Current Affairs – November 2016

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China agrees to import rice from 17 mills in India

China has agreed to import rice, non-basmati and basmati varieties from 17 registered mills in India. These mills are in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

It is considered as a major breakthrough in India’s efforts to ensure market access for Indian products (especially rice) in China as it is the world’s largest rice importer.

What is the issue?

  • India had repeatedly sought market access for Indian products citing the country’s widening goods trade deficit with China.
  • The products included non-basmati rice, pharmaceuticals and many fruits and vegetables among others.
  • However, China had not granted market access to India’s non-basmati rice claiming that it failed to meet Chinese norms on quality, safety and health standards.
  • China’s apprehensions included the possibility of the cabinet beetle (or Khapra beetle) pest getting transported along with Indian non-basmati rice consignments to China.
  • In India, China’s objection to Indian non-basmati export was seen more political in nature than anything else as it imports non-basmati rice from its all weather friend Pakistan.

Note: India’s goods trade deficit with China has ballooned to $52.7 billion in 2015-16 from $1.1 billion in 2003-04.

Background

  • After numerous requests from Indian side, Chinese officials had visited India in September to inspect 19 rice mills registered with National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO).
  • NPPO had assisted its Chinese counterpart AQSIQ during inspection for plant quarantine purposes and pest-risk analysis to ensure that non-basmati consignments from India will be pest-free, of good quality and safe.
  • The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Indian Commerce Ministry was also involved in the process.
  • Besides, India also had earlier sent the information sought by AQSIQ regarding the quality protocol and standard operating procedures.

NPPO is the nodal government agency for inspecting mills and granting certificates on plant health for export purposes. It is mandatory for Indian rice exporters to get registered with NPPO.

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Nuclear capable Agni-I ballistic missile successfully test-fired

The indigenously built nuclear capable Agni-I ballistic missile was successfully test-fired from a test range off Odisha coast, as part of a user trial by India Army.

It was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island). The last trial of Agni-I was conducted successfully in March 2016 from the same base.

About Agni-I missile

  • Agni-I is intermediate range nuclear capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile. It is first missile of the Agni series launched in 1983.
  • It was developed by a premier missile development laboratory of DRDO in collaboration with Defence Research Development Laboratory and Research Centre Imarat and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.
  • It weighs 12 tonnes and is 15-metre-long. It is designed to carry a payload of more than one tonne. It is single stage missile powered by solid propellants.
  • It can hit a target 700 km away. Its strike range can be extended by reducing the payload. It can be fired from road and rail mobile launchers.
  • It is equipped with sophisticated navigation system which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision.
  • The missile already has been inducted into armed forces. Since its induction it has proved its excellent performance in terms of range, accuracy and lethality.
  • It is also claimed to be a part of the India’s minimum credible deterrence under No first to use policy.

nuclear-edge

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Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa to be Chief Guest of 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

António Costa (54), the Indian origin Prime Minister of Portugal will be the chief guest at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention.

The PBD Convention is scheduled to be held from January 7 to 9, 2017 in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Mr. Costa will participate in the inaugural session of the PBD Convention on January 8 and address the delegates.

Besides, Surinam Vice president Michael Ashwin Satyandre Adhin will be the Special Guest at the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) to be held in Bengaluru on January 7, 2017.

About Antonio Costa

  • Atonio Costa was born on 17 July 1961 in Lisbon, capital city of Portugal. By profession he is lawyer. He traces his paternal roots to Goa (India)
  • He is son of Orlando Costa, an accomplished poet and writer and has several relatives at Margao in Goa. His grandfather, Luis Afonso Maria da Costa hailed from Goa.
  • After Portugal’s 2015 general election, he was appointed as Prime Minister after he had put together a coalition of left parties that is currently in power in Portugal.
  • In 2004, he was elected as one of the 14 Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament and also had served on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
  • He was Mayor of Lisbon City from 2007 to 2015. He was elected as Secretary-General of the Socialist Party in September 2014.

About Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD)

  • The PBD is celebrated every year on January 9 to mark the contribution of overseas Indian community in the development of India. It is celebrated every year since 2003.
  • It provides a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities.
  • January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa.
  • Thus, this event marks the importance of arrival of India’s greatest Pravasi who led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.

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