Daily Mains Newsletter for UPSC 17 Jun 2022

Daily Mains Newsletter For
UPSC | RaghukulCS

17 June 2022 - Friday


Table of Contents

ASEAN-India Meeting No. 24

Why in the news?

  • The 24th ASEAN-India Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) was recently held in Delhi.
  • The 30th anniversary of India-ASEAN dialogue relations was marked.
  • Earlier, the two sides finalised the India-ASEAN Digital Work Plan 2022 for future engagement in the field at the 2nd ASEAN Digital Ministers’ (ADGMIN) Meeting with India.

What exactly is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations?

  • It is a regional organisation that encourages economic, political, and security cooperation.
  • The founding fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, signed the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) in August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Its chairperson is rotated annually based on the alphabetical sequence of Member States’ English names.
  • ASEAN countries have a combined population of 650 million people and a combined GDP of USD 2.8 trillion. With around USD 86.9 billion in trade, it is India’s fourth largest trading partner.
  • ASEAN is made up of ten Southeast Asian countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

What are the main points?

  • The ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership and its Future Direction were examined at the SOM.
  • The leaders assessed the progress of collaboration under the Partnership’s three pillars: political-security, economic, and socio-cultural.
  • The group talked on the next steps in implementing the ASEAN-India Plan of Action (2021-2025).
  • The two parties discussed regional and worldwide topics of mutual relevance, such as the Covid-19 epidemic and post-pandemic recovery.
  • In order to deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership, India highlighted the execution of the ASEAN-India Joint Statement on Cooperation on ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
  • The ASEAN side praised India’s support for ASEAN and the region’s ASEAN-led architecture.

How Have ASEAN-India Relations Been?

  • About ASEAN: ASEAN, a 10-nation union, is regarded as one of Southeast Asia’s most significant organisations.
  • Its conversation partners include India and several other countries, including the United States, China, Japan, and Australia.
  • The ASEAN-India dialogue relationship began in 1992 with the formation of a sectoral collaboration.
  • In December 1995, this progressed to full conversation partnership, then in 2002, to summit-level partnership.
  • Trade and people-to-people links have always formed the foundation of India-ASEAN ties due to shared historical and cultural origins; however, a more recent and pressing area of convergence has been balancing China’s ascent.
  • In contrast to China’s assertive actions, both India and ASEAN seek to construct a rules-based security architecture for peaceful development in the area.

Cooperation Areas:

Economic Cooperation: India’s fourth largest trading partner is ASEAN.

India inked a commodities FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with ASEAN in 2009, followed by a services and investment FTA in 2014.

India has a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with several ASEAN countries, which has resulted in concessional trade and increased investment.

Political Cooperation:

The ASEAN-India Centre (AIC) was formed to conduct policy research, lobbying, and networking operations with Indian and ASEAN organisations and think tanks.

Financial Aid: 

India gives financial assistance to ASEAN member countries through various mechanisms such as the ASEAN-India Cooperation Fund, the ASEAN-India S&T Development Fund, and the ASEAN-India Green Fund.


India is working on a number of connectivity projects, including the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral (IMT) Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Project.

India is also attempting to develop a Maritime Transportation Agreement with ASEAN, as well as plans for a railway link from New Delhi, India, to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Socio-Cultural Cooperation:

Programs to Increase People-to-People Contact Interaction with ASEAN is organised through events such as inviting ASEAN students to India, hosting a Special Training Course for ASEAN diplomats, exchanging parliamentarians, and so on.

Defence Cooperation:

India and the majority of ASEAN countries conduct joint naval and military drills.

In defence matters, Vietnam has always been a close friend, but Singapore is also an essential partner.

What is the Importance of ASEAN to India?

  • India requires robust diplomatic ties with ASEAN states for economic and security reasons.
  • Connectivity with ASEAN nations may enable India to strengthen its position in the region.
  • These connectivity projects maintain Northeast India at the centre, supporting the northeastern states’ economic progress.
  • Improved trade relations with ASEAN nations would provide a counter to China’s position in the region, as well as economic growth and development for India.
  • ASEAN holds a pivotal place in the Indo-Pacific rules-based security architecture, which is critical for India because the majority of its trade is dependent on maritime stability.
  • Collaboration with ASEAN nations is required to tackle insurgency in the Northeast, terrorism, and tax evasion, among other things.

The Way Forward

  • With China having three times more commercial flights to Southeast Asia than India, strengthening air connectivity between India and ASEAN countries should be a priority.
  • After the Atma Nirbar Bharat and Make in India programmes are successfully implemented, India may become a military partner.
  • The QUAD concept should be expanded to include ASEAN countries and become a QUAD+ structure.
  • Vietnam and Indonesia have both voiced support for QUAD in the region.
  • Tourism between India and ASEAN can be increased with some innovative branding on both sides’ parts.

Initiative I2U2

Why in the news?

India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States will hold their first virtual summit in July 2022 as part of I2U2 projects.

What exactly is the I2U2 Initiative?

  • Background: I2U2 was founded in October 2021, following the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE, to address marine security, infrastructure, and transportation challenges in the region.
  • It was known as the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’ at the time.
  • This was known as the ‘West Asian Quad.’
  • The I2U2 initiative is a new collaboration between India, Israel, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • The letters ‘I2’ represent for India and Israel, while ‘U2’ stand for the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
  • This is an outstanding achievement that reflects the region’s geopolitical shifts.
  • This will not only rejuvenate and re-energize the global alliance and partnership structure, but will also weave together partnerships that did not previously exist or were not leveraged to their full potential.
  • Security Cooperation: This will aid countries in investigating security cooperation among the four states within the scope of these new organisations.
  • Technological Hubs: These countries are all technological hubs.
  • Of course, biotechnology is important in all of these countries.
  • Food Security: This effort allows for a discussion about food security.

Cooperate on a Variety of Levels: These countries might collaborate on a variety of levels, including technologies, trade, climate, combating Covid-19, and even security.

What is the Importance of I2U2 for India?

  • The Abraham Accords will allow India to strengthen its engagement with Israel without jeopardising its relations with the UAE and other Arab governments.
  • Market Benefits: 
  • India is a big consumer market. It is also a large producer of high-tech and highly sought-after items. This alliance will help India.
  • Coalitions:
  • It will assist India in forming alliances, both political and social.

2022 World Competitiveness Index

Why in the news?

  • The Institute for Management Development just announced its annual World Competitiveness Index (IMD).
  • IMD is a Swiss foundation dedicated to the development of international business leaders at all stages of their careers.
  • India has risen the fastest among Asian economies, moving from 43rd to 37th place on the, owing mostly to improvements in economic performance.

What exactly is the World Competitiveness Index?

The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY), originally published in 1989, is a comprehensive annual report and global reference source on country competitiveness.

It examines and ranks countries based on how they manage their skills to create long-term value.


 It assesses a country’s prosperity and competitiveness by assessing the four components (334 competitiveness criteria):

  • Economic efficiency
  • Government effectiveness
  • Business effectiveness
  • Infrastructure

What are the Index’s Highlights?

Global Top Performers:
  • Europe: Denmark has risen to the top of the 63-nation list from third place last year, while Switzerland has dropped from first to second and Singapore has risen from fifth to third.
  • Asia’s top performers are Singapore (3rd), Hong Kong (5th), Taiwan (7th), China (17th), and Australia (19th).
  • Others: Due to the poor trustworthiness of data collected, Russia and Ukraine were not examined in this year’s edition.

The Performance of India:

Performance on four dimensions:
  • Economic performance: It has risen from 37th place in 2021 to 28th place in 2022.
  • The government’s efficiency has risen from 46th in 2021 to 45th in 2022.
  • Business efficiency: It rose from 32nd place in 2021 to 23rd place in 2022.
  • Infrastructure, on the other hand, remained unchanged at 49.
  • Reasons for India’s Excellent Performance: Significant improvements in the context of retroactive taxes in 2021
  • Re-regulation of several industries, including drones, space, and geospatial mapping.
  • Significant improvement in the Indian economy’s competitiveness
  • India’s role as a driving force in the global drive to combat climate change, as well as India’s pledge of net-zero emissions by 2070 at the COP26 summit, are in line with its ranking strength in environment-related technology.\
Weaknesses of India:

The challenges that India faces include managing trade disruptions and energy security, maintaining strong GDP growth following the pandemic, skill development and job creation, asset monetisation, and resource mobilisation for infrastructure development.

The top five attractive qualities of India’s economy for business are a trained workforce, cost competitiveness, economic dynamism, a high educational level, and open and positive attitudes.

What recent initiatives has India done to increase its competitiveness?

  • Increasing Manufacturing Capability:
  • India has made commendable attempts to maintain industrial capacity resilience, such as through the Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India initiatives, which focus on local supply chains and major investment in manufacturing centres.
  • The government has implemented the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme across a variety of sectors in order to boost India’s manufacturing capabilities and exports.
Technological Advancement:

 India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) has formed six task forces on 6G technology to facilitate technological advancement and increase competitiveness.

Through its New, Emerging, and Strategic Technologies (NEST) section, the Ministry of External Affairs ensures India’s active involvement in international technology governance forums.

It serves as the ministry’s nodal division for matters concerning new and emerging technologies, and it facilitates collaboration with overseas partners in the field of technology.

The Way Forward

  • A country that strikes a balance between economic and social advancement can boost productivity, which leads to increased competitiveness and, ultimately, wealth.
  • As a result, it is vital to create an environment that not only encourages enterprises to compete successfully in both domestic and international markets, but also ensures that the typical citizen’s standard of life increases.
  • Governments must provide an environment defined by efficient infrastructures, institutions, and policies that promote firms to create long-term value.

Credit Card and UPI Integration

Why in the news?

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed that credit cards be linked to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) network.

A credit card is a financial instrument issued by banks that has a predetermined credit limit and allows for cashless transactions. It allows cardholders to pay a merchant for products and services based on the amount of debt she has accumulated.

This is meant to increase user convenience and broaden the scope of Digital Payments.

What exactly is the Unified Payment Interface?

  • It is an enhanced version of the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), a round–the–clock funds transfer service designed to make cashless payments faster, easier, and more seamless.
  • UPI is a system that integrates several bank accounts into a single mobile app (of any participating bank), combining several banking features, smooth fund routing, and merchant payments under one umbrella.
  • UPI is now the most popular of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)-managed systems, which include the National Automated Clearing House (NACH), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS), Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), RuPay, and others.
  • Need to Link Credit Card with UPI:
  •   UPI has grown in popularity in India, with over 26 crore unique users and five crore merchants on the platform.
  • In May 2022, the interface completed over 594 crore transactions totaling Rs 10.4 lakh crore.
  • At the moment, the UPI supports transactions by connecting savings/current accounts via debit cards.

What is the Importance of the Change?

  • Additional Payment Option:
  • The partnership is expected to give clients with an additional payment option, increasing convenience.
  • Credit Card Use Will Rise:
  • It will broaden credit card acceptance and usage.
  • Given UPI’s widespread adoption, credit card usage is expected to skyrocket in India.
  • Credit Building Opportunities on UPI:
  • It opens new opportunities to establish credit on UPI through credit cards in India, where a number of firms such as Slice, Uni, One, and others have developed in recent years.
  • Increase Transactions and Acceptance at More Merchant Sites: It is projected to increase transactions and acceptance at more merchant sites.
  • People who want to pay by credit card in order to benefit from a longer pay-back period or loans on credit-card outstanding, or who do not want to touch their savings at the time of purchase, can do so using UPI.
Increase overall spending:
  • The change will significantly increase overall credit card spending – now, credit card spending is more than double that of debit card spending. More spending is a force multiplier for the economy in general.
  • Increase the Average Ticket Size of Financial Transactions:
  • This policy is likely to affect the average ticket size of financial transactions in addition to expediting digital transactions.
  • Currently, the average ticket size per transaction is Rs 1,600, whereas credit cards have a ticket limit of Rs 4,000.
  • As a result of the new change, researchers predict that the UPI transaction ticket size will rise to between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000.

What are the Obstacles?

  • It is unclear how the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) will be applied to credit card UPI transactions.
  • The MDR is a fee levied by a merchant’s issuing bank for taking credit and debit card payments from customers.
  • According to a rule that has been in place since January 2020, UPI and RuPay are subject to zero-MDR, which means that no fees are levied on these transactions.
  • The availability of zero-MDR on UPI may possibly be one of the reasons why other card networks, such as Visa and Mastercard, have not yet been onboarded to UPI for credit cards.


Why in the news?

  • Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus (VDPV) was recently discovered in sewage samples from Kolkata, Bengal, during an environmental surveillance.
  • It most likely originated in someone’s immune-compromised intestines and has subsequently multiplied. There is no case of human-to-human polio transmission.
  • A VDPV is a strain of weakened poliovirus that was originally included in OPV (Oral poliovirus vaccines) and has evolved to act more like the wild or naturally occurring virus.
  • Spread:
  • The virus is primarily spread from person to person by the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, via a shared vehicle (for example, through contaminated water or food).
  • It primarily affects children under the age of five. The virus replicates in the colon before invading the neurological system and causing paralysis.
  • Symptoms:
  •  The majority of persons with polio do not feel ill. Some people just suffer minor symptoms such as fever, weariness, nausea, headache, arm and leg discomfort, and so on.
  • Polio infection might result in lifelong muscle function loss in rare circumstances (paralysis).
  • Polio can be lethal if the muscles needed for breathing become paralysed or if the brain becomes infected.
Prevention and Cure:

 There is no cure, however it can be avoided through vaccination.


Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV):

 It is administered orally as a newborn dose for institutional deliveries, followed by three primary doses at 6, 10, and 14 weeks, and one booster dose at 16-24 months of age.

Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV):

  As part of the Universal Immunisation Programme, it is provided as an additional dosage alongside the third dose of DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus) (UIP).

Recent Outbreaks:

  • Polio outbreaks were reported in the Philippines, Malaysia, Ghana, Myanmar, China, Cameroon, Indonesia, and Iran in 2019. These outbreaks were primarily vaccine-derived, with a rare strain of the virus genetically mutating from the vaccine strain.
  • According to the WHO, if the oral vaccine-virus is excreted and allowed to circulate in an unvaccinated or under-vaccinated population for at least 12 months, it can evolve and cause illnesses.

India and Polio:

  • After three years of zero incidences, the WHO certified India as polio-free in 2014.
  • This accomplishment was fueled by the successful Pulse Polio Campaign, in which all children received polio drops.
  • The final case of wild poliovirus in the country was discovered on January 13, 2011.

What is the Polio Eradication Strategy?

Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI):
  • The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), national governments, and WHO began it in 1988. At the moment, 80 percent of the world’s population lives in polio-free zones.
  • Through the systemic injection of vitamin A during polio vaccine campaigns, an estimated 1.5 million childhood fatalities have been avoided.
  • Today is World Polio Day.
  • Every year on October 24th, it is marked to encourage countries to remain attentive in their fight against the disease.
  • The Indian Pulse Polio Programme was established with the goal of reaching 100 percent coverage with the Oral Polio Vaccine.
Indradhanush 2.0 Mission Intensified:
  • It was a nationwide immunisation effort to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Pulse polio programme (2019-20).

The Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)

  • was begun in 1985, with the name changed to ‘Expanded Immunization Programme’ (EPI). The Program’s aims include: rapidly increasing immunisation coverage, improving service quality, establishing a reliable cold chain system at the health facility level, introducing a district-wide system for performance monitoring, and achieving self-sufficiency in vaccine production.
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