BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting starts in Cape Town, local currency trade likely on agenda
The foreign ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) have gathered in Cape Town for a two-day meeting to discuss various issues, including local currency trading and a peace plan for the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The meeting, hosted by South Africa, will pave the way for the 15th BRICS Summit scheduled to take place in August, which will bring together leaders from the member countries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Local Currency Trading Takes Center Stage
One of the key topics expected to dominate discussions at the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting is local currency trading. Countries like India, Russia, and China have increasingly been settling trade in their respective local currencies rather than using the U.S. dollar. This shift is seen as a response to the United States’ “weaponization” of financial instruments and its impact on Russia, including the confiscation of reserves and Russia’s exclusion from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT). The meeting in Cape Town is expected to provide further encouragement for such local currency trading, aiming to reduce dependency on the U.S. dollar.
Prospects of a Common Currency
In addition to local currency trading, the foreign ministers are also expected to discuss the possibility of establishing a common currency within the BRICS framework. While the idea of a joint currency has been raised previously, it poses challenges due to the diverse economic profiles, growth rates, and financial openness of the BRICS economies. Furthermore, ongoing border tensions between India and China might complicate efforts to reach an agreement on this matter. Questions also remain regarding the backing of such a common currency, whether it would be based on gold or other benchmarks. Technical concerns related to local currency trading and the rupee-ruble system may also be raised during the discussions.
China’s Peace Plan for Ukraine Conflict
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is expected to be on the agenda, with China potentially presenting its 12-point peace plan. However, achieving a consensus among the member countries on this plan seems unlikely. Various countries, including China and South Africa, have proposed peace plans throughout the year, emphasizing the need to uphold international law and UN principles. While the BRICS foreign ministers may engage in wider discussions about the urgency of ending the conflict and addressing its impact on global food and energy security, reaching a comprehensive agreement is challenging.
About BRICS, Key Points
BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, is a grouping of five major emerging economies from different regions of the world.
Here are some key points about BRICS:
Formation: BRICS was initially known as “BRIC” and was formed in 2001 by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill. South Africa joined the group in 2010, expanding it to BRICS.
Economic Significance: BRICS countries represent about 42% of the world’s population and contribute to approximately 23% of global GDP. They are considered major players in the global economy.
Cooperation Areas: BRICS focuses on enhancing cooperation in various areas, including economics, finance, trade, investment, science and technology, and cultural exchanges.
Annual Summits: BRICS holds annual summits where leaders from member countries meet to discuss issues of mutual interest, strengthen ties, and promote collaboration. The summit rotates among the member countries.
New Development Bank (NDB): In 2014, BRICS established the New Development Bank, formerly known as the BRICS Development Bank. It aims to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS countries and other emerging economies.
Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA): The CRA is a financial arrangement established by BRICS countries in 2014. It provides a framework for member countries to provide mutual support through liquidity and financial assistance in times of crisis.
Razorpay Launches ‘Turbo UPI’ for Seamless One-Step Payments to Online Merchants
Razorpay, a leading fintech unicorn, has introduced ‘Turbo UPI,’ a revolutionary one-step payment solution for the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) network. In collaboration with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Axis Bank, Razorpay aims to streamline the payment process for users, allowing them to make payments directly without being redirected to a third-party UPI app during checkout. This article delves into the key features and benefits of Razorpay’s Turbo UPI, highlighting its potential impact on online businesses and the increasing adoption of UPI in India.
Streamlining the Payment Experience
Turbo UPI offers a seamless and hassle-free payment experience, eliminating the need for users to switch between multiple apps during the checkout process. Unlike traditional UPI transactions that involve multiple steps, Turbo UPI condenses the payment flow to a single step, significantly reducing friction and improving user convenience. By simplifying the payment journey, Razorpay aims to enhance the success rate of UPI transactions for businesses by up to 10%.
Empowering Online Merchants
One of the standout features of Turbo UPI is its ability to provide merchants with valuable insights into end-users’ drop-off patterns. This valuable data enables merchants to optimize their payment processes and enhance the overall payment experience for customers. Additionally, Turbo UPI allows merchants to have full control over the payment experience, from initiation to completion, enabling them to deliver a seamless and personalized checkout process. With Turbo UPI, merchants can streamline their operations and capitalize on the growing popularity of UPI payments in India.
Turbo UPI vs. Paytm’s UPI SDK
Razorpay’s launch of Turbo UPI comes shortly after Paytm introduced its UPI SDK. Both solutions aim to facilitate in-app UPI payments for online merchants, eliminating the need for redirection to third-party UPI apps. While Paytm’s UPI SDK provides similar functionality, Turbo UPI distinguishes itself by offering merchants enhanced control over the entire payment experience and valuable insights into user behavior. The competition between these two fintech giants is expected to drive further innovation and improvements in the UPI payment ecosystem.
Rapid Adoption of UPI
The introduction of Turbo UPI reflects the ever-increasing adoption of UPI as a preferred digital payment method in India. Consumers have embraced UPI for its convenience, speed, and security. By providing a one-step UPI payment experience, Turbo UPI aligns with the evolving needs and preferences of Indian consumers, who seek fast and frictionless transactions. Razorpay’s commitment to addressing the challenges faced by businesses and empowering them with seamless payment solutions underscores its dedication to driving growth in the digital landscape.
India-EU Connectivity Conference to be organized in Meghalaya from June 1
The India-EU Connectivity Conference, organized jointly by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), EU Delegation to India, and the Asian Confluence, is set to take place in Meghalaya from June 1 to June 2. The conference aims to explore opportunities for enhancing connectivity investments in India’s North Eastern States and its neighboring countries, including Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The event is a significant outcome of the India-EU Connectivity partnership launched during the India-EU Leaders’ Meeting in May 2021.
Inauguration and Participants
The conference will be inaugurated by Conrad Sangma, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, along with Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs. The event will witness the participation of senior officials from the Indian government, the EU Commission, representatives from North Eastern states, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, as well as stakeholders from the private sector. The collective insights and views shared by the participants will contribute to shaping concrete projects for joint implementation in the areas of digital, energy, and transport connectivity.
India-EU Connectivity Conference to be organized in Meghalaya from June 1
Focus on Three Pillars
Digital, Energy, and Transport: The India-EU Connectivity Conference will concentrate on three essential pillars of connectivity: digital, energy, and transport. These pillars have been identified as key areas for collaboration and development in order to strengthen connectivity and foster regional integration. By focusing on digital infrastructure, energy networks, and transport systems, the conference aims to identify tangible projects that can enhance connectivity in the region.
Boosting Connectivity Investments
The primary objective of the conference is to explore opportunities to boost connectivity investments in India’s North Eastern States and its neighboring countries. The North Eastern region of India, with its unique geographical location, presents immense potential for increased connectivity, trade, and economic cooperation. The conference will serve as a platform to discuss and identify specific projects that can facilitate seamless connectivity within the region and beyond, fostering economic growth and regional integration.
Engagement with Neighboring Countries
The India-EU Connectivity Conference recognizes the importance of engaging with neighboring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh to promote cross-border connectivity. By strengthening connectivity between India and its neighboring nations, the conference aims to enhance trade, people-to-people exchanges, and overall regional development. The participation of stakeholders from these countries will provide valuable insights and perspectives, fostering collaboration and mutual growth.
About European Union (EU), Key Points
Formation: The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states located primarily in Europe. It was established with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, although its origins can be traced back to the European Coal and Steel Community formed in 1951.
Objectives: The EU aims to promote peace, stability, and economic prosperity among its member states. It seeks to achieve this through economic integration, the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people, and the establishment of common policies and institutions.
Single Market: One of the key achievements of the EU is the creation of a single market, also known as the internal market. It allows for the free movement of goods, services, capital, and labor within the EU, eliminating trade barriers and fostering economic growth.
Eurozone: The Eurozone is a subset of EU member states that have adopted the euro as their official currency. Currently, 19 out of the 27 EU member states use the euro. The common currency promotes economic integration and facilitates cross-border trade and investment within the Eurozone.
Institutions: The EU has several key institutions that play a crucial role in decision-making and governance. These include the European Commission (executive branch), the European Council (composed of heads of state or government), the European Parliament (representing EU citizens), and the Court of Justice of the European Union (ensuring the interpretation and application of EU law).
Policies and Areas of Competence: The EU has competencies in various areas, including trade, agriculture, environment, justice and home affairs, and foreign policy. It formulates policies and regulations in these domains to ensure harmonization and cooperation among member states.
Enlargement: The EU has expanded over time through a process of enlargement. Several countries, mostly from Eastern and Central Europe, have joined the EU since its establishment, increasing its membership from the original six founding members to the current 27.
Common Foreign and Security Policy: The EU has a common foreign and security policy aimed at promoting peace, stability, and the protection of human rights. It coordinates the foreign policy positions of its member states and conducts diplomatic missions and crisis management operations.
EU Citizenship: Every citizen of an EU member state is also a citizen of the European Union. EU citizenship grants individuals certain rights, including the freedom to move, reside, and work within the EU, as well as the right to consular protection from any EU member state’s diplomatic mission.
Brexit: In 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum in which a majority voted to leave the EU. This led to the process known as Brexit, and the UK officially withdrew from the EU on January 31, 2020, marking a significant development in the EU’s history.
India Approves World’s Largest Food Storage Scheme in Cooperative Sector, Investing Rs 1 Lakh Crore
The Indian government has recently approved a groundbreaking scheme worth Rs 1 lakh crore aimed at significantly expanding the foodgrain storage capacity in the cooperative sector. With the current grain storage capacity at approximately 1,450 lakh tonnes, this initiative seeks to add 700 lakh tonnes of storage over the next five years, eventually reaching a total capacity of 2,150 lakh tonnes. Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Singh Thakur has hailed this scheme as the “world’s largest foodgrain storage programme” in the cooperative sector.
Addressing Storage Challenges
One of the primary goals of this scheme is to address the challenges associated with inadequate storage facilities, which often lead to spoilage and distress sales of food grains by farmers. By constructing godowns with a capacity of 2,000 tonnes in every block across the country, the government aims to reduce damage to food grains caused by the lack of proper storage infrastructure.
Empowering the Inter-Ministerial Committee
To ensure the effective implementation of the scheme, an inter-ministerial committee will be established. This committee will facilitate coordination between various ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Ministry of Food Processing Industries. By converging the efforts of these ministries, the government aims to optimize the storage plan in the cooperative sector.
Boosting Food Security and Rural Employment
The scheme is expected to have several significant benefits for the agricultural sector and rural India as a whole. Firstly, by increasing storage capacity, it will reduce transportation costs for farmers, enabling them to maximize their profits. Additionally, strengthening food security is a crucial objective of this scheme, as it will ensure a more stable and consistent supply of food grains across the country. This, in turn, will reduce India’s dependence on food grain imports.
Furthermore, the expansion of storage facilities will create numerous employment opportunities in rural areas. The construction of godowns and the subsequent management and maintenance of these facilities will generate jobs and contribute to the economic development of rural communities.
Tackling Production and Storage Discrepancy
India is one of the world’s largest foodgrain producers, with an annual production of about 3,100 lakh tonnes. However, the existing storage infrastructure can only accommodate approximately 47 percent of the total produce. This leads to post-harvest losses and hampers the efforts to maintain an optimal buffer stock. The new scheme aims to bridge this production and storage gap by significantly increasing storage capacity and reducing wastage.
Tayyip Erdogan re-elected as President of Turkey
The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has emerged victorious in the recent election following a tense run-off, according to unofficial data from the state-run Anadolu Agency and the country’s Supreme Election Council.
After failing to secure more than 50 percent of votes required for an outright win in the first round held on May 14, Erdogan received 52.14 percent of votes in the second round on Sunday, beating his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who won 47.86 percent.
Tayyip Erdogan re-elected as President of Turkey: Key Points
Erdogan is set to extend his rule by another five years, joining the likes of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who served for 15 years.
The result is expected to be confirmed in the coming days.
Erdogan made an appearance outside his residence in Istanbul’s Uskudar, where he sang and thanked his supporters for their trust in him.
He declared that all 85 million citizens of the country were “victors” of the two rounds of voting held on May 14 and May 28.
Erdogan stated that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will be held accountable for its poor performance and that urgent action was needed to address inflation in the country.
About the Campaign:
The campaign preceding the two-month election period was highly combative, with Erdogan referring to his opponent as being supported by “terrorists” and Kilicdaroglu calling Erdogan a “coward”.
The election, which went to a second stage due to a lack of a clear majority, saw Erdogan win with around 53.7 percent of the vote.
On May 14, a parliamentary poll was held alongside the leadership race, making the elections, which took place during the 100th anniversary of the republic’s foundation, the most significant ones in recent Turkish history.
The candidates were presented as either ensuring continuity of Erdogan’s two-decade rule or a return to a parliamentary system.
Over 64 million voters at home and abroad were eligible to vote amidst a challenging backdrop that included a cost-of-living crisis and earthquakes that devastated the country’s southeast.
Erdogan promised further development, while Kilicdaroglu pledged democratisation and an end to Erdogan’s “one-man rule.” Erdogan eventually won with 49.5 percent of the vote, while Kilicdaroglu secured 44.9 percent.
The nationalist tone leading up to the presidential run-off was aimed at securing the support of Sinan Ogan’s voters, who ultimately backed Erdogan. Erdogan’s next step is to regain control of cities like Istanbul and Ankara in the upcoming local elections.
WMO Approves Global Tracker for Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The World Meteorological Congress has made a groundbreaking decision to approve a new greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring initiative, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This initiative aims to support urgent action in reducing heat-trapping gases that contribute to rising global temperatures. The newly established Global Greenhouse Gas Watch will address critical information gaps, integrating various observing systems, modeling capabilities, and data assimilation under one comprehensive framework. The unanimous support from WMO’s 193 members highlights the growing importance of greenhouse gas monitoring and the need to strengthen the scientific foundation for climate change mitigation efforts.
The Importance of the Global Greenhouse Gas Watch
Filling information gaps and providing an integrated framework
Unifying surface-based and space-based observations, modeling, and data assimilation
Overcoming limitations in international exchange of greenhouse gas observations and modeling products
Endorsement by the World Meteorological Congress
Recognizing the societal significance of greenhouse gas monitoring
Supporting scientific understanding of the Earth System
Strengthening the underpinning of mitigation actions for climate agreements
Components of the Global Greenhouse Gas Watch
A. Comprehensive Observations
Surface-based and satellite-based monitoring of CO2, CH4, and N2O
Monitoring of concentrations, total and partial column amounts, vertical profiles, and fluxes
Exchange of data internationally to facilitate rapid information sharing
B. Prior Estimation of GHG Emissions
Utilizing activity data and process-based models to estimate emissions
Providing crucial insights for mitigation planning
C. Global Earth System Models
Developing high-resolution models representing GHG cycles
Enhancing understanding of the carbon cycle and its implications
D. Data Assimilation Systems
Combining observations with model calculations for higher accuracy
Generating valuable products to support decision-making
Improving Evaluation of GHG Sources and Sinks
Gridded information on GHG and their fluxes
Enhancing understanding of their association with the biosphere, ocean, and permafrost areas.
About World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Key Points:
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for promoting international cooperation in meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and related fields.
Here are some key points about the WMO:
Purpose: The WMO’s main objective is to facilitate the exchange of meteorological, climatological, and hydrological information and services worldwide. It aims to promote the understanding of Earth’s weather and climate systems, improve weather forecasting, monitor and assess climate change, and enhance the availability and accessibility of weather and climate-related data.
Establishment: The WMO was established in 1950 as a successor to the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873. It became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1951.
Membership: The WMO has 193 member states and territories, making it one of the largest United Nations specialized agencies. Each member state designates its national meteorological or hydrological service as its representative to the organization.
Governance: The WMO is governed by the World Meteorological Congress, which meets every four years. The Congress establishes the policies, direction, and budget of the organization. The day-to-day activities of the WMO are carried out by the Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General.
India Secured Approval to Set Up Second Hydropower Project in Nepal
Nepal has decided to allow India’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) Limited to develop a second hydropower project in the country. At present SJVN is developing a 900-MW Arun -III hydroelectric project, a run-of-river located on the Arun River in Eastern Nepal, scheduled to be completed in 2024. A meeting of the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) chaired by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda approved the draft project development agreement (PDA) to be signed with India’s state-owned SJVN to develop the 669-megawatt (MW) Lower Arun Hydropower project in eastern Nepal.
India Secured Approval to Set Up Second Hydropower Project in Nepal: Key Points
The decision for development comes days before Prime Minister Prachanda visited India.
The draft needs to be endorsed by the Council of Ministers before it gets implemented. The previous meeting of the IBN had approved a Rs 92.68 billion investment for the development of the project.
The development of this 669-MW transformative project will prove to be a milestone for the socio-economic development of the country, according to the statement by the IBN.
The SJVN has formed a local company, Lower Arun Power Development Company, in Nepal.
The Lower Arun project located in the Sankhuwasabha and Bhojpur districts will not have any reservoir or dam and will be a tailrace development of Arun-III, which will mean water re-enters the river for the Lower Arun project.
This is the third project undertaken, all through negotiation windows, on the Arun River after the 900 MW Arun-III and 695 MW Arun-IV hydroelectricity projects.
The three projects will generate nearly 2,300 MW of electricity from the river in the Sankhuwasabha district.