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Current Events 19 May 2016

 

NEWS

19 MAY 2016


GS III: BILATERAL TRADE (INDIA-VENEZUELA)

Oil-for-drugs deal likely with crisis-hit Venezuela

India has proposed an oil-for-drugs barter plan with cash-strapped Venezuela to recoup millions of dollars in payments owed to some of India’s largest pharmaceutical companies, officials have said.

Several of India’s generics producers, led by the country’s second-largest player Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, bet heavily on Venezuela as they sought emerging market alternatives to slower-growing economies such as the United States.

But the unravelling of Venezuela’s socialist economy amid a fall in oil prices has triggered triple-digit inflation and a full-blown political and financial crisis. Unable to pay its bills, the country is facing severe shortages of even basic supplies such as food, water and medicines.

Big blow

Like pharmaceutical companies globally — which used to enjoy a preferential exchange rate in Venezuela — Indian producers have been left badly stung by the collapse of the bolivar currency.

Officials, on condition of anonymity, said the Trade Ministry had proposed a payment mechanism that would allow Venezuela to repay some of the amount owed with oil. The proposal would use the State Bank of India to mediate the transfer. The plan is now awaiting approval on the Indian side from the Finance Ministry and the RBI.

India, one of the world’s biggest oil importers along with the U.S. and China, had similarly elaborate barter deals with Iran, swapping rice and wheat for oil. The officials said Venezuela had been receptive to the plan “in principle,” but not made any concrete commitments yet.

Officials said a “high level” meeting with Venezuela was due in the coming months to discuss the proposed deal.

Key oil supplier

The amount owed to Indian companies is modest on a global scale — Novartis AG, Bayer AG and Sanofi SA took heavier hits when they agreed to take bonds from state-owned oil company PDVSA in lieu of cash, sold at a deep discount. But Venezuela is India’s largest trade partner in Latin America and one of its key suppliers of oil.

A deal could also revive sales, albeit at a reduced level, at a time when Venezuela is desperately short of medical supplies, lacking as much as 80 per cent of what it needs to treat its population, according to a Venezuelan industry body.


GS III: DEFENCE

Prithvi-II test-fired successfully

India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile as part of a user trial by the army from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha.

The trial of the surface-to-surface missile was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at around 0940 hrs, defence sources said.

2 more trials

Sources said there was plan for two trials of Prithvi-II in quick succession. However, after the successful trial of the first one, the second trial was abandoned due to technical problem, they said.

With a strike range of 350 km, the Prithvi-II is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target.

Inducted into Indian armed forces in 2003, the nine-metre-tall, single-stage liquid-fuelled Prithvi-II is the first missile to be developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, defence sources said.



GS II: POLITY

Draft Bill on Delhi statehood released

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government released a draft bill seeking full statehood for the Capital .

Extension of jurisdiction

Released by Mr. Kejriwal with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia by his side at the Delhi Secretariat, the State of Delhi Bill, 2016, motions for the extension of jurisdiction of the elected government of the Capital over police, land, municipal corporations and bureaucracy.

Areas demarcated under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the Delhi Cantonment Board would, however, remain beyond the legislative and administrative control of the proposed Delhi State.

The draft bill seeks the replacement of the term ‘Lieutenant Governor’ with ‘Governor’ in a significant shift in terms of administrative nomenclature. The Governor of State of Delhi would act “on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers as provided in Article 163 of the Constitution”, as per the draft.



GS III: BIO-DIVERSITY

Two Kerala trees facing extinction

extinction are two trees with ‘Travancore’ tag: Gluta travancorica and Sizygium travancoricum .

The former is a hardwood (local name: chengkurinji or red tree) found only at a particular elevation of the Western Ghats in Kollam district and the latter a mangrove associate found only in some pockets of Kerala, mostly the southern parts.

Biodiversity Summit

The report, ‘State of the World’s Plants’, comes as a curtain raiser to the United Nations Biodiversity Summit at Nagoya, Japan, in October where governments will set new conservation targets.

Stephen Hopper, director, RBG, says the world has for the first time got a clear picture of extinction risk to the world’s known plants. The report identifies the most urgent threats and the most threatened regions. There are around 5,000 invasive plant species around the world threatening native plants and damaging natural ecosystems, with costs estimated at nearly 5 per cent of the world economy.

 

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