Current Affairs 31 October 2022

1.     GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL (GCC)

  • News: India and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member-countries are expected to start talks on a free trade pact next month with an aim to boost economic ties.
  • India and GCC ties:
    • India imports mostly crude oil and natural gas from Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and exports pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, metals, imitation jewellery, electrical machinery, iron and steel, and chemicals to these countries.
    • India’s exports to the GCC increased by 58.26% to about $44 billion in 2021-22 from $27.8 billion in 2020-21, according to the commerce ministry.
    • The share of these six countries in India’s total exports has risen to 10.4% in 2021-22 from 9.51% in 2020-21.
    • Imports rose by 85.8% to $110.73 billion compared to $59.6 billion in 2020-21.
    • The share of GCC members in India’s total imports rose to 18% in 2021-22 from 15.5% in 2020-21.
    • Bilateral trade has increased to $154.73 billion in 2021-22 from $87.4 billion in 2020-21.
    • Besides trade, Gulf nations are host to a sizeable Indian population. Out of about 32 million non-resident Indians (NRIs), nearly half are thought to be working in Gulf countries. These NRIs send a significant amount of money back home.
    • Saudi Arabia was India’s fourth-largest trading partner last fiscal.
    • From Qatar, India imports 8.5 million tonnes a year of gas and exports products ranging from cereals to meat, fish, chemicals and plastics.
  • About Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC):
    • The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a regional, intergovernmental, political, and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
    • The council’s main headquarters is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
    • The Charter of the GCC was signed on 25 May 1981, formally establishing the institution.
    • All current member states are monarchies, including three constitutional monarchies (Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain), two absolute monarchies (Saudi Arabia and Oman), and one federal monarchy (the United Arab Emirates, which is composed of seven member states, each of which is an absolute monarchy with its own emir).
    • There have been discussions regarding the future membership of Jordan, Morocco, and Yemen.

2.     PM KUSUM SCHEME

  • News: Stating that solar energy is changing the lives of the poor and middle class of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday lauded India’s progress made in solar power generation.
  • About PM KUSUM Scheme:
    • The Scheme consists of three components:
      • Component A:10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants of individual plant size up to 2 MW.
      • Component B:Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
      • Component C: Solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Agriculture Pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
    • During the extended tenure of the scheme beyond 2022 and until March 2026, the following amendments have been made:
      • Inter-se transfer of quantities across Component B and C are being allowed
      • Under Component-B and Component-C of the Scheme, Central Financial Assistance (CFA) will be available for pump capacity upto 15 HP to the individual farmers in the North eastern States;  UTs  of Jammu  &  Kashmir and  Ladakh; and  the  States of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. However, the CFA for pumps up to l5 HP will be restricted to 10% of the total installations.
      • The condition or the domestic content requirement for solar cells has been waived off for the feeder level solarization under Component-C for the projects awarded by the implementing agency on or before 20.06.2023.
      • Budgetary allocation or Rs. 10,000 Crore approved by CCEA will be utilized before accessing the extra-budgetary resources.
    • Scheme benefits
      • The scheme will open a stable and continuous source of income to the rural land owners for a period of 25 years by utilisation of their dry/uncultivable land. Further, in case cultivated fields are chosen for setting up solar power project, the farmers could continue to grow crops as the solar panels are to be set up above a minimum height.
      • The scheme would ensure that sufficient local solar/ other renewable energy based power is available for feeding rural load centres and agriculture pump-set loads, which require power mostly during the day time. As these power plants will be located closer to the agriculture loads or to electrical substations in a decentralized manner, it will result in reduced Transmission losses for STUs and Discoms. Moreover, the scheme will also help the Discoms to achieve the RPO target
      • The solar pumps will save the expenditure incurred on diesel for running diesel pump and provide the farmers a reliable source of irrigation through solar pump apart from preventing harmful pollution from running diesel pump. In light of the long waiting list for electric grid connection, this scheme will benefit 17.5 lakh farmers over a period of four years, without adding to the grid load.