Daily Current Affairs 11.12.2022(Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu is Himachal Pradesh CM,Parliament must examine issue of age of consent: CJI Chandrachud, Resurgence of far-right extremism is a cause of concern for Germany,IMF holds talks about debt situation of Sri Lanka, Zambia, European Parliament vice-president arrested over graft charges linked to Qatar ,Is anaemia seen in 3 in 10 rural men due to iron deficiency?,Those fascinating hornbills,Will new Alzheimer’s drug work?,Why a price cap on Russian oil?)

Daily Current Affairs 11.12.2022(Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu is Himachal Pradesh CM,Parliament must examine issue of age of consent: CJI Chandrachud, Resurgence of far-right extremism is a cause of concern for Germany,IMF holds talks about debt situation of Sri Lanka, Zambia, European Parliament vice-president arrested over graft charges linked to Qatar ,Is anaemia seen in 3 in 10 rural men due to iron deficiency?,Those fascinating hornbills,Will new Alzheimer’s drug work?,Why a price cap on Russian oil?)


1. Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu is Himachal Pradesh CM

Congress leadership makes the announcement after two days of deliberations, MLAs meet Governor Arlekar to stake claim to form government; swearing-in ceremony scheduled for today

Two days after the Congress won 40 seats in the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, the party announced Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu as the new Chief Minister.

Mukesh Agnihotri, who was Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, has been named Deputy Chief Minister.

After two days of deliberations over names of several contenders — including Pratibha Singh, wife of the late six-time CM Virbhadra Singh — the party high command pencilled in Mr. Sukhu for the top post. The Congress Legislature Party meeting held on Saturday elected Mr. Sukhu as its leader. The MLAs met Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar to stake claim to form the government. The swearing-in is slated for December 11.

“Yesterday [Friday], the CLP members had authorised the party high command to pick the legislature party leader. Today, the party’s high command selected Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu as the CLP leader, who would be the Chief Minister. Also, the party has selected Mukesh Agnihotri as Deputy CM. The oath would be taken on December 11,” said Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who is one of the party’s observers for Himachal Pradesh.

Mr. Sukhu said the priority of the government would be to fulfil all the promises made to the people of the State.

A party source confirmed that Mr. Sukhu had received the approval of the top leadership and the CLP was a mere ‘formality’. Mr. Sukhu edged the other contenders including Pratibha Singh, wife of the late six-time CM Virbhadra Singh, and outgoing CLP leader Mr. Agnihotri. It is learnt that a majority of MLAs supported Mr. Sukhu.

To pacify the rival camps, a formula was devised in which Mr. Sukhu was declared the Chief Minister while Mr. Agnihotri was accommodated as Deputy CM.

2. Parliament must examine issue of age of consent: CJI Chandrachud

Chief Justice says the law criminalises all sexual activities for those under the age of 18, even if consent was factually present between two minors; a study shows that in a number of cases, there was romantic relationship between victim and accused

Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud on Saturday appealed to Parliament to have a relook at the issue of age of consent under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, as it posed difficulties for judges examining cases of consensual sexual intercourse between two adolescents.

“In my time as a judge, I have observed that this category of case poses difficult questions for judges across the spectrum. There is a growing concern surrounding this issue which must be considered by the Legislature,” the CJI said at a national stakeholders’ consultation on the POCSO Act, which completes 10 years.

In 2012, the Act raised the age of consent to 18 from 16.

The two-day consultation, which started on Saturday, is being conducted by the Supreme Court’s Committee on Juvenile Justice and is part of its annual stakeholders’ meet.

Explaining the peculiar challenge posed by the Act, he said the law criminalised all sexual activities for those under the age of 18, even if consent was factually present between two minors.

He shared the dais with Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani; Justice Ravinder Bhat, Chairperson of the Supreme Court’s Juvenile Justice Committee; Justice B.V. Nagarathna; and UNICEF’s Country Representative Cynthia McCaffrey. Among the audience were other Supreme Court judges, High Court and POCSO court judges.

The CJI’s comments come at a time when several High Courts have called for an urgent need for legal reform to deal with cases involving consensual sexual intercourse between adolescents. The Madras High Court recently said that it was “eagerly” waiting for the Legislature to reduce the age of consent in the POCSO Act from 18, as it upheld the conviction of a man sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for having kidnapped and repeatedly raped a 17-year-old girl.

In Vijayalakshmi vs State Rep. the Inspector of Police, the Madras High Court questioned the wisdom of criminalising such acts. In Sabari vs Inspector of Police, too, the Madras High Court recommended that the age of consent be revised to 16.

Acquittal rate

The evidence presented before the stakeholders included a study carried out by Enfold Proactive Health Trust, Bengaluru, which found that 93.8% of such cases tried under the POCSO Act ended in acquittal after consuming a median time of 1.4 to 2.3 years from the filing of an FIR to disposal by courts.

These findings were based on an analyses of 1,715 such cases. In one in every four cases registered and disposed of under the POCSO Act, either the “victim” or her family or the special court said that there was a romantic relationship between the victim and the accused.

In more evidence of how the law is misused to punish adolescents involved in consensual sexual intercourse, the study found that 80.2% of such cases were filed by parents or relatives of the girl involved in such a relationship. Girls in such cases, however, do not support the prosecution, and in 87.9% of the cases, they expressly admitted to having a romantic or consensual relationship with the accused.

A similar study in 2018 by the Centre for the Child and the Law at National Law School of India University (CCL-NLSIU) revealed that these constituted 21.2% of the cases in Andhra Pradesh, 15.6% in Assam, 21.5% in Delhi, 21.8% in three districts of Karnataka, and 20.5% in Maharashtra.

The report released by the Enfold Proactive Health Trust recommends legal reforms to the POCSO Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to decriminalise consensual sexual acts involving adolescents above the age of 16, while ensuring that those above 16 and below 18 continue to be protected against non-consensual acts under the POCSO Act.

3. Resurgence of far-right extremism is a cause of concern for Germany

In what has been described as one of the largest ever counter-terrorist operations in Germany, on the morning of December 7, the police raided 130 properties across 11 states and arrested 25 individuals of a far-right group on charges of plotting to violently overthrow the German state. The group, which consisted of members of a shadowy far-right movement known as Reichsbuerger (‘Citizens of the Reich’) had even set up a ‘council’ to take over. Some members of the group were also planning to force their way into the German Parliament.

Among the arrested suspects was aristocrat and businessman ‘Prince’ Heinrich XIII, from the erstwhile royal family, the House of Reuss, which had ruled over parts of eastern Germany in the past. While the Reuss family has distanced itself from Heinrich XIII, the plan apparently was to make him the monarch after the putsch. Also detained was Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a former MP from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Heinrich had reportedly reached out to Russia for support but there was no evidence that Russia had responded positively.

The Reichsbuerger movement has been on the radar of domestic security agencies for some time. Germany, with its Nazi past, has been particularly sensitive to rightwing extremism. That has, however, not prevented the rise of far-right movements or parties such as the AfD, which has representatives in German Parliament. The Reichsbuerger movement consists of splinter groups aligned along varying shades of disenchantment with the German state. Its core ideological belief is the illegitimacy of the German republic. . Many Reichsbuerger believe Germany is yet to fully free itself from Allied occupation post-World War-2, while others are convinced the country is actually a private corporation. Beyond this, the Reichsbuerger worldview turns into a cocktail of neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic views and assorted conspiracy theories.

It has been reported that many Reichsbuerger are strongly influenced by QAnon, an American far-right political movement. Just like the American far-right, the Reichsbuerger love guns and hate lockdowns. Some of them refuse to pay taxes, or pick up fights with government departments. Others design their own passports and identity documents to show allegiance to the Reich – as the German state was called until 1945, with the Nazi regime being the ‘Third Reich’. They believe the Third Reich still exists and for it to reestablish itself officially, Germany, which is in the grip of a ‘Deep State’, must throw off its shackles.

Although the typical Reichsbuerger is likely to be a single, white, middle-aged, under-socialised male, members come from all walks of middle class life – businessmen, teachers, doctors and employees of federal security agencies. In fact, for the government, one of the most alarming aspects has been the involvement of serving members of the German special forces. As per a report in May, over 200 state security personnel had links to Reichsbuerger. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that among the raided properties was the barrack of a special forces unit, KSK.

Officials estimate the overall strength of the Reichsbuerger at 21,000, with about 2,100 susceptible to using violent means to achieve their goals. While it is unlikely that they would have been able to carry through with their alleged plot against the German state, their very prevalence points to a troubling reality – the existence of a fertile base that an aspiring tyrant could exploit in the near future.

4. IMF holds talks about debt situation of Sri Lanka, Zambia

International Monetary Fund chief Kristlina Georgieva said she had a “fruitful exchange” with her Chinese counterparts this week on her repeated calls for accelerating debt treatments for countries like Zambia and Sri Lanka.

Ms. Georgieva, World Bank President David Malpass and other financial leaders met in person in China’s Anhui province this week with officials from the People’s Bank of China, China’s Finance Ministry and its EXIM Bank and China Development Bank.

Ms. Georgieva said the discussions touched on the common framework for debt treatment set up in late 2020 by China, the U.S. and other Group of 20 major economies, as well as some specific cases of countries seeking debt relief.

Implementation of the common framework process has been halting, with only one country, Chad, having completed the debt treatment process, and its agreement not resulting in any actual reductions of the country’s debt.

Zambia is pushing hard to finish its debt restructuring in the first quarter of 2023.

Disbursing funds

“We need to build on the momentum of the agreement on Chad’s debt treatment and accelerate and finalise the debt treatments for Zambia and Sri Lanka, which would allow for disbursements from the IMF and multilateral development banks,” Ms. Georgieva said in a statement.

Mr. Malpass, in his remarks at the meeting, said the discussions focused on the urgent need for more rapid progress on debt issues, adding, “Changes in China’s positions are critical in this effort.”

He welcomed support voiced by Premier Li Keqiang for a “systematic engagement on debt” during the meetings, and underscored the need for transparent disclosure of China’s loan contracts, and removal of non-disclosure clauses and hidden collateral arrangements.

5. European Parliament vice-president arrested over graft charges linked to Qatar

The Belgian police arrested Greek socialist MEP Eva Kaili, one of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament, in Brussels on Friday evening, a source close to the case told AFP.

The arrest, in connection with an investigation into corruption implicating the hosts of the ongoing World Cup Qatar, follows the detention of four other suspects earlier on Friday, the source said.

Ms. Kaili, who is the partner of one of the four people arrested earlier, has been detained for questioning by the police, the source added.

Belgium’s federal prosecutor announced the earlier arrests after 600,000 euros in cash was discovered when police raided 16 addresses raids in the capital Brussels.

The prosecutors did not specify the identities of the suspects or name the country involved, saying only that it was a “Gulf” state.

But a source close to the case confirmed press reports that it was focused on suspected attempts by Qatar to corrupt an Italian Socialist who was a member of the European parliament from 2004 to 2019.

The arrest called for the bloc’s MPs to be held to higher standards.

“This is not an isolated incident,” said anti-corruption campaigning group Transparency International.

“While this may be the most egregious case of alleged corruption the European Parliament has seen in many years, it is not an isolated incident,” a statement from its director Michiel van Hulten said.

6. Is anaemia seen in 3 in 10 rural men due to iron deficiency?

While anaemia among adolescent girls and boys, and women, particularly those of reproductive age has been studied extensively, anaemia in men has been largely ignored. In 2019, apaper published inThe Lancet Global Healthhighlighted that nearly one in four men (23.2%) in the age group 15-54 yearsin India were anaemic (mild, moderate, or severe). The conclusion was based on the analysis of over 1,06,000 men from the fourth round of the National Family Health Surveycarried out from January 2015 to December 2016.

Men are considered to have anaemia if haemoglobin concentration is less than 13.0 g/dL.While iron deficiency is the main cause of anaemia, particularly in women, other causes of anaemia are deficiency in folate, vitamin B12, or vitamin A.

Prevalence of anaemia

Now, a recent analysis of the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has shed light on anaemia among men living in rural areas. Thestudy, publishedinPLOS Global Public Health,analysed the data of over 61,000 men aged between 15-54 years. It found thatthree out of ten men in rural areas were anaemic; prevalence of anaemia was more in rural areas than in urban areas — one of five urban men are anaemic, while three out of every ten rural men are anaemic. Prevalence of anaemia was found to be higher (34.7%) among men who were underweight compared with men who were overweight (19.3%). Men who consumed alcohol and smoked had “slightly higher” occurrences of anaemia, and older men were found to be more vulnerable.

Men in the southern States had lower anaemia prevalence (18.5%), while prevalence was highest in the eastern region (34.1%). Anaemia prevalence was 27.2% in the north region, 28.9% in west, 26.9% in northwest and 25% in the central region.

Like the 2019 study, the authors of the latest paper stress that “the findings suggest the need to recognise anaemia among men as a public health issue”.

However,the latest study does not categorically state that anaemia in rural men is due to iron deficiency. “We were not able to classify the type of anaemia as the NFHS-5 data had only haemoglobin concentration,” says Sumit Ram, Junior Research Fellow at the Department of Geography, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi,and the corresponding author of the paper. “But previous studies have found that nearly 60% of anaemia in children and women of reproductive age is due to iron deficiency.”

However, Dr. Anura Kurpad, Professor of Physiology at St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru is not sure ifanaemia in men is due to iron deficiency. “The problem is assigning a cause for anaemia among men. It is not so likely to be iron deficiency as men do not lose iron every month through menstruation. In fact,men do not lose iron unless they are bleeding from somewhere, or have some abnormal haemoglobin like thalassemia or sickle cell anaemia,” he says.

Iron deficiency

Dr. Kurpad draws a parallel with anaemia in children where iron deficiency was not the main cause in many children. “The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey data also showed that in children, only one-third of the anaemia could be solely ascribed to iron deficiency. Another one-third were mixed B vitamin deficiency, and the remaining one-third were ‘unknown causes’ (TheLancet Child Adolescent Health, July 2020),” says Dr. Kurpad.

Despite not being sure if iron deficiency is indeed responsible for anaemia in rural men, the authors of the latest study write: “The benefits of existing programmes and policies related to anaemiaeradicationshould be extended to men as well. In addition, targeted interventions among susceptible groups of rural men are advised as a way to reduce the prevalence of anaemia.”

Mr. Ram clarified why the authors recommended iron supplementation in men: “Since over 60% of anaemia overall is due to iron deficiency, we think that it might perhaps be useful to provide iron supplementation for men as well to address anaemia.”

Dr. Kurpad cautions aboutproviding iron supplementation for men to tackle anaemia without knowing the cause.

Another factor that might have overestimated the prevalence of anaemia in rural men is the use ofcapillary blood samples to measure haemoglobin.

“Capillary blood samples inflate anaemia prevalence by as much as 33% to 50% in women. No reason why the same may not be happening in men,” Dr. Kurpad cautions. “So, at this stage, we need to be cautious:increase the diversity of foods to improve iron and vitamin intake in men, without chemicals. Evaluate for the actual cause, before taking any big step.”

7. Those fascinating hornbills

The logo for India’s upcoming G20 presidency was officially unveiled recently at the Hornbill festival in Nagaland. This popular festival showcases the art, culture and cuisine of Nagaland. It also brings attention to a family of some of the largest, most magnificent birds in our country.

The Great Hornbill is found in the Himalayan foothills, the Northeast and the Western Ghats. It is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala. With a wingspan of five feet, it presents an awesome (and noisy) spectacle while landing on a perch. The wreathed hornbill, the brown hornbill and the rufous-necked hornbill are slightly smaller, and only found in Northeast India. A great place to spot the oriental pied hornbill is the Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand. The Malabar grey hornbill’s loud ‘laugh’ echoes in the Western Ghats. The smallest of the group, the Indian grey hornbill is found all over (except the Thar Desert), and is often spotted in urban settings such as Theosophical Society gardens in Chennai.

Their large, heavy beaks pose some limitations—for balance, the first two vertebrae are fused. Hornbills can move their heads as in ‘yes’, but have difficulty in saying ‘no’. Large beaks are also seen in toucans from Central and South America — an example of convergent evolution — as both birds have the same feeding ecology.

Tall trees preferred

Hornbills prefer tall trees for their nests (breast height being 1.5 metres or more). There is a mutualism between these birds and the trees where they nest. As large fruit-eating birds, hornbills play a vital role in dispersing the seeds of about 80 rainforest trees. Some trees, such as the cup-calyx white cedar suffer a 90% decline in seed dispersal beyond the parent tree when hornbill populations decline, negatively impacting the biodiversity of forests.

The towering Tualang tree of Southeast Asia is so entwined in folklore that it is considered a taboo to fell this tree. It is the preferred habitat of the helmeted hornbill. The fruiting season coincides with the birds’ reproductive cycle. Traditional ecological knowledge stresses the value of hornbills in dispersing the seeds, which are expectorated from the throats of the birds. “When the seeds sprout, the hornbills hatch”, a saying goes.

Prone to hunting

Unfortunately, tall trees are the first targets of illegal logging, and so there has been a slow decline in hornbill numbers, as reflected in bird counts. Slow, because these birds are long lived (up to 40 years). Their large size makes them prone to being hunted. The helmeted hornbill of Sumatra and Borneo is critically endangered because its helmet-like casque (a horny outgrowth over the skull), called red ivory, is highly prized. Luckily, the casque of the Great Hornbill is not suitable for carving.

Hornbill populations appear to be faring better in South India, The Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru, has collected data to show that forest plantations are not as suited for hornbill populations as natural-growth rainforest, although nests are sometimes built in non-native silver oaks.

The adaptable nature of hornbills is also seen in their feeding on the fruits of the African Umbrella tree, which has been introduced as a shade tree in our coffee plantations.

8. Will new Alzheimer’s drug work?

How have patients with early onset of the disease responded in recent clinical trials to lecanemab, developed by two pharma companies? How does the new drug work? According to The Lancet, what are the apprehensions around the new medicine?

In late November, news of the success of a drug to reduce cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease burst on the horizon with all the promise of being a silver bullet. The drug, lecanemab, jointly developed by pharma companies Biogen and Eisai, was tested on patients with early Alzheimer’s. Results of the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) showed modest effects in arresting decline of cognitive and functional aspects in patients with early disease. This has sparked hope in a world where an estimated 55 million people live with the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

What is lecanemab?

Lecanemab belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies. These antibody-mediated drugs target beta amyloid, the protein deposition that is seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and disrupts cells function. Neuropsychiatrist Ennapadam. S. Krishnamoorthy, founder, Buddhi Clinic, Chennai, says: “For years amyloid plaques have thought to be an important target for treatment in Alzheimer’s. This class of drugs does precisely that.”

As per the NEJM paper, the clinical phase-3 trial involved persons 50 to 90 years of age with early Alzheimer’s disease (mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease) with evidence of amyloid deposition. Participants were randomly assigned intravenous lecanemab or placebo. It was observed that lecanemab “robustly removed the amyloid plaques.” This was the primary end point of the trial, which showed a change in the score recorded at baseline when the trial began on the Clinical Dementia Rating–Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB). Key secondary end points included a change in amyloid burden on PET (positron-emission topography). There were changes both in the lecanemab group versus the placebo group, the researchers concluded.

Will lecanemab be able to treat Alzheimer’s?

The Lancet, in an editorial, argues that a phase-3 trial showing efficacy on clinical outcomes, particularly after such a long and fruitless wait for a successful therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, is welcome news. However, it points out that the difference noticed on the CDR-SB scale may not be clinically meaningful, going by metrics indicated in previous studies. Also, the development of amyloid-related imaging abnormalities (ARIA) in one of five patients was a cause for concern. The editorial concludes that given these concerns, “whether lecanemab is the game changer that some have suggested remains to be seen… however, the immediate impact of lecanemab should not be overstated.”

Dr. Krishnamoorthy said the first of the drugs for Alzheimer’s — aducanumab — was approved in fast-track mode, to much criticism. “Many experts were unhappy with the trial results that led to its approval. Apart from the questionably small differences between the trial and placebo groups, a concern was expressed also about serious side effects like haemorrhages in the brain and oedema (brain swelling).” Lecanemab, he adds, on the other hand, appears to have shown modest effects in early dementia both via clinical improvements and reduction in amyloid plaques. “The same problems of brain swelling and haemorrhages may exist with this drug as well, and may be true for many antibody-mediated treatments,” he explains. For practitioners like him, this is an opportunity to be ‘cautiously optimistic’. “This is definitely a step forward and offers hope with the following caveats, including eligibility criteria, intensity of treatment, need for imaging and high costs.” Only those in the early course of the disease are likely to benefit. It has to be delivered via weekly IV injections requiring hospital visits and close monitoring and in order to identify amyloid deposits, an amyloid PET, which is not available in many countries in the developing world, is required. The cost, as The Lancet speculates, is likely to be prohibitive for low-income and middle-income countries where most people with dementia live.

What is the future?

An initial decision on the drug’s approval by the FDA is expected by January 6, 2023, and from the European Medicines Agency later in 2023, according to The Lancet.

9. Why a price cap on Russian oil?

Why did the Group of Seven nations feel this step was necessary? How has Russia reacted to the move? Where does India stand on imports of Russian oil, considering that Russia is now the top supplier to the country?

After months of negotiation, western countries comprising the Group of Seven nations, the European Union and Australia, agreed to a price ceiling of $60 per barrel of seaborne Russian Urals crude oil that came into force just as sanctions against freighters carrying Russian crude oil took effect earlier this week.

Why did the West want a price cap?

Western nations, led by the G-7, want to punish Russia for having invaded Ukraine and rein in the profits accruing to Russia from oil exports. But they also want to keep some oil from Russia flowing globally so that supply is not significantly affected, which could push up energy prices. With a recession in parts of the western world already a possibility, oil price spikes would only hasten the spiral into economic contraction.

So western nations came up with the concept of a price cap, above which accessorial services such as ship insurance, vessel clearances and the like would not be available to freighters carrying Russian oil. About 95% of global insurance for freighters by tonnage comes from European countries, especially the United Kingdom.

Without such services, Russia would find it difficult to sell its crude above the price cap.

The West had hoped that with a price cap of $60 per barrel on its main grade, the Urals crude, Russia would still see incentive, even with lesser profit, to keep pumping out oil for global consumption.

How has Russia responded?

Russia had first said the price cap might only impact its output minimally. Later, it also spoke about considering a ban on export to countries that insisted on the price cap. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak has been quoted by the Russian media as saying that a mechanism was being worked out and that the ban on oil export to such countries would take effect before the year closed.

Russian news agency Interfax quoted Mr. Novak as saying, “Global consumption, economic growth in the world must be provided with energy resources. There is not much oil in the world, and Russian oil has always been and will be in demand. Yes, supply chains will change. Nevertheless, we do not see any tragedy in this.”

Russia is also said to be considering a floor price in retaliation to the price cap, as another option. A floor price would aim to ensure that it did not sell below that level. This tug of war would theoretically put Russian oil buyers, who want European insurance and other services to continue, in a bind.

How has Russia’s oil output been this year?

Between January and November, Russia’s production rose 2% to about 488 million tonnes, as per global media reports. China and India are popular examples of countries that bought discounted oil. But the likes of France and major oil producer Saudi Arabia too purchased oil from Russia. Saudi used the discounted price to buy oil to run its power plants, while selling its own costlier variant to the world.

Recently, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar cited the European Union’s oil imports from Russia as being six times as much as India’s between February 24 and November 17.

How much oil does India import from Russia?

Interestingly, India — whose imports of Russian oil was only about 0.2% of total oil imports in the year ended March 2022 — has had Russia serve as its top oil supplier in October and November. Reuters reported that in November, India bought 53% — or about 3.7 million tonnes — of all the seaborne Urals crude that Russia exported.

How are global oil prices behaving?

As per, Urals crude touched about $53, compared with about $73 to a barrel on November 8. Oil prices are reacting to different global pulls. Earlier in the week, they settled after dipping below their lows since January as there was hope that China would ease restrictions in response to protests and hence help spur demand. On the other hand, ships carrying Kazakh oil have been piling up for passage through Turkish ports. Turkey has been insisting on proof of insurance from freighters, which takes time to verify, leading to long queues.

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