Current Affairs Nov 24th, 2021

Trade policy framework

  • The United States and India committed to integrating their economies across sectors to harness the untapped potential of the bilateral relationship, at the Trade Policy Forum convened.
  • The two sides decided to activate working groups of the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) on agriculture, nonagriculture goods, services, investment, and intellectual property to meet frequently and address issues of mutual concern in a mutually beneficial manner.
  • The idea is to deliver tangible benefits to farmers and businesses of both countries by resolving outstanding market access issues.
  • The Forum has decided to forge an agreement to facilitate U.S. market access for mangoes, grapes, and pomegranates, pomegranate arils from India, and reciprocate with similar access in the Indian market to cherries, pork/pork products and alfalfa hay for animal feed from the United States.
  • Discussions will also be held on enhancing market access for products such as distillers’ dried grains with solubles from the U.S. and resolving market access concerns for water buffalo meat and wild caught shrimp from India.
  • The Indian side has sought restoration of the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) benefits by the U.S. and said this would help industries from both sides in integrating their supply chain efficiently.
  • The Forum also agreed on the significance of negotiating a Social Security Totalization Agreement in the interest of workers from both sides, and pursuing further engagements for reaching such an agreement
  • S. interest in engaging with India in significant spheres.
  • That it looks at India as a key partner in rebuilding critical supply chains in a post-pandemic world seeking to cut its dependence on China, is clear from its desire for integration in areas such as health, medical devices and pharma.
  • India’s pharma exports account for 40% of the U.S.’s generic drugs supply



Distressed unicorn


  • By the end of 2021, India is expected to have produced 40 more unicorns, more than three a month on average.
  • An ecosystem which combines thriving digital payments, a growing smartphone user base and digital-first business models adopted by many start-ups has driven expectations of investors, resulting in large-scale fund flows into new business ventures.
  • Expectations are high as the country has around 640 million Internet users, of which 550 million are smartphone users.
  • Digital payment has seen a growth of 30.19% as of March 31, 2021 and by the end of September 30, the unified payments interface (UPI) registered 3.5 billion transactions amounting to ₹54 trillion.
  • This growth in digital payment is reflected in the fintech sector that has contributed the most to the unicorn list.
  • American investment firms Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital have been the major investors, providing very quick follow-up rounds of funds across all stages and sectors.
  • The bulk of these deals are on the basis of potential market opportunity and the expectation that these firms have the ability to sustain an initial level of hyper growth.
  • Ever since Clayton M. Christensen popularised the idea of disruptive technologies in his 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, it has become a buzzword for characterising start-ups.
  • The idea was that start-ups with limited resources can aim at technology disruption by inventing an entirely new way of getting something done.
  • The firm which came out with the giant IPO was considered by many as a technology disruptor and game changer — which created hype and overvaluation
  • Almost every second advertisement on primetime television is either of a digital payment firm or EdTech platform.
  • This is because one of the things that technology companies typically attempt first is to induce a behavioural change to customers who have lived in a particular style.
  • New firms in services will have to indulge in this process for a longer period than firms in other industries such as transportation as these firms have to bring about a particular kind of change that customers are significantly comfortable using the service.
  • It is only when this journey of behavioural change starts that more and more consumers utilise such services.
  • But inducing such behavioural changes are costly to new firms as they have to incentivise customers.
  • “Firms burn cash to give massive discounts to customers in the hope that people will get so habituated to these platforms that they will remain active even when the prices are hiked
  • A mistake that firms and valuation experts seem to make is that they overestimate the Indian economy’s ability to consume services as they assume exponential demand growth for longer time horizons.
  • Data by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) points to this flaw of over-optimistic demand projections as there are just about 23 million households which earn more than ₹5 lakh per year i.e., less than ₹42,000 a month, which is about 7% of all Indian families.
  • It is only this class which can be coaxed to behavioural changes — i.e. people who can afford various kinds of goods and services.
  • If firms want to go beyond this 7% of households they have to offer bigger discounts, burning more cash, with the possibility that once the discounts are reduced, customers drop off



Development in Himalayan region

  • The Char Dham road project, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016, is an ambitious attempt to widen nearly 900 kilometres of hill roads at the cost of ₹12,000 crore.
  • The project, which will be executed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), aims to provide all-weather connectivity to the four major shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
  • In the enthusiasm for an infrastructural project that will increase pilgrimage tourism from the Indian plains and provide attendant local economic dividends,
  • Rampant construction and its complex interaction with climate change has led to massive landslides and floods in the fragile Himalayan range.
  • The project began as a road connectivity project for pilgrim tourists. Now the government argues that it is essential to back up troop and arms movement towards the India-China border.
  • It is often argued that landslides are a natural consequence of the construction of roads.
  • Disaster-resilient, safe and stable infrastructure is the only solution for commuting by road in the hills.
  • But double-lane paved shoulder roads are excessively wide and render the slopes vulnerable.
  • The unique Himalayan landscape with steep slopes and sharp gradients is not amenable to human engineering.
  • Any human induced change beyond the Himalayas’ carrying capacity will have an impact on stream run-offs and erosional or depositional processes.



AK 203

  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) which met under the Chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved the long-pending deal for the manufacture of 6.71 lakh AK-203 assault rifles in India.
  • The two countries(india and russia) had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in February 2019 following which a joint venture, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd. (IRRPL), was set up at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh for manufacturing the rifles
  • Another deal likely to make progress is for Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) systems.
  • The DAC approved a proposal for the procurement of the GSAT-7C communication satellite for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of ₹2,236 crore

Glacier changed track

  • Nearly 20,000 years ago, a five-kilometre-long Himalayan glacier “abruptly” changed course and over time fused into an adjacent glacier in present-day Pittoragarh, Uttarakhand.
  • Change in climate along with tectonic movement probably caused this to happen.
  • The study adds to evidence of the inherent instability of the Himalayan region, among the youngest mountain ranges in the world due to which the underlying tectonic plates that support it are not stable but are jittery and frequently trigger earthquakes and landslides.