Current Affairs 25th August

Russia to deliver new stealth frigate in 2023 #GS3 #SnT

The first of two additional Krivak class stealth frigates being built by Russia is expected to be delivered to India in the middle of 2023, Alexey Rakhmanov, chief executive officer of United Shipbuilding Corporation, said.

“Due to COVID we had delays in execution of some of the stages of construction. There was an approximately eight-month delay. The first ship should be delivered in the middle of 2023,” Mr. Rakhmanov said at the ongoing Army 2021 exhibition in Moscow.

In October 2016, India and Russia signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for four Krivak or Talwar class stealth frigates — two to be procured directly from Russia and two to be built by Goa Shipyard Ltd. (GSL) — after which a $1 billion deal was signed for the direct purchase.

On the construction at GSL, Mr. Rakhmanov said they would soon be inviting Indian technicians for the ongoing construction of the two frigates at the Yantar shipyard in Russia to familiarise themselves with the specificity of the equipment and the construction. In the second stage, substantial work would be done at GSL, including technology transfer, he said.

He added that the frigates were being built to operate both Indian and Russian equipment. The basic structures of the two frigates are already ready at the Yantar shipyard and they are now being completed. The keel for the first ship to be built at GSL was laid in January and for the second ship in June this year. Keel laying symbolises the formal commencement of the construction process.

The Navy had recently said that the first of these ships would be delivered in 2026 and the second six months later. In November 2018, GSL signed a $500 million deal with Rosoboronexport of Russia for material, design and specialist assistance to locally manufacture the two frigates, and in January 2019 the contract was signed between the Ministry of Defence and GSL.

The engines for the ships are supplied by Zorya Nashproekt of Ukraine. Four gas turbine engines, gear boxes and specialist support will cost around $50 million per ship. The Navy currently operates six Krivak class frigates weighing around 4,000 tonnes procured in two different batches.

Jaishankar to brief floor leaders on Afghanistan #GS2 #IR

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will on Thursday brief floor leaders of all parties in Parliament on the developments in Afghanistan at the Parliament House, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi said on Monday.

India last week evacuated hundreds of Indians and Afghan nationals and the staff of its Embassy in Kabul after the takeover by the Taliban.

Special visa category

The government also launched a special visa category for the evacuation of Afghan partners from that country. The fast-developing situation there and its implications for security in India have been a matter of concern, with various political parties expressing this concern.

“In view of the developments in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has instructed that Ministry of External Affairs brief floor leaders of political parties,” tweeted Mr. Jaishankar, after which Mr. Joshi announced the date, time and venue of the briefing. At a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting early last week, Mr. Modi said the evacuation of Hindus, Sikhs and Afghan “brothers and sisters” was a priority for the Government of India.

Roots of economic recovery deepen as restrictions ease #GS3 #Economy

With the easing of COVID-19-related curbs by States, the roots of economic recovery deepened in July 2021, ICRA Ratings said in a report.

The unlocking in the country has manifested itself in improving performance across various high-frequency industrial and service sector indicators, mobility and toll collections in July 2021, according to the agency.

“With the further easing of the State-wise restrictions, especially across the southern States, the roots of the economic recovery deepened in July 2021. Despite a normalising base, eight of the 15 high-frequency indicators recorded an encouraging improvement in their year-on-year (YoY) growth in July 2021,” the agency’s chief economist Aditi Nayar said in the report.

Moreover, 10 of the 13 non-financial indicators recorded a month-on-month (MoM) uptick in July 2021, although the pace of improvement eased, as expected, from levels seen in June, when State-wise unlocking had commenced, she said. The YoY performance of GST e-way bills, fuel consumption, electricity generation, output of Coal India Limited (CIL), vehicle registrations and domestic passenger traffic improved in July 2021 from June 2021.

The worsening in the YoY performance of some indicators such as output of passenger vehicles (PVs), scooters and motorcycles was primarily due to the base effect, the report pointed out.

Ms. Nayar said July volumes of seven of the 13 non-financial indicators — non-oil merchandise exports, GST e-way bills, electricity generation, CIL’s output, petrol consumption, PV output and rail freight traffic — rose above both their pre-Covid as well as April 2021 levels.