Current Affairs International

 On March 9, 2020, the prices of crude oil plunged by 20% after OPEC to failed to make a deal in making production cuts.
  • Highlights
The Saudi Arabia and its major allies like Kuwait, Iraq and UAE initiated to make a deal at the OPEC to reduce production of oil. This was proposed predicting reduction in oil prices due to spread of Corona Virus in the world. However, Russia the major member of OPEC refused to make the deal.
  • Why did Russia refuse?
With US imposing CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), several countries reduced or even stopped importing oil from Russia. This has now made Russia the fourth largest International Reserves in the world. Also, Russia is also in the state that it shall cope with lower prices.
  • Way Forward
The oil prices are expected to plunge further in the future. The Saudi has taken up new strategy targeting Russia and US shale oil firms. These firms will lose money greatly when oil prices fall below 50 USD per barrel for more than few months.

  Ukraine parliament approved Denys Shmygal as a new prime minister of Ukraine. He is the nominee of Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine. He won by majority, previously he held the post as the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of regional Development & before that was governor of the western Ivano-Frankivsk region. Ukraine Parliament also approved Oleksiy Honcharuk resignation who is previous Prime Minister of Ukraine. He was first offered his resignation in January 2020 after a leaked recording of him saying that the President’s views on the country’s economy as “primitive”& in his 2nd attempt he was offered resignation. He served only 6 months & was the country’s youngest Prime Minister.

  On March 6, 2020, India joined the Indian Ocean Commission as the fifth observer. The other four observers in the grouping are Malta, China, European Union and OIF (International Organization of La Francophonie).
  • Highlights
It is important for India to join as an observer at the Commission because, it will help India in expanding its plans in Western Indian Ocean. The Western Indian Ocean strategically connects South Eastern Coast of Africa. However, this move is not connected with the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. This is purely to support India interests in the western flanks of the Indo-Pacific region. The move will also support India in its SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) policy. In the last two years, India has made several high-level visits and signed significant defence agreements with the member countries of Indian Ocean Commission.
  • Indian Ocean Commission
The Indian Ocean Commission was created in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius. It comprises of 5 African Indian Ocean Nations namely Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Reunion (France) and Seychelles.

 The United Nations Global Compact conducted a study recently and found that female labour participation has decreased from 34% in 2006 to 24.8% in 2020. The study also says that out of the 153 countries surveyed, India is the only country where economic gender gap is greater than political gap.
  • Key Findings
The Study says that if women labour participation has been the same as that of men, the GDP of the country shall be boosted by 27%. Globally 38.7% of employed women are working in forestry, agriculture and fisheries. However, only 13.85 of them are landholders.
  • Suggestions
The study suggests that corporate policies and public policies in India should ensure effective solutions. They should adapt life changes with their employees including dual career couples, maternity and changing care needs.
  • United Nations Global Compact
The United Nations Global Compact states 10 principles on human rights, anti-corruption, environment and labour. It encourages businesses world wide to adopt socially responsible policies.

  The annual festival of St Antony’s Shrine begins in Katchatheevu Island of Sri Lanka. The festival began with the traditional flag hoisting ceremonies. St Antony is being worshiped by the devotees as the patron saint of sea farers. The St shrine is the only structure on the Katchatheevu island. Priests from both India and Sri Lanka conducts the mass and car procession in connection with the festival. The festival celebrations also featured the participation of more than 3,000 devotees from India. As per an agreement between the two governments, Indians are not required to possess an Indian passport or Sri Lankan visa for visiting Kachchatheevu.

 Leader of Slovenian Democratic Party, Janez Jansa becomes new Prime Minister of Slovenia. He will replace centre-left Prime Minister Marjan Sarec, who resigned from his post in January 2020. Slovenia’s parliament confirmed Janez Jansa as its new prime minister. Previously Jansa led the Slovenian government from 2004 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2013.

 During India’s Smart Utility Week, India and European Union called upon Integrated Local Energy System. The countries are to work upon clean energy and climate. The collaboration will help to improvise clean energy supply
  • Highlights
The collaboration and steps that were taken are completely based on Mission Innovation. The collaboration will aim at increasing the contribution of renewables. Along side of the collaboration, India and Sweden are to work on Smart Grids. These projects are to be funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST). The DST has so far established 3 major international smart grids in 24 countries.
  • Smart Grid Systems
Smart Grids are electricity networks that allow devices to communicate (between consumers and suppliers), protect distribution network, allow to manage demand, save energy and reduce costs.
  • Mission Innovation
Mission Innovation is a global initiative of 24 countries. It aims at accelerating clean affordable energy to create commercial opportunities. It was announced by Bill Gates at COP21 in 2015 along with PM Modi, President Obama and President Hollande (French).

  Luxembourg, the 7th smallest country in Europe, has been made public transport free to reduce traffic pressure on the road. It becomes the 1st country in the world to make public transport free. It abolished fares for trains, trams and buses. The main reason is to have a better quality of mobility, and then the side reason is clearly also environmental issues. All standard-class journeys on public transport in the tiny and wealthy European country are now free of charge, compared to an annual pass worth 440 euros ($485) before. Travellers can still pay for first-class, at a cost of 660 euros a year. Luxembourg has just over 600,000 inhabitants, but 214,000 more travel in for work every day from neighbouring Germany, Belgium and France, causing heavy traffic jams as the majority of workers commute by car. More than half of Luxembourg’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. It is expected that more than 65% of people in Luxembourg use their car to go to work in 2025, down from 73% in 2017.

  The World Bank announced 12 billion USD to assist countries that are grappling with economic impacts of coronavirus. The virus has reached 60 countries so far. The World Bank is to provide financial aid for the countries to act upon the needs and develop a fast response towards the spread of the virus. The bank released a statement announcing an emergency fast track package that includes low-cost loans, grants, and technical assistance. This includes emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance, building on the World Bank Group’s existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis.

  Indian-American health policy consultant Seema Verma has been appointed as one of the key members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force constituted by US President Donald Trump. This task force is constituted to combat the deadly disease that has claimed six lives in the country and infected over 90 others. The task force led by Secretary, Health and Human Services Alex Azar. US Vice President Mike Pence announced the appointment of Seema Verma, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).


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