India Current Affairs - 2020

South Asia Economic Focus, Making (De)Centralization Work Report: World Bank

As per the report released by World Bank on ‘South Asia Economic Focus, Making (De)Centralization Work’, Bangladesh has become the second-fastest growing economy in South Asia after Bhutan. According to the World Bank, Bangladesh and Nepal are estimated to grow faster than India in 2019.

The latest edition of this World Banks’s report finds that strong domestic demand, which support high growth in past, has weakened, driving a slowdown across the south Asian region.

Key Highlights of Report

The overall growth in South Asia is projected to slow down this fiscal in line with a global downward trend. Growth in South Asia is projected to fall to 5.9% in 2019, down 1.1% points from April 2019 estimates, casting uncertainty about a rebound in short term.

In India, growth is projected to fall to 6% this fiscal year and is then expected to gradually recover to 6.9% in fiscal year 2021 and to 7.2% in 2022.

The growth rate of Pakistan is projected to decrease further to 2.4% this fiscal year, as monetary policy remains tight, and planned fiscal consolidation will further compress domestic demand.

As per the report, the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh is projected to moderate to 7.2% this fiscal year and 7.3% in 2020. The country’s economy is likely to maintain growth above 7%, supported by a political stability, robust macroeconomic framework, and strong public investments.

In 2018 Bangladesh has reduced current account deficit due to rising export and remittances which was above $15.5 billion. However, the report indicates that the financial sector vulnerability, fiscal pressures and loss of external competitiveness pose challenges to its growth rate.

Moreover, despite slowdown in industrial growth rate, the industrial sector remains strong as Bangladesh’s garment industry benefited immensely from trade tensions between United States and China.

The World Bank report suggests Bangladesh to address key structural challenges such as reducing infrastructure deficit, improving urban management, managing climate change risks and enhancing human capital.

India, Sierra Leone sign six agreements including $30 mn line of credit

To expand the bilateral relations in various fields, India and Sierra Leone signed six agreements including extending a credit line of $30 million for rice cultivation. The agreement was signed during the second leg of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s five-day visit to the West African countries, as part of which he reached Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone.

During the visit, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio showed committed towards further strengthening bilateral relations.

Key Highlights of Visit

In support of the Line of Credit extended by India to the tune of $30 million for Irrigation development in Tomabum to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, an agreement was also signed with EXIM Bank of India in this regard.

UNSC Reforms: Both countries also agreed to push for United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms so that one-third (33%) of mankind residing in Africa and India occupy their rightful place in decision making bodies of UN. Moreover, UN also need to be reformed to reflect realities of today and address current global challenges.

India announced its decision to establish a High Commission in Sierra Leone.

Both countries have agreed to enhance cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure development, food processing, capacity building and Information Technology.

MoU Signed

For Sierra Leone to participate in India’s Pan-African tele-Education, tele-Medicine initiatives, e-Arogya Bharati and e-VidyaBharati.

To initiate a cultural exchange program between governments of India and Sierra Leone for the years 2019-23.

India- Sierra Leone

UNAMSIL: India was among the first countries to contribute to United Nation Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) with the deployment of 4000 strong Indian Military contingent.

So far, India’s developmental assistance to Sierra Leone is about $217.5 million for various sectors such as water resources, agriculture, energy and telecommunication.

e-Visa facility: India has extended e-Visa facility to the nationals of Sierra Leone for ease of mobility and both sides are also negotiating a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passports thus enhancing people-to-people linkages between the two countries.

During the recent visit, India proposed a line of credit for construction of a new President’s Office complex in Freetown.