Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Sarat Chandra IAS Current Affairs of 17th March-2021


  • Global Breast Cancer Initiative
  • Arms imports down by 33%
  • Air bubble pact with more countries
  • Iran unveils underground missile facility


Global Breast Cancer Initiative

  • The initiative aims to reduce global breast mortality by 2.5% by 2040.
  • The initiative will particularly focus on reducing deaths in low-income countries. There the progress to tackle the disease is relatively slow.
  • It is initiated by WHO

Key Features of the Initiative:

  • Guidance to Governments: Under the initiative, WHO will work with other UN agencies. They will provide guidance to governments on how to strengthen systems for diagnosing and treating breast cancer. It is expected to improve capacities to manage other types of cancer.
  • Evidence-based Technical Package: An evidence-based technical package will also be provided to countries as part of the initiative. It will incorporate existing WHO cancer tools and products.


Arms imports down by 33%

Context: Arms imports decreased by 33% between 2011-15 and 2016-20 while India continues to remain the second largest arms importer after Saudi Arabia, according to a report from Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

  • The overall drop in arms imports between 2011-15 and 2016-20 seems to be mainly due to its complex and lengthy procurement processes, combined with its attempts to reduce its dependence on Russian arms by diversifying its network of arms suppliers.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

  • This think tank is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • It was established in 1966 at Stockholm (Sweden).
  • It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.


Air bubble pact with more countries


  • External Affairs Minister told the Rajya Sabha that the government wanted to expand the “air bubble” arrangement with more countries, and the priority would be Saudi Arabia, Kuwait in the west and Japan, China and Singapore in the east.
  • These are the countries where bubbles have not worked so well.

Air bubble scheme

  • Under the air bubble scheme, commercial airlines from specific countries are allowed to travel to and from India on a limited basis – an arrangement that was solely reserved for the Air India under the Vande Bharat mission – as full-scale international commercial air operations are yet to resume after the COVID-19 restrictions were implemented last year.
  • The Minister made these remarks while informing both Houses of Parliament about the government‟s efforts in repatriating Indians, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) during the pandemic.

Air bubble arrangement

  • Indians holding any kind of visa valid under the Air Bubbles agreement can travel to the UK, USA, Canada and the UAE, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
  • This comes after the earlier rule of the European Union that only those holding essential visa were allowed for travel abroad.


Iran unveils underground missile facility


  • Iran‟s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard inaugurated a new underground facility designated for missile storage.
  • Cruise and ballistic missiles will empower the force‟s Navy even more.

Underground facilities across the country

  • Since 2011, Iran has boasted of underground facilities across the country as well as along the southern coast near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
  • Iran claims to have missiles that can travel 2,000 km, placing much of the West Asia, including Israel, within range.
  • The U.S. and its Western allies see Iran‟s missile programme as a threat, along with the country‟s nuclear programme – particularly after Iran breached its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal, following the U.S. administration‟s withdrawal from the deal in 2018.
  • Last July, the Guard launched underground ballistic missiles as part of an exercise involving a mock-up American aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran building at underground nuclear facility

  • Inspectors from the UN‟s atomic watchdog has confirmed Iran has started building an underground centrifuge assembly plant after its previous one exploded in what Tehran called a sabotage attack over the summer.
  • Iran also continues to stockpile greater amounts of low-enriched uranium, but does not appear to possess enough to produce a weapon.
  • Natanz hosts the country‟s main uranium enrichment facility.
  • Its centrifuges rapidly spin uranium hexafluoride gas to enrich uranium.


No proposal to bring petrol, diesel under GST


  • Minister of State for Finance told the Lok Sabha that the Centre and the States should work together towards reducing taxes on petrol and diesel.
  • The Centre was ready to discuss the issue of bringing petroleum products under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • At present, there is no proposal to bring crude petroleum, petrol, diesel, ATF and natural gas under GST.
  • If any State feels that petroleum products should be brought under GST then the Centre has no objection in discussing it.
  • The Minister said while international crude price stood at $19 per barrel in March 2020, it was now $65 per barrel.
  • The Centre is ready to consider the idea of reducing the tax on petrol and diesel, the States should also consider it

Inclusion of Petrol and Diesel under GST

  • As of now LPG, kerosene, naphtha, furnace oil, and light diesel oil are under GST.
  • Five other petroleum products viz. crude oil, high speed diesel, motor spirit (petrol), natural gas, and aviation turbine fuel lie outside the GST.

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