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07 Apr, 2021

30 Min Read

Chenab Brridge- Final Arch Closure Completed

GS-III : Economic Issues Infrastructure

Chenab Bridge- Final Arch Closure Completed

Recently, Indian Railways completed the arch closure of the iconic Chenab Bridge in Jammu & Kashmir.

Key Highlights

    • It is the world's highest railway bridge and is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project (USBRL).
      • The Project was declared as a Project of National Importance in March 2002.
    • This bridge is 1,315-metre long and is the highest railway bridge in the world being 359 metres above the river bed level.
    • The completion of the steel arch is a major leap towards the completion of the 111 km long winding stretch from Katra to Banihal.
      • It is arguably the biggest civil-engineering challenge faced by any railway project in India in recent history.


  • Unique Features of this Bridge:
    • Bridge designed to withstand high wind speed up to 266 Km/Hour.
    • Bridge designed to bear earthquake forces of highest intensity zone-V in India.
    • First time on Indian Railways, National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited lab established at site for weld testing.
    • Extensive health monitoring and warning systems planned through state of art instrumentation.

Chenab River


  • It rises in the upper Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh state.
    • The river is formed by the confluence of two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga, at Tandi, 8 km southwest of Keylong, in the Lahaul and Spiti district.
    • The Bhaga river originates from Surya taal lake, which is situated a few kilometers west of the Bara-lacha la pass in Himachal Pradesh.
    • The Chandra river originates from glaciers east of the same pass (near Chandra Taal).
  • It flows through the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir into the plains of Punjab, Pakistan, before flowing into the Indus River.
  • Important projects/dams on Chenab:
    • Ratle Hydro Electric Project
    • Salal Dam- hydroelectric power project near Reasi
    • Dul Hasti Hydroelectric Plant- power project in Kishtwar District
    • Pakal Dul Dam (under construction)- on a tributary Marusadar River in Kishtwar District.

Source: PIB

IMF's World Economic Outlook Report- 2021

GS-II : Important reports Important reports

IMF's World Economic Outlook Report- 2021

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook has raised its Financial Year (FY) 2021 growth forecast for India to 12.5% from 11.5% estimated earlier in January 2021.

Highlights of the Report:

  • Indian economy is expected to grow by 12.5% in 2021 and 6.9% in 2022.
  • In 2020, India’s economy witnessed an estimated contraction of 8%.
  • The growth rate for India in 2021 is stronger than that of China.
  • China was the only major economy to have a positive growth rate of 2.3% in 2020 and is expected to grow by 8.6% in 2021 and 5.6% in 2022.
  • The IMF predicted a stronger recovery in 2021 and 2022 with growth projected to be 6% in 2021 and 4.4% in 2022.
  • In 2020, the global economy contracted by 3.3%
  • Additional fiscal support in a few large economies and the anticipated vaccine-powered recovery in the second half of the year.


  • The emphasis should be on escaping the health crisis by prioritising health care spending, on vaccinations, treatments, and healthcare infrastructure. Fiscal support should be well targeted to affected households and firms.
  • Monetary policy should remain accommodative, while proactively addressing financial stability risks using macroprudential tools.
  • Policymakers will need to continue supporting their economies while dealing with more limited policy space and higher debt levels than prior to the pandemic.
  • This requires better-targeted measures to leave space for prolonged support if needed.
  • With multi-speed recoveries, a tailored approach is necessary, with policies well-calibrated to the stage of the pandemic, the strength of the economic recovery, and the structural characteristics of individual countries.


  • The priorities should include green infrastructure investment to help mitigate climate change, digital infrastructure investment to boost production capacity and strengthening social assistance to arrest rising inequality.

International Monetary Fund

  • The IMF was set up along with the World Bank after the Second World War to assist in the reconstruction of war-ravaged countries.
  • The two organisations were agreed to be set up at a conference in Bretton Woods in the US. Hence, they are known as the Bretton Woods twins.
  • Created in 1945, the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership.
  • India joined on 27th December 1945.
  • The IMF's primary purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system — the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables countries (and their citizens) to transact with each other.
  • The Fund's mandate was updated in 2012 to include all macroeconomic and financial sector issues that bear on global stability.

Reports by IMF:

  • Global Financial Stability Report
  • World Economic Outlook

World Economic Outlook

  • It is a survey by the IMF that is usually published twice a year in the months of April and October.
  • It analyzes and predicts global economic developments during the near and medium term.
  • In response to the growing demand for more frequent forecast updates, the WEO Update is published in January and July between the two main WEO publications released usually in April and October.

Source: TH

Kazakhstan and India- Defence Minister Bilateral Talks

GS-II : International Relations Central Asia

Kazakhstan and India- Defence Minister Bilateral Talks

The Defence Minister of Kazakhstan visited India recently with a focus on boosting bilateral defence cooperation. Both countries share common interests of actively combating the threat of global terrorism and maintaining peace.

The meet will enable greater military to military contact and cooperation between Kazakhstan and India.

India – Kazakhstan Relations:

Relations between India and Kazakhstan are ancient and historical going back to more than 2000 years.

  • There has been a constant and regular flow of trade in goods and, more importantly, exchange of ideas and cultural influences.
  • The flow of Buddhism from India to Central Asia and Sufi ideas from Central Asia to India are two such examples.

Political Relations

  • India was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Kazakhstan.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the 17th SCO Summit in Astana in 2017. India was admitted as a full member of the SCO during the Summit.
  • India and Kazakhstan actively cooperate under the aegis of Multilateral Fora including CICA, SCO and the UN organizations.
  • India has been a consistent supporter of Kazakhstan’s initiative on the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and is actively participating in the process.
  • Kazakhstan supports India’s permanent membership in an expanded UNSC and has extended its support for India’s non-permanent membership in 2021-22.
  • India supported Kazakhstan’s successful candidature for non-permanent membership of UNSC in 2017-18.

Defence cooperation

  • India and Kazakhstan have developed close collaboration in fighting religious terrorism and extremism, as well as in promoting regional security.
  • A joint memorandum signed in December 2002 enabled joint projects such as training military officers, developing joint military-industrial projects and establishing a partnership between the defence industries of India and Kazakhstan.
  • The Indo-Kazakh Defense Cooperation is carried out under the framework of an agreement on ‘Defense and Military Technical Cooperation signed in July 2015.
  • India has also provided support and emerged as a partner in Kazakhstan’s bid to develop a naval fleet in the Caspian Sea, despite opposition from Kazakhstan’s northern neighbour, Russia.
  • The two countries held the Prabal Dostyk joint military exercises in Kazakhstan in 2016 and the Himachal Pradesh region in 2017.

Trade And Economy Cooperation

  • Several Joint Working Groups have been established in the areas of Counter Terrorism, Trade & Economic Cooperation, Defense & Military-Technical Cooperation, Information Technology, Hydrocarbons, Textiles, Tea Debt and Space Cooperation, and Health and Transport, Connectivity & Logistics to take forward bilateral relations in the respective spheres.
  • The India-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) established in 1993 is the apex bilateral institutional mechanism for developing trade, economic, scientific, technological, industrial and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
  • Kazakhstan is India’s largest trade and investment partner in Central Asia.

Space Cooperation

  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched “Al-Farabi-1”, a 1.7 kg Technology Demonstrator Nano Satellite.

Civil Nuclear Cooperation

  • Kazakhstan supported India in obtaining an India-specific exemption to allow civil nuclear cooperation with Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries in 2008.

Significance of Kazakhstan to India

  • There are three factors which make Kazakhstan important for India.
    • First, its geostrategic location;
    • Second, its economic potential, especially in terms of energy resources; and
    • Third, its multi-ethnic and secular structure.
  • Kazakhstan’s geopolitical existence between Russia and Asia, along with long borders with China, makes it a country of great strategic importance.
  • Kazakhstan can also help India achieve a geostrategic rebalancing with China.
  • India’s foremost objective is countering the rapid economic inroads China is making in the region through the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
  • Kazakhstan has become one of the key activists in the field of global nuclear security and has achieved a number of results in peacekeeping policies and the resolution of conflicts around Nagorno-Karabakh, Iran, Ukraine and Syria.

Source: TH

Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur's 400th Birth Anniversary

GS-I : Art and Culture Persons in News

Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur's 400th Birth Anniversary

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will chair a meeting of the High-Level Committee to approve policies, plans and programs related to the commemoration of the 400th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji.

Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621–1675)

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. He was born at Amritsar in 1621 and was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind.
  • His term as Guru ran from 1665 to 1675. One hundred and fifteen of his hymns are in Guru Granth Sahib.
  • There are several accounts explaining the motive behind the assassination of Guru Tegh Bahadur on Aurangzeb’s orders.
  • He stood up for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits who approached him against religious persecution by Aurangzeb.
  • He was publicly killed in 1675 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi for himself refusing Mughal rulers and defying them.
  • Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi mark the places of execution and cremation of his body.

Impact of his martyrdom

  • The execution hardened the resolve of Sikhs against religious oppression and persecution.
  • His martyrdom helped all Sikh Panths consolidate to make the protection of human rights central to its Sikh identity.
  • Inspired by him, his nine-year-old son, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, eventually organized the Sikh group into a distinct, formal, symbol-patterned community came to be known as Khalsa (Martial) identity.

Sikh Gurus

  • The era of the ten gurus of Sikhism spans from the birth of Nanak Dev in 1469, through the life of Guru Gobind Singh.
  • At the time of Guru Gobind Singh’s death in 1708, he passed the title of Guru to the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth.

1. Guru Nanak Dev - Guru from 1469 to 1539

  • Guru Nanak Dev, first of the 10 gurus, founded the Sikh faith, introducing the concept of one God.
  • He started the institution of Guru Ka Langar. Langar is the term in the Sikh religion refers to the common kitchen where food is served to everyone without any discrimination.
  • He emphasized the equality of women and rejected the path of renunciation and he rejected the authority of the Vedas.
  • He was the contemporary of the Mughal emperor - Babur.

2. Guru Angad Dev - Guru from 1539 to 1552

  • Guru Angad Dev, the second of the 10 gurus, invented and introduced the Gurmukhi (written form of Punjabi) script.
  • He compiled the writings of Nanak Dev in Guru Granth Sahib in Gurmukhi Script.
  • Popularized and expanded the institution of Guru ka Langar which was started by Guru Nanak Dev.

3. Guru Amardas Sahib - Guru from 1552 to 1574

  • Guru Amardas introduced the Anand Karaj marriage ceremony for the Sikhs, replacing the Hindu form.
  • He established the Manji & Piri system of religious missions for men and women respectively.
  • He strengthened the tradition of Guru Ka Langar.
  • He also completely abolished amongst the Sikhs, the custom of Sati and purdah system.
  • He was the contemporary of the Mughal emperor - Akbar.

4. Guru Ram Das - Guru from 1574 to 1581

  • Guru Ram Das, the fourth of the 10 gurus, founded the city of Amritsar.
  • He started the construction of the famous Golden Temple at Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs.
  • He requested the Muslim Sufi, Mian Mir to lay the cornerstone of the Harmandir Sahib.

5. Guru Arjan Dev - Guru from 1581 to 1606

  • He compiled the Adi Granth, the scriptures of the Sikhs.
  • He completed the construction of Sri Darbar Sahib also known as the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
  • He founded the town of Tarn Taran Sahib near Goindwal Sahib.
  • He became the first great martyr in Sikh history when Emperor Jahangir ordered his execution. Thus, he was hailed as Shaheedan-de-Sartaj (The crown of martyrs).

6. Guru Har Gobind Sahib - Guru from 1606 to 1644

  • He was the son of Guru Arjan Dev and was known as a "soldier saint”.
  • He organised a small army and became the first Guru to take up arms to defend the faith.
  • He waged wars against Mughal rulers Jahangir and Shah Jahan.

7. Guru Har Rai Sahib - Guru from 1644 to 1661

  • Though he was a man of peace, he never disbanded the armed Sikh warriors who were earlier maintained by Guru Har Gobind.
  • He gave shelter to Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Mughal Ruler Shah Jahan, who was later persecuted by Aurangazeb.
  • He cautiously avoided conflict with Emperor Aurangzeb and devoted his efforts to missionary work.

8. Guru Har Krishan Sahib - Guru from 1661 to 1664

  • Guru Har Krishan was the youngest of the Gurus. He was installed as Guru at the age of five.
  • He was a contemporary of Aurangazeb and summoned to Delhi by him under framed charges of anti-Islamic blasphemy.

9. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib - Guru from 1665 to 1675

  • He established the town of Anandpur.
  • He opposed the forced conversion of the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits by Mughal ruler Aurangazeb and he was consequently persecuted for this.

10. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib - Guru from 1675 to 1708

  • He became Guru after the martyrdom of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur.
  • He created the Khalsa in 1699, changing the Sikhs into a saint-soldier order for protecting themselves.
  • Last Sikh Guru in human form and he passed the Guruship of the Sikhs to the Guru Granth Sahib.

Guru Granth Sahib

  • Guru Granth Sahib (also known as the Adi Granth) is the scripture of the Sikhs.
  • The Granth was written in Gurmukhi script and it contains the actual words and verses as uttered by the Sikh Gurus.
  • It is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion, rather than any living person.

Source: PIB

Iran to enrich Uranium to 60%, the highest ever

GS-II : International treaties and conventions Nuclear disarmament

Iran to enrich Uranium to 60%, the highest ever

What is JCPOA? About Iran nuclear deal?

  • Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.
  • Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
  • The JCPOA established the Joint Commission, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement.

Why did Iran agree to the deal?

  • It had been hit with devastating economic sanctions by the United Nations, United States and the European Union that are estimated to have cost it tens of billions of pounds a year in lost oil export revenues. Billions in overseas assets had also been frozen.

Iran’s objective

  • By doing so, Iran is trying to increase the pressure on Britain, France and Germany in particular to find some arrangement that will allow them to sell the oil they were buying when Iran was not under sanctions. That requires some level of US support to waive sanctions against European firms by the United States. So far, the US has no agreed to do that.
  • Iran is now operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges. Such a centrifuge can produce enriched uranium 10 times as fast as the first-generation IR-1s allowed under the accord.
  • By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one year that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon – if it chose to pursue one.

Why did the US pull out of the deal?

  • Trump and opponents of the deal say it is flawed because it gives Iran access to billions of dollars but does not address Iran’s support for groups the U.S. considers terrorists, like Hamas and Hezbollah.
  • They note it also doesn’t curb Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and that the deal phases out by 2030. They say Iran has lied about its nuclear program in the past.

Impact of escalated tensions between Iran and the US:

  • Iran can make things difficult for the U.S. in Afghanistan as also in Iraq and Syria.
  • The U.S.’s ability to work with Russia in Syria or with China regarding North Korea will also be impacted.
  • And sooner or later, questions may be asked in Iran about why it should continue with other restrictions and inspections that it accepted under the JCPOA, which would have far-reaching implications for the global nuclear architecture.
  • Coming after the rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Paris climate change accord and the North American Free Trade Agreement, President’s decision further diminishes U.S. credibility.

Implications for India:

  • Oil and Gas: The impact on world oil prices will be the immediately visible impact of the U.S. decision. Iran is presently India’s third biggest supplier (after Iraq and Saudi Arabia), and any increase in prices will hit both inflation levels as well as the Indian rupee.
  • It would impact the development of Chabahar port.
  • International North-South Transport Corridor: New U.S. sanctions will affect these plans, especially if any of the countries along the route or banking and insurance companies dealing with the INSTC plan also decide to adhere to U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran.
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: China may consider inducting Iran into the SCO. If the proposal is accepted by the SCO, which is led by China and Russia, India will become a member of a bloc that will be seen as anti-American and will run counter to some of the government’s other initiatives like the Indo-Pacific quadrilateral with the U.S., Australia and Japan.
  • Rules-based order: By walking out of the JCPOA, the U.S. government has overturned the precept that such international agreements are made by “States” not just with prevailing governments or regimes.

What role does the U.N. Security Council play in this crisis?

  • The Security Council adopted a resolution in 2015 that endorsed the nuclear agreement and ended U.N. sanctions against Iran.
  • The resolution, 2231, includes what is known as a “snapback” provision that could reinstate those sanctions if other parties to the agreement complained that Iran was cheating. Such a step would likely doom the agreement.

Global Implications:

  1. Downtrends in the global economy.
  2. Fuel prices would reach high points.
  3. Iran may block the Strait of Hormuz which is a strategic choke point that in turn would affect global trade.
  4. A giant economies like India, China and Russia will suffer.
  5. US has cancelled airlines from the US to India because they pass over Iran which would affect the airspace industry.

For an editorial on the USA – Iran issues: click here https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/USA-Iran-issues

For recent news on USA – Iran nuclear deal and IAEA: click here https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/Iran-Nuclear-Deal-and-JCPOA

Source: TH

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