Current Affairs - Points to Ponder

International :

India-EU Leaders’ Meeting

Recently India-EU Leaders’ Meeting was held in which the Heads of State of all 27 Member States were present. Both the parties agreed on resuming negotiations for balanced and comprehensive free trade and investment agreement and India-EU Connectivity Partnership.

Read the following for the above topic:

  • Trade and connectivity issues between India and EU.
  • Why is the EU keen on a comprehensive trade agreement when India is in favour of a limited trade partnership?
  • Why did the India-EU dialogue fail after many rounds of discussion in 2013?
  • India-EU comprehensive trade agreement- compulsions for both parties in the present scenario.
  • What are the provisions and challenges of balanced and comprehensive free trade and investment agreement and the India-EU Connectivity Partnership?
Cryptocurrencies and cybersecurity

  • Recently there was a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, one of America's largest fuel suppliers. According to media reports, the attack was carried out by an affiliate of DarkSide, a criminal hacking group. The company had to pay ransom in cryptocurrency.
  • Is cryptocurrency - based on blockchain technology - a possible future for global finance?
There have been instances of judgments delivered against India by international arbitration tribunals. The judgment in one of the cases relates to India’s sovereign right over tax laws and its sovereign commitment to honour international treaties.

Read the following for the above topic:

  • Provisions of retrospective taxation (amendments of 2012) and kind of amendments required for India’s long term benefit.
  • Indian government’s stand on the judgment.
  • Impact on potential FDI, disinvestment exercise and investment atmosphere.
  • Role of international arbitration tribunals and dispute resolution mechanism.
  • Bilateral investment treaties on FDI.

Who will determine the new world order in the digital age - world’s democratic nations or techno-autocratic nations?

Read the following for the above topic:

Authoritarian nations find the freedom of cyberspace very threatening. To protect their societies from freedom and for geopolitical reasons, they use cyber weapons to attack other countries.

  1. How can protection be ensured - by the techno-autocratic nations like China, Russia, North Korea or the democratic nations like the US, Japan, India and others? What can be done with hackers if they originate from Russia, China and North Korea?
  2. To develop awareness systems about ransomware attacks (the DarkSide attack, for example), we should have developed foolproof encryption to protect national data. What do we do to address the vulnerabilities of the least developed nations (LDCs)?
  3. There is a need to fundamentally change the application of technology and law by the democratic nations.
  4. There is a need to develop more aggressive measures that identify and penalise illegal intruders into proprietary networks.
  5. Read provisions of the UN charter and international security act and bilateral agreement.
WHO's low speed streets campaign across the nations

  • The following points are relevant for the above topic:
  • WHO launched its 'Streets for Life' campaign based on the Stockholm Declaration 2020 with the purpose of reduction in road traffic crashes, injuries and death and also to promote walking, cycling and move towards zero carbon mobility.
Advantages of India’s vaccine diplomacy and Modi government’s human-centric international cooperation.

Study the following points for the above topic:

  1. The recent diplomatic initiative of vaccine supply to at least 50% of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 33% of the Small Island Developing Countries (SID).
  2. Role of the LDCs and SIDs: Together, they have an influential voice at the United Nations in support of India’s claim for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
  3. All activities that are supposed to help smoothen a country's foreign relations are called diplomacy. Know all types of diplomacy.
  4. Understand how the aid and support for the recipient countries (lower middle income countries, particularly in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa) offers geo-political and economic benefits.
  5. Benefit of Indian pharma sector through Vaccine Maitri programme.
  6. Soft power and technological prowess give a firm foothold in the global political and economic arena and assure the domestic audience that they are major players on the world stage.
  7. How India mobilises, through vaccine diplomacy, big business to serve the nation's foreign policy goals.
There is a general consensus that India had assisted other countries during the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic; now it is the turn of other countries to come to India’s aid.

The following points are relevant in the context of the above topic:

  1. Till May, almost 50 countries have assisted India, mostly through UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services). UNOPS takes care of international grants among member nations.
  2. As part of a noble gesture from India, till May 2021, 95 countries have been supplied vaccines from India: 107 lakh through grant, 358 lakh through commercial trade agreement and 199 lakh delivered as part of COVAX mechanism under the aegis of the global alliance for vaccines and immunisation.
  3. India is a leading member of UN-backed COVAX programme which aims to provide 2 billion vaccines to middle and low income countries.
Challenges and prospects of the Quad and Quad Plus economic and strategic ties. (Note: This is one of the most important issues for Civil Services examination)

Study the following points for the above topic:

  1. What is Quad and Quad Plus, model of Quad, reasons behind its formation and challenges of the new alignment.
  2. Quad nations' opportunity in the global economic landscape and the process of confidence-building measures (CBMs).
  3. Impact on economy and job creation within Quad nations.
  4. What is the strategic interest of Quad power and impact of this alignment on Asia Pacific, other nations and groupings like ASEAN, BRICS, SAARC, etc.
  5. What if this alignment of strategic interests of Quad nations could be extended for significant transformation in trade.
  6. Comprehensive analysis of the impact of tariff reduction on trade facilitation.
  7. Changing scenario of Indo-Pacific regional integration on various macroeconomic and trade variables.
  8. India's key benefits from the grouping (read Quad nation-wise).
  9. What are the possible impacts on and reactions from other nations and groupings (in the global scenario) like China, South Korea, Russia, ASEAN nations, etc.
  10. Implementation of Quad model: What is the possible impact of Quad and Quad Plus on existing FTAs. The scope and implications for India with reference to signing of a trade agreement among Quad nations where bilateral tariffs are scrapped.
Currently, patent waiver (Intellectual Property Rights) and related issues with regard to the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 are major concerns for India and the world.

You need to study the following points for the above topic:

  1. TRIPS multilateral agreement on intellectual property, rights such as copyright, industrial design, patent and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.
  2. Future consequences and challenges for pharma industries, research and innovation.