28 October, 2019

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GS-II : International Relations Central Asia


India called upon the member countries of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to strengthen and implement all existing international laws and mechanisms, without exceptions or double standards, to combat terrorism and its enablers.

Terrorism continues to disrupt our societies and undermine our developmental endeavors.It is important for SCO countries to come together to deal with this menace

The process of globalisation has opened up immense opportunities for the growth of SCO members, but also brought to the fore multidimensional, complex and transnationalthreats affecting developing countries. All members needs to work together in defeating challenges liketerrorism, climate change, endemic poverty, under development, pandemics and inequality.

India voiced the Government’s resolve of providing an enabling economic ecosystem for partner countries to invest and do business in India. He listed out various initiatives taken by the Government in this regard including relaxing FDI reforms, allowing 100 per cent foreign investment in coal mining and contract manufacturing, easing sourcing norms for single-brand retailers and approving 26 per cent overseas investment in digital media.

We strongly support the initiative to facilitate cooperation among small and medium-sized enterprises within the SCO.Food industry is another potential area of collaboration. SCO members can work together for technology and investment support to food processing and put in a supporting logistics chain

India is ready to share its experience and expertise in skill development and capacity building in areas such as telemedicine, medical tourism, resource mapping, launching of satellites, agricultural education and effective and affordable pharmaceuticals. Finance, hospitality and tourism services also present significant opportunities.

Reiterated the Government’s commitment to a transparent, rules-based, open, inclusive and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation at its centre.

Invited SCO Member states to join the ‘Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure’. India has taken the initiative of launching the coalition to assist countries in upgrading their capacities for developing resilient infrastructure. It will address the loss reduction targets under the Sendai Framework, besides contributing to climate change adaptation. India would be holding Joint Urban Earthquake Search and Rescue exercise of SCO member States along with SCO Expert level meeting on disaster prevention

About SCO:

SCO: Formerly the Sanghai Five and formed in 1996, the SCO has eight members today including India and Pakistan, which became part of it in 2017.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the then security and economic architecture in the Eurasian region dissolved and new structures had to come up.

The original Shanghai Five were China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

The SCO was formed in 2001, with Uzbekistan included. It expanded in 2017 to include India and Pakistan.

Since its formation, the SCO has focused on regional non-traditional security, with counter-terrorism as a priority: The fight against the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism and extremism has become its mantra. Today, areas of cooperation include themes such as economics and culture.

How does membership of the SCO help India?

In a world riven by geopolitical contestations, SCO membership provides India a vital counter to some of the other groupings it is a part of, balancing out its stated policy of pursuing “multi-alignments”. It is a platform also for alignments on issues such as energy security, connectivity and trade. With India indicating that it sees little use for SAARC, the SCO provides the only multilateral platform for it to deal in close proximity with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

For India, two important objectives are counter-terrorism and connectivity. These sit well with the SCO’s main objective of working cooperatively against the “three evils”.

India wants access to intelligence and information from SCO’s counter-terrorism body, the Tashkent-based Regional Anti-Terror Structure (RATS).

A stable Afghanistan too is in India’s interest, and RATS provides access to non-Pakistan-centred counter-terrorism information there.

Connectivity is important for India’s Connect Central Asia policy.

Energy cooperation dominates its interest – and it’s in China’s neighbourhood. But India will also have to deal with an assertive China, which will push its Belt and Road Initiative during the summit.

SCO membership also bolsters India’s status as a major pan-Asian player, which is boxed in the South Asian paradigm.


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Postal ballot facilities for absentee voters of essential services, senior citizens of more than 80 years and PwD electors.


a. The Election Commission of India has started working on detailed guidelines to facilitate the process of postal ballot paper for absentee voters of essential services, senior citizens of more than 80 years and marked (Persons with Disabilities) PwD electors.

b. These guidelines will include the identification of such voters, the manner of outreach, the methods of collection as well as voting in the specified centres in each constituency.

c. The Commission is also taking a number of steps including personal contact under its SVEEP initiatives to make the electors aware of this new facility so that such electors can exercise their voting right in the manner they intend to do.

  • In order to facilitate this, the following amendments to the Rules have been made:

A concept of ‘absentee voter’ has been introduced and defined for the elections.

An ‘absentee voter’ means a person belonging to such class of persons as may be notified, and who is employed in essential services as mentioned in the said notification, and includes an elector belonging to the class of senior citizen or persons with disability.

A ‘person with disability’ means a person flagged as person with disability in the data base for the electoral roll.

A ‘senior citizen’ for the purpose of this Part means an elector belonging to the class of absentee voters and is above 80 years of age.

In the case of absentee voter, postal ballot paper shall be returned to the centre provided for recording of vote.

  • These two categories of voters – senior citizen of more than 80 years of age and PwD electors marked in the electoral roll, will have now the choice of voting either as an absentee voter or as a regular voter on the poll day.

Who can vote through postal ballot?

  • In 2013, the EC decided to expand the ambit of postal ballot voting in the country. Previously, only Indian staff in missions abroad and defence personnel in a limited way, could vote via postal ballots.
  • Categories of voters who can use the postal ballot: service voters; special voters; wives of service voters and special voters; voters subjected to preventive detention; voters on election duty and Notified voters.

Source: PIB

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GS-II : International Relations France


Indian and French armies will conduct joint counter-terrorism drills under 'Exercise Shakti-2019' in the Mahajan field firing range in Rajasthan .


The joint exercise will focus on counter-terrorism operations in the backdrop of semi-desert terrain under the United Nations mandate,


  1. A contingent of the Sikh Regiment of south western command will represent the Indian Army in the exercise, while the French Army delegation will be represented by troops of the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment of the 6th Armoured Brigade.
  2. The biennial exercise between the armies of the two countries had stated in 2011.
  3. The French troops will arrive in India on Saturday for the exercise which will be held at foreign training node at the Mahajan field firing range in western sector of Rajasthan.
  4. The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation and interoperability between the two armies.
  5. The training will culminate in a 36-hour-long validation exercise which will involve neutralisation of terrorists in a village hideout

Source: PIB

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GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture


The Government of India, Government of Odisha and the World Bank signed a US$165 million loan agreement to support smallholder farmers strengthen the resilience of their production systems as well as diversify and improve the marketing of their produce, for increased income.


  • It is a collaborative project between Government of India, Government of Odisha and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
  • This project will be implemented in rural areas vulnerable to droughts and largely dependent on rainfed agriculture.
  • The project will strengthen the resilience of smallholder farmers against adverse climate by improving access to resilient seed varieties, diversifying towards more climate-resilient crops, and improving access to better water management services.

Objective :

  • Support the rehabilitation of water tanks
  • Support farmers to reduce the current emphasis on food grains (especially paddy and wheat)
  • Increase the share of high-value and more nutritious products like fruits and vegetables
  • Provide marketing support to farmers who are able to generate a marketable surplus.
  • Disseminate improved aquaculture practices and post-harvest management.


In recent years, climate variability has seriously affected agriculture in Odisha, where farming is largely dominated by farmers with landholdings of less than 2 hectares.

  • Since 2009, the frequency of droughts in the state has increased from 1 in 5 years to 1 in 2 years. Today, about 70 % of total cultivated area is prone to droughts compared to 40 % in the 1970s.
  • Since 2013, floods are now devastating areas beyond the traditional flood zone. Drier areas are projected to become drier, while wetter areas will become wetter.
  • Agriculture is also a major source of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in Odisha, responsible for about 25 % of the GHG emissions in the state.

Source: PIB

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