Insights Daily Current Affairs, 05 December 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 05 December 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


Mercosur suspends Venezuela


Venezuela has been suspended from the Mercosur trade group over its failure to comply with its commitments when it joined the group in 2012. In this regard, the Foreign Ministers of the four founding members of Mercosur— Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — notified Venezuela’s government of the decision in a letter.



Mercosur accepted Venezuela as a member when South America was dominated by Leftist governments in an effort to link the region’s biggest agricultural and energy markets. But, Venezuela had failed to meet a Dec. 1 deadline to adopt certain standards required for membership.


Why Venezuela was suspended?

Venezuela has not adopted all the membership rules and treaties it had promised. It has failed to meet economic, human rights and immigration accords governing the group.


Implications of this move:

  • The suspension would not carry any sanctions against Venezuela, but would sideline its government from bloc meetings and trade negotiations.
  • A suspension would also further isolate Venezuela as it struggles with food shortages and social unrest as its oil-dependent economy crumbles.


What is Mercosur?

Mercosur is an economic and political bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

  • Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname are associate members.
  • Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency. The official languages are Spanish, Portuguese and Guarani. It is now a full customs union and a trading bloc.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


India, Qatar ink four pacts on visas, cybersecurity, investments


India and Qatar have signed four pacts including in the field of visas, cyberspace and investments. These agreements were signed during the recent visit of PM Modi.


Agreements signed:

  • Agreement on the exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports.
  • Protocol on Technical Cooperation in cyber space and combating cyber crime.
  • Letter of Intent regarding negotiations on an Agreement on the grant of e-Visa for businessmen and tourists of the two countries.
  • MoU between Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy of Qatar and Confederation of Indian Industry.



India enjoys close and friendly relations with Qatar, which are based on mutually beneficial commercial exchanges and extensive people-to-people contacts.

Qatar is not only an important trading partner for India in the Gulf region but is also the largest supplier of LNG, accounting for 66% of the total imports in 2015-16. Indians form the largest expatriate community in Qatar and their positive contribution in the progress and development of their host country is well recognised. There are over expatriate 630,000 Indians in Qatar.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Meet adopts resolution on drug trafficking in region


The Amritsar Declaration was adopted at the concluding day of 6th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia (HoA).


Highlights of the declaration:

  • The declaration puts focus on the concerned countries to address terrorism and enhancing regional economic cooperation.
  • The declaration recognises terrorism as the biggest threat to peace and security. And demands immediate end to all forms of terrorism and all support financial and safe havens providing sanctuary to it.
  • The declaration states the urgency to respond to the nexus between drug menace and its financial support for terrorist entities in Afghanistan. The declaration also mentions the Haqqani Network.
  • It also calls for early finalisation of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It also looks at the early meeting of experts to discuss a draft regional counter terrorism framework strategy, recently prepared by Afghanistan for its early finalisation.
  • The declaration states the welcoming of the agreements between the international community and Afghanistan for continued financial support to the Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) until 2020.
  • The declaration welcomes the MOU on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between China and Afghanistan.
  • The declaration also expressed serious concern about opium, the base material for production of heroin in Afghanistan, a large chunk of which eventually finds its way into India through Indo-Pak international border in Punjab.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Environment Ministry postpones forest policy indefinitely


The Environment Ministry has indefinitely postponed an ambitious plan to update India’s forest policy. It has also decided to abstain from committing to a timeframe by which it would have a third of India’s land under forest or tree cover, a key promise of the forest policy.



The MoEFCC had tasked the Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), an affiliated organisation, with reviewing and revising the existing forest policy.

This was the first time that the policy was being re-looked since 1988 as it wanted to update the several changes in the forest laws and provide a forward-looking policy that talked about increasing India’s forest cover and tackling the effects of climate change.

The organisation had submitted its report in June this year. However, the report was later rejected by the government.


Highlights of the report:

  • It proposed levy of a green tax and called for safeguarding forest land by exercising strict restraint on diversion for non-forestry purposes like mining and industrial projects and practising responsible eco-tourism in forest areas to ensure safety of wildlife.
  • On generating resources to manage the forest cover, it said the budget of the forestry sector should be appropriately enhanced so that the objectives enshrined in this policy can be achieved.
  • It also proposed to levy environmental cess and carbon tax on certain products and services.
  • On the contentious issue of diversion of forests for mining and industrial projects, it said, “Forest land diversion projects related to mining, quarrying, construction of dams, roads and other linear infrastructure needs to adopt special caution. Use of state-of-the-art technology which causes minimum pollution and damage should be promoted.”

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims


Children’s Peace Prize:

  • Teen environmental activist Kehkashan Basu has been awarded the prestigious International Children’s Peace Prize.

    Kehkashan Basu

    Kehkashan Basu

  • Basu was born in Dubai to Indian parents.
  • Basu is being honoured for the work done by her child-run organisation Green Hope, based in the United Arab Emirates, which now has more than 1,000 volunteers in 10 countries around the world.
  • The prize is awarded annually “to a child who fights courageously for children’s rights. It also includes a 100,000 euro ($106,000) investment for projects in the winner’s home country.
  • Past winners include Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai and the prize’s first recipient, Nkosi Johnson, a South African boy who shone a light on the plight of children with HIV/AIDS.


Ancient site found near Ladakh:

  • An ancient camping site used by pre-historic man and datable to circa 8500 BCE, has been found at an altitude of about 4,200 metres near Saser La in the Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Saser La leads to the Karakoram Pass.
  • A camping site is a place where hunter-gatherers stayed temporarily before they moved on to another place.
  • Charcoal pieces from hearth activity and remains of bones associated with it were found at the site. The charcoal pieces revealed that the site belonged to circa 8500 BCE.
  • Such an early antiquity on the basis of a scientific date is the very first for that region. Only 6th century CE to 7th century CE remains were reported in Ladakh so far.


Navy Day:

  • 45th Indian Navy Day was celebrated on December 4 to commemorate the launch of Operation Trident against Pakistan.
  • On December 4 1971, the Indian Navy carried out Operation Trident, which was a devastating attack on Pakistan Naval Headquarters of Karachi. The attack was successful as it sank a minesweeper, a destroyer and an ammunition supply ship.