The HINDU Notes – 30th June 2019 - VISION

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 30th June 2019

Trump, Xi seal trade war truce
Deal done:President Donald Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday.APAP

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping struck a trade war truce on Saturday, as Washington vowed to hold off on further tariffs, allow American companies to sell equipment to Chinese tech giant Huawei and declared trade negotiations with China “back on track.”
  • The ceasefire that halts damaging trade frictions came in a hotly anticipated meeting between the leaders of the world’s top two economies on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
  • Mr. Trump hailed the meeting as “excellent.” “We are right back on track,” he added. There was little in the way of concrete details on what was agreed, but Mr. Trump confirmed Washington had committed not to impose any new tariffs on Beijing’s exports and the two sides would continue talks.
  • Talks to continue
  • “We won’t be adding an additional tremendous amount of $350 billion dollars left which could be taxed or could be tariffed. We’re not doing that, we are going to work with China on where we left off to see if we can make a deal,” Mr. Trump said at a press conference. “We will be continuing to negotiate.”
  • Mr. Trump also said that U.S. companies could sell equipment to Huawei, indicating a potentially softer position on a key sticking point in the U.S.-China trade war. “We’re talking about equipment where there’s no great national security problem with it,” Mr. Trump told reporters.
  • It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Trump’s comment marked a material change in the stance toward Huawei, which has essentially been barred on national security grounds from accessing crucial American technology or operating in the U.S. market.
  • A solution to the Huawei issue may have to wait until the closing stages of talks, Mr. Trump said. He struck a conciliatory tone after his arrival for the summit, despite saying China’s economy was going “down the tubes” before he set out for Osaka.
  • He said he was ready for a “historic” deal with China as the leaders kicked off their meeting, and Mr. Xi told him that dialogue was better than confrontation.
  • In their final statement, the G20 leaders admitted that “most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified,” echoing hard-won language from their Finance Ministers at a meeting earlier this month.
  • The tete-a-tete between the U.S. and Chinese leaders — the first since the last G20 in December — cast a long shadow over this year’s gathering in Osaka.
  • Trade has proved far from the only contentious issue on the summit table, with climate change another major sticking point.

G20 summit: India pitches strongly for fight against fugitive economic offenders
  • “It has been a strong agenda, we have been working on tax evasion, corruption, economic offences and fugitive offenders running away [from the country].” India’s Sherpa to G20 Suresh Prabhu said.
  • India has pitched strongly to deal with fugitive economic offenders, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged the issue at all global forums, the country’s Sherpa to G20 Suresh Prabhu said on June 29.
  • “We strongly put forward the need for to deal with fugitive economic offenders. It has been a strong agenda, we have been working on tax evasion, corruption, economic offences and fugitive offenders running away [from the country]. We have also been very strongly championing this,” Mr. Prabhu told a media conference, detailing about the deliberations of the meeting.
  • He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised these issues at all global forums.
  • “We strongly feel that we as a global community must act in unison to deal with such issues of people committing economic offences and running away from their national domicile country,” he told reporters post G20 Sherpa’s meeting.
  • On the query that why India didn’t join the Osaka declaration on digital economy, Mr. Prabhu said the reasons have been communicated to the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
  • But, he also clarified that India strongly believes in digital economy and has taken host of measures, including a huge number of bank accounts to thrust its digital agenda.
  • “India has a very massive programme on digital transactions. We have opened bank accounts of a large number of people. Many transactions are happening through the digital forms,” he said.
  • Mr. Prabhu, who was the Railways Minister in the first term of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, also informed that the country’s railways has almost 8.1 billion passengers per year, and many of them buy tickets through digital platforms.
  • “So, digital is something which we all believe in, we have a market which is growing including the e-commerce market. Therefore, we believe in that digital economy and also at the same time we have a very close relationship with our dear friend Japan but we have already communicated the reasons to them,” Mr. Prabhu said.
  • Among others issues that India raised during the summit were on climate change, clean energy, environment protection, agriculture, tourism and systemic shift towards providing social security and financial benefits for the ageing population.
  • Mr. Prabhu said India also put emphasis on building a quality infrastructure that is a necessity for growth.
  • He also said that infusion of technology in all sphere of life will create economic opportunities for all as well as bridge the digital divide, and improve the quality of life.
  • “For that, quality infrastructure will play a very important role. In economy, finance will be an important issue and therefore issues related to global finance whether it is related to sustainable and modern tax system, whether related to technological innovation which can deliver benefits in financial markets...all these issues were also discussed,” he told reporters.
  • Mr. Prabhu said PM Modi has been championing that “we need anti-corruption measures at global level. So, fight against corruption should be done at all levels by all the G20 members by combating foreign bribery and ensure each G20 country has a law to enforce it, that people committing economic crimes in one geography will not be able to run away to the other and escape the clutches of law”.

Indian scientist to be Co-I for NASA’s PUNCH mission
  • The mission will study the Sun using four suitcase-sized microsats
  • NASA has selected Texas-based Southwest Research Institute to lead its PUNCH mission which will image the Sun. This is a landmark mission that will image regions beyond the Sun’s outer corona. Dipankar Banerjee, solar physicist from Indian Institute of Astrophysics is also a Co-Investigator of the PUNCH mission. PUNCH, which stands for “Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere,” is focused on understanding the transition of particles from the Sun’s outer corona to the solar wind that fills interplanetary space.
  • “The Sun and the solar wind are one interconnected system, but [these] have until recently been studied using entirely different technologies and scientific approaches,” explains Prof. Banerjee in an email to The Hindu.
  • Focus on polar regions
  • Commenting on his role as Co-Investigator in the PUNCH mission, Prof. Banerjee said, “I will be working to study how the solar wind is accelerated. I will focus on the polar regions of the Sun.” The team also plans to observe the Sun using joint observations from PUNCH and Indian mission Aditya, which is underway.
  • India is planning to send up its own satellite Aditya-L1, a mission to study the Sun’s corona, and Prof. Banerjee is the co-Chair of the Science Working Group. “We expect co-ordinated observations of Aditya and PUNCH in order to understand our space weather environment,” he says.
  • Constellation of satellites
  • PUNCH will consist of a ‘constellation’ of four suitcase-sized microsats that will orbit the Earth in formation and study how the corona, which is the atmosphere of the Sun, connects with the interplanetary medium. The mission is expected to be launched in 2022.
  • The mission will image and track the solar wind and also the coronal mass ejections – which are huge masses of plasma that get thrown out of the Sun’s atmosphere. The coronal mass ejections can affect and drive space weather events near the Earth.
  • Other probes
  • Other missions such as NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the ESA-NASA joint project, Solar Orbiter, which is due to be launched in 2020, can study the structures of the Sun’s atmosphere. The PUNCH mission enhances these by tracking these structures in real time. Since the Sun’s corona is much fainter than its surface layers, it cannot be viewed by the instruments directly. So PUNCH will block out the light from the Sun to view its corona and the structures in it.

‘One nation one ration card’ scheme from July 1, 2020
  • Aadhaar linkage needed for it to work; States given one more year to use point of sale machines in ration shops, says Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan
  • ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme, which will allow portability of food security benefits, will be available across the country from July 1, 2020. This means poor migrant workers will be able to buy subsidised rice and wheat from any ration shop in the country, so long as their ration cards are linked to Aadhaar.
  • All the States have been given one more year to use point of sale (PoS) machines in the ration shops and implement the scheme, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told journalists on Saturday. Already, 77% % of the ration shops across the country have PoS machines and more than 85% of people covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) have their cards linked to Aadhaar, he said.
  • While Aadhaar linkage is not necessary to access NFSA benefits in a beneficiary’s local registered ration shop, located closest to her home address, it will be necessary to access the portability scheme, according to senior Food Ministry officials.
  • Ten States -- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura – already offer this portability, pointed out Mr. Paswan. Delhi had also begun implementing portability, though it was later stopped for technical reasons. Other States, including Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, could easily implement the scheme, as they had PoS machines in all the ration shops.
  • “This scheme will ensure that no poor person is deprived of subsidised grains,” said the Minister. “We have written to all State governments to fast track its implementation, so that the whole country is ready to implement ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ latest by June 30, 2020.”
  • A senior Ministry official clarified that migrants would only be eligible for the subsidies supported by the Centre, which include rice sold at Rs. 3/kg and wheat at Rs. 2/kg. Even if a beneficiary moved to a State where grains were given for free, that person would not be able to access those benefits, as they were funded by the State exchequer.
  • Fortified grains
  • In a bid to reduce nutrition deficiencies among beneficiaries, the Centre would roll out a pilot project in 15 districts to fortify rice grains with iron, folic acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12. The first fortified grains would be available in ration shops from this November.
  • The State governments have also been given a six-month deadline to bring the operations of their depots and warehouses online, said Mr. Paswan. Ultimately, it would be possible to monitor the entire network of state-owned grain storage facilities, including Central warehouses that were already computerised, using an integrated dashboard.

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