Goaltide Daily Current Affairs

Jan 19, 2020

Current Affair 1:
STEP joins govt.’s NEAT initiative

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The Hindu Group’s STEP, an online certification course, has been selected by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to be a part of the government’s National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) programme.

Now, we will learn NEAT.

The scheme aims to use Artificial Intelligence to make learning more personalized and customized as per the requirements of the learner.

You can forget NEAT in exam, but you will never forget girl with spectacles on digital platform (from above image). It will help you to find answer.

MHRD aims to recognize the development of technologies in Adaptive Learning and bring them under a common platform so that learners can access it easily. It proposes to create a National Alliance with such technology developing EdTech Companies through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) would be the implementing agency for the NEAT programme.

How can we forget to learn AICTE? Never. We will learn today. Few images from the Act below. Read full paragraphs with no confusion. Authentic information.



Current Affair 2:
IAF positions BrahMos-armed SU-30MKIs at Thanjavur

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The Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft was inducted at Thanjavur airbase equipped with 'special weapon' BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that will manage the requirements in the Indian Ocean

So, we will learn Sukhoi, Brahmos and Thanjavur.

About Su 30-MKI

The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a multirole combat fighter aircraft jointly developed by Russia and India. Sukhoi Su-30MKI is India’s answer to F-16 of Pakistan. India signed an MoU with Russia in October 2000, to start the license production of Su-30MKIs at HAL.

 Russia for the first time delivered Su-30MKI aircraft to IAF in 2002, thereafter HAL is assembling the aircraft. The integration of the air-launched version of the BrahMos missile with the SU-30MKI fighter has been done fully indigenously by BrahMos Aerospace, HAL and the Air Force. The Sukhoi Su-30 MKI has a top speed of 2120 kph (Mach 1.7).

The aircraft is capable of launching up to 6 air-air, 6 air-to-surface missiles, 6 laser guided bombs and 8500kg of cluster bombs. The Su-30 MKI is an all-weather multi-role fighter aircraft capable of undertaking varied air defence, ground attack and maritime missions. They have the capability to strike at targets from sea and land with pinpoint accuracy at day and night.

BrahMos Missiles

BrahMos missile is a supersonic cruise missile which features Indian propulsion system, airframe, power supply, and other major indigenous components. BrahMos is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia. Brahmos is named on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.

It is a two-stage (solid propellant engine in the first stage and liquid ramjet in second) air to surface missile with a flight range of around 300 km. However, India's entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has extended the range of the BrahMos missile to reach 450 km-600km.

Brahmos is a multiplatform i.e. it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions. It operates on the "Fire and Forgets" principle i.e. it does not require further guidance after launch.

Brahmos is one of the fastest cruise missiles currently operationally deployed with speed of Mach 2.8, which is 3 times more than the speed of sound.

Why Thanjavur?

The squadron, also known as Tigersharks, has been deployed amid China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Thanjavur is the first base in south India for high-profile jets.

While Sukhoi-30 squadrons are deployed across nine Air Force Stations in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam and Maharashtra, among other states, deployment in Thanjavur comes keep in view the use of Karachi as a naval facility by China and the setting up of its first overseas military base by Beijing in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa in August 2017. Additionally, in December last year, Chinese naval ship was driven away from India's Exclusive Economic Zone in the Andaman sea, asserting that such activities will be dealt with sternly.

Something more important about Thanjavur

Thanjavur (Tanjavur or Tanjore) is a temple site in the Tamil Nadu region of southern India. Thanjavur was the capital of the great Chola (Cola) king Rajaraja I, and it was he who commissioned the site’s magnificent temple, the Brihadisvara, in the early 11th century CE. Many other temples and shrines were added over the centuries making Thanjavur one of the most important and most visited historical sites in India today. Thanjavur is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. 

Learn about the Brihadishvara Temple, Its important. Ancient History is very vast. So, whatever comes in the way, at least learn that.

Also known as the Rajarajeshvara, after the king who built it, the Brihadishvara (or Brihadisvara) temple was constructed between c. 995 and 1025 CE using Chola war booty and tribute from Sri Lanka. The temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Reaching a height of 63 metres, it is the tallest temple building in India. The entire rectangular complex measures approximately 140 x 75 metres and is surrounded by a wall with regular interior niches. Inside the compound are various secondary shrines and a monumental double gateway entrance (gopuras).

The temple was laid out on a precise plan of 16 x 16 squares, a design known as padmagarbhamandala in the Dravida architecture of southern India. The interior contains the typical passageway for worshippers to perform a circumambulation, in this case on two levels. The garbhagriha contains a 4-metre tall Shiva linga (phallus). There is a snapana platform, too, for the ritual bathing of the god located within a portico (ardhamandapa). Murals decorate the interior walls, and, once hidden by later Nayaka period paintings, these include fine images of Rajaraja I, his spiritual advisor or guru, and his three queens. Other subjects include a Nataraja (Shiva as Lord of the Dance) who was the clan deity of the Cholas (kuladevata).

The gopuras at Thanjavur are two huge monumental gateways which lead to the compound dominated by the Brihadishvara temple.

Current Affair 3:
The effect of wildfires on sustainable development

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With only 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders in September 2019 called for accelerated action in the next decade to deliver at the scale and speed required. Climate change and global heating, however, are increasing the likelihood and intensity of wildfires, which could have a growing impact on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

For example, the 2019–2020 Australian bushfire season came at the end of the second hottest year on record, with multiple record high temperatures experienced across Australia at the beginning of its wildfire season. This has created far more flammable conditions than usual, leading to multiple megafires and a total burned area said to be over 18 million hectares (186,000 square kilometers, an area bigger than England and Wales).

In addition to the widely reported impact in terms of immediate loss of life, homes and animals in developed parts of the world, the growing scale of wildfires around the world can also have serious impacts on a number of the Sustainable Development Goals.

GOAL 1: No poverty and GOAL 2: Zero hunger

The poor are often hit hardest by global heating. They are the ones least able to adapt; they also tend to be more heavily reliant on natural resources, such as firewood, forest-based plant food and medicines. Forests provide food and medicines for indigenous peoples and many others. Many people’s livelihoods, especially in developing countries, depend on intact forest resources, and an abnormally large wildfire can be disastrous.

GOAL 3: Good health and well-being

Smoke from wildfires causes air pollution and is bad for your health no matter where you live. Wildfires release harmful pollutants including particulate matter and toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and non-methane organic compounds into the atmosphere. Wildfires can cause displacement, stress and anguish to people who have to flee them, beyond those who suffer direct impacts.

GOAL 5: Gender equality

Women and girls, especially in developing countries, tend to be more at-risk during disasters such as megafires. According to the United Nations Development Programme, the poor are likely to live under circumstances that make them less likely to survive and recover from a disaster event. Studies have shown that disaster fatality rates are much higher for women than for men due, in large part, to gendered differences in capacity to cope with such events and insufficient access to information and early warnings.

GOAL 6: Clean water and sanitation

Particulates and black carbon from forest fires are carried in the air and enter water courses. Researchers have quantified and characterized the black carbon flowing in the Amazon. “In aquatic ecosystems, effects of acidity, nitrogen, and mercury on organisms and biogeochemical processes are well documented. Air pollution causes or contributes to acidification of lakes, eutrophication of estuaries and coastal waters, and mercury bioaccumulation in aquatic food webs.

GOAL 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

When they spread to urban or semi-urban areas, wildfires can damage infrastructure such as power lines, mobile phone masts and homes. Rebuilding may be costly or time consuming.

GOAL 12: Responsible consumption and production

Extravagant lifestyles and unsustainable consumption of natural resources in many countries, and associated pollution, are contributing to global heating which in turn makes wildfires more likely.

GOAL 13: Climate action 

Wildfires release carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contribute to global heating when the size of the fire exceeds the CO2 reabsorption potential of re-growth. Particles and gases from burning biomass can be carried over long distances, affecting air quality in regions far away. Particles can also land on snow and ice, causing the ice to absorb sunlight that it would otherwise reflect, thereby accelerating global warming. Wildfires on highly combustible peatland are particularly relevant for climate as they emit far more CO2 than ordinary forest or bush fires. These phenomena are known as climate feedback loops and increase the burden of emissions that must be reduced to limit global temperature increase.

GOAL 15: Life on land

While humans have used fire to manage landscapes for thousands of years, current wildfires, exacerbated by global heating and drought, are growing in scale and impact, destroying houses, infrastructure and wildlife—affecting biodiversity. They can cause economic decline, at least in the short term.

Forest Fires in the context of India: covered as per Indian State of Forest Report 2019

Current Affair 4:
World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020

The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020 is a joint product of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the five United Nations regional commissions.

Important points mentioned in report About India:

  1. As the global economic balance is shifting from the European Union, the United States and other developed countries towards China, India and other developing countries, global economic decision-making power is shifting as well. Global cooperation mechanisms will need to recognize this shifting balance while continuing to allow the underrepresented to be heard.
  2. The share of the population living in extreme poverty has declined steadily and significantly over the past few decades, largely owing to successful experiences in China and India.
  3. over half of the world’s extreme poor live in middle-income countries, with India and Nigeria together accounting for roughly one third of the extreme poor.

Now few images: Just have a look into it. Reading is boring, so we have images.





Current Affair 5:

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Details about Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Transmission: Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. As surveillance improves around the world, more coronaviruses are likely to be identified.

Is Human-Human Transmission Possible? Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household, workplace, or health care centre

Symptoms: It depends on the virus, but common signs include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Availability of Vaccine: When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a number of years for a new vaccine to be developed.

Treatment: There is no specific treatment for disease caused by a novel coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore treatment based on the patient’s clinical condition. Moreover, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

Prevention: Standard recommendations to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses include maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Current Affair 6:
GSAT-30 gives India a communication boost

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India’s telecommunication satellite GSAT-30 was successfully launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on January 17, 2020 from Kourou launch base, French Guiana by Ariane-5 VA-251.

Current Affair 7:
Oldest Material on Earth

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Why in News?

Recently, scientists have found 4.6 to 7-billion-year-old presolar grains of Silicon Carbide (SiC) in the Murchison meteorite which fell in Australia in 1969.

Key Points

The presolar grains of Silicon Carbide is the oldest solid materials ever found. These grains are formed before the solar system's formation and thus termed as “presolar grains”. The presolar grains are very rare, found only in about 5% of meteorites that have fallen to Earth. It may reveal the phenomenon of formation of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. As the presence of Silicon Carbide in the meteorite are samples of stardust.

It also provides clues about the rate of star formation in the Milky Way galaxy.

Current Affair 8:
Is the Indian Economy staring at stagflation?

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We hope you have already read this news in our Daily News section. We will read a small topic Stagflation here.

Why is everyone asking about Stagflation in India?

Over the past six quarters, economic growth in India has decelerated with every quarter. In the second quarter (July to September), for which the latest data is available, the GDP grew by just 4.5%. In the coming quarter (October to December), too, GDP growth is likely to stay at roughly the same level. For the full financial year, the GDP growth rate is expected to average around 5% – a six-year low. Yet, in October and November, retail inflation has soared. In fact, the October inflation was a 16-month high and the November inflation, at 5.54%, is at a three-year high. Inflation for the rest of the financial year is expected to stay above the RBI’s comfort level of 4%.

So, with growth decelerating every quarter and now inflation rising up every month, there are growing murmurs of stagflation.

What is Stagflation?

Stagflation is a combination of two economic terms "Stagnation" and "Inflation". It implies an economic scenario which denotes simultaneous existence of low GDP growth rates, high rate of inflation and high rate of unemployment within an economy.

Relationship between Inflation, Growth and Employment

Traditionally, the nature of relationship between Inflation and Unemployment was explained through the "Philips Curve". According to this conventional view, there is an inverse relationship between Inflation and Unemployment i.e. as the rate of inflation increases, the rate of unemployment decreases and vice-versa.

Current Affair 9:
146 endangered Irrawaddy dolphins sighted in Chilika

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At least 146 endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins were sighted in Odisha's Chilika lake during the annual dolphin census conducted by the state's forest department.

The Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) is the flagship species of Chilika lake. Chilika is home to the only known population of Irrawaddy Dolphins in India. One of only two lagoons in the world is home to this species -- Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Chilika Lake

Chilika Lagoon lies in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam of Odisha State along the eastern coast of India. It is the largest brackish Water Lagoon with estuarine character that sprawls along the east coast. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.

It is one of the hotspots of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit in the lagoon for at least part of their life cycle. On account of its rich biodiversity and ecological significance, Chilika was designated as the 1st "Ramsar Site" of India.

The Nalabana Island within the Chilika lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the National Wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, have also identified the lagoon as a priority site for conservation and management.

Current Affair 10:
Lone, rare migratory eagle sighted in Andhra Pradesh

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 A lone endangered Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) has been sighted by a group of birdwatchers in a paddy field near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.

Current Affair 11:
Henley Passport Index 2020

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Henley & Partners, the residence and citizenship planning firm has published the Henley Passport Index for 2020.

The Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information and enhanced by ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.

The Indian passport’s 2020 ranking of 84th translates into visa-free access to 58 destinations, including 33 which give Indians visas on arrival.

Twenty of the 58 visa-free access destinations in the 2020 list are in Africa, and 11 each in Asia and the Caribbean. Serbia is the only European country to which Indian passport holders can travel visa-free. There is no major or developed country to which Indian passport holders have visa-free access.

The top 10 most powerful passports this year are ranked in this order: Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg and Denmark

Current Affair 12:
Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund

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Understand from basic:

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had notified the Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund Regulations, 2007 [hereinafter referred to as the principal regulations] on 15th June 2007. In terms of these regulations, a fund called “Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund” (TCEPF) has been created. The income from the fund is utilized to undertake programmes and activities relating to consumer education and protection.

As per the current framework any excess charges revealed in the billing audit should be refunded to consumers. However, if a service provider is not able to refund the amount despite its attempt within the time period permitted by the regulations, the service provider has to deposit the unclaimed/unrefunded amount into the TCEPF.

When problem started?

The Authority noticed that there is some inconsistency on the grounds on which money is being deposited by service providers. Interactions held with service providers and analysis of the amount deposited, have revealed that while some service providers are depositing money only on account of excess billing revealed in the audit, some other service providers are depositing unclaimed money such as security deposits and plan charges of failed activations which they are unable to refund to the consumers because of non-traceability of the consumers. It is prudent to deposit any such unclaimed/un refundable amount belonging to consumers in the TCEP fund as it will be utilized for the welfare measures of the consumers.

Accordingly, it was felt that an amendment in the TCEPF regulation may be carried out to remove any kind of ambiguity and facilitate deposit of any unclaimed money of the consumer such as excess charges, security deposit, plan charges of failed activations. So, came with:

No need to know more than this about this Fund.

Current Affair 13:
34,000 Bru refugees to be settled in Tripura

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Why in news?

Displaced Bru tribals from Mizoram, living as refugees in Tripura since 1997, were allowed to permanently settle in Tripura. This was facilitated by an agreement between Government of India, Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru-Reang representatives in New Delhi to end the 23-year old Bru-Reang refugee crisis.

About Bru Refugees

The Brus are spread across Tripura, Mizoram and parts of southern Assam--are the most populous tribe in Tripura. Also known as Reangs in the state, they are ethnically different from the Mizos, with their own distinct language and dialect and form one of the 21 scheduled tribes of Tripura. In Mizoram, they are largely restricted to few districts.

In 1997, following ethnic tension, around 5,000 families comprising around 30,000 Bru-Reang tribals were forced to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura. These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.  Since 2010, Government of India has been making sustained efforts to permanently rehabilitate these refugees. The Union government has been assisting the two State governments for taking the care of the refugees. Till 2014, 1622 Bru-Reang families returned to Mizoram in different batches.

 On 3rd July 2018, an agreement was signed between the Union government, the two State governments and representatives of Bru-Reang refugees, as a result of which the aid given to these families was increased substantially.

Subsequently, 328 families comprising of 1369 individuals returned to Mizoram under the agreement. There had been a sustained demand of most Bru-Reang families that they may be allowed to settle down in Tripura, considering their apprehensions about their security.

Settlement of Bru Refugees in Tripura.

Under the new agreement, around 34,000 Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura and would be given aid from the Centre to help with their rehabilitation and all- round development, through a package of around Rs 600 crores.

These refugees will get all the rights that normal residents of the States get, and they would now be able to enjoy the benefits of social welfare schemes of Centre and State governments.

Current Affair 14:
National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020

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Why in news?

The Supreme Court on Friday sought the response of the government on a petition that alleges the non-implementation of the National E-Mobility Mission Plan, 2020 (NEMMP), which came out in 2012, that made several recommendations for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), including electric-powered government fleets and public transportation and subsidies for those who opt for electric and zero emission vehicles.

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 was launched in 2013 as a National Mission to provide the vision and the roadmap for the faster adoption of electric vehicles and their manufacturing in India.

Under National Electric Mobility Mission Plan launched in 2013 the government targeted to get at least six to seven million electric vehicles on the road by 2020. Further in a bid to go green, the government planned to go all-electric in terms of new car sales in the country by the year 2030. However, recently this target was reduced to 30%. National E-mobility Programme aims to provide an impetus to the entire e-mobility ecosystem that includes electric vehicle manufacturers, charging infrastructure development companies, fleet operators, service providers, etc.

State-run Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is responsible for procuring electric vehicles for the Government. In August 2019, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has set targets for complete switch to electric vehicles in 2-wheeler and 3-wheeler segment.

  1. 2-wheeler segment under 150cc from April 2025
  2.  3-wheeler segment from April 2023.

As part of the NEMMP 2020, Department of Heavy Industry formulated a Scheme viz. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India) Scheme in the year 2015 to promote manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicle technology and to ensure sustainable growth of the same.

FAME scheme (Phase 1 and 2)

Recently, government has notified phase II OF FAME scheme with a budget outlay of 10,000 crore. The scheme will be implemented over a period of three years (FY2019-20 to FY 021-2022).

 It is the expanded version of the present scheme FAME India I (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) which was launched on April 1, 2015, with a total outlay of Rs 895 crore.

Important features for the scheme under FAME 2:

  1. The government has constituted an inter-ministerial panel for monitoring, sanctioning and implementation of projects under the Rs 10,000-crore FAME-II programme, aimed at incentivizing clean mobility.
  2. The Project Implementation and Sanctioning Committee will be chaired by the secretary in the Department of Heavy Industries (very important for prelims). Other members include:

The Phase-II of the FAME scheme is proposed to be implemented through the following verticals:

  • Demand incentives
  • Establishment of network of charging stations; and
  • Administration of the scheme including publicity, IEC (information, education and communication) activities.

 Important points to remember for prelims in Demand incentives are:

  1. The categories of vehicles which are eligible for Demand Incentives are:  electric buses, Four wheelers, three wheelers, two wheelers.
  2. Except two wheelers, incentives will be applicable only for public transport and registered commercial vehicle (in two wheelers, incentives are for private also).
  3. All Vehicles need to be registered with Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.
  4. For individual beneficiaries, not more than one vehicle of particular category be incentivized.
  5. All models eligible for demand incentives will be eligible for three years comprehensive warranty including battery.

How will FAME 2 scheme help improve charging infrastructure?

The centre will invest in setting up charging stations, with the active participation of public sector units and private players. It has also been proposed to provide one slow-charging unit for every electric bus and one fast-charging station for 10 electric buses.

Projects for charging infrastructure will include those needed to extend electrification for running vehicles such as pantograph charging and flash charging, says a notification by the heavy industries ministry. FAME 2 will also encourage interlinking of renewable energy sources with charging infrastructure.

Current Affair 15:
Blue Dot Network

Blue Dot Network has been jointly launched by the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). The aim of this initiative is to bring governments, the private sectors, and civil societies for promoting high-quality global infrastructure development in an open and inclusive framework.

The Network will classify the market-driven nominated infrastructure projects which will be based on the transparency and financially sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.

It is seen against China’s One Belt One Road initiative. As per the experts, instead, with the growing investments of both the US and China, the two countries can join hands for better cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

Nothing more than is required now.

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