Current Affairs for UPSC IAS/Civil Services Examinations
Latest Current Affairs 2019-2020 for UPSC IAS / Civil Services Examination. This category comprises the current affairs short notes useful primarily for UPSC preliminary examination and upsc mains as well as state civil services examinations. For fortnightly Current General Studies (CGS) documents, click here.
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Second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) was held in Beijing, China. It will serve as stocktaking exercise for China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It saw participation of 126 countries and 29 international organisations, increase from 60 countries and international organisations seen in in first edition of BRF 2017. India did not participate in this edition as well as in first edition of BRF.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s chaired leaders’ roundtable, high-level meeting and thematic forum in this edition of three day BRF event.
New Focus: Unlike earlier, with sole focus on building infrastructure projects, BRI’s broadened framework includes financial and humanitarian aid projects.
New Entrant: European countries such as Italy (joined BRI in March 2019) and Luxembourg have joined the project. Italy and China signed an MoU with deals worth 2.5 billion euros including working together to develop Italy’s port infrastructure, transport and logistics. 13 EU member states are already part of BRI.
Changed Funding model: China is proposing ‘third-party market cooperation’ under which investments are shared between more than one nation. Initially funds were sought from China-headed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and other financial institutions.
About Belt And Road Initiative
- The BRI, (or yi dai yi lu) also called “21st Century Silk Road” or China’s Marshall Plan was announced by China in 2013.
- It is made of “belt” of overland routes and maritime “road”, with aim to connect Asia, Europe and Africa, will impact countries comprising of half of world’s population.
- “The Belt” means Silk Road Economic Belt comprising of three overland routes which connects China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe. It will connect China with Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea via Central Asia and West Asia, and link China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and Indian Ocean.
- “The Road” means 21st Century Maritime Silk Road which would provide impetus to trade from China to Europe via South China Sea and Indian Ocean, and from China via South China Sea towards South Pacific.
Problems with BRI
- Chinese enterprises faces operational problems in overseas port projects linked to BRI.
- China’s debt-trap diplomacy: ‘Premature Mentality’ in evaluating commercial value of investment projects and inadequacies in debt evaluation leads to suspension, rethinking over project costs and finally to debt trap. Example: Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port was forced to lease to China for 99 years; complete suspension and rethinking of a billion dollar Malysian railway project; Projects costs in Maldives, Ethiopia, Pakistan, are worrtsome.
- Lack of transparency in information and lack of evaluation on impact of regional social culture.
- BRI also has negative impact over economic and political interests of various countries including US, Japan, Germany, Russia, and Australia.
India’s Stand on BRI
India was one of first countries to oppose project and still opposes it. The reason is violation of territorial sovereignty as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is one of key BRI project, passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
World’s first Malaria Vaccine named RTS,S (trade name Mosquirix) was launched in Malawi, Africa on occasion of World Malaria Day (observed on 25 April). It was launched as part of pilot programme aimed at immunizing children aged 2 years and below in three African countries Malawi, Ghana and Kenya. Other two countries will launch this vaccine in coming weeks.
About Pilot Programme
- It is World Health Organization (WHO) coordinated three country pilot programme where risk of malaria is high. It aims to vaccinate 360,000 children per year with RTS,S vaccine across three countries and give them partial protection against disease. Children will be vaccinated on time with 4 required doses.
- The pilot programme is financed by collaboration of three key global health funding bodies: Gavi ( a public-private partnership Global Vaccine Alliance), Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Unitaid (global health initiative that works with partners to end world’s tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria and hepatitis C epidemics). Also, WHO, PATH and GSK will provide in-kind contributions.
About RTS,S Vaccine
- It is recombinant protein-based malaria vaccine. It is world’s first and only malaria vaccine. Its trade name is Mosquirix.
- It has been developed and manufactured by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.
- It provides protection to only a third of children of less than 2 years age from severe malaria.
- It will act as complementary malaria control tool besides WHO-recommended core measures for malaria prevention, like routinely using insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor insecticides spraying and timely malaria testing and treatment.
- It is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites, which are transmitted by bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is one of world’s leading killer disease. It is preventable and curable.
- In 2017, about 219 million cases of malaria were reported in 87 countries, and number of malaria deaths was 435 000.
- According to WHO, African Region carries highest share of global malaria burden with home to 92% of malaria cases and 93% of malaria deaths in 2017.