06 September, 2019

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Eastern Economic Forum

GS-II: Eastern Economic Forum


The Plenary session of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

Eastern Economic Forum

  • The Eastern Economic Forum was established by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2015.
  • In accordance with the Decree, the Eastern Economic Forum takes place each year in Vladivostok.
  • Every year, the Eastern Economic Forum serves as a platform for the discussion of key issues in the world economy, regional integration, and the development of new industrial and technological sectors.
  • Global challenges facing Russia and other nations are discussed too.

Why is Vladivostok significant to India?

  • During the India-Pakistan war in 1971, the U.S. and British Navies tried to threaten the Indian security.
  • At that time, the Soviet Union dispatched nuclear-armed fleet from its Pacific Fleet based at Vladivostok in support of India.
  • Ever since then, the city of Vladivostok, located in Russia’s Far East, has had a special relevance for Indians.
  • There are, now, plans to invest in Russia’s Far East, thus, paying back the long-held Indian debt to Vladivostok.

What are Russia’s priorities now?

  • The Far East lies in the Asian part of Russia and is less developed than the country’s European areas.
  • As part of his ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy, Russian President Vladimir Putin is inviting foreign countries to invest in this region.
  • Russia’s outreach to Asian nations has especially gained momentum after the 2014 Crimea crisis spoiled its relations with the West.
  • Russia also wants to make sure that China does not become a hegemon in the Eurasian region.
  • It is thus deepening cooperation with countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia.
  • Here, the Far East has the potential to become an anchor in deepening India-Russia cooperation.
  • Moreover, New Delhi has expanded the scope of its ‘Act East policy’ to also include Moscow.

What are the concerns with Indo-Pacific strategy?

  • The idea of an ‘Indo-Pacific region’ signals India’s willingness to work with the U.S. mainly to counter China’s assertive maritime rise.
  • But this has left Russia concerned.
  • It is apprehensive that the U.S. would exert pressure on India’s foreign policy choices.
  • Russia is thus worried that it could lose a friendly country and one of the biggest buyers of Russian military hardware.

India’s interest in the Eastern Economic Forum

PM Modi has described the EEF as a “historic opportunity” to give new impetus to the cooperation between India and Russia.

He has said that the relationship between the two countries has “special chemistry, special ease”, even pointing out that Siberian cranes migrate to “my home state Gujarat”.

Extending to Act Far East Policy

The PM recalled that India was the first country in the world to open a consulate in Vladivostok, and underlined the age and depth of the country’s relations with the Far East.

Engaging closely with East Asia was in line with India’s policy goal of “Act East”.

PM also unveiled the “Act Far East” policy to boost India’s engagement with Russia’s Far East region.

This will also give a new dimension to our economic diplomacy.

Source: Indian Express

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Institution of Eminence Scheme

GS-II: Institution of Eminence Scheme


The HRD Ministry has awarded the status of Institute of Eminence to the IIT-Madras, the IIT-Kharagpur, Delhi University, Benares Hindu University and the University of Hyderabad.Four private universities the Vellore Institute of Technology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Jamia Hamdard University and the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology were issued Letters of Intent to grant them the status. The new greenfield Bharti Institute, a project of Satya Bharti Foundation, has also been issued the letter.


Excellence and Innovation: To provide for higher education leading to excellence and innovations in such branches of knowledge as may be deemed fit at post-graduate, graduate and research degree levels.

Specialization: To engage in areas of specialization to make distinctive contributions to the objectives of the university education system.

Global Rating: To aim to be rated internationally for its teaching and research as a top hundred Institution in the world over time.

Quality teaching and Research: To provide for high quality teaching and research and for the advancement of knowledge and its dissemination.


  1. Global Ranking
  2. Public Institution
  3. Private Institution
  4. Greenfield Proposals


Autonomy: Institution with OE tag will be given greater autonomy and freedom to decide fees, course durations and governance structures.

Grant: The public institutions under IOE tag will receive a government grant of ?1,000 crore, while the private institutions will not get any funding under the scheme.

Source: The Hindu

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Travel and Tourism Competitive Index 2019

GS-III: Travel and Tourism Competitive Index 2019


A report released by World Economic Forum ranking the travel and tourism competitiveness index of 140 economies was released.

About the Index

  • Published biennially by World Economic Forum ,Travel and Tourism Competitveness Report and Index benchmarks the Travel & Tourism (T&T) competitiveness of 140 economies.
  • The study scored countries on four indicators enabling environment travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions,infrastructure natural and cultural rankings.
  • The four broad indicators looked at 14 variables, which were further subdivided into 90 indicators such as property rights, efficiency of the legal framework, quality of electricity supply, female labour force participation, visa requirements and the number of World Heritage cultural sites.

India’s Progress

  • The biennial report shows that India has made the greatest improvement since 2017 among the top 25 per cent of the countries that were previously ranked.
  • Overall, India is ranked 34, up six places from 2017.
  • India’s highest improvement was in enabling environment, by 10 places to 98.
  • The least improvement is in infrastructure as well as in natural and cultural rankings, by just three places each, but India’s rank was already high in the latter.

Global scene

Spain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States are the world’s most travel-ready nations.

Japan remains Asia’s most competitive travel and tourism economy, ranking 4th globally.

China is the largest travel and tourism economy in Asia-Pacific and 13th most competitive globally.

Source: IndianExpress

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GS-III : Economic Issues Terminology
Putting the pedal to the medal

GS-III: Putting the pedal to the medal


The automobile industry is cyclical. It is also a lead indicator for economic growth. And it has been experiencing signs of a slowdown. The decline began in the last quarter of the calendar year 2018 and intensified with the passage of every month in 2019.


Though the industry goes through cycles of ups and downs the current slowdown is something to worry about seriously. The current downturn is like nothing that the industry has seen in a long, time in terms of depth, scale, and character.

Commercial vehicles – Revision in axle-load norms

  • In 2018, the government revised axle-load norms (for the first time since 1983) for cargo carriers by between 12% and 25%. It was aimed to legalize overloading and help reduce freight costs for both consignors and consignees.
  • By applying the higher cargo rules to all trucks on the roads, government raised existing carrying capacity and forced per-tonne freight rates down.
  • This occurred at a time when carrying capacity was increasing due to the introduction of GST.


  • Vehicle manufacturer’s practice of clogging the pipeline by over-producing vehicles without care for demand, and dumping them on dealers to sell became a painful issue now.
  • Because of the approaching deadline for the transition to BS-VI norms from April 1, 2020, dealers are saddled with the inventory of BS-IV vehicles that they need to clear out before the deadline.
  • Manufacturers are unable to plan their production schedules for BS-VI vehicles.

Way Forward

The government should reduce GST on automobile industry from 28% to 18% as per the demand of the industry but not for all the vehicles with manufactures and dealers.

Source: The Hindu

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Mapping lightning across India

GS-III: Mapping lightning across India


For the first time a report has mapped lightning strikes across the country, and the lives they have claimed.

About the report

It has been prepared by Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC), a non-profit organisation that works closely with India Meteorological Department (IMD).

What has the report found?

  • Lightning strikes have caused at least 1,311 deaths in the four-month period between April and July this year, according to a first-of-its-kind report on lightning incidents in India.
  • UP accounted for 224 of these deaths, followed by Bihar (170), Odisha (129) and Jharkhand (118).
  • It counted 65.55 lakh lightning strikes in India during this four-month period, of which 23.53 lakh (36 per cent) happened to be cloud-to-ground lightning, the kind that reaches the Earth.
  • The other 41.04 lakh (64 per cent) were in-cloud lightning, which remains confined to the clouds in which it was formed.

Why are these finding are important

The report is part of an effort to create a database that can help develop an early warning system for lightning, spread awareness, and prevent deaths.

Between 2,000 and 2,500 people are estimated as killed every year in lightning strikes in the country.

It is possible to predict, 30-40 minutes in advance, when a lightning strike heads towards Earth.

The prediction is made possible through study and monitoring of the in-cloud lightning strikes.

Timely dissemination of this information can save several lives.

After carrying out a pilot project in 16 states, the IMD has begun providing lightning forecasts and warnings through mobile text messages from this year.

Source: Indian Express

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