Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 19th July 2023



Today Topics List:

  1. BIMSTEC Grouping

  2. NITI Aayog report on MultiDimensional Poverty

  3. India – UAE deal to trade with Rupees

  4. Project Cheetah



BIMSTEC Grouping:

    • News: India’s External affairs minister has participated in the Foreign Minister’s meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi- Sectoral technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in Bangkok, Thailand.


  • BIMSTEC is a regional organisation established in 1997 with the signing of the Bangkok declaration.
    • It is initially known as BIST-EC( Bangladesh – India – Sri Lanka – Thailand Economic Cooperation).
    • It is now consists of Seven members, with Joining of Myanmar in 1997, Bhutan and Nepal in 2004.

Cooperation within BIMSTEC initially focused on six sectors in 1997, such as,

      • Trade
      • Technology
      • Transport
      • Tourism
      • Energy
      • Fisheries
  • This was expanded to other areas in 2018, which further led to a reorganisation in 2021, where each of the Member states were given a lead in certain sectors.
    • India focuses on Security along with Counter terrorism and Transnational Crime,Disastermanagement and

Prospects of the Grouping:

  • Despite having been in existence for many years, the grouping had been largely neglected until India gave it a push in October 2016.
    • A month after Terror attack in Uri, alongside the BRICS summit in Goa, India hosted an outreach summit with leaders of BIMSTEC.
  • Bay of Bengal is crucial for an increasingly assertive China in maintaining its access route to the Indian Ocean.
    • As China has undertaken a massive drive to finance and build Infrastructure through the Belt and Road Initiative in almost all BIMSTEC countries.
    • Hence, BIMSTEC is a new battleground in the India – China battle for dominance.



NITI Aayog report on MultiDimensional Poverty

    • “ National multi dimensional poverty index: a progress review, 2023” was released by NITI Aayog on Monday.
      • The report has been prepared based on the latest National Family Health Survey of 2019-21.
      • It is the second edition of National Multi-dimensional Poverty Index.


  • The methodology followed is broad and is in consonance with the global methodology.
    • It has 12 parameters such as, Health, Education and standard of living, which include,
  • Nutrition
  • Child and Adolescent mortality
  • Maternal health
  • Years of schooling
  • School attendance
  • Cooking Fuel
  • Sanitation,
  • Drinking Water,
  • Electricity,
  • Housing,
  • Assets and
  • Bank accounts.


What does the report say:

  • India has registered a significant decline of 9.89 % points in the number of multi dimensionally poor, from 24.85% in 2015-16 to 14.96% in 2019-21.
  • The study says nearly 13.5 crore people came out of multidimensional poverty during the period.
    • It was assessed by identifying the acute deprivations in health, education and standard of living, using United nations approved parameters.
  • The report said rural areas witnessed the fastest decline in Poverty from 32.59% to 19.28%.
    • This is mainly due to decrease in number of multidimensionally poor states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and rajashtan.
    • Delhi, Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu have the least number of people facing multi dimensional poverty along with Union Territories.
    • Bihar, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh top the chart where the percentage of Population wihich is multi-dimensionally poor is high.
  • Multi-dimensional poverty in Urban areas, saw decrease from 8.65% to 5.27%.
    • Here, Uttar Pradesh registered the largest decline in number of poor with 3.43 crore people escaping poverty.
  • According to the report, between 2015-16 and 2019-21, the MPI value has nearly halved from 0.117 to 0.066 and the intensity of poverty has reduced from 47% to 44%.

Need for a National level Index:

  • It gives deeper understanding of poverty’s complexities and forge solutions that ensure inclusivity for all.
  • The district wise estimation of the national MPI will also prioritise reaching out the furthes behind first through focused efforts on specific indicators and dimensions.
  • The results and findings of the index provide valuable insights for both policy makers and wider community.


India – UAE deal to trade with Rupees

    • Prime Minister of India recently visited UAE, during which Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Central Bank of UAE signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs).
      • The first established a framework to promote the use of local currencies for cross border transactions,
      • The second, is for interlinking payment systems.

Promotion of Local currencies:

  • The first MOU to establish a Local Currency Settlement system (LCSS), is to promote the use of rupee and the dirham bilaterally.
    • It will cover all current and permitted capital account transactions.
    • This would enable exporters and importers to send invoices and pay in their respective domestic currencies.
    • This in turn would help the development of the INR-AED foreign exchange market.
    • It would also help promote investments and remittances between the two countries.
    • Broadly, this arrangement would help optimise transaction costs and settlement time for transactions, including for remittances from Indians residing in UAE.

Significance for exporters:

  • Denominating export contracts and invoices in local currencies help avert exchange rate risks.
    • It facilitates the scope to discover competitive pricing.
    • It could also lead to enhanced avenues for cooperation among the banking systems of the two countries, thereby contributing to the expansion of trade and economic activity for both.

Trade with UAE:

  • India UAE trade rose to $85 billion in 2022.
    • UAE was the India’s third largest trading partner and second largest export destination in FY 2022-23.
    • India was second largest trading partner for UAE.
  • The major items of exports from India to UAE include
  • ineral fuels
  • mineral oils and products,
  • bituminous substances,
  • mineral waxes,
  • followed by pearls,
  • precious stones and
  • metals,
  • electrical machineries and
  • equipment among other things
  • The major items imported by India are petroleum crude and petroleum related products.

Interlinking of Payment Systems:

  • This is to link India’s United Payments Interface (UPI) with its UAE counterpart Instant Payments Platform (IPP)
  • Along with this linking of card switches, that is RuPay switch and UAES WITCH.
    • Card switches entail facilitating communications and transactions between different payment providers.
  • This agreement would also explore linking of payment messaging systems of two countries
    • RBI said linking of UPI IPP, would enable users in either country to make fast, convenient, safe and cost effective cross border fund transfers.
    • For the card switches, it will facilitate mutual acceptance of domestic cards and processing of card transactions, which is relevant to 3.5 million resident Indians living in the UAE.

How this will help:

  • Generally, for low wage earners, sending remittances back home is a costly affair, which entails fees and exchange rate margins among other potential costs.
    • IMF in a larger context stated in a November 2022 report that formal remittances involve high fixed costs and hence are expensive to provide, low-income individuals refrain from remitting.
    • They are being incentivised to use cheaper informal alternatives
    • These challenges will be addressed by UPI IPP linkage on a real time.
  • In March, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) finalised a collaboration with Singapore’s Pay Now for facilitating cross-border real time money transfers, where the Monetary Authority of Singapore stated that remittances would become 10% cheaper.
  • NPCI had in January permitted non resident accounts with International numbers to be on boarded into the UPI ecosystem.
    • This includes users from – Singapore, Australia, Canada, Oman, Qatar, US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK and Hong Kong.
  • World bank in its Migration and development Brief, 2023 noted that India experienced a 24.4% increase in remittances to $111 billion in 2022.
    • This represented 3.3% of GDP.
    • Present remittances from GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries accounts for about 28% of the country’s total remittance inflows also soared in 2022.
    • High energy prices favoured the employment and incomes of the less skilled Indian migrants in the GCC countries.
    • GCC governments’ special measures to curb food inflation has shielded migrants remitting potential.

Hence, the new deal to trade with rupees by India and UAE would further enhance the internationalization of rupee and acceptance by other countries in trade due to availability of Rupees with different nations, leads to acceptability of rupee as an exchange medium over the long term




Project Cheetah


  • As Five of the translocated Cheetahsand three of the four cubs born in India have diedin Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh, an expert committee charged with managing the Project has recommended that all animals undergo a thorough medical review.

What is Project Cheetah:

  • It is India’s relocation programme and is perhaps the most ambitious of its kind in the world.
  • As per the project, the attempt is to bring 5-10 animals every year, until a self sustaining population of 35 cheetahs is established over the decade.
    • Unlike cheetahs in South Africa and Namibia that are living in fenced reserves, India’s plan is to have them grow in natural, unfenced, wild conditions.
    • As of today, 11 of the translocated cheetahs are in true wild with four in specially designed one-square-kilometre enclosures called ‘bomas’.
  • Bomas, are used to help the animals acclimatise to Indian conditions
    • In September, 2022 a batch of 8 Cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India followed by a batch of 12 from South Africa in February 2023.

Reasons for deaths:

  • One cheetah named, Surya was found dead with wound on the neck, infected with maggots.
    • The larvae of the maggots were also found on the radio collar fitted on Cheetah’s neck.
    • There was a chance that chaffing from the collar may have indirectly sickened the animal.
  • It is also hypothesised, that African animals may have been exposed to parasites that Indian big cats are usually resistant to.
  • All deaths in Kuno, save for Surya, have occurred amongst the Cheetahs in the Boma.
    • A Cheetah, Tejas was attacked by a female Cheetah, within the enclosure.
    • In May, three of the four cubs – the first litter born in India – died from heat and malnourishment.
    • An adult female, Daksha, died following injuries involving a skirmish among animals the same month (May).
    • Sasha died in February due to renal infection.
    • Uday in April due to Cardiovascular problems.

Radio collars:

  • They are made up of polystyrene and equipped with radio frequency tracking chip that helps monitor the animals.
    • They are ideally expected not to interfere with animal’s movement but is known to pose obstructions.
    • During the monsoon season, to which Cheetah’s of Africa are not acclimatised to, moisture on the body, would have made cheetahs unable to lick itself clean.
    • This allowed parasites to fatally lodge inside the wound.
  • Other than this case, radio collar is a common practice in India among Tigers, Lions, leopards, elephants and never have been linked to any such infection.

Evaluation of the Project:

  • While conceived as an experiment that it is susceptible to failure in the initial years, independent critics have argued that there are some basic flaws in the project,
    • It is mistake to have had all 20 Cheetahs in KNP as it’s too little space and prey give that the animal is a courser and needs large distances.
    • Having Cheetahs for extended periods in Quarantine have affected their adaptive capabilities and caused them to have psychological adjustment problems making them more vulnerable.
    • Unlike Tigers and leopards, Cheetahs are relatively delicate animals and more likely to be fatally injured in the wild.
    • Currently, Indian Cheetahs face no competition from other comparable predators such as lions and leopards.

            It remains to be seen if the animals can successfully establish themselves in India as officials say, there is enough space and prey in Kuno reserve, there are plans to develop a second reserve in Gandhisagar, MP and also establish a Cheetah rehabilitation centre.

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