21, June 2017

  1. China offers to build dam in Gilgit-Baltistan that ADB, World Bank refused to fund

Source: The Hindu

China has offered to make a dam (Diamer-Bhasha Dam) project on the Indus River that India objects to, a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Background:

  • The Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a project that both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have refused to touch because India objects to its location, which is in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. India claims the region is a part of Kashmir. A little over a year ago, the US was making noises about supporting the project and India didn’t shy away from showing it was peeved.
  • Two years ago, the World Bank refused to come on board as a lender for the dam project, because Pakistan didn’t want to seek a no-objection certificate from India for the project. And last November, the ADB too declined to fund what’s said to be a $14 billion project.

The project:

  • The Diamer-Bhasha Dam was first announced in 2006 and the foundation stone for it was laid in 2011. Pakistan envisages the dam project will generate 4,500 megawatts of electricity, Reuters reported earlier this month. A vast new reservoir is also expect to regulate the flow of water to farmland that is vulnerable to increasingly erratic weather patterns.

Why is India concerned?

  • Gilgit-Baltistan is treated as a separate geographical entity by Pakistan. It has a regional Assembly and an elected Chief Minister. It is believed that China’s concerns about its unsettled status prompted the move, which could signal a historic shift in the country’s position on the future of the wider Kashmir region.
  • Gilgit-Baltistan shares a geographical boundary with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and India considers it as part of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan sees it as a separate from PoK. The USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also passes through this region.

Gilgit Baltistan:

  • It is located in the northern Pakistan. It borders China in the North, Afghanistan in the west, Tajikistan in the north west and Kashmir in the south east.
  • Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan.

  1. India Re-Nominates Dalveer Bhandari For Another Term As Judge At International Court of Justice

Source: The Hindu

India has re-nominated Justice Dalveer Bhandari as its candidate for another term as judge at the International Court of Justice or ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations or UN.

Judges at ICJ:

The ICJ consists of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council that vote simultaneously but separately.

Eligibility criteria:

  • In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies (UNSC and UNGA).
  • Judges will be elected from among persons of high moral character, who possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or are jurisconsults of recognised competence in international law.
  • Judges are chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not their nationality, but no two judges can be from the same nationality. Effort is also taken to ensure that the principal legal systems of the world are reflected in the composition of the court.

ICJ:

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
  • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
  • Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
  • The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
  • Its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned.

  1. NASA finds 10 Earth-sized exoplanets

Source: The Hindu

NASA’s Kepler mission team has released a survey of 219 potential exoplanets — planets outside of our solar system — that had been detected by the space observatory launched in 2009 to scan the Milky Way galaxy.

Key facts:

  • Ten of the new discoveries were orbiting their suns at a distance similar to the Earth’s orbit around the sun, the so-called habitable zone that could potentially have liquid water and sustain life.
  • Kepler has already discovered 4,034 potential exoplanets, 2,335 of which have been confirmed by other telescopes as actual planets. The 10 new Earth-size planets bring the total to 50 that exist in habitable zones around the galaxy.
  • Of the 10 newly discovered Earth-size planets, one is the closest to Earth in size and the distance to its host star. But researchers don’t know much more than that.

Exoplanets

An exoplanet is a planet outside our solar system, usually orbiting another star. They are also sometimes called “extrasolar planets”, “extra-” implying that they are outside of our solar system.

What is the habitable zone?

  • If a planet is too close to the star it orbits, any water on the surface quickly boils off, forming a steam atmosphere. If the planet is too far from the star, any water on the surface freezes.
  • The habitable zone (or “Goldilocks zone”) is the range of orbital distances from a star at which liquid water can exist on the surface of a planet.
  • This range of distances changes depending on the size and temperature of the star.
  • Earth is in the habitable zone of the sun – one of the reasons our planet has liquid water like oceans and lakes.

  1. BIO International Convention

Source: PIB

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) BIO 2017 is being held in the San Diego Convention Centre, San Diego. India is also taking part in the convention.

BIO International Convention

  • The BIO International Convention is the largest global event for the biotechnology industry and attracts the biggest names in biotech, offers key networking and partnering opportunities, and provides insights and inspiration on the major trends affecting the industry. The first BIO International Convention was held in 1993 and attracted approximately 1,400 attendees.
  • The event features keynotes and sessions from key policymakers, scientists, CEOs, and celebrities. The Convention also features the BIO Business Forum (One-on-One Partnering), hundreds of sessions covering biotech trends, policy issues and technological innovations, and the world’s largest biotechnology exhibition – the BIO Exhibition.
  • The BIO International Convention is hosted by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

Significance of the convention:

  • BIO performs many services for members, but none of them are more visible than the BIO International Convention. The BIO International Convention helps BIO fulfill its mission to help grow the global biotech industry. Profits from the BIO International Convention are returned to the biotechnology industry by supporting BIO programs and initiatives. BIO works throughout the year to create a policy environment that enables the industry to continue to fulfill its vision of bettering the world through biotechnology innovation.
  • The key benefits of attending the BIO International Convention are access to global biotech and pharma leaders via BIO One-on-One Partnering, exposure to industry though-leaders with over 1,500 education sessions at your fingertips, and unparalleled networking opportunities with 16,000+ attendees from 76 countries. India is taking part in the BIO 2017.

  1. India ratifies United Nations TIR Convention

Source: PIB

India has become the 71st country to ratify the United Nations TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) Convention, a move that will help boost trade through smoother movement of goods across territories.

  • The ratification is a part of India’s multi-modal transport strategy that aims to integrate the economy with global and regional production networks through better connectivity.
  • The Union Cabinet had approved India’s accession to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) in March this year.

TIR convention

  • The Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets, 1975 (TIR Convention), is an international transit system under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to facilitate the seamless movement of goods within and amongst the Parties to the Convention. At present there are 70 parties to the Convention, including the European Union.
  • The 1975 convention replaced the TIR Convention of 1959, which itself replaced the 1949 TIR Agreement between a number of European countries.
  • The TIR system not only covers customs transit by road but a combination is possible with other modes of transport (e.g., rail, inland waterway, and even maritime transport), as long as at least one part of the total transport is made by road.

Benefits

  • India’s decision to implement the TIR system will have far reaching benefits for trade and will save significant time and money by streamlining procedures at borders, reducing administration and cutting border waiting times.
  • The TIR Convention will also facilitate India’s current national and multilateral connectivity-related initiatives to improve cross border road transport, facilitating overland trade integration with both eastern and western neighbours.
  • It will also help India in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which entered into force this year.
  • The Convention will help Indian traders to have access to fast, easy, reliable and hassle free international system for movement of goods by road or multi- modal means across the territories of other contracting parties.
  • By joining the convention, the need for inspection of goods at intermediate borders as well as physical escorts en route shall be obviated due to reciprocal recognition of Customs controls.



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