Context: India has asked state reﬁners to speed up diversiﬁcation of oil imports to gradually cut their dependence on West Asian suppliers after OPEC+ decided last week to largely continue production cuts in April.
- India is world’s third biggest oil consumer.
- It imports about 84% of its crude needs with over 60% of that coming from West Asian countries, which are typically cheaper than from the West.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia are the two biggest suppliers of crude oil to India.
Need to diversify supplier basket
- India, hit hard by rising oil prices, has urged producers to ease output cuts and help the global economic recovery.
- In response, the Saudi energy minister told India to dip into strategic reserves ﬁled with cheaper oil bought last year.
- India cannot be held hostage to arbitrary decision of Middle East producers.
What diversification would imply?
- While initial costs could be high, the strategy will pay oﬀ in the long term.
- One plan is to import oil from new producer Guyana.
- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in Baghdad, Iraq.An agreement was signed in September 1960 by five countries-Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
- It has a total of 14 Member Countries.
- OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization.
- It is a permanent, intergovernmental organization.
- It headquarter is in Vienna, Austria.
- The non-OPEC countries which export crude oil are called OPEC plus countries.
- It includes Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
Source: The Hindu
The Virus passport
- China has launched a health certiﬁcate programme for Chinese international travellers. China has become first country to launch the so called virus passport.
- It is a digital certiﬁcate which shows a user’s vaccination status and virus test results. It is not yet mandatory.
- It is available for Chinese citizens via a programme on Chinese social media platform We Chat.
- Although the certiﬁcate is meant for travel in and out of China, it is currently only available for use by Chinese citizens. There is also no indication authorities in other countries will use it when Chinese travellers go abroad.
- The aim of rolling out the certiﬁcate is being described as “to help promote world economic recovery and facilitate cross border travel”.
Source: The Hindu
The two terminals in Colombo
- Sri Lanka booted India and Japan out of a 2019 deal to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port.
- Reason cited by Sri Lanka: Trade unions and sections of the Buddhist clergy opposed foreign involvement in the strategic national asset.
- As an alternative, West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Port to India and Japan for joint development on new terms, with higher stakes of 85 % for the foreign partners.
The Colombo Port has ﬁve terminals at present — South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT), Jaya International Terminal ( JCT), Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), Unity Container Terminal, and the ECT. The proposed WCT is to come up at the Port’s western end.
Difference between ECT and WCT
Although both ECT and WCT are located in the same port, there are crucial differences.
- The ECT is partially functional with a 600metre quay wall, backyard, and gate complex. It awaits further development to augment operations and cargo transfers.
- The WCT exists only as an idea with no physical infrastructure. Its development would require greater investment and take more time to be proﬁtable.
- In the ECT deal, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was to hold a majority stake of 51%, while Indian and Japanese investors were to hold 49% together.
- The WCT deal offered envisages 85% for the Indian and Japanese investors, for 35 years, while the SLPA would hold the rest. The arrangement is similar to the CICT, where China Merchants Port Holdings Company holds an 85% stake.
Source: The Hindu
- It is a joint exercise between between India and Uzbekistan army. It is to be held from March 1019.
- The Army will showcase its Counter Insurgency (CI) and Counter Terrorism (CT) skills.
- The Army’s 13 Kumaon regiment, also called the Rezang La battalion for its heroic action in the 1962 war with China, has been nominated from the Indian side for the company level CI, CT exercise being held at Chaubatia,near Ranikhet in Uttarakhand
Broad aim of the exercise
- CI,CT operations in mountainous, rural and urban scenarios under United Nations (UN) mandate.
- Army will share the experiences and lessons it has gained in Kashmir.
- The focus will be on peoplecentric intelligence based surgical operations, incorporating technological advancements to minimise collateral damage.
Importance of Uzbekistan
- Uzbekistan is important to India for security and connectivity to Central Asian region and also Iran.
- It is also one alternative India has with respect to Afghanistan.
Source: The Hindu
Cyber volunteer programme
Context: The Ministry of Home Aﬀairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha on that a “cyber volunteer” pro gramme has been rolled out.
What is the programme all about?
- The MHA, through its cyber crime grievance portal cybercrime.gov.in, aims to raise a group of “cyber crime volunteers” to ﬂag “unlawful content” on the Internet.
- It aims for “cyber hygiene promotion”.
- The volunteers will be enrolled and their services utilized by the respective State/UT Police Authorities, as per their requirement.
Rationale by the government
- Cyber Crime Volunteer Framework has been rolled out as an initiative as a part of cyber hygiene promotion.
- It is to bring together citizens to contribute in the ﬁght against cyber crime in the country and assist law enforcement agencies in their endeavour to curb cyber crimes.
- Various groups have expressed concern that the programme enables a culture of surveillance.
- Infringement of privacy due to malicious intrusion into an individual’s online activities.
- It could create potential social distrust by encouraging civilians to report the online activities of other citizens.