by the official selling prices (OSPs) set by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait, which supply about 15 percent of the world’s crude among them. They set differential prices against benchmarks on a monthly basis, adjusting them to account for regional variations.

Why countries, including India, are against Asian premium?

  • India, which sources 85% of its crude oil supplies from OPEC member countries, wants producers to offer discounts rather than charge a premium, as today it has become buyer’s market.
  • The direction of crude flow from West Asia has now shifted to Asia. Besides, with OPEC deciding not to reduce production, there is a tilt in the demand-supply balance.
  • Earlier, crude flow was from West Asia to North America and the pricing also depended on the market. Now, with the shale revolution, the flow has shifted to Asia.

Impacts:

  • If crude is received at a fair price without paying Asian Premium, gross refining margins will improve and it will result in competitively priced petroleum products.
  • Asian Premium was historically never justified and so not justifiable in the changed market scenario where Asian countries are the major buyers. Therefore, any measure that erodes the advantage of geography for Asian countries and promotes a policy of subsidising oil traffic to distant destinations is not, and cannot be, in the interest of sustainable development.

OPEC:

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental Organization, created at the Baghdad Conference in September 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
  • Currently, the Organization has a total of 14 Member Countries.
  • OPEC had its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in the first five years of its existence. This was moved to Vienna, Austria, on September 1, 1965.
  • OPEC’s objective is to co-ordinate and unify petroleum policies among Member Countries, in order to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers; an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations; and a fair return on capital to those investing in the industry.

  1. UN launches road safety trust fund

Source: The Hindu

UN has launched road safety trust fund aimed at spurring action to help save lives in road accidents.

The Fund:

  • The United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund aims to accelerate progress in improving global road safety by bridging the gaps in the mobilization of resources for effective action at all levels.
  • The Fund will mobilize resources from governments, intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations, the private sector, philanthropic organizations and individuals.
  • UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will be the secretariat for the Trust Fund.
  • The Trust Fund will support efforts along the five pillars of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, which include strengthened road safety management capacities, improved safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks, enhanced safety of vehicles, improved behaviour of road users and improved post-crash care.

Significance of the fund:

  • It is estimated that every $1,500 contributed to the Fund could save one life, prevent 10 serious injuries and leverage $51,000 towards investments in road safety.
  • The United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund has the potential to galvanize our global efforts to address the road safety situation, building on the progress made and experience gained over the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

A global concern:

  • Road traffic deaths and injuries have become a serious and urgent global concern. Around 1.3 million drivers, passengers and pedestrians die each year, and up to 50 million are injured on the world’s roads.
  • Beyond human suffering, road traffic deaths and injuries cause significant economic losses to individuals and societies, keeping millions of people in poverty and creating an estimated $1.85 trillion burden on the global economy each year. This makes addressing road safety one of the most pressing social, economic, health and development challenges of our time.
  • The UN General Assembly also adopted a resolution on road safety, sponsored by Russia, in which it called for a host of measures to prevent road accidents and to minimising the resulting damage. One of the measures, it urged, the adoption policies and measures to implement vehicle safety regulations to ensure that all new motor vehicles meet applicable minimum regulations for the protection of occupants and other road users, with seat belts, airbags and active safety systems fitted as standard equipment.

Key facts:

  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015, contains targets on road safety in two of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals:
  • Sustainable Development Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.
  • Target 3.6: By 2020, halve the number of global deaths from road traffic accidents.
  • Sustainable Development Goal 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.



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