Current Affairs 10th February

Joe Biden and Modi talk of democratic institutions, norms #GS2 #IR

U.S. President Joe Biden discussed democratic institutions and norms with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as per a White House readout of the call between the two leaders. The White House said they talked about a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and that Mr. Biden underscored “his desire to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world”.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry’s readout of the call said the two leaders “noted that the India-U.S. partnership is firmly anchored in a shared commitment to democratic values and common strategic interests”.

On the Indo-Pacific, the White House readout of the Biden-Modi call mentioned freedom of navigation, “territorial integrity” (presumably a reference to China’s aggression along the Line of Control) and strengthening the Quad — India, the U.S., Australia and Japan.

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, committing that the United States and India will work closely together to win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, renew their partnership on climate change, rebuild the global economy in a way that benefits the people of both countries, and stand together against the scourge of global terrorism. The leaders agreed to continuing close cooperation to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, including support for freedom of navigation, territorial integrity, and a stronger regional architecture through the Quad,” it said.

Benefit of the NewsIndia – US relations

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/joe-biden-and-modi-talk-of-democratic-institutions-norms/article33797010.ece

Crashing rock mass may have caused flash floods #GS3 #DM

A rock mass, weakened from years of freezing and thawing of snow, may have led to the creation of a weak zone, triggering its collapse that resulted in flash floods in the Chamoli district, initial observations by scientists of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) suggest. The crashing rock mass also brought earth and mounds of snow with it. The friction may have resulted in heating, which could have caused the floods, the observations suggest.

Scientists from the institute conducted a helicopter survey to find clues what led to the deadly flash floods that swept everything in its way. This region has a very steep gradient. Our observations suggest that the rock mass may have weakened due to freezing and thawing. This sometimes leads to the development of a weak zone and fractures

Benefit of the NewsReason for Glacial Burst

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/crashing-rock-mass-may-have-caused-flash-floods/article33796994.ece

Poland pitches for PM’s visit to Warsaw #GS2 #IR

As the planning for two trips by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Europe this summer get underway, Poland is pitching for a visit to Warsaw. It is also negotiating with India for a travel bubble arrangement to resume direct flights which have been suspended for nearly a year due to COVID regulations.

While Prime Minister Modi’s first trip abroad after the pandemic is scheduled for Bangladesh next month, he has accepted invitations to Brussels for the European Union-India summit (May 8), and to Cornwall, United Kingdom to attend the G-7 grouping where India is a special invitee (June 11-13).

At the top of the agenda for the Prime Minister’s visit this year will be to salvage free trade negotiations for the EU-India Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), which has failed to make headway since talks were suspended in 2014 over a number of issues including market access for automobiles, dairy products, wines and the movement of professionals.

EU-India summit

We have high expectations for the EU-India Summit that will take place in May this year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic we shall enhance our relations and take them to higher level. BTIA is much needed to significantly improve our trade exchange and to reduce the barriers that unfortunately are still there.

The direct flights from Delhi-Warsaw had only been started in September 2019 after a gap of 25 years, when they were cancelled along with all other flights as part of the government’s lockdown measures in March 2020. Subsequently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation established “travel bubble” arrangements with 25 countries but no agreement has been reached with Poland.

Benefit of the NewsIndia- EU relations

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/poland-pitches-for-pms-visit-to-warsaw/article33797030.ece

Phase 1 trial of nasal vaccine gets the nod #GS3 #SnT

A subject expert committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has given approval to Bharat Biotech to launch the first phase of clinical trial of an intranasal vaccine candidate for COVID-19.

After detailed deliberation, the committee recommended for conduct of proposed phase I clinical trial. The approval followed the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker presenting its proposal along with revised phase I clinical trial protocol of the Chimpanzee Adenovirus Vectored COVID-19 Vaccine (BBV154) (intranasal) as sought by the committee, at its meeting in January.

The committee had then advised the firm to generate safety and immunogenicity data in Phase-I clinical trial, with 75 subjects, in the proposed doses as per the protocol.

Bharat Biotech and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis had announced a licensing agreement in September for the nasal vaccine candidate, under which the firm bagged the distribution rights in all markets except the U.S., Japan and Europe.

Benefit of the NewsTrial for Nasal Vaccine

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/phase-1-trial-of-nasal-vaccine-gets-the-nod/article33797566.ece

Govt. to clarify e-com FDI rules #GS3 #Economy

The Centre plans to issue a clarification on the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy for the e-commerce sector in the wake of investigations into some foreign players’ operations following complaints about malpractices.

The government had sought information from the online marketplaces as part of a probe into ‘certain complaints from consumers and small retailers about certain practices of e-commerce companies’. Stressing that e-commerce platforms could only act as a service provider, the minister warned players ‘who break the law’ that they would have to correct their business practices at the earliest.

‘Agnostic platform’

“We are also considering certain clarifications to ensure that the e-commerce sector works in the true spirit of the law, of the rules that have been laid down, adding the caveat that the e-commerce policy per se would, however, not be changed as it was ‘robust, well-designed and operating in India in several sectors’.

“To reiterate, e-commerce is not supposed to provide an agnostic platform so that buyers and sellers can trade with each other, the platform should not become a part of the trading transaction, should it be funding it nor having algorithms that give preference to one or the other… They should neither be promoting their own products, but provide all data required to make a rational choice and the choice should be the free choice of the consumers.

We believe that buyers and sellers should be given an opportunity to trade with each other; the platform is only a service provider. And those who break that law will certainly have to respond to our concerns and correct their business practices at the earliest.

Benefit of the NewsFDI norms

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/govt-to-clarify-e-com-fdi-rules/article33796927.ece

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