Japan Current Affairs - 2020

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India, US and Japan navies kick off 2017 Malabar Exercise

India, Japan and United States (US) navies have kicked off 2017 MALABAR trilateral naval Exercise near Chennai in Bay of Bengal. This year it is the 21st edition of the naval exercise.

In this edition of the exercise, total of around 15 warships, two submarines and scores of fighter jets, surveillance aircraft and helicopters from three navies will take part. 

Key Facts

The 8 day long Malabar 2017 exercise consists of both ashore and at-sea activities. This year operations of the exercise include anti-submarine warfare, familiarization with inter-operability between maritime forces, search and rescue and seizure missions and many other drills.

One of the main goals of this edition of the exercise is “submarine-hunting”. The goal carries subtext given the ever-increasing and regular operation of Chinese Navy submarines in the Indian Ocean.

This year, two aircraft carriers from India and US and a Japanese helicopter destroyer form part of the warships that will join the naval drills.

Participants from US Navy include the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Nimitz with embarked Carrier Air Wing 11; guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton; guided-missile destroyers USS Howard, USS Shoup and USS Kidd; a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft; and a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine.

From Indian Navy, aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is participating for the first time. Two Kamorta class anti-submarine warfare corvettes, two Shivalik class frigates and tanker INS Jyoti are also participating. The Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSD) ships JS Izumo and JS Sazanami are participating in the exercise.

Background

Malabar Exercise began as an Indo-US bilateral naval drill in 1992. Since then it is held annually. Japan had formally joined the exercise as a permanent participant in 2015. The primary aim of this multilateral exercise is to increase interoperability amongst the three navies and develop common understanding of procedures for Maritime Security Operations and deepen defence relations. In 2007, the exercise also saw participation of Australia and Singapore. All the participating nations in the exercise have clarified earlier that the Malabar series is not aimed at any specific country.

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India becomes World No.2 LPG importer

India has become world’s second largest LPG importer, a position that was previously occupied by Japan. China remains as the world’s top importer. According to Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell, LPG imports in the country has increased 23% during the financial year 2016-2017 to about 11 million tonnes.

The main reason behind the increase in the consumption of LPG in India is due to the two government schemes coupled with free gas connections. From May 2016, the government is providing free cooking gas connections to women from extremely poor households, to reduce the use of polluting fuels such as wood and dried cow dung. This has increased India’s active LPG users to about 200 million, which is 60% more than Japan’s entire population. According to the World Health Organization, polluting fuels used for cooking purposes results in 1.3 million premature deaths in India every year.

India has set an ambitious target of increasing LPG usage to cover 80% of the households by March 2019. As per the present estimates of the oil ministry, demand for fuel will touch 35 million tonnes by 2031-32 in India.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

PMUY was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2016 with the tagline of Swachh Indhan, Behtar Jeevan. The scheme’s motive is to provide free of cost LPG (cooking gas) connections to women from BPL Households.

The scheme seeks to empower women and protect their health by shifting them from traditional cooking based on unclean cooking fuels or on fossil fuels to clean cooking gas. It is being implemented by Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The scheme will be implemented over three years’ time period until the financial year 2018-19.

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