Spike in Crude Prices
GS 3: Economy
- The recent spike in global crude oil prices above the $80-per-barrel mark led rose concerns over the impact on inflation, currency and input cost for companies across sectors. However, as prices eased, indices in India recovered in line with global markets.
Reasons behind Oil Pricing:
- Crude prices have risen sharply in 2021 on the back of a recovery in global demand as the world economy recovers from the pandemic.
- Supply restrictions maintained by the OPEC+ grouping , too, have kept international oil prices high.
- So far, these oil-producing economies have signalled only slow production increases, which is leading to a rise in gas prices as well.
- A shortage of gas in Europe and Asia has boosted demand for oil for power generation.
- The rise in crude prices has contributed to petrol and diesel prices.
- Prices of petrol and diesel in India are pegged to a 15-day rolling average of the international prices of these fuels.
- High taxes by the central and state governments too have contributed to retail prices being far higher.
Impact on stocks and bonds:
- Impact on stocks – A sharp surge in oil prices can create short-term panic in the equity markets.
- Equities often deliver more than the expected inflation that the oil surge may lead to.
- Impact on bonds – Sustained high inflation can result in rising yields and falling bond prices.
- For bonds, central bank policies will play a far greater role than the direct impact of rising oil prices.
- In sectors where oil is a major cost component, a negative reaction on returns can be expected.
- Impact on currency – Rising crude prices tend to depress the rupee as India being a major importer of oil.
- It will lead to expansion in the import bill as it is expected that Brent crude can test the $ 90/barrel mark.
- Impact on inflation – Rise in prices could lead to a surge in inflation, forcing the RBI to go for liquidity tightening measures followed by rate hikes.
- An increase in crude prices means an increase in the cost of producing and transporting goods thus adding to inflation.
- Impact on government finances – A surge in crude prices tends to increase India’s expenditure and adversely affects the fiscal deficit.
- Impact on market – Sectors including refining, lubricants, aviation and tyres are sensitive to oil price movement.
- Rise in crude oil prices impact their input raw material cost and profitability thereby hurting their share prices.
Henley Passport Index 2021
GS 2: International Relations
- India has been ranked 90th in the most powerful passport report ‘Henley Passport Index 2021’.
- The Henley Passport Index is the original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
- The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information.
- The index covers 227 destinations and 199 passports.
- Japan and Singapore stood at the top of this year’s list, with their passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 192 countries, while South Korea and Germany share the second position.
- Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen are among the least powerful.
- India, which held the 84th rank last year, fell down to the 90th position, with its passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 58 countries.
- India shares the rank with Tajikistan and Burkina Faso.
Cauvery Affected by Contamination
GS 3: Environment and Conservation
- A new study has found that the waters of the Cauvery river in south India are polluted by a range of emerging contaminants that include pharmaceutically active compounds, personal care products, plastics, flame retardants, heavy metals and pesticides, among many others.
- The study was carried out with funding from the Water Technology Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the Natural Environment Research Council in the U.K.
- According to the researchers this underscores the need to regularly monitor the river and its tributaries for pharmaceutical contamination.
- The contamination is particularly serious because India is the second largest pharmaceutical manufacturer.
- Drug compounds, when released into water bodies even in minuscule amounts, can harm human beings and the ecosystem in the long term.
- The researchers called for upgrading wastewater treatment systems.
- The study also highlighted the need to assess the long-term impact of such contamination on human health and the ecosystem.
- The researchers monitored the water quality for two years to assess the seasonal variation of emerging contaminants, especially pharmaceutically active compounds.
- The team collected water samples from 22 locations along the entire stretch.
- The quality of water in the catchments was also monitored.
- It found that water quality and the levels of pharmaceutical contaminants were influenced by the monsoon.
- The levels were high after monsoon owing to the reduced riverine flow and continuous waste discharge.
Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC)
GS 3: Defence and Security
- The Supreme Court allowed girls to appear in the entrance examination scheduled for December 2021 for admission to the RIMC. The exam is taken for entry to Class 8 at the RIMC.
- RIMC is an Inter Service Category ‘A’ establishment, administered through the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
- Christened the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College, it was inaugurated on 13 March 1922.
- It is a military school situated in Doon Valley, Dehradun.
- The RIMC is a feeder institution for the National Defence Academy, Indian Naval Academy and subsequently the Indian Armed Forces.
Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR-2021
- Recently, the 6th Edition of India – UK Joint Company Level Military Training Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR has commenced in Uttarakhand.
- Earlier, India and the UK participated in a two-day bilateral Passage Exercise (PASSEX) in the Bay of Bengal.
- The exercise is conducted alternatively in the United Kingdom and India.
- The exercise is part of an initiative to develop interoperability and sharing expertise with friendly foreign nations.
- During this exercise, an Infantry Company from the Indian Army and an equivalent strength from UK Army would be sharing their experiences gained during the conduct of various military operations in their respective countries and during overseas engagements.
- Together, both the armies stand to benefit from their varied experiences.
- As part of the training, both the Armies would familiarise with each other’s weapons, equipment, tactics, techniques and procedures for carrying out joint military operations.
- There would be a series of Expert Academic Discussions on various subjects of mutual interest such as Combined Arms Concept, Sharing of Experiences in Joint Force, Operation Logistics etc.
- The joint military training would culminate with a grueling 48 hours exercise to validate the performance of both the Armies in conducting joint military operations in a semi-urban environment.
- This joint military training will go a long way in improving bilateral relations and also will be a major step towards further strengthening the traditional bond of friendship between the two Nations.
PM Cares for Children Scheme
GS 1: Social Issues
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued the detailed guidelines for PM CARES for Children Scheme.
- Prime Minister on had announced comprehensive support for children who have lost both their parents due to COVID 19 pandemic.
- The objective of the scheme is to ensure comprehensive care and protection of children who have lost their parent(s) to COVID pandemic.
- The PM CARES for children scheme inter alia provides support to these children through convergent approach, gap funding for ensuring education, health, monthly stipend from the age of 18 years, and lump sum amount of Rs. 10 lakh on attaining 23 years of age.
- The eligible children shall be enrolled from 29.05.2021 which is the date of announcement by the Prime Minister to 31.12.2021 to avail benefits of PM CARES for Children Scheme.
- The Scheme is expected to continue till the year when every identified beneficiary shall turn 23 years of age.
- The eligibility criterion for the scheme will cover all children who have lost:
- Both parents
- Surviving parent
- Legal guardian/adoptive parents/single adoptive parent due to COVID 19 pandemic, starting from 11.03.2020 the date on which WHO has declared and characterized COVID-19 as pandemic till 31.12.2021, shall be entitled to benefits under this scheme.
- Child should not have completed 18 years of age on the date of death of parents.