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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-13th June 2023

Moody’s Projects 6-6.3% GDP Growth for India in June Quarter, Flags Fiscal Risks

Moody’s Investors Service has forecasted a growth rate of 6-6.3% for India’s GDP in the June quarter. While this estimate is lower than the Reserve Bank of India’s projection of 8% for the first quarter, Moody’s remains cautious about fiscal slippage due to weaker-than-expected government revenues. Despite these concerns, Moody’s acknowledges India’s credit strengths, including a stable domestic financing base for government debt and a sound external position.

Growth Outlook for India:

Moody’s Associate Managing Director, Gene Fang, expects India’s growth to be around 6-6.3% in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, which is relatively flat compared to the 6.1% recorded in the final quarter of the previous fiscal year. While household demand is anticipated to improve with moderation in inflation, there are potential risks to gross fixed capital formation due to the lagged effects of higher interest rates.

India’s Credit Strengths:

According to Fang, India possesses several credit strengths despite its rating of ‘Baa3’ (the lowest investment grade) by Moody’s. These strengths include a large and diversified economy with high growth potential. Despite a weaker global economic outlook, India’s growth forecast for the year remains relatively strong. Fang also mentions that the government has largely met its fiscal objectives over the past two years, which helps alleviate concerns about fiscal policy.

Fiscal Risks and Deficit Targets:

Moody’s notes that India’s general government debt stands at approximately 81.8% of GDP for the fiscal year 2022-23, higher than the Baa-rated median of around 56%. Additionally, India’s debt affordability, measured by general government interest payments as a percentage of revenues, is estimated to be 26% for fiscal 2022-23, compared to the Baa median of around 8.4%. Moody’s highlights the risk of fiscal slippage arising from weaker-than-expected government revenues, as the government aims to balance longer-term fiscal sustainability with the immediate priority of supporting the economy.

Moody’s Growth Projections:

Moody’s projects economic growth in India to be 6.1% and 6.3% for the fiscal years 2023-24 and 2024-25, respectively. On a calendar year basis, Moody’s expects growth to reach 5.5% in 2023, with potential improvement to 6.5% in 2024.

Comparison with Reserve Bank of India’s Projection:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) projects India’s GDP to expand by 6.5% in the current fiscal year, with growth rates for each quarter varying. The RBI’s projections include 8% growth for the June quarter (Q1), followed by 6.5% in Q2, 6% in Q3, and 5.7% in Q4.

Rating Agencies’ Outlook:

All three global rating agencies – Fitch, S&P, and Moody’s – have assigned India the lowest investment grade rating with a stable outlook. These ratings are significant indicators of the country’s creditworthiness and can influence borrowing costs.

ADB, India sign $130 million loan to promote horticulture in Himachal Pradesh

The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $130 million loan agreement to support initiatives aimed at increasing agricultural productivity, improving irrigation access, and promoting horticulture agribusinesses in Himachal Pradesh. The project aims to enhance farmers’ income and resilience to climate change in seven districts of the state.

Improving Farmers’ Livelihoods:

The project interventions seek to benefit approximately 15,000 farm households across the districts of Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi, Sirmour, Solan, and Una. Many of these households have either stopped farming or reduced their farming areas due to a lack of irrigation facilities and crop damage caused by wild and stray animals.

Enhancing Irrigation Infrastructure:

One of the key focuses of the project is to improve on-farm irrigation and water management in around 6,000 hectares of farmland. This will be achieved through the rehabilitation or construction of new irrigation schemes. The project will also strengthen the capacity of Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) for micro-irrigation management. The initiative will be a joint effort between the state’s Jal Shakti Vibhag (Water Resources Department) and the Department of Horticulture (DOH).

Promoting Horticulture Agribusinesses:

In addition to irrigation improvements, the project aims to create an ecosystem that enhances farmers’ access to subtropical horticulture markets. The farmers will be organized into cluster-wide Community Horticulture Production and Marketing Associations (CHPMAs) and district-wide CHPMA cooperative societies. This approach will facilitate collective marketing and value addition activities, benefiting farmers by providing better market linkages and improved bargaining power.

Increasing Resilience to Climate Change:

The project recognizes the challenges posed by climate change and seeks to enhance farmers’ resilience. By improving irrigation facilities and promoting climate-resilient agricultural practices, the project aims to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture. This will enable farmers to continue farming and increase their incomes sustainably.

Centre bans over 150 ‘anti-India’ sites, YouTube news channels in 2 years

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) in India has recently cracked down on over 150 websites and YouTube-based news channels since May 2021. These actions were taken in response to the production of content deemed “anti-India” and in violation of Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act. The Ministry aims to combat misinformation and safeguard India’s sovereignty and integrity.

Removal of Websites and Channels:

Under the authority of Section 69A of the IT Act, the government has the power to issue directives to block content that may pose a threat to the nation’s interests. The I&B ministry has taken down websites and YouTube channels that were found to produce content against India’s interests, jeopardizing its sovereignty, integrity, security, friendly relations with foreign states, and public order.

Impacted YouTube Channels:

Notable YouTube news channels that were removed include Khabar with Facts, Khabar Taiz, Information Hub, Flash Now, Mera Pakistan, Hakikat Ki Duniya, and Apni Dunya TV. These channels collectively had over 12 million subscribers and more than 1.3 billion views. The decision to remove these channels was driven by their dissemination of content deemed harmful to India’s national interests.

Previous Actions:

In July of the previous year, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, revealed that 78 YouTube-based news channels and 560 YouTube links were blocked for public access due to violations. Thakur emphasized that social media accounts spreading conspiracy theories or misleading information would face consequences.

Enforcement of IT Rules:

The I&B ministry has been actively issuing orders to remove YouTube channels spreading misinformation and posing a threat to the country’s sovereignty, in accordance with the IT rules implemented in February 2021. These rules aim to regulate digital media and ensure responsible content dissemination.

Curbing Anti-India Propaganda:

Earlier, in January of the same year, the Indian government had blocked 35 Pakistan-based YouTube channels and two websites for their coordinated dissemination of anti-India fake news across digital media. These actions highlight the government’s commitment to combating propaganda and preserving the nation’s interests.

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi dies at 86

Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media mogul who served as Italian prime minister multiple times between 1994 and 2011, has died. He was 86. Berlusconi’s extensive political career included appointments as Italian prime minister from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. He worked as a member of the European Parliament since 2019, where he also served from 1999 to 2001. His Forza Italia party is currently a junior partner in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s ruling right-wing coalition.

Berlusconi entertained several business ventures in tandem with his political tenure, accruing a fortune estimated at around $7 billion in June. He was the controlling shareholder of Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster, Mediaset, whose shares rose over 5%.

India tops digital payments rankings globally, shows MyGovIndia data

India has emerged as the global leader in digital payments for the year 2022, surpassing other nations in terms of both value and volume of transactions. The data from the government’s citizen engagement platform, MyGovIndia, reveals India’s dominant position in the digital payment landscape, showcasing the country’s robust payment ecosystem and widespread adoption of digital modes.

India’s Global Digital Payments Leadership:

According to the data, India recorded a staggering 89.5 million digital transactions during the review period. This accounted for a remarkable 46 percent share of the world’s real-time payments in 2022, surpassing the combined digital payments of the next four top countries.

Milestones in Digital Payments:

The growth of digital payments in India has witnessed significant milestones in terms of both value and volume. Experts from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) highlighted the country’s strong payment ecosystem and the acceptance of digital modes by Indian citizens as key factors contributing to India’s digital payments success.

Celebrating the Achievement:

MyGovIndia acknowledged India’s dominance in the digital payment landscape through a celebratory tweet. The tweet highlighted India’s innovative solutions and widespread adoption of digital payments, which have propelled the country towards a cashless economy. The achievements were marked under the hashtags #9YearsOfTechForGrowth and #9YearsOfSeva, showcasing the country’s progress in digital transformation.

Global Comparison:

Brazil secured the second position in digital payments with 29.2 million transactions, followed by China at third place with 17.6 million transactions. Thailand and South Korea secured the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, with 16.5 million and 8 million transactions.

India’s Digital Payments Impact:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier emphasized that India is the global leader in digital payments, underscoring its transformative impact on the country’s rural economy. He highlighted India’s affordable mobile data services and the resulting digital revolution, which has contributed to the empowerment of rural communities.

First Barge of the series LSAM 15 delivered to Indian Navy.

  • Under the Contract for construction of Ammunition Cum Torpedo Cum Missile (ACTCM) Barges with M/s Suryadipta Projects Pvt Ltd, Thane, a MSME, First Barge the series LSAM 15 (Yard 125) has been delivered to Indian Navy.

  • The deal was established under ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives of the Government of India

  • A total of eleven such barges are under construction which when ready will be delivered to the Indian Navy.

Significance

  • The Barge has been built under the classification rules of Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) and have a service life of 30 years

  • With all major/auxiliary equipment sourced from indigenous manufacturers, the Barge is proud flag bearer of “Make in India” initiative of Ministry of Defence.

Role

Induction of (Ammunition Cum Torpedo Cum Missile)ACTCM Barges will provide impetus to Operational commitments of Indian navy by facilitating Transportation, Embarkation and Disembarkation of articles/ ammunition to Indian navy Ships both alongside jetties and at outer harbours

Indo-Maldives Joint Military Exercise “Ekuverin” Commences at Chaubatia, Uttarakhand

The 12th edition of the joint military exercise “Ex Ekuverin” between the Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force has commenced at Chaubatia, Uttarakhand. This bilateral annual exercise, which bears the meaning of “Friends” in the Maldivian language, aims to enhance interoperability in Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism Operations under the UN mandate. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for both forces to carry out joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations.

Enhancing Interoperability and Cooperation:

A platoon strength contingent from the Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force will participate in the 14-day-long exercise. The primary focus of “Ex Ekuverin” is to share best practices, enhance coordination, and improve cooperation at a tactical level. Through this exercise, the two nations strive to strengthen their military ties and bolster their economic, cultural, and overall bilateral cooperation.

History and Previous Editions:

The 11th edition of the joint military exercise took place in the Maldives in December 2021. Over the years, the defence cooperation between India and the Maldives has expanded, encompassing joint exercises as well as assistance in defence training and equipment requirements. The annual conduct of “Ex Ekuverin” further solidifies the bond between the two nations, fostering mutual trust and understanding.

Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism Operations:

“Ex Ekuverin” plays a crucial role in enhancing the capabilities of both the Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force in conducting Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism Operations. With a focus on sharing best practices, the exercise allows for the exchange of knowledge and expertise in dealing with these challenges effectively. The joint training enables the forces to refine their strategies and tactics, ensuring a coordinated approach when faced with such threats.

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations:

In addition to Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism Operations, the joint exercise also emphasizes the conduct of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations. The participating contingents will practice joint response mechanisms and coordination in the event of natural disasters or humanitarian crises. This aspect of the exercise enhances the readiness of both forces to provide timely assistance and support to affected communities, further strengthening their ability to work together in times of need.

Future Prospects:

The Indo-Maldives joint military exercise, “Ex Ekuverin,” holds significant potential for the two nations. It serves as a platform for building trust, enhancing interoperability, and fostering a deeper understanding between the Indian Army and the Maldives National Defence Force. The exercise facilitates the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and skills, contributing to the overall growth of both forces. As the two nations continue to strengthen their cooperation in various fields, “Ex Ekuverin” will play a pivotal role in further bolstering the ties between India and the Maldives.


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