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30 Aug, 2021

36 Min Read

Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) with Russia

GS-II : International Relations Russia

Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) with Russia

  • India and Russia are expecting to conclude the bilateral logistics agreement, Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS), and a Navy-to-Navy cooperation memorandum of understanding (MoU). The two sides are also looking at expanding cooperation in Central Asia and the possibility of supplementing bilateral exercises with trilateral and multilateral ones, Indian Envoy in Russia D.B. Venkatesh Varma said.
  • It will simplify interoperability and enable military platforms to receive support and supplies across bases in both nations.
  • It is also known as Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS).
  • It is an arrangement that will allow access to India and Russia, to each other’s military facilities for supplies and fuel, expanding the logistics support and operational turnaround of the Indian military.
  • On the deal for S-400 air defence systems, the envoy, in an exclusive interview to The Hindu, said: “There are specific defence and national security considerations that led India to conclude the contract for the supply of S-400 systems. All I can say is that this contract will be implemented. We will do what we have to do and necessary for India to preserve and protect its national security interests.”
  • Both countries are also scheduled to hold the maiden 2+2 ministerial dialogue https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/India-Russia-Agree-to-Hold-22-Dialogue during the visit of Gen. Shoigu. At the summit meeting, he said that dates were yet to be fixed, but was expected to take place towards the end of this year subject to the COVID situation.
  • Mr. Varma said that both sides were also looking at how they could cooperate in using India as a production base for exporting to third countries of Russian-origin equipment and services and would add to the Make in India programme. “Russia will remain a key defence partner for India for decades to come,” he said.
  • Mr. Varma, who will be retiring in two months, described the transformation in the India-Russia relationship in the last two years as a “quiet revolution.”

Benefits and mutual significance:

  • This will be beneficial for the Indian Navy, which has a large number of Russian-origin ships, that will get access to Russian ports for supplies and refuelling. It would be crucial for joint exercises.
  • The air force too will benefit by finding it easier to deploy aircraft for the same purpose.
  • This access will also be for ports in the Russian part of the Arctic, allowing access to energy resources there.
  • Russia, on the other hand, will be able to access Indian ports and air bases.
  • Russia has also assured India access to energy resources in the vast Arctic region.

Source: TH

NITI bats for tax breaks to achieve monetisation goal

GS-III : Economic Issues Disinvestment

NITI bats for tax breaks to achieve monetisation goal

  • To make the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) a success, the government should give Income Tax breaks to attract retail investors into instruments such as Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs), the NITI Aayog has recommended.
  • The Centre’s think tank driving the NMP, estimated to raise almost ?6 lakh crore for the exchequer over four years, has also called for bringing such trusts within the ambit of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) to provide greater comfort to investors.
  • Bringing in policy and regulatory changes to scale up monetisation instruments such as InvITs and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and expand their investor base have been identified as a critical element for the NMP. The government plans to use the InvIT and REIT route to monetise public assets such as highways, gas pipelines, railway tracks and power transmission lines.
  • “More tax-efficient and user-friendly mechanisms like allowing tax benefits in InvITs as eligible security to invest under Section 54EC of the Income Tax Act, 1961, are important starting points for initiating retail participation in the instruments,” the Aayog said in its blueprint, indicating that further taxation-related tweaks may be needed along the way.
  • Section 54EC allows taxpayers to offset long-term capital gains from transactions in immoveable properties through investments in bonds issued by some government-backed infrastructure firms. “Though this will entail a cost in the form of loss of revenue for exchequer, the long-term benefits may outweigh the cost as linking investments in specified bonds with the capital gains exemption had proved to be a success in the past,” Amit Singhania, partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., told The Hindu, adding that this will encourage retail investor participation in InvITs.
  • While InvIT structures have been used in India since 2014, the Aayog pointed out that such trusts are not considered a ‘legal person’ and cannot be brought under IBC proceedings, deterring lenders from participating. “Since the trusts are not considered as ‘legal person’ under the extant regulations, the IBC regulations are not applicable for InvIT loans,” the Aayog said.

Source: TH

Issues in National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture

Issues in National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm

  • In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, soon after the launch of the 11,040 crore National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP), Meghalaya MP Agatha Sangma warned that the focus areas were “biodiversity hotspots and ecologically fragile” and oil palm plantations would denude forest cover and destroy the habitat of endangered wildlife.
  • The palm is an invasive species. It is not a natural forest product of northeastern India and its impact on our biodiversity as well as on soil conditions has to be analysed even if it is grown in non-forest areas. Any kind of monoculture plantation is not desirable,
  • Given the widespread destruction of rainforests and native biodiversity caused by oil palm plantations in Southeast Asia, environmental experts and politicians are warning that the Union government’s move to promote their cultivation in the northeastern States and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be disastrous.
  • Other concerns include the impact on community ownership of tribal lands, as well as the fact that the oil palm is a water-guzzling, monoculture crop with a long gestation period unsuitable for small farmers.
  • However, the government says land productivity for palm oil is higher than that for oilseeds, with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar giving an assurance that the land identified for oil palm plantations in the northeastern States is already cleared for cultivation.
  • It could also detach tribespeople from their identity linked with the community ownership of land and “wreak havoc on the social fabric”.
  • Congress leader and former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said proposals for large-scale oil palm cultivation had been studied and rejected as part of the technology mission on edible oils in the late 1980s as it was a “recipe for ecological disaster”.

Source: TH

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