Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 09 September 2023

India, ASEAN agree to deepen strategic ties

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

India and 10-nation ASEAN agreed to deepen their comprehensive strategic partnership with concrete actions through practical implementation of the 'Plan of Action' to implement the ASEAN-India partnership for peaceprogress and shared prosperity.

More about agreement

  • In a joint statement on maritime cooperation, it was agreed to support India's connectivity initiatives in the region to ensure seamless connectivity in the Indo-Pacific, besides boosting cooperation in a range of areas including blue economyspace and food security among others.
  • The two sides agreed to deepen their comprehensive strategic partnership with concrete actions through practical implementation of the 'Plan of Action' to implement the ASEAN-India partnership for peace, progress and shared prosperity.
  • They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peacestabilitymaritime safety and securityfreedom of navigation and overflight in the region, and other lawful uses of the seas and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce and to promote peaceful resolutions of disputes, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • The two sides agreed to further strengthen ASEAN-India cooperation on maritime safety and security, promote cooperation in a Blue Economy and develop new and renewable energy including marine-based renewable energy, among others.
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the USChinaJapan and Australia are its dialogue partners.
  • ASEAN-India dialogue relations started with the establishment of a sectoral partnership in 1992.
  • This graduated to a full dialogue partnership in December 1995 and a summit-level partnership in 2002. The ties were elevated to a strategic partnership in 2012.

What is ASEAN?

  • On 8 August 1967, five leaders – the Foreign Ministers of IndonesiaMalaysia, the PhilippinesSingapore and Thailand – came together in Bangkok.
  • Thailand was brokering some disputes among Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and it eventually led to the signing of a document.
  • The five Foreign Ministers who signed it – Adam Malik of IndonesiaNarciso R. Ramos of the PhilippinesTun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand – would subsequently be hailed as the Founding Fathers of probably the most successful inter-governmental organisation in the developing world today. And the document that they signed would be known as the ASEAN Declaration.
  • The ASEAN Declaration signed by the five leaders conveyed the aspiration to further regional cooperation. These were about cooperation in the economicsocialculturaltechnicaleducational and other fields, and in the promotion of regional peace and stability and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
  • Its major pillars that help lay out a blueprint for cooperation are Political-Security Community (APSC)Economic Community (AEC) and Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

Indore ranks first in Clean Air Survey 2023

GS Paper - 2 (Infrastructure)

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav awarded first rank to the Information Technology hub of Madhya Pradesh, Indore, in the Swachh Vayu Sarvekshan-2023 (or Clean Air Survey), conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board.

More about the Sarvekshan-2023

  • Under the first category (million-plus population), Indore ranked first, followed by Agra and ThaneAmravati secured first rank in the second category (3-10 lakh population), followed by Moradabad and Guntur.
  • Similarly, for the third category (less than 3 lakh population), Parwanoo secured the first rank, followed by Kala Amb and Angul.
  • The fourth International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies (Swachh Vayu Diwas 2023) aims to create stronger partnershipsincrease investment, and share responsibility for overcoming air pollution, with the global theme of "Together for Clean Air."

About NCAP

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has been implementing the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a national-level strategy, outlining the actions for reducing the levels of air pollution at city and regional scales in India since 2019.
  • The NCAP aims to systematically address air pollution by engaging all stakeholders and ensuring necessary action.
  • total of 131 cities have been identified for the implementation of the city-specific action plans under this programme, for reducing air pollution by up to 40 per cent by FY26.
  • NCAP focuses on the preparation and implementation of national-level action plansstate-level action plans, and city-level action plans for the targeted 131 cities.


  • The NCAP Ministry has also launched "PRANA", a portal for monitoring the implementation of NCAP.
  • In this portal, action plans of cities, states, and line ministries will be reflected and monitored for their implementation status.
  • In addition, best practices adopted by cities are shared on the PRANA portal for adoption by other cities.

Cabinet approves VGF for battery storage system

GS Paper - 3 (Energy)

The Union Cabinet has approved a scheme for providing viability gap funding (VGF) for developing battery storage of 4 gigawatt (Gw) by 2030-31. The VGF for the battery energy storage system (BESS) will have an initial outlay of Rs 9,400 crore and this will include a budgetary grant of Rs 3,700 crore.

More about the News

  • The VGF would be disbursed in five tranches and be linked with the various stages of implementation of BESS projects. The scheme is aimed at supporting the energy storage needs of the renewable energy sector, especially solar and wind.
  • Given their restricted hours/seasons of operation, energy storage ensures round-the-clock green energy.
  • The VGF scheme for BESS projects was first announced in Budget 2023. Through the scheme, the Centre is aiming to bring down the cost of battery storage systems and increase their viability.
  • By offering VGF support, the scheme targets achieving a Levelized Cost of Storage (LCoS) ranging from Rs 5.50-6.60 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), making stored renewable energy a viable option for managing peak power demand across the country, said a statement by the ministry of power.
  • The statement further said that 85 percent of BESS projects under the scheme would be provided to the power distribution companies (discoms).
  • This will not only enhance the integration of renewable energy into the electricity grid but also minimise wastage while optimising the utilisation of transmission networks. Consequently, this will reduce the need for costly infrastructure upgrades.
  • Developers for these BESS projects would be selected through a competitive bidding process, to be open for both public and private sector. This approach will foster healthy competition and encourage the growth of a robust ecosystem for BESS, attracting significant investments and generating opportunities for associated industries.

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