1. HAMBANTOTA PORT DEAL BETWEEN SRILANKA AND CHINA
- Sri Lanka has signed a US $1.1 billion deal to sell a 70% stake of the strategic Hambantota deep-sea port to China.
- The deal was signed between Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and China Merchants Port Holding Co. (CMPort).
- Under the 99-year lease agreement, CMPort will invest up to US $1.1 billion in the port and marine-related activities.
- The deal may raise security concerns in India.
- According to the new deal, only Sri Lankan Navy will be responsible for security of the deep-sea port, and the port will not be allowed to become a base for any foreign Navy.
- The new provision is seen as an attempt to allay India’s concerns over Chinese Navy’s possible presence in Sri Lanka.
- The port, overlooking the Indian Ocean, is expected to play a key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which will link ports and roads between China and Europe.
- India is apprehensive that the port is part of Chinese ‘string of pearls’ with an objective to surround India.
STRING OF PEARL THEORY
- The String of pearls is a geopolitical theory on potential Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean region.
- It refers to the network of Chinese military and commercial facilities and relationships along its sea lines of communication, which extend from the Chinese mainlandto Port Sudan.
- The sea lines run through several major maritime choke points such as the Strait of Mandeb, the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Lombok Strait as well as other strategic maritime centers in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Somalia.
- The term as a geopolitical concept was first used in an internal US Department of Defense report, “Energy Futures in Asia.”
- The emergence of the String of Pearls is indicative of China’s growing geopolitical influence through concerted efforts to increase access to ports and airfields, expand and modernize military forces, and foster stronger diplomatic relationships with trading partners.
- China cannot secure its dominance in the South China Sea without expanding its presence in the Indian Ocean. For a simple reason. A blockade of the Strait of Malacca by the US and its allies will cut China off from Middle East oil supplies and from its “Second Continent” Africa. That’s why China is shoring up Sri Lanka’s major ports and working feverishly with Pakistan to build an alternative route to Middle East and Africa—the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC).
2. INDIA IS WORLD’S THIRD LARGEST EXPORTER OF BEEF
- According to recently released OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2017-2026 report Brazil , Australia and India are the top three exporters of beef in the world.
- India exported 1.56 million tonnes of beef in 2016.
- Till 2015, India was the world’s largest exporter of beef .
3. JIYO PARSI PUBLICITY PHASE -2 LAUNCHED
- The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has launched Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-2 under the Jiyo Parsi scheme.
- The Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-2 aims at containing the declining trend of population of the Parsi community and reverses it to bring their population above the threshold level.
JIYO PARSI SCHEME
- With the aim to contain the dwindling population of Parsis in India, the Jiyo Parsi scheme has been launched by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India.
- Jiyo parsi scheme has the objective of reversing the declining trend of Parsi population by adopting scientific protocol and structured interventions, stabilize the Parsi population and increase the population of Parsis in India.
- 100% financed by Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India.
- Medical interventions under Standard Medical protocols in select hospitals/clincs. Confidentiality of the patients to be given utmost importance.
- The scheme is designed only for Parsi community. It will be available for Parsi married couples of child bearing age who seek assistance and adults/young men/women/adolescent boys/girls for diagnosis of diseases.
- The first phase of the scheme was launched initiated in 2013.
4. GOVERNMENT ASKS FOR MORE TIME ON GM MUSTARD ISSUE
- The Union government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it would take a decision in a month-and-a-half on allowing the commercial rollout of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop in the country.
CONTROVERSY ABOUT GM MUSTARD
- Many scientist claim that at a time when sustainable farming and low-input agriculture are becoming the buzzwords, it is surprising that agricultural scientists continue to recommend crop varieties that will end up doing more harm to the environment and crop fields. GM mustard will require almost double the quantity of fertiliser and water.
- Other Health concerns of GM Hybrid Mazie include: allergenicity; gene transfer, especially of antibiotic-resistant genes, from GM foods to cells or bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract; and `out crossing’, or the movement of genes from GM plants to conventional crops, posing indirect threats to food safety and security.
- GM mustard can affect honeybees directly and indirectly through effecting flowering and pollen production. Protease inhibitors have proved detrimental to the longevity and behaviour of bees.
- Regulatory weakness-The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, which is responsible for approving large-scale releases and commercialisation of GMOs, functions under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and is not entirely independent.
- The case of the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation that supervises and clears research activities and also small-scale field trials is even starker. It is part of the Department of Biotechnology, whose primary task is to promote biotechnology. DBT therefore is the promoter as well as the regulator. On several occasions, developers of transgenic crops have also been members of regulatory committees