Current Affairs - November, 2019

Latest Current Affairs November, 2019 with Current Affairs, news summary on current events of National and International importance of November, 2019 for Banking, SSC, CLAT, UPSC, State PCS, IBPS, Railways and other Competitive Examinations.

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Global Diplomacy Index 2019

The 2019 Global Diplomacy Index was released by Sydney-based Lowy Institute. The index gives the latest statistics and marking about how the world’s diplomatic networks are expanding and, in certain cases, shrinking. The index ranked 61 countries across the world.

Key Highlights of Index

China now has more diplomatic posts across the world than United States in 2019. China has overtaken United States with 276 embassies and consulates worldwide, which is 3 more than US (both countries have an equal number of embassies but China has 3 more consulates). This signifies a marker of its growing international clout and ambition.

Even though China’s diplomatic expansion has been rapid and overtook US. In 2016, China was in 3rd place behind US and France, and by 2017 it had moved to second place ahead of France.

US still remains (by a wide margin) the most popular place for countries to maintain embassies and consulates. US is home to about 342 posts belonging to 61 countries included in Index but China, with 256, is a distant second.

After China and US next three spots are occupied by France, Japan, and Russia respectively.

India was ranked 12th among the 61 countries. As of 2019, India has 123 embassies and high commissions and 54 consulates globally. However, the study shows that India too has expanded its diplomatic footprint: In 2017, it had 120 embassies and 52 consulates.

Analysis of China’s Rise

China’s expansion in worldwide diplomatic presence has come partly at the expense of Taiwan, which is a self-governing democracy, however as per China it is a breakaway province. China’s gain has mostly been a direct result of Taiwan’s shrinking diplomatic presence as former intensified its ‘One China’ campaign. Taiwan saw the biggest drop in diplomatic posts, down from 22 embassies in 2016 to 15 in 2019. Moreover, China opened new embassies in The Gambia, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe which were all former diplomatic friends of Taipei.

China’s diplomatic push has been aided by its economic heft as under Chinese President Xi Jinping. Beijing has pumped in billions of dollars into Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the intercontinental connectivity project aimed primarily at building trading corridors connecting China.

Significance: Establishing a robust diplomatic infrastructure is 1st practical step towards bolstering a country’s diplomatic influence. Similarly, China has also invested in its diplomatic infrastructure, which serves as a telling metric of its international ambitions.

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Cabinet approves extension of norms for mandatory packaging in jute materials

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has accorded its approval for mandatory packaging of foodgrains and sugar in jute material for Jute Year 2019-20. The scope of mandatory packaging norms under Jute Packaging Material (JPM) Act, 1987 has been retained by Union Government as per 2018.

Cabinet decision mandates that 100% of food grains and 20% of sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags. The decision also mandates that initially 10% of indents of jute bags for packing foodgrains would be placed through reverse auction on Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal. The move will gradually usher in a regime of price discovery.

Significance

The packaging of sugar in diversified jute bags will give an impetus to diversification of jute industry. Moreover, the approval will benefit farmers and workers located in Eastern and North Eastern regions of India particularly in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Tripura and Andhra Pradesh.

Jute Industry in India

About 3.7 lakh workers and several lakh farm families are dependent for their livelihood on jute sectors.  Thus government has been making efforts for development of jute sector; increasing quality and productivity of raw jute, boosting/sustaining demand for jute products and diversification of jute sector.

Indian jute industry is predominantly dependent on Government sector which purchases jute bags of value of over Rs.7,500 crore every year for packing food grains. This is also done in order to sustain core demand for  jute sector and to support livelihood of workers and farmers dependent on sector.

Government Support provided to Jute Sector:

To improve productivity and quality of raw jute government launched a carefully designed intervention, called Jute ICARE (Jute Improved Cultivation and Advanced Retting Exercise) in January 2015. Under it Government has supported about 3 lakh jute farmers by disseminating improved agronomic practices and interventions, which have resulted in enhancing quality and productivity of raw jute and increasing income of jute farmers by Rs.10,000/hectare.

To support jute farmers, a grant of subsidy of Rs. 100 crore for 2 years starting from 2018-19 has been approved to enable Jute Corporation of India Limited (JCI) to conduct Minimum Support Price (MSP) operations and ensure price stabilization in the jute sector. Moreover, JCI is transferring 100% funds to jute farmers online for jute procurement under MSP and commercial operations.

To support diversification of jute sector, National Jute Board in collaboration with National Institute of Design and has opened Jute Design Cell at Gandhinagar. The government has also taken up the promotion of Jute Geo Textiles and Agro-Textiles with State Governments particularly those in North Eastern region and also with departments like Ministry of Road Transport and Ministry of Water Resources.

To promote transparency in jute sector, government launched Jute SMART, an e-govt initiative in December 2016. It provides an integrated platform for procurement of B-Twill sacking by Government agencies.

Union Government has also imposed Definitive Anti-Dumping Duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal with effect from 5 January 2017, to boost demand in the jute sector.

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