19th Sep, 2020


Five Star Villages Scheme launched

Five Star Villages scheme has been launched recently.

Ministry: The Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications. 

Aim: To bridge the gaps in public awareness and reach of postal products and services, especially in interior villages.

Objective: To ensure universal coverage of flagship postal schemes in rural areas of the country.

It has three components:

(1) Product and Service Availability;

(2) Product and Service Publicity;

(3) Product and Service Marketing.

Branch offices will function as one-stop shops to cater all post office related needs of the villagers.

Implemented by: A team of five Gramin Dak Sevaks. They will be assigned a village for marketing of all products, savings and insurance schemes.

Team will be headed by: Branch Post Master of the concerned Branch Office.

The scheme is being launched on pilot basis in Maharashtra. Based on the experience, it will be implemented nation-wide.


Cooperative Labour in Odisha Tribes

Recently, labour cooperatives among tribal communities in Odisha were in the news.

The tribes include the Dongria Kondh, Juanga, Lanjia Saura, Saura, Didayi, Paudi Bhuyan and Kandh.

These cooperatives ensure all families of the community have food and no fields remain barren.

The feeling of collective belongingness is also strengthened.

Dongria Kondh

They derive their name from dongar, meaning ‘hill’.

They are the members of Khond Tribe.

They are a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.

They reside in the Niyamgiri hill range of Odisha.

Language: Kui language (Oral only, not written)

They worship Niyam Raja, the god of the Niyamgiri Forests.

They sustain themselves from the resources of the Niyamgiri forests, practising horticulture and shifting cultivation

They are currently facing displacement and health problems due to the Bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills.


Indo-Pacific Trilateral Dialogue held

Recently, India, Australia and France held a dialogue for the first time under a trilateral framework. 

The three sides have agreed to hold the dialogue on an annual basis.

Focus: Enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region.

India also has logistics agreements with both countries which provide for easier access to supplies of goods and services.

The trilateral cooperation will help to take on China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region. E.g in South China Sea.

It is an addition to the Quad which comprises the USA, Japan, Australia and India.

Possibility of enhancing maritime security cooperation between the three countries.

Cooperation on marine global commons shall also take place. It includes blue economy, marine biodiversity and environmental challenges such as marine pollution.


Significance of the Indo-Pacific Region

It is a very rich region in terms of natural resources (fisheries, oil, and gas) as well as mineral resources.

Trade of some of the major economies like China, Japan, Korea or the west coast of the United States goes through this region.

About 50% of India’s trade is conducted through the South China Sea. 

India has been one of the major players in the region. 

India conducts many naval exercises with the United States, countries of ASEAN, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

The international community including India wants freedom of navigation, freedom of over flights in the region.


New FDI Policy in Defence Sector approved

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved a new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy in the defence sector. 

It allows the FDI through automatic approval to be increased from 49% to 74%.

However, the new policy has a ‘National Security’ clause as a condition which has been proposed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Through more liberalised FDI policy the government is seeking to attract foreign players to set up manufacturing units in India.

It has been focusing on the defence sector to act as an engine for boosting manufacturing.

It is aiming to achieve a turnover of Rs 1.75 lakh crore, including exports worth Rs 35,000 crore, by 2025.

The government has brought a draft Defense Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 (DPEPP 2020).

The government has also brought a negative imports list for defence equipment.

A dedicated budget for capital acquisition from the domestic industry is also prepared.

The government has inaugurated two defense industrial corridors to boost the flagship ‘Make in India’ programme.


Singapore Convention on Mediation

Recently, the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation has come into force.

It is also known as the Singapore Convention on Mediation.

It is the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore.

The convention will provide a more effective way of enforcing mediated settlements of corporate disputes involving businesses in India and other signatories.

India approved the signing of the Convention in July 2019.

The Convention has 53 signatories which include China and the USA as well.



It will promote mediation as an alternative and effective method of resolving trade disputes.

The settlement reached by parties shall be binding and enforceable.

Mediated settlement agreement across borders can be done by applying directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty.

It will save time and legal costs.

Businesses in India and around the world will now have greater certainty in resolving cross-border disputes through mediation.

It will boost India’s ‘ease of doing business’ credentials by enabling swift mediated settlements of corporate disputes.

It will also provide a positive signal to foreign investors about India’s commitment to adhere to international practice on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).


USA-Maldives Framework on Defence and Security Relationship signed

Recently, a Framework on Defence and Security Relationship has been signed between the USA and the Maldives.

The move is seen as consistent with the growing alignment of the USA and Indian interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Indo-Pacific.

Objective: To deepen engagement and cooperation in support of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean.

Both countries agreed to reiterate their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that promotes the security and prosperity of all nations in the region.

The Framework outlines a range of bilateral activities – senior-level dialogues, engagements etc. in areas such as maritime domain awareness, natural disasters and humanitarian relief operations.


Kosi Rail Mahasetu

The historic Kosi Rail Mahasetu (Mega Bridge) was recently inaugurated.

The Kosi Rail Mahasetu is 1.9 KM long.

It cuts an otherwise 300-km long journey between Samastipur and Jaynagar on Indo-Nepal border to just 22 km.

It strengthens Bihar’s rail network and West Bengal and Eastern India’s rail connectivity.

Indian Prime Minister also inaugurated 12 rail projects related to passenger facilities.

These include a new railway bridge on the Kiul River, two new railway lines, 5 Electrification projects, one Electric Locomotive Shed and 3rd Line Project between Barh-Bakhtiyarpur.

This bridge is of strategic importance along the India-Nepal border.

Kosi River

The Kosi is a trans-boundary river which flows through Tibet, Nepal and India.

It drains the northern slopes of the Himalayas in Tibet and the southern slopes in Nepal.

From a major confluence of tributaries north of the Chatra Gorge onwards, the Kosi River is also known as Saptakoshi for its seven upper tributaries. 

The Saptakoshi crosses into northern Bihar, India where it branches into distributaries before joining the Ganges near Kursela in Katihar district.