29th Oct, 2020

Basic Exchange And Cooperation Agreement (BECA) signed between India and USA

India and the United States signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) recently.

BECA, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) which were signed earlier form foundational pacts for deep military cooperation between the two countries.

BECA will help India get real-time access to American geospatial intelligence. 

The access will enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.

The sharing of information on maps and satellite images will help India access topographical and aeronautical data, and advanced products that will aid in navigation and targeting.

This could also be the key to Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation between India and the US.

Electricity Access In India And Benchmarking Distribution Utilities Report launched

NITI Aayog, Ministry of Power, Rockefeller Foundation, and Smart Power India launched the ‘Electricity Access in India and Benchmarking Distribution Utilities’ report.

Around 92% of customers reported the overall availability of electricity infrastructure within 50 metres of their premises. 

However, not all have connections. The primary reason being the distance of households from the nearest pole.

Overall, 87% of the surveyed customers have access to grid-based electricity.

The remaining 13% either use non-grid sources or don’t use any electricity at all.

The hours of supply have improved significantly across the customer categories to nearly 17 hours per day.

Nearly 85% of customers reported to have a metered electricity connection.

Access to electricity is observed in 83% of household customers.

The study suggested that a total of 66% of those surveyed were satisfied––74% of customers in urban areas and 60% in rural areas.

NTPC Ltd enters into loan agreement under JBIC’s GREEN Initiative

NTPC Ltd entered into a loan agreement with Japanese Government for JPY 50 billion (approx. USD 482 million) under Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)’s GREEN initiative. 

GREEN initiative stands for Global Action for Reconciling Economic growth and Environment preservation initiative. 

The facility is extended under JBIC’s outreach for projects, which ensure conservation of the global environment.

JBIC will provide 60% of the facility amount and the balance will be given by Japanese commercial banks under JBIC guarantee.

The loan proceeds will be utilized by NTPC Ltd for funding its capex for Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) & Renewable Energy projects.

FGD, substantially reduces the SOx emission in the flue gases of thermal power plants and is a critical step towards environmental sustainability.

India-Central Asia Dialogue held

The second meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue was held under the chairmanship of the External Affairs Minister. 

Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic participated in the meeting.

The Foreign Ministers of Central Asian Countries welcomed the provision by India of one billion US dollar Line of Credit for priority developmental projects in fields such as energy, IT, healthcare, education and agriculture in the region.

The Ministers emphasized the need to continue close cooperation between the Sanitary and Epidemiological Services of India and the Central Asian countries in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministers appreciated India’s efforts to modernize the infrastructure of the Chabahar port in Iran, which could become an important link in trade and transport communications between the markets of Central and South Asia.

Ordinance for Commission For Air Quality Management In National Capital Region promulgated 

Indian President has promulgated an ordinance to constitute a Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas.

The Commission will have at least three sub-committees including on Monitoring and identification, Safeguarding and Enforcement and Research and Development to suggest measures to curb air pollution in the region.

Composition: A Chairperson, a representative from the Ministry of Environment, members from the state of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, technical experts from Central Pollution Control Board and Indian Space Research Organization among others.

Role: The commission will work towards better coordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the Air Quality Index in the NCR and adjoining areas.

Powers: It can take all such measures, issue directions and entertain complaints in order to protect and improve the quality of air in the NCR and adjoining areas.

It will also lay down the parameters for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources.

Place in news: Feni Bridge

Feni bridge was in the news recently. 

The 1.8 km long bridge shall connect Sabrum in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh and will be completed by December 2020.

Constructed by: National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd of Ministry of Road and Transport highways, Government of India.

It is being developed as a corridor for trade and commerce between India’s North-East and Bangladesh.

It will also promote tourism and people-to-people ties.

It will provide direct road connectivity between South Tripura and Chittagong allowing India to use Chittagong as a port of call.  

The bridge will facilitate carrying heavy machines and goods to and from the north-eastern states and the rest of India via Bangladesh through Chattogram.

Feni Bridge is also known as Maitree Setu in Chattogram.

It is being built over the Feni River and will connect Tripura with Chittagong port of Bangladesh.

India-Us 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue held

2+2 talks were recently held between India and the USA. 

Documents announced during the 3rd India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement between the Ministry of Defence, Government of India and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Department of Defence of United States of America.

MoU for Technical Cooperation in Earth Observations and Earth Sciences.

Agreement for the Electronic Exchange of Customs Data between the Postal Operators.

Arrangement extending the duration of the Memorandum of Understanding between India and the USA.

Letter of Intent between the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, New Delhi and the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Cancer Institute, Government of the USA for cooperation in the field of Ayurveda and Cancer Research.

India–Australia Circular Economy Hackathon (I-ACE) to be held

AIM (Atal Innovation Mission), in association with CSIRO, is organizing a two-day hackathon on circular economy, ‘India–Australia Circular Economy Hackathon (I-ACE)’, on 7 and 8 December.

The idea of I-ACE was conceived during a virtual summit in June, between the Indian and Australian prime ministers, exploring innovative ways to boost the circular economy in India and Australia.

The four key themes for the hackathon are as follows:

  • Innovation in packaging reducing packaging waste
  • Innovation in food supply chains avoiding waste
  • Creating opportunities for plastic waste reduction
  • Recycling critical energy metals and e-waste

A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources.

Place in news: Bundi

The Ministry of Tourism’s Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series titled “Bundi: Architectural Heritage of a Forgotten Rajput Capital” focused on Bundi, Rajasthan recently.

Bundi is a district in the Hadoti region of Rajasthan. 

It was the erstwhile capital of Hada Rajput province

It is also known as City of stepwalls, blue city.

It was also known as Chotti Kashi owing to presence of over hundred temples within and around the hada capital.

Temples constructed in early phase of Bundi’s growth were in classical Nagara style. 

In later phases new temple typologies emerged from amalgamation of architectural form of traditional haveli with the classical Nagara style.

Jain temples formed third type of temple type constructed 

A fourth temple type emerged in the form of a raised or elevated temple.

Absence of monumentality in their scale is a distinctive feature of temples in Bundi.