The USA has declared a bounty of $55 million for information on connections of the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro and his associates in drug trafficking and narco-terrorism.
Crux of the Matter
Maduro has had topsy-turvy relations with the US since his re-election in the 2018 elections. The US accused Maduro of occupying the Presidential post unconstitutionally in the country. But Maduro, backed by Russia and China, continued serving as the President.
The US declared charges against Maduro after an investigation by US Federal services. The US said that strict steps are necessary to remove deeply rooted corruption in Venezuela that has resulted in the crippling of its democracy and democratic values. Allegations on Maduro are that he helped the Colombian revolutionary group, the FARC for drug trafficking and flooding the United States with Cocaine. He is also accused of facilitating drug trafficking routes through air and water via Venezuela along with running a drug cartel even though he is occupying a government office.
Thus amid escalating tension, US and US allies evacuated their embassies from Venezuela. Besides Maduro, the US has filed charges against more than a dozen others that include Venezuelan government and intelligence officials and members of the Colombian rebel group FARC.
Maduro defended himself by saying that Donald Trump is politically motivated to remove him from the office. He added that before the US Presidential election, such a move might give Donald Trump fame, and thus he is trying hard to make it more political. He further said that by hook or crook the US wants him to vacate his post.
Nicolás Maduro Moros is a Venezuelan politician serving as president of Venezuela since 2013. His presidency has been disputed by Juan Guaidó since January 2019. Beginning his working life as a bus driver, Maduro rose to become a trade union leader before being elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He was appointed to a number of positions under President Hugo Chávez and was described in 2012 by the Wall Street Journal as the “most capable administrator and politician of Chávez’s inner circle”. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and as vice president of Venezuela from 2012 to 2013 under Chávez. After Chávez’s death was announced on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the presidency.
Shortages in Venezuela and decreased living standards led to protests beginning in 2014 that escalated into daily marches nationwide, repression of dissent and a decline in Maduro’s popularity. According to The New York Times, Maduro’s administration was held “responsible for grossly mismanaging the economy and plunging the country into a deep humanitarian crisis” and attempting to “crush the opposition by jailing or exiling critics, and using lethal force against anti-government protesters”. An opposition-led National Assembly was elected in 2015 and a movement toward recalling Maduro began in 2016. Maduro called for a rewrite of the constitution, and the Constituent Assembly of Venezuela was elected in 2017, under what many—including Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega and Smartmatic, the company that ran the voting machines—considered irregular voting conditions; the majority of its members were pro-Maduro. On 20 May 2018, presidential elections were called prematurely, opposition leaders had been jailed, exiled or forbidden to run, there was no international observation, and tactics to suggest voters could lose their jobs or social welfare if they did not vote for Maduro were used. Multiple nations did not recognize the Constituent Assembly election or the validity of Maduro’s 2018 reelection;the Canadian, Panamanian, and the United States governments sanctioned Maduro. More Info
In the Budget session of the Parliament, the Cabinet approved two schemes associated with electronics manufacturing in India. Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing and Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC2.0) schemes were passed in the parliament.
Crux of the Matter
EMC2.0 as the Support System Through the development of infrastructure and common amenities, this scheme would help in the development of the Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector and an entrepreneurial environment in electronics manufacturing.
It will aid in setting up Electronics Manufacturing Clusters in certain geographical areas, and Common Facility Centre (CFC) in industrial parks, etc at a cost of ₹3,762.25 crores. The following benefits can be yielded out of the Scheme:
It will create a robust infrastructure with Plug & Play offices.
It will bring new investment in the electronics sector.
It will create new job opportunities in the electronics manufacturing sector.
It will generate revenue, in the form of taxes, for the government as well.
“Assemble in India for the World” PLI scheme is aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing and investment in specified electronic components including ATMP (Assembly, Testing, Marking, and Packaging) units and mobile production. It will achieve this through a production linked incentive in which it will extend a 4-6% incentive on incremental sales of Indian-made goods over a period of 5 years. It is likely to benefit 5-6 global players and a few domestic electronics manufacturers.
The government has set aside a sum of ₹40,995 crores for this scheme. It is estimated that the scheme will generate 2 lakh direct jobs. India produced ₹1.70 lakh crores worth mobile phones in 2018-19. With the conflux of this ‘Assemble in India for the World’ and ‘Make in India’, India aims to boost its electronic production.
New World Leader Coronavirus may have hampered the growth of Chinese manufacturing as many world nations are mulling over sanctioning China. After the USA-China Trade War, now Coronavirus may have a lasting impact on the Chinese industry. India’s production boost, especially in the electronics and mobile manufacturing, can put India abreast of China. India can see this as an opportunity to become a manufacturing hub for multinationals, besides definitely encouraging domestic production.
The electronics industry in China grew rapidly after the liberalization of the economy under the national strategic policy of accelerating the “informatization” of its industrial development. Manufacturing was the sector that grew the fastest. Major Chinese electronics companies include BOE, Changhong, Haier, Hisense, Huawei, Konka, Lenovo, Panda Electronics, Skyworth, SVA, TCL, Xiaomi, Oppo, DJI and ZTE. China’s production recorded the largest world market share for its electronics exports in 2016. It also recorded high volume outputs across a wide spectrum of consumer electronics; between 2014 and 2015—according to China Daily—286.2 million personal computers (90.6% of the global supply), 1.77 billion phones (70.6% of global supply of smartphones) and 109 million units (80% of global supply of air conditioners) were produced. More Info
The number of Coronavirus cases in the US has been rising exponentially over the last few days. There are already more than 50,000 infected people in the US and it seems that it might overtake Italy if the virus is not stemmed. Despite a low number of deaths in the US (less than 1000) the World Health Organization (WHO) thinks that the US might become another hotspot for the pandemic. Complete Coverage: Coronavirus
Crux of the Matter
No One Wants to Rank Higher in This Game In a span of two weeks, US has seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. The situation, that very much feels like Italy, could make the US the next epicenter of the pandemic, says WHO. US’s most densely populated city New York has seen a massive surge in the number of cases. With more than 26,000 cases, it constitutes nearly 45% of cases in US.
As of 25th March 2020, the US has more than 55,000 cases as compared to 1,301 cases on 11th March 2020 – a 4200% rise in two weeks! Italy is nearing 70,000 cases and has the highest fatality rate from COVID-19 of nearly 10%. As per WHO, Coronavirus epicentre shifted first from China to Europe, specifically Italy, and now it is shifting to the US.
Complacent US Government US government was among the first nations to announce interest rate cuts and fiscal stimulus package to combat the impact of Coronavirus. However, the rising number of cases in New York has required hospital beds three times more than what is available. Meanwhile, Prez Trump was seen making an announcement that he wants targeted lockdowns only and does not want to hurt businesses unnecessarily. Trump said he would open the country by mid-April around Easter.
If you ask the American people to choose between public health and the economy, then it’s no contest. No American is going to say accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.
– Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor
In 2009, Swine Flu had emerged from the US, and during Week 16 it was much less spread and fatal than COVID-19. The doubling rate of Coronavirus is higher than that of Swine Flu. Therefore, before the complacent behavior of the US takes many lives of its citizens, strong measures to contain the virus would be necessary.
Coronavirus in Italy An ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 was first confirmed to have spread to Italy on 31 January 2020, when two Chinese tourists in Rome tested positive for the virus. One week later an Italian man repatriated back to Italy from the city of Wuhan, China, was hospitalised and confirmed as the third case in Italy. A cluster of cases was later detected, starting with 16 confirmed cases in Lombardy on 21 February, and 60 additional cases and first deaths on 22 February. By the beginning of March, the virus had spread to all regions of Italy.
On 22 February, the government established a lockdown for eleven municipalities in Lombardy and Veneto. On 7 March, the government prepared to extend until 3 April the restricted zone to all of Lombardy, plus fourteen other provinces. The lockdown affects over 16 million people, roughly a quarter of Italy’s total population, and prevents people from entering or leaving the zone, except “for proven occupational needs or situations of need or for health reasons”, under threat of fines. The pandemic provoked large economic damage to the Italian economy. The sectors of tourism, accommodation and food services were among the hardest hit by foreign countries’ limitations to travel to Italy, and by the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government on 8 March. Multiple factories, like Fiat Chrysler, halted production in some of their plants. On 12 March, the Italian stock market was among the worst hit during Black Thursday, when the FTSE MIB index lost 17% of its value in one day. More Info
EU a Vacation Home for Britain? While the global tensions were freezing down after World War II into a Cold War, European nations, in 1957, formed the European Economic Community (EEC), which the United Kingdom was not a part of. In 1963, UK showed hints of joining the EEC. However, then President of France, Charles de Gaulle was skeptical about the British tilting towards the Americans even after EEC membership.
UK joined EEC in 1973 and soon after, in 1975, it was on the brink of exiting. It was saved by a referendum, a first during the period of Britain’s stay in the EEC. The politically Eurosceptic Labour Party lost its limb and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was formed.
The rollercoaster went downhill again in 1984 when Conservative Party PM Margaret Thatcher took a tough stance towards the payment of Farm Subsidies to the EEC at a time when UK was the third poorest country amongst EU nations. The Iron Lady’s strong opinion was heeded then and is in place to date. This event is seen to have given UK a more vocal position in the EEC.
European Union was founded in 1992 through the signing of the Maastricht Treaty by EEC member nations. Britain’s bumpy ride with the EU started on various different terms post-1992.
21st Century Britain’s Outlook on EU Once all-pervasive and powerful, the British were slowly losing ground in the EU. Due to the horror of the ‘Mad Cow‘ disease, British Beef was banned by EU nations during the late ’90s. At the beginning of the 21st Century, British-made chocolates, that contained vegetable-oil, sparked a controversy. And with the addition of 8 new members in the EU in 2004, Britain was apprehensive about the flocking economic migrants.
While the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was settling, David Cameron, PM of UK, in a very bold move rejected an EU treaty in 2011 on the grounds that it did not protect the financial sector of Britain. EU members were enraged with Britain’s decision and mulled over Britain’s stay in the EU.
Cameron fought elections with the agenda of renegotiating the UK-EU terms. Cameron won the election and decided to hold a referendum on whether Britain will remain in the EU on June 23, 2016.
I don’t just want a better deal for Britain. I want a better deal for Europe too. It will be an in-out referendum. It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision.
– David Cameron in his 2013 Bloomberg Speech
Post Referendum Snapshot 2016 Referendum resulted in 51.9% voters voting to ‘Leave‘ EU. Pro-Euro Cameron resigned and Theresa May held office. On March 29, 2017, May revoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Revoking the Article is the first step if a country voluntarily wants to leave the EU. May also stated that UK would not be a part of the EU Customs Union and the Single Market, and that European Court of Justice (ECJ) would not have jurisdiction over UK. The Brexit date was formalized to be 29 March 2019 even if Britain had a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ with the EU. It must be noted that Northern Ireland and Scotland voted against Brexit.
One of the issues that hindered the problem was UK’s demand to build a hard border between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK. Interestingly, Northern Ireland, which voted against Brexit, will continue to follow EU norms. Whereas Scotland is mulling over an independence referendum.
Britan’s Exit Deal negotiation stretched for two years. In 2018, the EU rejected the UK-prepared revised Exit proposal that outlined UK – EU ties post-Brexit. EU and UK were to decide upon the divorce on fronts of legality, politics, economic policies, trade & commerce, migration laws, aerospace laws, etc.
May’s Brexit Proposal got rejected three times in the UK House of Commons. Brexit Date got extended from March 29, 2019, to 30 June 2019 to 31 October 2019. In the compelling European Parliament Elections of May 2019, the pro-Brexit Party won. Thersa May resigned and Boris Johnson was asked by the Queen to form the government.
On 17 October 2019, EU and UK agreed on the revised Exit proposal. Extending the Brexit Date for the third time, EU deferred it to 31 January 2020. Boris Johnson, PM of UK, presented EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill which passed in the House of Commons and later in Parliament, once MPs were assured that a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ is off the table. It received Royal Assent on 23 January 2020.
What Next for Britain? The Act is up for a vote in the European Parliament on 29 January 2020. With the Brexit date on 31 January 2020, the UK must get the Act passed in the European Parliament or either get an extension or settle for a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ – a scenario in which Britain exits EU without withdrawal agreement.
If the Act passes, the UK will undergo an 11-month transition period. During that period, UK and EU will negotiate the terms and conditions on trade, aviation, water treaties, law, data security and sharing, utility supplies, pharma treaties, etc. ECJ will hold jurisdiction over UK and almost all the rules including movement in UK by citizens of EU members, and of Britons in EU will remain the same.
Maastricht Treaty – The treaty founded the European Union and established its pillar structure which stayed in place until the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009. The treaty also greatly expanded the competences of the EEC/EU and led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro. More Info
Mad Cow – In the United Kingdom, from 1986 to 2015, more than 184,000 cattle were diagnosed with the peak of new cases occurring in 1993. It is believed that a few million cattle with the condition likely entered the food supply during the outbreak. More Info
The Irish backstop is a defunct appendix to a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement developed by the May government and the European Commission in December 2017 and finalised in November 2018, that aimed to prevent an evident border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. The backstop would have required keeping Northern Ireland in some aspects of the Single Market, until an alternative arrangement were agreed between the EU and the UK. More Info
Diplomats from 15 countries visited the Valley to monitor the current situation closely. The fact-finding mission is the first one since the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir. India wants the International community to be assured of the normalcy in the region.
Several politicians were detained as part of preventive measures and none other than Indian politicians were allowed to visit J&K.
In October, EU Parliament members visited the Valley but this is for the first time Delhi invited foreign diplomats to visit India controlled J&K to have a ground report of Kashmir’s situation.
Envoys consisted of members from US, Vietnam, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Morocco, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Peru.
Aim of the visit is to interact with civil society leaders, have a briefing on security parameters, and talk with Army and Intelligence Services.
EU envoy visit is postponed but it will be important as it has put forth a demand to give them a free hand which may also include meeting detained political figures like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti.
The reviews of envoys at the International level will be of greater importance for India because of the constant portrayal of a tense situation in Kashmir at the international front.
The government has started postpaid telephone services and SMS services to bring back normalcy in the region.
Indian government has denied this visit to be a planned one.
Jammu and Kashmir (Union Territory) – J&K has been a subject of dispute between India and Pakistan. Moreover constant terrorist infiltration in India has caused great distress in this region. But after the abrogation of Article 370, there has been a reduction in the violent elements in the valley. More Info