National issues – October 2016

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No takers for 700 megahertz, auction bids top Rs.53,000 cr.

  • The government received bids worth more than Rs.53,000 crore on the first day of the biggest ever auction of the country’s telecom spectrum.
  • A total of 2,300 MHz of spectrum worth Rs.5.6 lakh crore has been put up for sale.
  • On Saturday, five rounds of bidding were completed. No bids were received for the much-touted 700 MHz band, which is being put up for auction for the first time.
  • While 700 MHz is considered most suitable for offering high speed broadband services, industry players have been complaining about its high pan-India reserve price of about Rs.11,500 crore per MHz.
  • Hence, analysts were expecting a muted response for this band.
  • Maximum interest was seen in the 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz and the 2,500 MHz bands.
  • Limited bidding was also witnessed in the 1,800 Mhz Band.
  • Seven firms — Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Aircel, Reliance Jio Infocom, and Tata Teleservices —are in the fray to acquire spectrum in seven bands — 700, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz.
  • The auctions are happening close on the heels of the commercial launch of Reliance Jio, which has stirred a storm in the India telecom sector with its very competitive prices.
  • As incumbents fight to retain customers, the focus is on good quality services amid frequent call drops and slow data speeds.
  • The spectrum won via the auctions will be allotted for a time frame of 20 years.

Rs. 65,250 cr. mopped up via new black money window

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had received total disclosures of Rs. 65,250 crore under the Income Disclosure Scheme, 2016 in the form of cash and other assets.
  • The Minister added that since some disclosures that were received manually were yet to be tabulated and verified, the figure could be revised upward.
  • The four-month window under the scheme for declaring undisclosed income or black money that had escaped assessment closed.

Aircraft with Indian airborne warning system set for induction

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  • The DRDO has fitted its own airborne early warning and control system (AEW & CS) on a modified Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft imported from Brazil. With this, the first of the two small surveillance aircraft carrying the first Indian airborne early warning system is slated to be inducted into the Air Force in about two months.

About airborne early warning and control system (AEW & CS):

  • The AEW&C system is developed to serve the Indian Air Force in
    • detection and tracking,
    • identification and classification of threats,
    • guidance and interception control,
    • display of air situation picture and
    • multisensor data integration.
  • It is developed by DRDO in collaboration with CAB(Centre for Airborne Systems) that provides an airborne surveillance system.
    • The system enables the armed forces to communicate with fighter jets and other AEW&C assets,
    • it also allows for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations,
    • mission planning
    • replay for post mission analysis.

T.N. tops list of endemic flowering plants

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  • According to a recent publication by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI)- Endemic Vascular Plants of India, almost one of every four species of flowering plants found in India is endemic to the country.

Key facts:

  • Tamil Nadu accounts for the highest number of species with 410, followed by Kerala with 357 and Maharashtra with 278.
  • Of the 18,259 flowering plants reported in the country, 4,303 (over 23%) are found only in India.
  • When it comes to the geographical distribution of endemic plants, the Western Ghats tops the list with about 2,116 species, followed by the Eastern Himalayas with 466 species.

Details

             Scientists of the BSI have listed the following exclusively found in India

  • at least 37 species of Black plum Syzyguim (Jamun),
  • 10 varieties of Musa (banana),
  • 274 species of orchids
  • Four different varieties of roses,
  • two herbs and two climbers
  • 12 species of jasmines.
  • Spices list includes black pepper family, ginger and large cardamom.
  • 40 species of bamboos (Bambusoideae
  • Further some of these endemic species are restricted to only certain areas of the country, like Nepenthes khasiana, an insectivorous plant only found in the Khasi hills of Meghalaya.
  • A total of 58 generea of flowering plants have been found to be endemic to India.
  • As far as endemism regarding vascular plants in India is concerned, the publication reveals that of the 19, 635 vascular plants found in the country, 4,381 are endemic. This includes 4,303 angiosperms or flowering plants, 12 gymnosperms – mostly Cycads, and 66 ferns and fern allies which come under the group Pteridophytes.
  • Among the Gymnosperms, non-flowering plants, at least six species of Cycas are found in the country. These plants are known to have existed from the Jurassic era and are commonly referred as living fossils as they grow very slowly.

Pterocarpus santalinus

  • Around 53% of all endemic flowering plants are herbs, 20% are shrubs and 15% are trees.
  • Among the most widely exploited endemic plants in country is Pterocarpus santalinus, commonly known as red sandal wood, which is found only in the southern parts of the Eastern Ghats.
  • This plant is classified as critically endangered under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) category because of its dwindling habitat due to economic over-exploitation.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016- Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
  • Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years. The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
  • The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.

INDOSAN:

  • INDOSAN is envisaged as an annual national event, that brings together all stakeholders working in sanitation– government, NGOs, academicians, researchers, partner agencies, corporates on one platform for a shared vision.
  • Bringing together all such stakeholders, will create an opportunity for collective vision, collective understanding of the key elements of the Swachh Bharat Mission programme.
  • INDOSAN is the platform, where unfolding story of Swachh Bharat will actually happen, where each state will share their approaches most suitable to them to reach ODF.
  • INDOSAN will discuss on all these approaches, emerging innovations, learnings are cross shared, for the benefit of all. It was recently held in New Delhi.

Sports Sector Gets the Infrastructure Status:

  • Sports infrastructure will be included under the Harmonized Master List of Infrastructure Subsectors. This is mainly aimed at addressing the issue of deficit of sports infrastructure in the country.
  • The sports sector now becomes eligible for obtaining long term financial support from banks and other financial institutions on the same principle as is available to other infrastructure projects.
  • This inclusion would encourage private investment in a public good which has socio-economic externalities in a country with young population.
  • It will also bolster investment in sports infrastructure sector which will contribute to the economy and help in promotion of health and fitness of the people of this country as also provide opportunities for employment in the new and exciting sectors

‘Nasha Mukt Bharat Andolan Yatra’:

  • It is a nation-wide campaign to make society liquor free. It would be launched at Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on October 2 to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

World’s first three parent baby

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  • The birth of the world’s first “three-parent baby,” a child who carries genetic information from three different people, was recently announced.

How was it done?

  • The baby was created via an IVF (in vitro fertilization) procedure that involved three people: the mother, the father and a woman who donated eggs. This specialized IVF procedure is called spindle nuclear transfer.
  • Scientists took DNA from the nucleus of the mother’s egg cell and inserted that genetic material into an egg cell from the donor.
  • The nucleus of the donor egg had been removed, but the egg still contained a bit of DNA from the donor woman: That is, it contained genetic material from the mitochondria, or the cell’s energy powerhouses, which have their own DNA. The egg was then fertilized with sperm from the father.
  • In this case, the procedure was done because the eggs of the mother contained faulty mitochondria. This caused four miscarriages and the death of two of her children from a neurological condition called Leigh syndrome.

Spindle nuclear transfer

  • In the spindle nuclear transfer in this case, the scientists took five egg cells from the mother and removed a cellular part called the spindle, which carries the mother’s chromosomes. The researchers inserted these spindles into five donor eggs that had their nuclei removed, but which contained healthy mitochondria.
  • The donor eggs then underwent in-vitro fertilization and developed for several days in a dish. Of the five early stage embryos, just one had a normal number of chromosomes. It was implanted into the mother, who gave birth to a healthy boy after 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Need

  • A small number of children each year are born with faults in their mitochondrial DNA which can cause diseases. Mitochondria are small structures that sit inside our cells and provide them with energy. They have their own set of 37 genes which are separate from the 20,000 or so genes that shape who we are.
  • Mitochondrial diseases tend to strike in childhood and get steadily worse. They often prove fatal before adulthood. The parts of the body that need most energy are worst affected: the brain, muscles, heart and liver. Conditions include Leigh’s disease, progressive infantile poliodystrophy and Barth syndrome. Faulty mitochondria have also been linked to more common medical problems, including Parkinson’s, deafness, failing eyesight, epilepsy and diabetes.
  • There are no treatments for mitochondrial diseases, which affect about 1 in 6,500 babies in the more serious forms. Women at risk of passing them on have few options available to them if they want to give birth to healthy children.
  • They could opt for using donor eggs or, in some cases, a form of pre-natal genetic diagnosis before one of their own IVF embryos is placed back into their womb. Creating IVF embryos using mitochondrial donation offers an opportunity of having their own, genetically related children who are free of mitochondrial defects.
  • Furthermore, the process could mean that mitochondrial diseases are eliminated completely from future generations of that family.

Issues

  • Mitochondrial transfer passes on genetic changes from one generation to another. That raises ethical concerns because any unexpected problems caused by the procedure could affect people who are not yet born, and so cannot give their consent to have the treatment. Mitochondria are not completely understood, and the DNA they hold might affect people’s traits in unknown ways. For that reason, some scientists believe mitochondria should be better understood before the procedures are legalised.
  • Some people are opposed on religious or ethical grounds, particularly with pro-nuclear transfer technique which involves creating and then destroying a fertilised egg in order to treat another embryo.
  • Others believe that there will be inevitable “carry over” of defective mitochondria from the affected mother’s fertilised egg to the donor egg. These mutant mitochondria could multiply during embryonic development to cause disease, perhaps in way we do not yet understand. This is why, they say, we need to do more research before allowing it to be used on people.

Challenges

  • Experts have warned that three-parent babies could be at greater risk of cancer and premature ageing, and would need to be monitored all their lives.
  • Since this is uncharted territory and the children born from this technology would have heritable genetic changes, there are also significant unknown risks to future generations.
  • There are numerous serious risksassociated with this technology. These include most notably the possibility that developmentally disabled or deceased babies will be produced
  • The UK is the only country to have introduced laws to permit the technique. The European country legalized the treatment in 2015.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF OLDER PERSONS 2016 OBSERVED ACROSS THE WORLD

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• The International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) was on 1 October 2016 observed across the world with the theme Take A          Stand Against Ageism.
• The theme for the 2016 IDOP draws attention to and challenges negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older                persons and ageing.
• Ageism is a widely prevalent and prejudicial attitude that stems from the assumption that age discrimination, and sometimes      neglect and abuse of older persons is a social norm and therefore, acceptable.
How the day was observed in India?
• The International Day of Older Persons was celebrated in New Delhi by honouring noteworthy senior citizens and                      organisations doing outstanding work for the welfare of older people.
• The President of India Pranab Mukharjee presented the National Awards for Senior CitizensVayoshreshtha Samman-2016 to    eminent senior citizens and institutions in recognition of their service towards the cause of elderly persons especially indigent    senior citizens at a function organised by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
Background
• On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly declared 1 October as the International Day of Older Persons,   following up on initiatives such as Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, which was adopted by the 1982 World              Assembly on Ageing and endorsed later that year by UNGA.
• The International Day of Older Persons was observed for the first time throughout the world on 1 October 1991.

Nation pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 147th birth anniversary

  • The nation is paying homage to Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi on his 147th birth anniversary on 2nd Oct.
  • Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other dignitaries visited Rajghat , the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi to offer tributes.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee in his message said, Gandhiji taught the value of harmonious co-existence and mutual respect and his ideals of non-violence, freedom, equality and religious tolerance have eternal value.
  • He asked the people to imbibe wisdom from Gandhiji’s thoughts and actions to address the challenges confronting the nation. He also urged the people to keep alive in their hearts and minds at all times the principles of tolerance and non-violence.
  • Invoking Gandhiji’s belief that cleanliness was next to godliness, Mr Mukherjee called for concerted efforts to realize the dream of a Swachh and Samarth Bharat.

International Day of Non Violence

  • On 15 June 2007 the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish 2 October as the International Day of Non-Violence.
  • The resolution by the General Assembly asks all members of the UN system to commemorate 2nd October in “an appropriate manner and disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.
  • The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) in New York City prepared a special cachet to commemorate this event, following a request from the Indian Ambassador at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN.
  • The boxed pictorial cachet design was prepared by the UNPA and was limited to cancellation at UNPA’s NY location (not Geneva and Vienna). The UNPA has indicated that all outgoing UNPA mail between October 2 and 31 carried the cachet

Shastri Jayanthi

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  • The nation also remembered the former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on his birth anniversary 2nd Oct.
  • Born in 1904, he joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s and held several important portfolios in the Jawaharlal Nehru’s government including Railways and as Home Minister.
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri led the country during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 and gave the slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” which became very popular and is remembered even today.
  • A special programme was held at the Shastri Memorial at Shastri Street in Tashkent where floral tributes will be paid at his statue.

BRICS nations adopts ‘New Delhi Declaration on Education

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  • Education is the answer to all the major problems in the world.
  • Realising the need to educate more and more people, BRICS nations have adopted the ‘New Delhi Declaration on Education’ resolving to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.
  • The declaration was adopted at a conference of Education Ministers of the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — held to discuss and coordinate areas of mutual interest and develop framework for future cooperation in the field of education.
  • The Declaration, among other things, involves initiating actions to formulate country-specific targets within the broader scope of the Sustainable Development Goal four (SDG4), reaffirming the need for universal equal access to quality education, including secondary and higher education, technical and vocational education and training, and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  • It also calls for the BRICS countries’ collaboration in education, research and innovation through the BRICS Network University and organising an annual conference of the BRICS Network University, encouraging more universities to participate in the BRICS University League to facilitate student mobility and collaborative research.

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • The grouping was originally known as “BRIC” before the inclusion of South Africa in 2010
  • The term was first prominently used in a Goldman Sachs report from 2003, which speculated that by 2050 these four economies would be wealthier than most of the current major economic powers.
  • The BRICS thesis posits that China and India will become the world’s dominant suppliers of manufactured goods and services, respectively, while Brazil and Russia will become similarly dominant as suppliers of raw materials.
  • It’s important to note that the Goldman Sachs thesis isn’t that these countries are a political alliance (like the European Union) or a formal trading association – but they have the potential to form a powerful economic block.
  • BRICS is now also used as a more generic marketing term to refer to these four emerging economies.

First summit

  • The BRICS grouping’s first formal summit, also held in Yekaterinburg, commenced on 16 June 2009, with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh, and Hu Jintao, the respective leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, all attending.
  • The summit’s focus was on means of improving the global economic situation and reforming financial institutions, and discussed how the four countries could better co-operate in the future.
  • There was further discussion of ways that developing countries, such as the BRICS members, could become more involved in global affairs.

China blocks tributary of Brahmaputra in Tibet to build a dam

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  • China has blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet as part of the construction of its “most expensive” hydro project which could cause concern in India as it may impact water flows into the lower riparian countries.
  • The Lalho project on Xiabuqu river, a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo (the Tibetan name for Brahmaputra), in Xigaze in Tibet involves an investment of 4.95 billion yuan (USD 740 million) which will be the most expensive project.
  • The blockade of the Brahmaputra river tributary comes at a time when India’s reported decision to suspend talks with Pakistan under Indus Water Treaty as part of its efforts to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attack.
  • There is no water treaty between the countries, India and China established an Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on trans-border rivers and in October 2013 the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening cooperation on trans-border rivers under which Beijing provides data to India on the water flows.
  • The outline of China’s 12th Five Year Plan indicates that three more hydropower projects on the mainstream of the Brahmaputra River in Tibet Autonomous Region have been approved for implementation.

Impact on India

  • Shigatse, a railhead of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, is a few hours driving distance away from the junction of Bhutan and Sikkim.
  • It is also the city from where China intends to extend its railway towards Nepal.
  • It is as yet unclear whether the dam will have any impact on water flows towards India and Bangladesh — the two riparian states that are drained by the Brahmaputra.
  • So far, China has maintained that its dams do not restrict the flow of water towards India as they are based on run-of-the river principle

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince to be the chief guest on Republic Day in India

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  • Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade next year.
  • The visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, is expected to boost bilateral ties in the key areas of trade and security.
  • It is also significant given that UAE is a close ally of Pakistan, whom India is trying to diplomatically isolate over the issue of cross-border terrorism.
  • During PM Modi’s visit in August last year, the two countries had condemned efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
  • Trade is another important component of the bilateral ties as UAE is India’s third largest trading partner after China and the United States. Bilateral trade between UAE and India is around $60 billion.
  • Last year at the invitation of Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Barack Obama, President of the United States of America was the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26th January, 2015.

PM Modi inaugurates INDOSAN
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30 September 2016 inaugurated the India Sanitation Conference (INDOSAN) in New Delhi.
During the conference, Prime Minister Modi also gave away cleanliness awards to Sindhudurg District (Maharashtra), Mandi district (Himachal Pradesh), Pune, Chandigarh and Mysore Municipal Corporations, Gangtok city (Sikkim), National Cadet Corps (NCC), Surat railway station, PGIMER Chandigarh, heritage site Rani ki vav in Gujarat and Kendriya Vidyalaya FRI Dehradun.
About India Sanitation conference (INDOSAN)
1. INDOSAN is envisaged as an annual national event, that seeks to brings together all stakeholders working in sanitation.
2. It will be one platform for a shared vision for Government, NGOs, academicians, researchers, partner agencies and corporate.
3. It will create an opportunity for collective understanding, collective vision of the key elements of the Swachh Bharat Mission programme as sanitation is seen as a citizen movement with involvement of all sectors of the society.
4. INDOSAN will discuss on all these approaches, learnings, emerging innovations for the benefit of all.
5. Besides, each state will share their approaches most suitable to them to reach the goal of making India Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the year 2019 which marks 150th Birth Anniversary of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.

Prof. Sivakumar appointed as full-time member of 21st Law Commission of India

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  • S. Sivakumar, professor at Indian Law Institute (ILI), has been appointed as full-time member of the 21st Law Commission of India.
  • In March 2016, former Supreme Court judge Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan was appointed as the new Chairman of Law Commission of India.
  • Former Gujarat High Court judge Justice Ravi R Tripathi was also appointed as a member of the Commission.
  • In June, 2016 Dr. Bimal Patel, Director, Gujarat National Law University was appointed as a part-time member of the 21st Law Commission of India
  • The Law commissions since 1955 have submitted 262 reports so far to the government, on various subjects. The last report, submitted on 31 August 2015, by previous chairperson Justice AP Shah, had recommended immediate abolition of death penalty for all purposes, except terrorism-related cases.

The Union Cabinet has approved the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 with amendments. 

  • The bill, drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with and affected by HIV seeks to prevent and control its spread and address HIV-related discrimination and strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability.
  • The bill mandates the Centre and state governments to provide anti-retroviral therapy and infection management to those with HIV/AIDS and facilitate access to welfare schemes—especially for women and children.
  • They are also supposed to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, lay guidelines for the care and treatment of children with HIV/AIDS and formulate age appropriate, gender sensitive and non-stigmatising HIV/AIDS education communication programmes.
  • The bill aims to enhance access to health care services and provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regards to HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.
  • Discrimination against HIV positive patients and those living with them is not allowed in their employment, education, healthcare and provision of insurance, adds the statement. They also cannot be prohibited from residing or renting property and standing for public or private office.

Approximately 21 lakh persons are estimated to be living with HIV in India. The Bill would provide essential support to the National AIDS Control Programme in arresting new infections, helping the country end the epidemic by 2030 as per the Sustainable Development Goals.

India, Singapore sign three MoUs strengthening ties on countering terror

  • Singapore has backed India’s stance on terrorism, condemning the menace in all its forms, as the two countries looked at measures to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation including cyber security.
  • On the economic front, the two countries signed two pacts on cooperation in skill development, formally cementing their partnership.
  • A third pact on intellectual property was signed to facilitate greater business-to-business collaboration.
  • Indian developers will be allowed to raise capital through the sale of rupee-denominated corporate bonds in Singapore to finance big-ticket infrastructure projects.
  • The pacts were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in New Delhi.
  • In his remarks, Modi said India and Singapore had agreed to “expedite” the second review of their Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
  • On his part, Lee announced the appointment of two senior ministers to head Indian and Singaporean delegations to a bilateral financial dialogue to give a boost to economic ties.
  • The Indian side will be headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley while the Singaporean side will be headed by Singapore’s deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
  • In his remarks, Lee said Singapore “strongly condemns” terrorism in all its forms, while expressing condolences for the 18 September attack in Uri, where were a terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp claimed 19 lives.

 

The World Teachers’ Day (WTD) 2016 was observed across the world on 5 October 2016

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  • The theme for the World Teachers’ Day 2016 was Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status.
  • The theme for the 2016 WTD embodies the fundamental principles of the fifty-year-old Recommendation.
  • It also throws light on the need to support teachers as reflected in the agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • A specific education goal, SDG4, pledges to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  • The 2016 WTD also marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. It is also the first world Teachers’ Day to be celebrated within the new Global Education 2030 Agenda adopted by the world community in 2015.

Origin of Teacher’s Day Celebration

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  • The day was marked for the celebration as Teachers’ Day since 1962 in respect and deference of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who was born on 5th September, 1888.
  • Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a great scholar, philosopher and teacher of modern India and was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954.
  • He became the first Vice President of India (from 1952 to 1962) and the second President of India (from 1962 to 1967).
  • It was his wish that instead of celebrating his birthday on 5th of September every year, it would be better to celebrate it as Teachers’ Day all over India.
  • Therefore, it was only natural way that his birthday would be celebrated as teacher’s day to pay respect towards lakhs of unknown teachers across the country.
  • India’s teacher’s day is different from the World Teacher Day which is celebrated on 5th of October every year in whole world.

Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Bernard Feringa and Sir Fraser Stoddart win Nobel prize in chemistry

  • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has announced the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The trio won for the “design and synthesis of molecular machines”
  • They have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement on Wednesday. “The development of computing demonstrates how the miniaturization of technology can lead to a revolution.”
  • The molecular motor is at the same stage as the electric motor was in the 1830s, when scientists displayed various spinning cranks and wheels, unaware that they would lead to electric trains, washing machines, fans and food processors,”

 

Historian Nayanjot Lahiri wins the 2016 John F. Richards Prize for best book in South Asia History

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  • Nayanjot Lahiri of Ashoka University has been selected as the winner of the 2016 John F. Richards Prize for her book Ashoka in Ancient India (Permanent Black and Harvard University Press, 2015).
  • The Richards Prize is awarded annually by the American Historical Association (AHA) to honour the best book in South Asian history. The prize will be awarded during a ceremony at the Association’s 131st Annual Meeting in Denver, CO, in January 2017.
  • Professor Lahiri’s biography was edited and typeset at Permanent Black, India’s leading academic publisher, and will be available in paperback later this month. (The American edition was offset from the Indian edition and published by Harvard University Press.)
  • The series in which the South Asia edition appears, called “Hedgehog and Fox”, conceived and managed by the Ashoka University Vice Chancellor, Rudrangshu Mukherjee, comprises what has been widely recognized as the cream of recent historical scholarship on South Asia.

Cabinet paves way for India-European Union MoU on water cooperation 

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  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval for the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the European Union in the field of water resources.
  • The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting here chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The MoU envisages strengthening the technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and the European Union in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
  • It provides technical exchange on water issues, including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.
  • The MoU aims to identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences and cooperation could be mutually beneficial to strengthen and further develop cooperation between India and the European Union in the field of water management.
  • It envisions a more sustainable management of water resources in India with an objective of tackling the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate.
  • A Joint Working Group shall be formed to monitor the activities to be carried out in fulfillment of the MoU.

Background

  • The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been envisaging bilateral cooperation with other countries in water resources development and management through sharing of policy and technical expertise, conducting of training courses, workshops, scientific and technical symposia, exchange of experts and study tours.
  • Keeping in view the success of the European Union in distribution of water resources, water pricing, water use efficiency by encouraging the changes in agricultural practices necessary to protect water resources and quality, such as switching to less water-demanding crops, etc.,
  • It has been decided to have an agreement with Israel to benefit from their experience and expertise.
  • The EU States have adopted water pricing policies to provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently thereby contributing to environmental objectives.

 

Cabinet approves MoU with the African Asian Rural Development Organization in the field of rural development 

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  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between India and the African Asian Rural Development Organisation (AARDO) for capacity building programmes in the field of rural development.
  • The MoU for the triennium 2015 – 2017 is being signed under which capacity building programmes for AARDO member countries will be organized every year during the triennium at various Institutions of Excellence in India such as National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD & PR), institutions governed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and others.
  • The duration of each training programme shall be of two to three weeks. The Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development Management Course at NIRD & PR under this scheme is for one year.

Background:

  • The AARDO, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, is an autonomous, inter-Governmental organization established in 1962 with the objective of promoting cooperation among the countries of the African – Asian Region in the direction of eradicating thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty in the region.
  • India is one of the Founder Members of the Organisation and is the largest contributor in terms of membership contribution of US$ 141,100 apart from contributing by way of providing 70 fully paid training scholarships for Human Resource Development Programme under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) to the Organization.
  • India has also provided a building for housing the AARDO Secretariat in Delhi and considerable financial assistance is given to AARDO for maintenance of the building. AARDO currently has 31 countries of the African – Asian Region under its fold.
  • Since the year 2009, India is continuing to provide an Additional Contribution of US$ 600,000 to AARDO for each triennium 2009-2011 to expand its scale and scope of the Capacity Building Programmes of AARDO for the benefit of Member Countries.

Nitin Gadkari launches Indian Bridge Management System

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  • Indian Bridge Management system is formed to ensure proper and timely upkeep of bridges; the government has started creating a database of these structures
  • Formally launching the IBMS, the minister said lack of any database on bridges has led to a situation where it proved maintaining their proper upkeep difficult.
  • IBMS is the largest platform in the world owned by a single owner, with database that could exceed 1,50,000 bridge structures.
  • So far 1,15,000 bridges have been inventorized, of which 85,000 are culverts and the rest are bridges.
  • During inventory creation each bridge is assigned a unique identification number or National Identity Number based on the state, RTO zone and whether it is situated on an National Highway, State Highway or is a district road.
  • Then the precise location of the bridge in terms of latitude-longitude is collected through GPS and based on this, the bridge is assigned a Bridge Location Number. Thereafter, engineering characteristics like the design, materials, type of bridge, its age, loading, traffic lane, length, width of carriage way etc are collected and are used to assign a Bridge Classification Number to the structure.
  • These are then used to do a structural rating of the structure on a scale of 0 to 9, and each bridge is assigned a Structural Rating Number.
  • The rating is done for each component of the structure like integral and non integral deck, superstructure, substructure, bank and channel, structural evaluation, deck geometry, vertical clearance, waterway efficiency etc.
  • In addition to the structural rating, the bridges are also being assigned Socio-Economic Bridge Rating Number which will decide the importance of the structure in relation to its contribution to daily socio-economic activity of the area in its vicinity.
  • Based on this inventory IBMS will analyse data and identify bridges that need attention. Further inspection will be carried out wherever required to improve the operational availability of the structure, enhance its life and prioritize repair and rehabilitation work. The data will help to decide which bridge needs critical attention, or which needs to be rebuilt.

Oil India Limited signs MoU with University of Houston 

  • Oil India Limited (OIL), an Upstream Oil & Gas PSU, with intent of augmenting its reserves base and maximising recovery from its aging oilfields, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Houston(USA), one of the leading universities on oil and gas of the world.
  • The MoU was signed in presence of Sh. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (I/C), and Petroleum & Natural Gas in New Delhi.
  • The MoU, amongst others, is focused to collaborate in the fields of Improved Oil Recovery & Enhanced Oil Recovery for production enhancement from matured fields, seismic interpretation & reservoir characterisation studies, improvement of drilling and well intervention practices and unconventional hydrocarbon studies.
  • It is envisaged that the collaboration will help OIL to further consolidate and upgrade the various initiatives the Company has undertaken to improve production and contribute significantly to the energy security of the country. This will also contribute towards national obligation as set by Hon’ble Prime Minister to reduce import dependency of oil and gas by 10% by 2022.

India to completely seal border with Pakistan by 2018

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Oct 7, 2016 said that the Indo-Pak border will be completely sealed by December 2018.

  • The action has been taken amid rising tensions between the two nations after army strikes on militant bases in PoK
  • Singh informed about the decision after a meeting with states sharing the border with Pakistan in Jaisalmer
  • Sealing will be monitored at the MHA level, BSF level and chief secretary level
  • Some of the participants for reviewing security arrangements at the border included Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje, Punjab CM Sukhbir Singh and MoS for Home in Gujarat Pradeepsinh Jadeja and Kashmir Chief Secretary Brij Raj Sharma
  • The Home Minister also asked the countrymen to trust the security forces and stand by them
  • The India-Pakistan border is an international border running between Pakistan and India that demarcated the Indian lines and the 4 provinces of Pakistan
  • The total length of the border is 2900 km
  • It is known as Line of Control

 

Cabinet approves setting up of country’s first Medical Park

  • The government has given nod to PSU HLL Life care to sub-lease over 300 acres of land in Chennai to set up the country’s first medical devices manufacturing park.
  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its nod to the PSU under the Health Ministry to sub-lease 330.10 acres of land at Chengalpattu near Chennai to set up the Medipark through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with shareholding of HLL at 50 per cent.
  • The land was originally leased to the firm by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The Medipark, which will be India’s first medical technology manufacturing cluster, aims to produce low-cost diagnostic devices and ensure delivery of affordable healthcare.
  • The move, which is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative, is expected to generate direct employment for around 3,000 people once it is fully functional.
  • The Medipark is expected to be completed over seven years.
  • Physical infrastructure will be created in the first phase with plots expected to be leased out from the third year.
  • HLL’s shareholding in the project would be more than 50 per cent, while the government of Tamil Nadu would have an equity participation of up to 10 per cent
  • The project would attract investments worth Rs. 3,000 crore and development of infrastructure would cost Rs. 130 crore, said another official from HLL.
  • The firm will develop plug-and-play state-of-the-art infrastructure and industrial plots, and lease them out to investors for setting up manufacturing units.

Sikkim CM Chamling honoured with ‘Sustainable Development Leadership Award’

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  • Chief Minister Pawan Chamling was conferred the prestigious 2016 ‘Sustainable Development Leadership Award’ by President Pranab Mukherjee during the World Sustainable Development Summit organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) at Vigyan Bhawan
  • The award was presented to Chamling in recognition of his vision and leadership in environment and sustainable development leading to the establishment of Sikkim as the first and only organic state in the country according to citation presented by the TERI on this occasion.
  • Sikkim is only state in India to have attained the official status of fully organic state in January 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the official announcement during his maiden visit to the state.
  • The state known as the Land of Flower, with a population of around six lakhs, is now gaining world wide popularity as fully organic state of the India.
  • Around 75,000 hectares of land has been converted into certified organic farms over the years following the guidelines as prescribed by National Programme for Organic Production. Sikkim contributes around 80000 million tonnes organic production out of total 1.24 million tonnes of organic production recorded in India.

How was this achieved?

  • On the initiative of Chamling, a historic declaration was made through a Resolution in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly on February 24, 2003, for transforming Sikkim into a ‘Total Organic State’ as a result of which the Sikkim State Organic Board was constituted on September 16, 2003, for outlining policy issues and strategic plans, as well as developing standards and regulations.
  • The state government stopped procuring chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides from 2004 onwards and also eliminated the existing subsidy to farmers for procurement of chemical pesticides.
  • The state government created category-wise organic farming schemes and organic action plans to set the targets of conversion
  • Chamling has taken various green initiatives under which ban on pan masala /gutka was enforced in the entire state in the year 1995 and subsequently in 1997 passed an Act on prohibition of throwing of non-degradable garbage in public drains and sewerage.
  • The state passed a law for prohibition of smoking in places of public work or in public service vehicles in the state in 1997.
  • On August 14, 1998, Sikkim became the first state in the country to impose a ban on plastics and non-degradable materials and the tourists were also prohibited from carrying plastic bags and containers in under the rules.
  • The state government imposed complete ban on collection of medicinal plants and non-timber forest produce for commercial purposes and framed Statutory Rules for mandatory planting of ten saplings in lieu of one tree felled in private holdings implemented in 2001.
  • The Chief Minister started a unique programme in 2009 called “10 Minutes’ on June 25 annually under which all the citizens of the state plant one sapling each during a pre-announced 10 minutes.
  • The state government imposed a ban on the use of diclofenac sodium and burning of agricultural wastes in 2015 and all the old trees in government forests were identified as “Sikkim State Heritage Trees” in 2016.
  • The state government imposed a ban on use of Styrofoam products and a ban on the use of Plastic Bottled drinking water in state government functions and also banned tyre fires during the year 2016.

Mohan Reddy appointed honorary consul of Germany

  • B.V.R. Mohan Reddy, Founder and Executive Chairman Cyient Ltd., has been appointed the honorary consul of Germany.
  • As honorary consul, Mohan Reddy will work towards further strengthening the collaboration between the two nations; promoting culture, industry and commerce, facilitating investments, educational exchange and enhancing goodwill.
  • The office of the honorary consul will also provide limited consular assistance in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and support the German citizens within the two states.
  • This appointment of the Honorary Consul, only the second such appointment for Germany in India, comes at a time when Germany is looking to deepen the Indo-German collaboration in a number of areas such as industry, education, skill building and sustainability.
  • The states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have not only been the front runners in implementing many of Prime Minister Modi’s initiatives like Digital India, Swachh Bharat, Make in India, etc., but also have the most active industry interactions taking place.
  • Mr. Reddy, as the founder and chairman of Cyient, former chairman of NASSCOM, is a noted public figure as well as a business leader with an impeccable reputation across the country.
  • He has been a great advocate of the Indian collaboration with Germany, and largely, the European Union. It, therefore, seems only apt that Mr. Reddy has been selected as the Honorary Consul by the German Embassy for the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Germany is currently India’s largest trading partner in Europe and has consistently been among India’s top ten global trade partners.
  • The Indo-German bilateral trade in 2015 was valued at USD 17.33 billion. Germany is the 7th largest foreign direct investor in India since 2000. This appointment will give a boost to the existing Indo-German collaborations.

Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport’s T3 Achieves ‘Platinum’ Rating, First In India

  • The Delhi Internakpsc-delhis-indira-gandhi-international-airports-t3-achieves-platinum-rating-first-in-indiational Airport Limited (DIAL) on Thursday said the national capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport’s (IGIA) Terminal 3 (T3) has achieved “Platinum” rating from Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).
  • DIAL is a GMR Group-led consortium which manages and operates IGI airport.
  • The recognition has made IGIA’s T3 as the first “Platinum” rated green airport terminal building in India under “Green Existing Building O&M Rating System” by IGBC.
  • The announcement was made during the 14th Green Building Congress, 2016 organised by IGBC in Mumbai.
  • The primary focus of the design team at T3 was promoting energy efficiency and improving environmental quality. T3 is designed to be a model for passenger-friendly and environmentally responsible airport facilities

Last month, IGIA was accorded carbon neutral status by Airports Council International (ACI). IGIA had then become the first airport in the Asia-Pacific region to achieve carbon neutral status

All ASI Protected Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites Declared Polythene Free Zones

  • All ASI Protected Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites have been declared Polythene Free Zones. Advisory has been issued to all State Governments/UTs to support ASI in keeping monuments Polythene Free up to 300 meters from the protected boundaries of the monuments.
  • This information was given by Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Tourism while briefing the media persons on the various initiatives of Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism during Swachhata Pakhwada 16th – 30th September, 2016.
  • Ministry of Culture has sanctioned US$52.5 million to provide facilities like Protected Boundaries, Toilets and Disabled Friendly Access in all ASI Protected Monuments.
  • The ASI has ranked top 25 Adarsh Monuments on the basis of cleanliness parameters such as amenities like toilets, green lawns, Polythene Free Zone, signage for awareness, disabilities access, drinking water and provision for garbage bins etc.
  •  “Rani ki Vav (Gujarat)” a World Heritage Site has been declared as the cleanest iconic place in the country.
  • As the tourists are the largest stakeholders in keeping the monuments clean, the Ministry of Tourism has decided to facilitate the general public to communicate their complaints about any unclean area/garbage piles in and around tourist destinations.
  • This useful mobile App enables a citizen to take photograph of garbage at the monument and upload the same along with his/her remarks.
  • The application then sends an SMS to the ASI Nodal Officer concerned with the monument upon receipt of which the Nodal Officer gets the garbage cleared/removed.
  • The Nodal Officer thereafter sends confirmation about the redressal of the complaint through an SMS to the complainant. This Mobile App is available on Google Search Engine as Swachh Paryatan.

India to host Asian ministerial conference for disaster risk reduction

  • India will host the Asian ministerial conference for disaster risk reduction next month which will focus on partnership with governments and stakeholders to imbibe the practices in the region’s development narrative.
  • This is the first AMCDRR after the advent of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRRR), adopted at the third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015. It will set the direction of Sendai Framework implementation in the region.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the conference that will be held in New Delhi on November 3-5 in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
  • The conference aims at transforming the commitments of governments and stakeholders during the Sendai Conference into national and local action.
  • The meet will focus on collaboration, consultation and partnership with governments and stakeholders to mainstream DRR in the region’s development narrative.
  • The conference will adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ endorsed by the Asian countries.
  • It will also consolidate the political commitment of governments towards preventing and reducing risk as well as strengthening resilience in the form of a political declaration.

India celebrates 84th Indian Air Force Day

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  • The 84th anniversary of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was celebrated with traditional pomp and gaiety at the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla near Pune
  • The IAF is the world’s fourth largest air force with a primary responsibility to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict.
  • It was officially established on 8 October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British Empire and the prefix Royal was added in 1945 in recognition of its services during World War II.
  • After India became independent from the United Kingdom in 1947, the Royal Indian Air Force served the Dominion of India, with the prefix being dropped when India became a republic in 1950.
  • Since independence, the IAF has been involved in four wars with neighbouring Pakistan and one with the People’s Republic of China.
  • Commandant of NDA Air Marshal J S Kler was the chief guest at the traditional cutting of `Air Force Day’ cake ceremony for the officers and staff posted at the NDA.

About Indian Air Force

  • The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces.
  • It is the world’s fourth largest air force.
  • Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian air space and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict.
  • It was officially established on 8 October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British Empire and the prefix Royal was added in 1945 in recognition of its services during World War II.
  • After India became independent from the United Kingdom in 1947, the Royal Indian Air Force served the Dominion of India, with the prefix being dropped when India became a republic in 1950.
  • Since independence, the IAF has been involved in four wars with neighbouring Pakistan and one with the People’s Republic of China.
  • The President of India serves as Supreme Commander of the IAF.
  • TheChief of Air Staff, an Air Chief Marshal, is a four-star officer and commands the Air Force.
  • There is never more than one serving ACM at any given time in the IAF.
  • The rank ofMarshal of the Air Force has been conferred once, to Arjan Singh, by the President of India on 26 January 2002 and he became the first five-star rank holding officer of IAF & serves as the ceremonial chief.

 

World Post Day celebrated on 9th Oct

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  • The Universal Postal Union was established in the year 1874 in Bern, Switzerland and its anniversary is celebrated at 9th of October every year.
  • The anniversary of the Universal Postal Union was declared as the World Post Day by the Universal Postal Union Congress in Tokyo, Japan in the year 1969.
  • Approximately 150 countries take part in celebrating the World Post Day every year.
  • Few of the countries promote their new postal services or products at this special day and reward their employees for good services.
  • Most of the countries organize philatelic exhibitions and issue new stamps. Displaying posters on World Post Day in post offices as well as public places, conferences, seminars and workshops including cultural, sport, recreational activities are other activities. Speech is given by the high rank officers at this day about the history and achievements of the postal services.
  • Although World Post Day is not guided by a particular theme, the UPU’s latest poster design embodies the UPU’s three strategic pillars: innovation, integration and inclusion.

About Indian Post Office

  • The Department of Posts (DoP), trading as India Post, is a government-operated postal system in India.
  • Generally referred to within India as “the post office”, it is the most widely distributed postal system in the world.
  • The postal service is under the Department of Posts, which is part of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Government of India.
  • As of 31 March 2015, the Indian Postal Service had 154,939 post offices, of which 139,222 (89.86%) were in rural areas and 15,826 (10.14%) in urban areas.
  • It had 25,560 departmental Post Offices and 129,379 Gramin Dak Sevak, Branch Post Offices. On average, a post office serves an area of 21.22 square kilometres (8.19 sq mi) and a population of 8,054.[3] Because of its reach and presence in remote areas, the Indian postal service is also involved in other services such as small-savings banking and financial services.

Challenges

  • The Internet and other affordable alternatives have hit the basic function of post offices: delivering letters and other mails
  • India’s expansion of telephone services — the number of telephone subscribers increased from 76.54 million in 2004 to 764.77 million in November 2010
  • E-commerce companies are choosing India Post for its reach and efficient workforce but complain of its inability to accept large volumes.

SC: A Son Can Get A Divorce If His Wife Tries To Separate Him From Aged Parents

  • A Hindu son can divorce his wife for cruelty if she tries to pry him away from his “pious obligation” to live with his aged parents and provide for them, the Supreme Court has held.
  • A woman becomes a part of the husband’s family and cannot seek to separate him from his parents just so that she can entirely enjoy his income, a Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and L. Nageshwara Rao observed in a judgement.
  • The judgement, which was passed on 6 October, takes a strong moral view of the case, invoking values that could be perceived as decidedly patriarchal.
  • As per the court It is not a common practice or a desirable culture for a Hindu son in India to get separated from his parents on getting married at the instance of the wife, especially when the son is the only earning member in the family.
  • A son, brought up and given education by his parents, has a moral and legal obligation to take care and maintain the parents when they become old and when they have either no income or have a meagre income
  • In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after marriage. “She becomes integral to and forms a part of the family of the husband and normally, without any justifiable strong reason, she would never insist that her husband separate from the family and live only with her

VIZAG STEEL ROPES IN PV SINDHU AS BRAND AMBASSADOR

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  • Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Vizag Steel, has roped in badminton champion and Rio silver medallist P V Sindhu as its brand ambassador.
  • R Ramakrishnan, Director and Co-founder Baseline Ventures, said the deal will see Vizag Steel become the major partner of the athlete.
  • The company will have its brand logo on Sindhu’s playing jersey in international and domestic tournaments under the aegis of Badminton World Federation (BWF) and Badminton Association of India.
  • Sindhu, currently amongst the top 10 ranked players in the world, is the first Indian female athlete to win an Olympic silver medal at Rio.
  • She is also the first athlete to win back-to-back medals at the World Badminton Championships.

About RINL

  • The Steel plant is located 26 km south of Visakhapatnam city, Andhra Pradesh state of India.
  • The company also has blast furnace grade Limestone captive mine at Jaggayyapeta (Krishna District),a captive mine for Dolomite at Madharam(Khammam),a manganese ore captive mine at Cheepurupalli(Vizianagaram)
  • It also has mining lease for river sand of river Champavathi.
  • RINL kicked off by appointing site selection committee in June 1970 and subsequently committee report was approved for site.
  • On Jan 1971, then PM of India has laid the foundation stone.
  • Consultants were appointed in Feb 1971 and feasibility reports were submitted in 1972.
  • RINL is wholly owned by the Government of India.
  • In November 2010, the company was granted the Navratnastatus by the Government of India.
  • In September 2011, the government announced plans to divest 10% of its stake in RINL via an initial public offering

 

First International arbitration centre comes up in Mumbai

  • The country’s first International Arbitration Centre was inaugurated in Mumbai on 8th Oct.
  • The setting up of the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration (MCIA) which can resolve disputes between different companies or individuals & can be a step towards establishing the city as an international financial centre.
  • At present, most of the global business disputes involving Indians land in the Singapore or the London arbitration centres.
  • The total outflow of funds to resolve such cases, complete with logistics and other related expenditure, works out to around $ 5 billion. A centre in India can significantly bring down this cost.
  • Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that Mumbai will soon emerge as the most preferred destination for resolving international business disputes.
  • MCIA is one of the most equipped arbitration centres not only in Asia, but across the globe. Another advantage is the pool of legal talent in country.
  • This world-class facility will bring greater transparency, accountability and credibility to the process of resolving overseas arbitration.
  • According to a study conducted by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, almost 30 per cent of the disputes it hears annually relate to matters involving Indian businesses.
  • Also, the number of disputes it settled between 2001 and 2013-14 shows a ten-fold increase. The MCIA is located on the 20th floor of Express Towers, Nariman Point, and is headed by CEO Madhukeshwar Desai.

What Is International Arbitration?

  • International arbitration is similar to domestic court litigation, but instead of taking place before a domestic court it takes place before private adjudicators known as arbitrators.
  • It is a consensual, neutralbindingprivate and enforceable means of international dispute resolution, which is typically faster and less expensive than domestic court proceedings.
  • The use of international arbitration has evolved to allow parties from different legal, linguistic and cultural backgrounds to resolve their disputes in a final and binding manner, typically without the formalities of the procedural rules of their own legal systems.

What Is International Arbitration Used For?

  • International arbitration is sometimes called a hybrid form of international dispute resolution, since it blends elements of civil law procedure and common law procedure, while allowing the parties a significant opportunity to design the arbitral procedure under which their dispute will be resolved.
  • International arbitration can be used to resolve any dispute that is considered to be “arbitrable,” a term whose scope varies from State-to-State, but which includes the majority of commercial disputes.
  • Companies frequently include international arbitration agreements in their commercial contracts with other businesses, so that if a dispute arises with respect to the agreement they are obligated to arbitrate rather than to pursue traditional court litigation.
  • Arbitration may also be used by two parties to resolve a dispute via what is known as a “submission agreement”, which is simply an arbitration agreement that is signed after a dispute has already arisen.

INTERNATIONAL GIRL CHILD DAY 2016 OBSERVED ACROSS THE WORLD ON 11TH OCT

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  • The idea of observing 11th October as the ‘UN International Day of the Girl’ was sown by Plan International, a child rights organisation based in over 70 countries across the world.
  • The organisation started a ‘Because I am a girl’ campaign which attracted ample support from people around the world. The campaign was aimed at raising awareness about the importance of nurturing girls.
  • The theme for this year’s ‘International Day of the Girl’ is Girls’ Progress Goals’ progress: What counts for Girls.
  • The theme focuses on the importance of data to understand the problems girls face and for the regulation of policies.
  • According to UN, there is a ‘lack of systematic analysis’ and ‘limited use of existing data’ which majorly affects the organisation to monitor the situation of women around the world.
  • “There is no country in the world where girls experience true gender equality. The takeover is a great statement of girls’ power and their ability to change the world.
  • It also serves as a reminder to governments how millions of girls are held back and denied an equal chance in life just because they are girls

 In India

  • Throughout the country and up and down the class-caste ladder the joy of parenthood is conditioned by the gender of the child.
  • If a boy is born, delight amongst the family; if it’s a girl, anxiety and disappointment.
  • The sole reason for this is economic; when girls marry (around 70% of marriages are still arranged in India), the family of the bride is expected to pay a sum of money to the groom’s family – whether they can afford it or not. This is the infamous dowry system,
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act’ which makes clear that anyone giving or receiving a dowry faces five years in prison and a hefty fine, remains unenforced.

Govt scheme for Girls

Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme

  • It is aimed at encouraging people to save for girl child’s education and marriage. It is part of the government’s efforts to encourage financial inclusion and increase domestic savings, which have fallen from 36% of gross domestic product in 2008 to 30% in 2013.
  • Under the scheme, parents and legal guardians can open accounts in the name of two girl children up to 10 years of age.
  • However, as part of the initial offer, one-year grace period is being given. Now, any girl child born between 2 December 2003 and 1 December 2004 can have account opened for her till 1 December 2015.
  • The scheme is offering an interest rate of 9.1% a year. However, the rate will be revised every year. The interest will be credited in the account every year.

Ladli Scheme

  • Ladli Scheme is a scheme that aims to alter the position of the girl kid in family/the public.
  • It also aims to help modify the people’s mindsets for appropriate taking care of the girl kid and as well to offer the girl child their birth rights as stated in Indian constitution.
  • To battle all the troubles such as female foeticide, waning females sex ratio & to augment the figure of daughters in the families of society government has set up a variety of plans in which a girl child obtains particular profits.
  • LADLI YOJNA is among such plans and schemes. On the birthday occasion of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi this scheme was started in the year of 2008.
  • According to the scheme the daughter child obtains free education & upbringing with additionally after eighteen years of age she will be permitted to acquire one Lakh rupees. This money is given in her name and it can be utilized for the marriage of the girl which is considered by some parents as burden in the society.
  • National Scheme of Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education
  • To promote enrolment of girl child in the age group of 14-18 at secondary stage, especially those who passed Class VIII and to encourage the secondary education of such girls, the Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

The Scheme covers:

  • All SC/ST girls who pass class VIII and
  • Girls, who pass class VIII examination from Kastrurba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (irrespective of whether they belong to Scheduled Castes or Tribes) and enroll for class IX in State/UT Government, Government-aided or local body schools.
  • Girls should be below 16 years of age ( as on 31st March) on joining class IX
  • Married girls, girls studying in private un-aided schools and enrolled in schools run by Central Government like KVS, NVS and CBS affiliated Schools are excluded.
  • A sum of Rs. 3,000/- is deposited in the name of eligible girls as fixed deposit. The girls are entitled to withdraw the sum along with interest thereon on reaching 18 years of age and on passing 10th class examination.
  • The proposals/list of beneficiaries for the academic year 2015-16 is required to be submitted/ uploaded on-line over National Scholarship Portal (NSP).

Telangana Adds 21 New Districts, Total Now 31

  • Nearly two-and-half years after it came into existence as India’s 29th state, Telangana’s map was redrawn on 11th Oct with the creation of 21 new districts.
  • As a Dasara gift to people, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government unveiled the new districts with an aim to improve administration at the grassroots level.
  • This has taken the total number of districts in India’s youngest state to 31.
  • Telangana, which has a population of 3.5 crore, was carved out of Andhra Pradesh and it came into existence as India’s 29th state on June 2, 2014.
  • Telangana Assembly speaker S Madhusudhana Chary inaugurated Jayashankar district while Council Chairman K Swamy Goud launched Jangaon district. Both these districts are being carved out of existing Warangal district.
  • Warangal Rural, another district being carved out of existing Warangal, was inaugurated by Deputy Chief Minister Kadiam Srihari.
  • Another Deputy Chief Minister Mohammed Mahamood Ali inaugurated Jagitial district, created out of existing Karimnagar district.
  • The government has also created 25 new revenue divisions, 125 new mandals, four new police commissionerates, 23 new police subdivisions, 28 new circles and 91 police stations.
  • The government last month issued draft notification for creating 17 new districts but later decided to create four more districts in view of strong demands from various sections.
  • Though the protests were on for creation of more districts in different parts of the state, the government made it clear that there will be no further addition.

 

HIMANSH, India’s remote, high-altitude station opened

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  • Ministry of Earth Sciences has established a high altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSH (literally meaning, a slice of ice), situated above 13,500 ft.
  • This is an Indian government’s initiatives to better study and quantify the Himalayan glacier responses towards the climate change.
  • Located in Spiti Valley, one of the most uninhabited parts of the country, Himansh is considered to be the highest point from where an Indian glacier research facility is functioning.
  • The research lab, established by the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), has automatic weather stations, ground penetrating radars, geodetic GPS systems and other sophisticated facilities to study glaciers and their discharge.
  • The facility will serve as the base for Terrestrial Laser Scanners and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to digitise glacier movements and snow cover variations,
  • The station houses many instruments to quantify the glacier melting and its relation to changing climate.
  • Some of the instruments that are available at this research facility include, Automatic Weather Stations for weather monitoring, water level recorder for quantifying the glacier melt, ground penetrating radar to know the thickness of glaciers, geodetic GPS systems to study the glacier movements, snow fork for studying snow thickness, steam drill, snow corer, temperature profilers, as well as various glaciological tools.
  • Rough weather, marked by harsh winds and freezing temperature, makes living and research activities a challenge even for the toughest of researchers. During winter, the temperature would plummet to –30 degree Celsius, said Thampan Meloth, Project Director, NACOR. The Digital Satellite Phone Terminal system established at Himansh is the only communication link to the outer world. During emergency situations, help has to arrive in helicopters.

First World Tsunami Awareness Day To Be Observed On November 5

  • The First World Tsunami Awareness Day will be observed on November 5 during the upcoming Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2016
  • The conference slated to take place between November 2-5, is being organised by the government of India in collaboration with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). It will include various activities to raise awareness through thematic events, exhibitions, and distribution of awareness materials.
  • India, along with 23 other Indian Ocean countries, participated in a tsunami mock drill on September 7-8. Besides increasing awareness, the drill evaluated the preparedness of participating nations to handle tsunami and other similar emergency situations.
  • Following the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries, the Indian government established an Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) under the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) at Hyderabad.
  • The centre, operational since October 2007, has state-of-the-art infrastructure for generating and disseminating tsunami bulletins for the entire Indian Ocean region.

History:

  • On November 5, 1854, a villager in Wakayama prefecture, Japan, was concerned about an impending tsunami after a high-intensity earthquake. He set on fire rice sheaves on the top of a hill.
  • Fellow villagers, who went atop to put off the fire, were saved even as a tsunami destroyed their village down below.
  • To commemorate that day of “Inamura no Hi” (the burning of rice sheaves), a resolution was jointly proposed by 142 countries, including Japan, as a follow-up of the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The UN designated November 5 as the World Tsunami Awareness Day.

13 October: International Day for Disaster Reduction

  • The United Nations General Assembly declared October 13 as the International Day for Disaster Reduction which is also a part of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction
  • International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) was observed globally on 13 October 2016 with theme Live to Tell: Raising Awareness, Reducing Mortality.
  • The day encourages every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations.
  • The 2016 edition marks the launch of the new “Sendai Seven” campaign by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Sendai Seven is centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework, the first of which is reducing disaster mortality. UNISDR’s campaign seeks to create a wave of awareness about actions taken to reduce mortality around the world.
  • The International Day for Disaster Reduction is celebrated on October 13 every year. The day is celebrated to spread awareness and encourage citizens and the government about disaster risk reduction and building disaster-resilient nations. This year, the theme for the day is ‘Live To Tell: Raising Awareness, Reducing Mortality’.

Disaster Management in India:

The Ministry of Home Affairs has set an agency, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in India which looks after the natural or man-made disasters and co-ordinates with crisis response. The authority was established in 2005 by the Government of India.

The Prime Minister is the de facto Chairperson of NDMA and governs a 19-member board.

Cabinet approves revision of ethanol price for supply to oil firms

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Modi, has approved the mechanism for revision of ethanol price for supply to Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
  • OMCs will now be provided ethanol at a subsidized rate to carry out the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme
  • The administered price of ethanol for the EBP Programme will be Rs 39 per litre during the next sugar season from 1st December 2016 to 30th November 2017.
  • Additional charges will be paid to the ethanol suppliers as per actuals in case of Excise Duty and VAT/GST and transportation charges as decided by OMCs.
  • Increase/reduction in the retail selling price of Petrol would proportionately factor in the requirement of maintaining the fixed cost of purchase of ethanol during the ethanol supply year.
  • The committee said that the revision in ethanol prices will facilitate the continued policy of the Government in providing price stability and remunerative prices for ethanol suppliers.
  • Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme was launched by the Government in 2003 in order to reduce import dependency for energy requirements.
  • The government said that the decision has increased supplies of ethanol to 67.4 crore litres in 2014-15 and the projected supplies for ethanol supply year 2015-16 are around 120 crore litres.

NASA’s electroactive bandages will aid wound healing

  • NASA has developed a high-tech electroactive bandage that creates an electric charge to help promote the healing process of wounds. The bandage is made of an electroactive material that is stimulated by pressure of cell growth and body heat.
  • In conditions of non-Earth gravity, human blood displays behaviour quite different from that on Earth.
  • Wounds are likely to heal much more slowly and considering the survival risks and the cost of space missions, healing wounds as fast as possible is crucial.
  • An electroactive device is applied to an external wound site, which utilises low level electrical stimulation to promote wound healing. Electroactive material is so sensitive that a push or even blow on it can create an electric charge.
  • It is proven that wounds tend to heal much more quickly if small amounts of electricity are applied to the surrounding tissue. However, the gauze pattern is also essential to the healing process.

Centre brings draft Bill to resolve tricky issue of river water sharing

  • The Centre has come out with a draft National Water Framework Bill, 2016, providing for a mechanism to develop and manage river basin in an integrated manner so that every state gets “equitable” share of a river’s water without violating rights of others.
  • The draft Bill also pitches for establishing River Basin Authority for each inter-state basin to ensure “optimum and sustainable” development of rivers and valleys and devises an integrated approach to conserve water and manage groundwater in a sustainable manner.

Why was the bill needed?

  • The water shortage problem is escalating and country has witnessed acute drought situation in certain parts.
  • In future, such situations may increase backdrop of climate change. Besides, presently in absence of institutional arrangement there are inter-state water disputes because states do not their contributions to a river’s catchment area to resolve conflicts.

Key Features of Bill

  • Every person has a right to sufficient quantity of safe water for life within easy reach of the household regardless of his/her socio-economic factors.
  • All basin states have equitable rights over the use of river water provided such use does not violate the right to water for life of any person in the river basin.
  • States must recognise the principle that the rivers are public trustees and not owned by the basin-States.
  • All the basin States are equal in rights and status, and there is no hierarchy of rights among them.
  • Here equality of rights means not equal but equitable shares in river waters. Managing water at river basin-level and right measurement of State’s contribution to river system to in order to resolve conflicts.
  • Establishing River Basin Authority (RBA) for each inter-State basin to ensure optimum and sustainable development of rivers and valleys.
  •  Establishing institutional arrangements to deal with inter-state water disputes in order to “obviate” disputes through negotiations, mediation or conciliation.
  • Proposes other mechanisms such as National water quality and footprint standards, Integrated river basin development and management plan and Graded pricing system.

PM Modi inaugurates ‘Shaurya Smarak’ in Bhopal

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  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 14 October 2016 inaugurated ‘Shaurya Smarak’, the war memorial in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The ‘Shaurya Smarak’ was constructed by the state government in honour of those who laid down their lives for the country.
  • The memorial will honour those who have laid down their lives for the country. It also will inculcate a feeling of patriotism among the masses
  • The memorial took around six years to built and the inauguration of the structure comes at a time when India is lauding its military for the surgical strike conducted against terrorists across the LoC.
  • The structure, built over 12 acres of land, includes a 62-foot Shaurya Stambh, an amphitheatre and galleries to display history of the armed forces.
  • The idea to set up the memorial was initiated by current Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha during a programme in Delhi in memory of late Colonel Ajay Narayan Mushran where Chouhan was also present along with top defence personnel

India to eliminate potent greenhouse gas HFC-23 

  • Environment Minister Anil Dave has announced that India will eliminate the HFC-23 gas, a potent greenhouse gas with high global warming potential, as part of its commitment to combat the threat emanating from climate-damaging HFCs.
  • The major commitment was made by Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, who is in Kigali to attend the high-level segment of the conference on Montreal Protocol.
  •  The latest amendment is to discuss the phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs, of which HFC-23 is one), only beginning to be used in India and still used in the developed countries and once a replacement for the ozone-destroying gases. Over the years, HFCs were found to be exacerbating global warming.
  • The government said it is now hard for the teams from countries which are producers of HCFC-22 to negotiate for funding from Multilateral Funds for creating facility for incineration or financial support for incinerating the gas.
  • The Kigali talks will also discuss the years by which the developing and the developed countries will cap HFC emissions and switch to a new suite of gases that cause less global warming and become the mainstay of home and car air-conditioners and industrial cooling solutions.

Russia, India sign defence deals worth Rs 43,000 crore

  •  India and Russia on 15 October 2016 signed 16 agreements during India-Russia Annual Summit across multiple sectors.
  • The MoUs were signed in Goa during India-Russia Annual Summit co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Putin is on a visit to India to attend 2016 Goa BRICS summit.
  • Ramping up defence ties, India and Russia on Saturday announced deals worth about Rs 43,000 crores for purchase of state-of-art Russian air defence systems, collaboration in making four stealth frigates and setting up facility for joint production of Kamov helicopters.
  •  The most critical deal signed was the Inter Governmental Agreement for the purchase of S-400 long-range air defence missile system which has the capability to destroy incoming hostile aircraft, including stealth, besides missiles and drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
  • India is looking at buying at least 5 such systems, which will give the country a quantum jump in its capability against incoming missiles, including ballistic, besides drone or aircraft from both Pakistan and China. India plans to deploy three such systems along the border with Pakistan and two along the border with China
  • S-400  is capable of firing three types of missiles, creating a layered defence, and simultaneously engaging 36 targets. It can hit targets at a speed of 17,000 km an hour. This is faster than any aircraft in the world.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed for a Joint Venture to be set up by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Rostec State Corporation of Russia to manufacture Kamov-226T utility helicopters in India in a deal worth over USD one billion.
  • Under the agreement, at least 200 helicopters would be produced to replace the aging and obsolete Cheetah and Chetak fleets of the armed forces.
  • The Kamov helicopters are capable of operating at heights of 20,000 feet and once inducted will take over the role of maintaining the forward posts on the Siachen glacier.

8th BRICS Summit concludes with adoption of Goa Declaration

  • The 8th BRICS summit ended in Goa  on 16th Oct  with the adoption of the Goa Declaration which pledged opposition to terrorism, even as India failed to get a consensus on references to “cross-border terror” and Pakistan-based terror groups in the final statement.
  • The text of the declaration did not name any country specifically as the source of cross-border terrorism but officials maintained that India did get the diplomatic edge it wanted from the summit.
  • Introducing the Goa Declaration, Prime Minister Modi said that they agreed that those who nurture, shelter, support and sponsor such forces of violence and terror are as much a threat to us as the terrorists themselves.
  • Reflecting international concern, the Goa Declaration of the BRICS summit, which concluded in Goa, pointed out the need for countering the Islamic State which has occupied territories in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
  • Specifically mentioning the Arabic acronym of IS, Daesh, it said the threat posed by the group is “unprecedented” and called for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the U.N. General Assembly.
  • All five nations reaffirmed the commitment to increase effectiveness of the UN counter terrorism framework.
  • The Goa Declaration called for the need for reforms of the UN, including its Security Council, to increase representation of developing countries.
  • They also highlighted the importance of public and private investments in infrastructure, including connectivity.
  • The leaders of BRICS nations appreciated the progress in the implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership and emphasise the importance of the BRICS Roadmap for Trade, Economic and Investment Cooperation until 2020.

India completes nuclear triad by inducting INS Arihant into service

  • India is finally close to operate its long-awaited nuclear weapons triad the capability to launch nukes from land, air and sea.
  • Although the land-based Agni ballistic missiles+ as well as fighter bombers configured to deliver nuclear weapons have been available for a while, the triad’s missing — and most potent — sea leg has been a big operational gap till now.
  • Sources said that the country’s first indigenously-constructed nuclear submarine INS Arihant+ (which means annihilator of enemies), propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core, was commissioned into service in August after extensive sea trials+ since December 2014.
  • INS Arihant’s 750km and 3,500km missiles may be somewhat dwarfed by SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) with ranges of well over 5,000km with the US, Russia and China, but the completion of the nuclear-triad is critical for a country like India, which has a clearly declared policy of “no first-use” of nuclear weapons.
  • It makes its second-strike capability much more credible. A pre-emptive enemy strike can conceivably take out a rival’s nuclear missiles and fighter bombers. That is why an SSBN, capable of lurking underwater for months without being detected, is considered the most effective and deadly platform for a retaliatory nuclear strike.
  • The 6,000-tonne Arihant is, however, “not yet fully ready” to be deployed for “deterrent patrols” with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles in its four silos, said the sources. Both the defence ministry as well as the Navy refused to say anything on the matter, holding that it was “a strategic project” directly controlled by the PMO.
  • INS Arihant has undergone a whole host of surface and “dived” sorties during its trials to prove its sea-worthiness. But the full weapons integration with the “K” (named after former president APJ Abdul Kalam) series of SLBMs will take some more time. While the K-15 SLBM has a 750-km range, the K-4 can go up to 3,500-km.
  • INS Arihant is the first of three such SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with long-range nuclear ballistic missiles) being constructed under the secretive ATV (advanced technology vessel) programme launched decades ago. The construction of the second one, INS Aridhaman, is also almost complete now, with its delivery slated for 2018.
  • Apart from both Pakistan and China having largely ambiguous nuclear weapons policies, the growing presence of Chinese nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean region has become a major source of concern for the Indian security establishment over the last couple of years.

Modi inaugurates three hydro projects in Himachal Pradesh

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 18th Oct inaugurated three hydroelectric projects in Himachal Pradesh with a cumulative generation capacity of 1,752 megawatt.
  • These include National Thermal Power Corporation’s 800-MW Koldam project in Bilaspur district, NHPC’s 540-MW Parbati Stage-III project in Kullu district and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd’s 412-MW Rampur project in Shimla district.
  • In the Parbati-III power station, a net head of 326 metres is utilised to run four vertical Francis turbines with an installed capacity of 520 MW (4×130 MW). The plant is designed to generate 1,963.29 million units annually.
  • The power generated at this station is transmitted to Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Chandigarh.
  • With commencement of generation from four units of 200-MW eacvh, the Koldam project has achieved the total capacity of 800 MW and provides peaking capacity to the Northern Grid.
  • It will generate 3,054 gig watt hour electricity annually at 90 per cent dependable year basis.
  • The Rampur project (412 MW) will be operated in tandem with the Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station. It will provide 13 per cent free power to Himachal Pradesh.
    The foundation stone of Koldam project was laid on June 5, 2000, by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Significance of hydro-projects

  • Hydro-power generated by hydro-projects is renewable source of energy as it uses and not consumes the water for generation of electricity.
  • It does not emit greenhouse gas emission and helps in achieving a low carbon path. India has hydro-power potential of around 1,45,000 MW and at 60% load factor, it can meet the demand of around 85, 000 MW. So far, around 26% of Hydro-power potential has been exploited in India.

Centre plans four GST slabs

  • The Centre has proposed four slabs for the goods and services tax (GST) in addition to a cess on sin and luxury goods that will help it mop up close to Rs 50,000 crore to compensate states for any possible revenue loss under the new tax regime.
  • The Union finance ministry proposed slabs of 6%, 12%, 18% and 26%, along with a 4% levy on gold. For environmentally sensitive items such as coal (where a cess is already in place), sin goods such as aerated drinks, tobacco and pan masala and luxury cars and watches, a cess has been suggested
  • The cess will ensure that the levy on these items is not changed and the money raised will flow into a special fund to meet compensation requirements. While the cess on coal fetches Rs 26,000 crore annually, the tax on sin and luxury goods is expected to help the Centre mop up another Rs 24,000 crore.
  • Goods- or services-wise classification will only be done once the states agree to the slabs, consumer durables and a large number of FMCG products are expected to be in the 26% bracket.

Base year

  • The base year for calculating the revenue of a State would be 2015-16 and the likely revenue of each State in the first five years of implementation of GST will be calculated using secular growth rate of 14 per cent
  • The Centre would compensate States whose the revenue collections fall lower than these levels.
  • The Centre proposes to pay compensations out of a fund to be created from the Cess on top of the GST on ultra-luxury items and demerit goods it included in the structure it presented to the Council.
  • Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had said that his State’s government has sought that the highest slab for the GST rates be fixed at 30 per cent so that common man items can either be exempt or levied with lower tax rates.

Centre approves Rs. 2.3 bln ferry service project in Gujarat

The central government approved the capital dredging project for Ro Pax ferry services between Gogha and Dahej in the Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat.

The project has been sanctioned as part of promoting coastal shipping in the country under the Sagarmala programme. The project envisages an investment of over Rs. 2.3 billion.

Of the total amount, 50 per cent will be funded by the central government under the Sagarmala programme. The Centre has released Rs. 585 million as the first installment of grant-in-aid to Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB).

The project sanctioned would result in reduction in motorable distance of 231 kilometres (kms) between Gogha and Dahej to 31 kms and reduce the travel time from seven hours to one hour only by crossing the Gulf in Cambay in 17 nautical miles.

What is the significance of the project?

  • This is first of its kind project in India as it will be executed in the area of world’s 2nd highest tidal range.
  • This project on completion will result in reduction in motorable distance of 231 kms between Gogha and Dahej in Gujarat to mere 31 kms.
  • It will pave way for launching India’s first roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) vessel passenger ferry services on this route by April 2017
  • It will reduce the travel time to 1 hour from 7 hours. It will also result in savings in fuel, reduction in CO2 emission and reduction in road congestion.
  • The project will open up new avenues in coastal shipping & tourism and help in socio-economic development of proximate areas.
  • The project will also help in utilisation of inland waterways through River Narmada for shipping goods from industries located upstream.

PM Modi launches national hub for SC/ST entrepreneurs

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 18th Oct launched the SC/ST hub here to provide support to entrepreneurs from the community. “My Dalit brothers and sisters should not stand in queue to seek jobs, instead they should give jobs to others,” said the PM as he launched the hub at the national MSME award distribution function at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana.
  • The SC/ST hub aims to facilitate technology knowhow to reserved categories and increasing procurement by public and government units from SC/ST industrial units from existing 0.4 per cent to 4 per cent,
  • The PM asked 1.25 lakh nationalised bank branches to give loans to SC/ST men and women entrepreneurs and said if two loans each, one each men and women category, upto 1 crores are given, banks can give up to 3.75 lakh such loans and hence can help the Dalits and tribals in making them self-dependent.
  • Stating that India can play a major role in providing strength to global economy that is facing slowdown, Modi also launched the Zero Effect Zero Defect (ZED) certification scheme.

Coming Soon: Smarter Railway Stations

  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed between the Urban Development Ministry and the Railways on 19th Oct, expects to redevelop railway stations and surrounding areas under the Smart City plan.
  • More than 500 railway stations in the country will ‘smarten up’ with better passenger amenities, easy access and integrated public transport hubs.
  • For the begining, 100 railway stations and an adjoining area of 300-800 acres would be redeveloped in the Smart Cities and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Cities plans.
  • At present, railway stations in 10 cities could be taken up for the redevelopment with the involvement of the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC).
  •  They are Varanasi, Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Bhubaneswwar, Lucknow, Varnasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao (Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry.
  • Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu said that railway stations, which are at the core of city development, have become congested over time.
  • Their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for the changing city landscape.
  • Mr. Prabhu said that countries like Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, the U.K. and Belgium have shown interest in the redevelopment of railway stations. A meeting of domestic and overseas bankers will be organised next week to discuss the financing of these redevelopment projects.
  • The scope of the MoU will be extended to over 500 cities in time. The cost of redeveloping about 500 acres in the Smart City Plans of 60 approved cities is approximately Rs. 1,500 crore.
  • The validity of the MoU is five years and can be extended with the consent of both the ministries.

India offers solar plant in Trincomalee

  • India has offered to build a solar power plant in the port town a month after Sri Lanka decided to scrap a coal power project involving the NTPC, in Trincomalee,
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought up the matter in his recent meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena in Goa, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit, highly-placed Indian government
  • In September, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Power and Energy told the country’s Supreme Court that it had decided to drop the plan to build a coal power plant in Sampur, Trincomalee, due to “serious environmental concerns”.
  • The Sri Lankan government said it was instead considering options such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), solar and wind power.
  •  Last month, President Sirisena unveiled Soorya Bala Sangramaya (Battle for Solar Energy), an initiative aimed at adding 220 MW of solar power to the island’s energy grid by 2020. The President said he hoped that the project would add 1,000 MW by 2025.

Renewables shift

  • Following Sri Lanka’s shift towards renewable sources, India has offered to build a solar power plant in Trincomalee.
  • The 900 MW, Chinese-built power plant in Norocholai, 140 km north of Colombo, helps the island meet its power demands. Following a recent breakdown in the facility, the government had imposed island-wide power cuts for a few days.
  • The island has a total installed power generation capacity of 4,050 MW.

Protein-rich rice developed, may help to check malnourishment

  • A protein-enriched rice variety has been developed by the Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalay (IGKV) and researchers hope it would serve as a boon for malnourished population, especially children, in the tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh.
  • The researchers worked for seven years to develop the variety of rice that is rich in protein along with high zinc content
  • The rice variety will play a crucial role in fighting protein deficiencies, since rice is the staple food of the state and consumed on a regular basis, the research focused on enhancing its micro-nutrients and protein contents.
  • For majority of the people who do not eat meat products or can’t afford pulses, rice could be a good source of proteins.
  • The present varieties of rice are not rich in protein content as it is mainly having carbohydrates, so they are developing zinc-rich rice varieties along with rich protein content.
  • The new developed rice variety has over 10% protein content, which is three per cent more than what is found in any popular variety and has 30 PPM zinc content.
  • As per a survey last year, very high rate of malnutrition was found among preschool children in tribal areas showing conditions like being underweight and stunted growth, which indicates a critical situation.
  • Over five lakh children in the state are underweight, with tribal districts like Bastar, Dantewada, Kondagaon and Narayanpur having a comparatively higher rate of malnourishment then other districts.
  • However, the government has been making several efforts with schemes like ‘Vazan Tyohar’ (weight festival) and nutritious meal week to overcome the malnutrition issue.

Triple Talaq highly misused custom: NCW chief

  • National Commission of Women (NCW) Chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam said that triple talaq was a “highly misused” custom and there was a need for scraping it to protect the rights of Muslim women.
  • She said that Triple talaq is not a political issue & It is an effort to protect the rights of Muslim women which cannot be linked to Uniform Civil Code.
  • The NCW chief said she had received several representations from Muslim women who said they felt “disempowered” because of the practice of triple talaq.
  • There is a concern about how triple talaq is unilaterally applied leaving women and children in a bad shape
  • It is a highly misused custom that has to be done away with. Several Islamic countries have banned it.

What is Triple Talaq

 

Renewable Energy:Cancelled projects scatter renewable energy targets

  • Karnataka’s intentions of meeting the Centre’s renewable energy targets appears to be taking as many steps backward as forward currently, as against a commissioned capacity of 5,514.31MW, proposals worth 5,064.15MW have been cancelled.
  • This is because a substantially high number of applications for setting up wind, hydroelectric and solar power projects have been cancelled for various reasons by the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL), an organisation that works under the State’s Energy Department to promote renewable energy.
  • Of the 22,219.70 MW allotted capacity in renewable energy, KREDL has cancelled applications for the generation of 5,064.15MW, most of which were for wind energy (4,244MW). The commissioned capacity for wind energy currently stands at 3,071.64 MW.

Ill-conceived

  • They don’t have enough land and at other times, they don’t have clearances from the Forest Department.
  • There have also been proposals to set-up wind farms in places where there is simply no potential to produce energy from wind.
  • While the most modest requirement for wind energy farms is four or five acres of land for producing 1MW of energy, other infrastructure such as the access or approach to farm and the ability to position transmission lines also have to be factored,.

Wrong Geography

  • The belt that is deemed to be most conducive for the setting up of wind farms in the State is in north Karnataka; Hiriyur, Chitradurga, Davangere, Belagavi, Gadag, and parts of Raichur.
  • A small amount of potential is also seen around Chikmagalur and Hassan. However, among the proposals recommended for cancellation and submitted to the government by KREDL are applications proposing to set up wind farms at places such as Bengaluru, Mandya, Chamarajanagar and Tumakuru.
  • T.M. Vijay Bhaskar, Additional Chief Secretary to the Forest, Ecology and Environment Department, said that the government was fully in favour of the setting up of wind farms because they generated clean energy.

Land Unavailable

  • The management representative of a well-known company, whose proposal has also been recommended for cancellation, said the availability of land was a big problem.
  • Prices of acquiring land have risen considerably.
  • At the same time, conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, as well as getting clearances [to set up wind farms] on forest land, has become more difficult& has also blamed the spate of cancellations on people without the required know-how applying for allotments.

College food joint may have to face closure

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  • Taking note that canteens, messes or other food establishments located in various educational institutions have not been licensed under the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked universities and their affiliated colleges to get their act together and ensure implementation of the Act.
  • A circular issued on 21st Oct by Jaspal S. Sandhu, Secretary of UGC, says that as per the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011, no person is allowed to commence any food business unless he possesses a valid licence.
  • The circular also asks educational institutions to contact the FSSAI to organise training for those handling food in establishments located on the campuses with the intent of providing “safe and wholesome food” to students.
  • The principal of one of the top colleges in the city said that while two of the main canteens on the college campus were licensed, it would not be viable for the college to monitor small eateries on the campus. “But if it is a UGC circular, we will have to comply with it in the interest of students.
  •  But students are a disappointed lot as they fear many of the small stalls that sell food at reasonable prices may have to face closure.
  • As per the students the canteens on the campus are not in position to cater to thousands of students during the lunch hour, hence, students depend on small eateries to grab a quick bite.

Kigali deal: Agreement reached to phase out HFCs

  • In a landmark step, 197 nations, including India, struck a legally-binding deal after intense negotiations in the Rawandan capital Kigali to phase down hydro fluorocarbons.
  • World envoys have reached an agreement on a timetable for the phase-out of potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
  • The amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer was greeted by applause from exhausted envoys who had worked through the night in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to put the final touches on the deal to phase out production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
  • The elimination of HFCs could reduce global warming by 0.5 degrees by 2100, according to a 2015 study by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.

Potentially major step

  • The agreement is being seen as a potentially major step in curbing global warming.
  • Last year’s Paris climate agreement aimed to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celcius, compared with pre-industrial levels.
  • Under a timetable released on the website of the Montreal Protocol, rich countries will have to take action earlier than poorer nations under the legally binding Kigali deal.
  • Developed countries must reduce their use of HFCs by 10 percent by 2019 from 2011-2013 levels, and then by 85 percent by 2036.
  • A second group of developing countries, including China and African nations, are committed to launching the transition in 2024.
  • A reduction of 10 percent compared with 2020-2022 levels should be achieved by 2029, to be extended to 80 percent by 2045.
  • A third group of developing countries, which include India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Arab Gulf states, must begin the process in 2028 and reduce emissions by 10 percent by 2032 from 2024-2026 levels, and then by 85 percent by 2047.
  • Tough negotiations at the talks,  attended by representatives of nearly 200 countries including John Kerry, the US secretary of state – had seen major developing nations such as India put up a fight over the timeline to phase out the use of HFCs and the financing of the transition.

India’s Contention

  • HFCs were introduced in the 1990s to replace chemicals that had been found to erode the ozone layer, but turned out to be catastrophic for global warming.
  • However, swapping HFCs for alternatives such as ammonia, water or gases called hydrofluoroolefins could prove costly for developing countries with high summer temperatures, such as India.
  • “We would like to emphasise that any agreement will have to be flexible from all sides concerned. It can’t be flexible from one side and not from the other.”
  • HFCs’ predecessors, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were discontinued under the Montreal Protocol when scientists realised they were destroying the ozone layer.
  • This blanket of gas in the upper stratosphere protects Earth from the Sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays.
  • But it emerged that HFCs, while safe for the now-healing ozone, are thousands of times worse for trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.
  • According to the Berkeley National Laboratory, air conditioning is the cause of the largest growth in HFCs – and the world is likely to have another 700 million air conditioners by 2030.
  • HFCs – though they are greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – are not dealt with under the Paris Agreement but under the Montreal Protocol.

Enforcement Directorate to investigate money trail in Embraer deal case

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  • The Enforcement Directorate will soon launch money laundering investigations into the $ 208-million Embraer deal in 2008 for sale of three aircraft to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), on the basis of a case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
  • The Directorate will approach the CBI for a copy of the case that has been registered against the United Kingdom-based NRI defence consultant Vipin Khanna, Embraer and Singapore-based Interdev Pte Ltd for alleged payment of $ 5.76 million commission in 2009 for helping the company bag the deal.
  • It is suspected that the funds paid to the middleman through the Singapore-based company were channelled through Switzerland and Austria.
  • While the ED will probe the money trail, the CBI has invoked provisions alleging criminal conspiracy and corruption in collusion with unknown government officials. The agency has also issued a lookout circular to prevent accused Mr. Khanna from travelling abroad.

Lack Of Evidence

The CBI had earlier investigated the role of Mr. Khanna in a gun deal with a South African company named Denel, but it failed to gather prosecutable evidence in the case and had to file a closure report.

  •  The defence consultant’s suspected involvement was also probed in the Barak missile contract with Israel and supply of weapons to Pakistan, said the agency sources.
  • Mr. Khanna’s son was a legislator in the Punjab Assembly till last year.
  • Taking note of media reports in Brazil on the Embraer deal, the Defence Ministry had referred the matter to the CBI in September. Subsequently, the agency instituted a preliminary enquiry into the sale of three fully modified EMB-145 aircraft by the Brazilian supplier to the DRDO for building indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems for the Indian Air Force.
  • During the enquiry, the CBI found that the company had allegedly engaged Mr. Khanna for the deal. “As a result of his mediation, it is alleged that certain DRDO and Defence Ministry officials moved a proposal for purchase of aircraft from the accused company on a single vendor basis. A purchase agreement was allegedly signed on July 3, 2008
  • After the CBI initiated a probe, Embraer had issued a statement stating that since 2011, the company had publicly said that it had been carrying out an extensive internal inquiry and was cooperating with the authorities on a probe into alleged violations of The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Civil Aviation Ministry’s Regional Connectivity Scheme “UDAN” Launched on 21st Oct

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  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation took a major step towards making flying a reality for the small town common man.
  • The Civil Aviation Minister Shri P Ashok Gajapathi Raju launched the Ministry’s much awaited Regional Connectivity Scheme “ UDAN” in New Delhi.
  • UDAN is an innovative scheme to develop the regional aviation market. It is a market-based mechanism in which airlines bid for seat subsidies. This first-of-its-kind scheme globally will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns.
  • Speaking on the occasion Shri Raju expressed hope that the first flight under the scheme would be able to take off by January next year.
  • He said the scheme had been prepared after a lot of stakeholder consultation and called for support from all players to make it a success.
  • The Minister of State for Civil Aviation Shri Jayant Sinha said that the objective of the scheme was “Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik” He said this scheme ensure affordability, connectivity, growth and development.
  • It would provide a win-win situation for all stakeholders & citizens would get the benefit of affordability, connectivity and more jobs.
  • The Centre would be able to expand the regional air connectivity and market. The state governments would reap the benefit of development of remote areas, enhance trade and commerce and more tourism expansion.
  • For incumbent airlines there was the promise of new routes and more passengers while for and start-up airlines there is the opportunity of new, scalable business.
  • Airport operators will also see their business expanding as would original equipment manufacturers .
  • The scheme UDAN envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports. The scheme would be in operation for a period of 10 years.

How does it works?

  • UDAN has a unique market-based model to develop regional connectivity.
  • Interested airline and helicopter operators can start operations on hitherto un-connected routes by submitting proposals to the Implementing Agency.
  • The operators could seek a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) apart from getting various concessions.
  • All such route proposals would then be offered for competitive bidding through a reverse bidding mechanism and the route would be awarded to the participant quoting the lowest VGF per Seat.
  • The operator submitting the original proposal would have the Right of First Refusal on matching the lowest bid in case his original bid is within 10% of the lowest bid.
  • The successful bidder would then have exclusive rights to operate the route for a period of three years. Such support would be withdrawn after a three year period, as by that time, the route is expected to become self-sustainable.
  • The selected airline operator would have to provide a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 40 UDAN Seats ( subsidized rates) on the UDAN Flights for operations through fixed wing aircraft and a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 13 Seats on the Flights for operations through helicopters.
  • On each such route, the minimum frequency would be three and maximum of seven departures per week. Route networks would also be encouraged under the scheme to achieve economies of scale and optimal usage of aircraft.
  • The fare for a one hour journey of appx. 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would now be capped at Rs. 2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different stage lengths / flight duration.
  • This would be achieved through (1) a financial stimulus in the form of concessions from Central and State governments and airport operators and (2) a Viability Gap Funding to the interested airlines to kick-off operations from such airports so that the passenger fares are kept affordable.
  • Central Government would provide concessions in the form of reduced excise duty, service tax, permission to trade ASKMs for Non-RCS (UDAN) Seats and flexibility of code sharing at the RCS (UDAN) airports.
  • State governments will have to lower the VAT on ATF to 1% or less, besides providing security and fire services free of cost and electricity, water and other utilities at substantially concessional rates.
  • Airport operators shall not impose Landing and Parking charge and Terminal Navigation Landing Charges in addition to discounts on Route Navigation Facility Charges.
  • A Regional Connectivity Fund would be created to meet the viability gap funding requirements under the scheme.
  • The RCF levy per departure will be applied to certain domestic flights.
  • The partner State Governments (other than North Eastern States and Union Territories where contribution will be 10 %) would contribute a 20% share to this fund.
  • For balanced regional growth, the allocations under the scheme would be equitably spread across the five geographical regions of the country viz. North, West, South, East and North-east.
  • The States have a key role under the scheme. The selection of airports where UDAN operations would start would be done in consultation with State Government and after confirmation of their concessions.
  • It may be recalled that revival of dysfunctional airports and starting operations on un-served airports has been a long standing demand of most States and this will be addressed through UDAN to a large extent.
  • The UDAN is likely to a give a major fillip to tourism and employment generation in the hinterland.
  • Through introduction of helicopters and small aircraft, it is also likely to significantly reduce travel timings in remote and hilly regions, as well as islands and other areas of the country.

NABARD sanctions Rs 19,702 crore for 50 irrigation projects

  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) Friday said it has sanctioned Rs 19,702 crore loan to National Water Development Agency (NWDA) for 50 irrigation projects.
  • The loan is sanctioned under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF), announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during the Budget 2016-17.
  • This would help create additional irrigation potential of 39.14 lakh hectares under these projects in 11 states.
  • NABARD gave the first instalment of Rs 1,500 crore to NWDA, which is an agency of Ministry of Water Resources.
  • Loan released by Nabard to NWDA would be disbursed to the respective state governments as central share in the projects sanctioned.
  • Besides supporting the central share component, NABARD would also be extending 15-year loan support to the willing state governments at reasonable rate of interest to meet their share in the identified irrigation projects,
  • The total fund requirement of all the irrigation projects under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) is expected to be of the order of Rs 78,535 crore in the next four years, with the shares of the central and state governments at Rs 31,342 crore and Rs 46,253 crore, respectively.
  • Through LTIF, the irrigation potential in the country is expected to go up by 11.50 per cent in the next four years.

About NABARD

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was established on 12 July 1982 by an Act of the Parliament to promote sustainable and equitable agriculture and rural prosperity through effective credit support, related services, institutional development and other innovative initiatives.

NABARD Supports and Facilitates:

  1. Credit Planning, Monitoring and Coordination along with various stakeholders in increasing the ground level credit flow and capital formation in agriculture sector
  2. Policy formulation by GoI, RBI, State Governments on agriculture credit, rural development, institution development and related matters
  3. Research and studies, techno-economic and other surveys, training, dissemination of information in agriculture and rural development and rural banking
  4. Financial Inclusion for inclusive growth
  5. Self-Help Group Bank Linkage Programme
  6. Promotion of Women SHGs in backward/left wing extremism affected districts
  7. Formation of Joint Liability Groups of marginal and tenant farmers
  8. Promotion of livelihood opportunities and micro enterprises
  9. RFIs to issue Rupay Kissan Credit Cards
  10. Farmers’ Club programme
  11. Watershed Development Programme
  12. Integrated Tribal Development Programme
  13. Producers’ Organizations
  14. Pilots to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change in agriculture sector and promoting initiatives in an ecologically sustainable manner
  15. Productivity augmentation and technology transfer
  16. Creating livelihood avenues through skills development in off-farm sector.

India falls short in female literacy

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  • Data from new research on female literacy show that India’s school education system is under-performing in terms of quality when compared to its neighbours, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • The research studies changes in female literacy over a number of schooling years.
  • The proportion of women who completed five years of primary schooling in India and were literate was 48 per cent, much less than 92 percent in Nepal, 74 per cent in Pakistan and 54 per cent in Bangladesh.
  • These findings, which are part of a forthcoming background paper, were released in a blog-post by New York-based International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (or Education Commission) last week.
  • Justin Sandefur, one of the authors of the paper, said, “This is a simple but powerful signal that India’s education system is under-performing.”
  • The data also revealed that, female literacy rates went up by one to 15 per cent after completing two years of schooling.
  • Corresponding numbers for Pakistan and Nepal were three to 31 per cent and 11 to 47 per cent respectively.
  • This implies that schooling is roughly twice as productive at generating literacy for women during the early grades in Pakistan when compared to India. Or, it could also mean that Indian schools are much more lenient about promoting students who cannot read.

PM Modi launches Urja Ganga, 7 Projects worth Rs 5,000 crore in Varanasi

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  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched several development schemes in Varanasi at the total cost of Rs 5000 crore.
  • PM Modi launched “Urja Ganga”, an ambitious gas pipeline project which will provide piped cooking fuel to residents of Varanasi.
  • This ambitious project spreads over Odisha,Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • Prime Minister Modi also dedicated 765/400 KV GIS Varanasi Power Sub-station, laid foundation stone of Varanasi City Gas Distribution Project; inaugurated Varanasi Postal Region, Expansion Project of Diesel Locomotive Works (Phase 1); laid foundation stone for second line and electrification of Allahabad-Varanasi Rail Line , and set up of Perishable Cargo Centre at Rajatalab Railway Station.
  • The Prime Minister felicitated select beneficiaries of Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, and handed over LPG connections to select Ujjwala beneficiaries. He also released a commemorative postage stamp on Varanasi City.

Benefit of Urja Project

  • The gas pipeline project aims to provide piped cooking gas to residents of Varanasi within two years and, in another year after that, cater to millions of people in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
  • From Varanasi’s perspective, an 800-km long MDPI pipeline will be laid and 50,000 households and 20,000 vehicles will get PNG and CNG gas respectively.
  • The government estimates that around 5 lakh gas cylinders will be sent at rural areas annually.
  • According to GAIL, with the Urja Ganga project, 20 lakh households will get PNG connections.
  • The project is said to be a major step towards collective growth and development of the Eastern region of India.
  • GAIL has built a network of trunk pipelines covering the length of around 11,000 km.
  • With Urja Ganga project, this number will further increase by 2540 km. Work on the 2540-km long Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas pipeline project will begin and will be completed between 2018 and 2020.
  • The government has combined the development of gas pipeline across the Eastern region with CDG development of cities falling within this network. Seven East India cities; Varanasi, Patna, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack will be the major beneficiary of this network development.
  • The LNG terminal at Dhamra will provide clean fuel to the Industrial Development of the Eastern states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
  • 25 industrial clusters in these 5 states will be developed using gas from this pipeline. The government is estimated to invest Rs 12,490 crore for the development of 2540 km long natural gas pipeline project in Eastern India region.
  • Five regions including 40 districts and 2600 villages will benefit from this project.

Election rules amended: To allow e-transfer of postal ballot

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  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has amended the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 to facilitate the e-transfer of postal ballot.
  • The new rules empower a returning officer in any constituency to send postal ballots to an eligible voter by electronic means as specified by the ECI.
  • In India, postal ballots have played a critical role in extending the electoral process to voters who are unable to exercise their franchise due to either the nature of their job or geographical location of their posting.

How the e-transfer of postal ballot will work?

  • The returning officer can send ballot through a web portal with a ‘One Time Password (OTP)’ to voters.
  • The voter needs to download the ballot for voting.
  • The voter after voting will physically return the ballot through post.
  • It should be noted that two-way e-voting has not been recommended by the Election Commission, citing security and secrecy concerns.

What is the significance of the new rule?

  • The e-transfer of postal ballot will replace existing system in which postal ballots were sent through the Department of Posts.
  • It will ease the logistical issues involved in ensuring that the ballot paper of the constituency, where a voter is eligible to vote, is sent in time.
  • Thus, it will cut time in transmission of the ballot paper and help the EC overcome logistical problems.

India will be home to 10,500 start-ups by 2020: Nasscom

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  • India has emerged as the third largest startup base and such ventures are poised to grow 2.2 times to reach 10,500 by 2020 despite a perception that the ecosystem in the country has slowed down in the last year, says a report.
  • India is in the third position just behind US and UK, and nearly 1,400 new start-ups are expected by end of 2016, up by 8-10 per cent from last year, revealed the “Indian Startup Ecosystem Maturing – 2016” report by Nasscom-ZINNOV.
  • There is an increased interest from student entrepreneurs this year, according to the report.
  • A remarkable growth of 25 per cent has been witnessed in 2016 with over 350 ventures founded by young students.
  • The median age of start-up founders has reduced marginally from 32 years in 2015 to 31 years in 2016.
  • The report also finds that Bengaluru,NCR, and Mumbai continue to lead as the major start-up hubs in the country.
  • In terms of vertical growth, investors are looking at domains like health-tech, fin-tech, and edu-tech.
  • With a total funding of approximately USD 4 billion, close to 650 start-ups were funded signifying a healthy growth of the ecosystem.
  • The start-up landscape in the country is becoming the epitome of innovation, with companies bringing out solutions that are aimed at solving locally relevant issues.
  • Nasscom believes that the contribution by start-ups have been growing at a rapid rate and the landscape has a huge potential in terms of business stability, revenue growth and further innovation.
  • According to the report, the number of tech start-ups in India is expected to grow by 10-12 per cent to over 4,750 by the end of 2016.
  • With this impetus, India will become home to over 10,500 start-ups by 2020, employing over 2,10,000 people, reveals the report.
  • It added that there is a 40 per cent increase in the number of active incubators and accelerators in 2016 with impetus from government and corporate.
  • Over 30 new academic incubators have been established under the government’s ‘Start-up India Stand-up India’ initiative this year, and tier-II/III cities have established 66 per cent of the new incubators

NEW GSMA STUDY PROJECTS ALMOST ONE BILLION MOBILE SUBSCRIBERS IN INDIA BY 2020

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  • India is already one of the largest markets for mobile phones, internet users, and mobile subscribers, and experts believe it’s just the beginning of even bigger things to come.
  • The country will have one billion unique mobile subscribers by 2020, up from 616 million unique users as of June 2016, according to projections by mobile trade association GSMA.
  • Once considered a luxury, Indian telecom operators now offer new subscription at no charge (or at nominal cost). The network coverage has also improved significantly over the past two decades with many of the remote places offering LTE connectivity now.
  • These factors, coupled with the prices of devices getting cheaper, will play an instrumental role in nearly 330 million people getting a mobile subscription in next four years
  • India is also seeing an ongoing technology shift to mobile broadband services and the number of 3G/4G mobile broadband connections is forecast to reach more than 670 million by 2020, 48 per cent of the total connection base.
  • With this report, all signs point to a period of tremendous growth for India’s mobile economy, which will strongly support and enable the government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative aimed at providing broadband connectivity to all.
  • In addition, the industry is set to invest heavily, with operator CAPEX growing to $34 billion (Rs 2.3 lakh crore) for the period 2016 to 2020, the report noted.
  • In 2015, the country’s mobile industry generated economic value equivalent to 6.5 per cent of the country’s GDP, a contribution that amounts to more than $140 billion (Rs nine lakh crore).
  • The figure accounts for both the direct economic activity generated by mobile operators and the ecosystem of mobile industries in the country.
  • It is also noted that mobile operators and the ecosystem provided direct employment to approximately 2.2 million people in India as well as indirectly supporting 1.8 million additional jobs in other industries and sectors that benefit from the activity of the mobile industry, particularly in the direct supply chain.
  • Aircel, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have made a commitment to increase the number of women accessing mobile internet services, with additional commitment from Vodafone to grow its base of female mobile money customers.

India, New Zealand sign agreements on double taxation, food security, sports

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  • India and New Zealand on 26th Oct signed three agreements in the areas of double taxation avoidance, food security and sports to carry forward the ties between both sides.
  • This MOU will provide a number of opportunities for the two tertiary providers to collaborate on projects in the fields of 3D Animation, Visual Effects, and in emerging technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality.
  • With both India and New Zealand’s animation industries thriving, the MOU between Media Design School and Pearl Academy offers both faculty and students a unique opportunity to collaborate on projects and to Chief Executive Officer of Media Design School.
  • The agreements were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his New Zealand counterpart John Key after the delegation-level talks.
  • There was an arrangement between the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and the Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zealand regarding Food Safety Cooperation.
  • An MoU was signed between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of India and Sport New Zealand on cooperation in the field of youth affairs and sports.
  •  Protocol to the convention between India and New Zealand for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
  • The two sides also decided to establish a bilateral ministerial dialogue between the two Foreign Ministries.
  • Both nations also voiced their support for establishment of annual foreign ministry consultations at senior officials’ level besides cooperation and dialogue on cyber issues.

Cabinet approves agreement between India and Estonia on the transfer of sentenced persons

  • The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of an Agreement between India and Estonia on the transfer of sentenced persons.
  • Signing the Agreement shall facilitate the Indian prisoners imprisoned in Estonia or vice-versa to be near to their families, for serving remaining part of their sentence and shall facilitate their social rehabilitation.
  • The Government of India has so far signed bilateral agreements on transfer of sentenced persons with United Kingdom, Mauritius, Bulgaria, France, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bangladesh, Brazil, Israel, Bosnia & Herzegovina, UAE, Italy, Turkey, Maldives-, Thailand, Russian Federation, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Australia, Hong Kong, Qatar, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Bahrain.
  • 65 prisoners have been exchanged so far, out of which 55 were Indians.

Why is this agreement important?

  • Prior to 2004, there was no domestic legislation under which foreign prisoners could be transferred to the country of their origin to serve the remaining part of their sentence,
  • There was no provision for the transfer of prisoners of Indian origin convicted by a foreign court to serve their sentence in India.
  • The transfer of such prisoners to their own native countries shall facilitate their social rehabilitation.
  • Hence, the Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003, was enacted for serving the above purpose. For achieving the objectives of the Act, a treaty/agreement is required to be signed with countries having mutual interest with India and later to the notified in the Official Gazette.

India-Bhutan pact on Trade, Commerce and Transit

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has approved an Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan.
  • The pact provides for a free trade regime between two countries, and duty free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries.
  • As per the pact, bilateral trade between will continue to be transacted in Indian Rupees and Bhutanese Ngultrums.
  • The Agreement was renewed on 29th July 2006 for a period of ten years.
  • The validity of this Agreement was extended, with effect from 29th July 2016, for a period of one year or till the new agreement comes into force, through exchange of Diplomatic notes.
  •  Both sides had in July held talks to finalise the text of the draft new agreement.
  • They had then decided that, in the interim, to prevent disruption of trade, the existing agreement should be extended for one year or till the new pact is enforced, whichever is earlier.
  • Bhutan was among the SAARC nations that had shared the concerns of India in the wake of the Uri attack, and expressed solidarity with New Delhi saying it was not conducive to hold the SAARC Summit in Islamabad under the situation that prevailed then.
  • Bhutan is also part of the BIMSTEC grouping that had recently held talks with BRICS nations including India to boost ties.
  • The bilateral trade had grown by 55 per cent year-on-year in FY’16 to $750 million, with India’s exports increasing 40.4 per cent to $469 million, while imports from Bhutan rose 87 per cent to $281 million.

 Cabinet nod for cadre review in Post & Telecom account services

  • The Centre approved the establishment of a National Academic Depository (NAD) for safe deposit, retrieval and verification of the certificates of students within next three months with plans to roll out the facility in 2017-18.
  • At its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union Cabinet also gave approval to funding and other provisions for a newly established Indian Institute of Science and Education and Research (IISER) in Odisha.

Key features of the Cadre Review of IP&TAFS

(a) Reduction of the total strength of the cadre from 420 to 376

(b) Creation of one Apex level post of Controller General of Communication Accounts (CGCA).
(c) Creation of one additional HAG+ level post taking the grade strength to 2.
(d) Creation of two additional HAG level posts taking the grade strength from 6 to 8.
(e) Creation of 18 additional SAG level posts taking the grade strength from 37 to 55.
(f) Reduction in JAG level posts from 111 to 90.
(g) Reduction in STS level posts from 198 to 86.
(h) Creation of 21 JTS level posts taking the grade strength from 67 to 88.
(i) Creation of 46 Posts to be operated as Reserves
About Indian Posts & Telecommunications Accounts and Finance Service
  • Indian Posts & Telecommunications Accounts and Finance Service Group ‘A” was constituted in 1972 and caters to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Department of Posts (DoP).
  • In Department of Telecommunications, the IP&TAFS performs the functions of assessment and collection of license fee/ spectrum usage charges, spectrum auction, USO scheme monitoring and subsidy management, exchequer control, budgeting, accounting, pension disbursement, internal audit and finance advice.
  • In the Department of Posts, the IP&TAFS is entrusted with the functions of finance advice, budgeting, tariff and costing, accounting and internal audit.
  • There has been a paradigm shift in the role of Department of Telecommunications as well as the Department of Posts in recent years.
  • In the Telecom sector, the role of the Department of Telecommunications has transformed from primarily being a Service provider, Regulator and Policy maker into the present structure whereby the Department is primarily responsible for Policy making, Licensing and Universal Service Obligation. Receipts from Department of Telecommunications, primarily License Fee, Spectrum Usage Charges and Spectrum Auction Value constitute one of the largest source of non-tax revenue for the Government of India.
  • The bundle of services offered by Department of Posts has undergone a quantitative and qualitative change and the Department has ventured into areas of retailing, banking, insurance, digitizing operations etc.
  • Further, the audit mechanism in both the Departments needs to be strengthened.
  • These facts coupled with the stagnation in various grades of the service necessitated a review of the structure of IP&TAFS.

National Academic Depository to digitally store school learning certificates & degrees

  • The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has accorded its approval for establishment and operationalisation of a National Academic Depository (NAD).
  • The decision aims at bringing another dimension and enhancement of the vision of Digital India.
  • The NAD would be established and operationalised within the next three months and would be rolled out throughout the country in 2017-18.
  • The Finance Minister’s Budget Speech of 2016-17, in February this year, incorporated this commitment to establish a Digital Depository for school learning certificates, degrees and other academic awards of Higher Education Institutions, on the pattern of a Securities Depository.
  • The NAD would be operationalised by NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML) and CDSL Ventures, Limited (CVL) – two of the wholly owned subsidiaries of the Depositories registered under Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Act, 1992.
  • Academic institutions would be responsible for the authenticity of data digitally uploaded by them into the system.
  • The depositories will ensure the integrity of the data in the NAD. The NAD will register educational institutions/boards/eligibility assessment bodies, students and other users/verifying entities like banks, employer companies, government agencies and academic institutions.
  • It will provide digital or a printed copy of the academic award with security features to the students or other authorized users. NAD will verify academic awards online on the same day of request initiated by any authorized user.
  • Requests for access to academic awards, for example, from potential employers, and academic institutions would be only on the basis of consent of the student.
  • NAD shall maintain the authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of its database. It will also train and facilitate academic institutions/boards/ eligibility assessment bodies to efficiently lodge academic awards in the database.

India – Korea sign revised double-tax pact

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  • India and South Korea today signed a revised double taxation avoidance pact and agreed to begin talks from mid next year to widen the scope of free trade pact to boost bilateral economic cooperation.
  • Cross border flow of technology and investments between India and South Korea is expected to get a further boost with the withholding tax rates on royalties or fees for technical services and interest income slashed from 15 per cent to 10 per cent.
  • Provisions of the new DTAA will have effect in India in respect of income derived in fiscal years beginning on or after April 1, 2017
  • The new DTAA also provides for a limitation of benefits clause and provides recourse to the taxpayers of both countries to apply for mutual agreement procedure (MAP) in transfer pricing disputes. Taxpayers will also be eligible to apply for bilateral advance pricing agreements.
  • The revised DTAA also provides for change in taxation for shipping companies from source based to residence based taxation.

Haji Ali Dargah to grant access to women

  • Women will be granted access to the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai on par with men, the Dargah Trust told the Supreme Court and sought four weeks to make the requisite infrastructural changes
  • The Supreme Court had questioned the need for separate entry to men and women in the dargah, to which the Trust’s counsel replied that it had always been that way
  • On August 26, the Bombay High Court lifted a ban imposed on women from entering the inner sanctum of Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.
  • The Dargah Trust had moved the apex court challenging a 26 August Bombay high court ruling that allowed women to enter the inner precincts (mazaar) of the famous 15th century shrine to Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari.
  • Noorjehan Fiaz and Zakia Soman, founders of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), had petitioned the Bombay High Court against the ban, calling it unconstitutional.
  • The 2011 ban violates the women’s right to freedom of religion enshrined in Article 25 of the constitution. The PIL stated that gender justice is inherent in the Quran and there is no prohibition on women visiting graves

Central Government to open Krishi Vigyan Kendra in all the districts of the country

  • The central government will establish at least one Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK, agriculture science centre) in each of the 646 districts in country.
  • Of this, 100 will have special facilities for skill development, while an equal number will be converted into pulses and oilseeds hubs.
  • India has around 640 KVKs currently, with many districts having more than one centre.
  • Besides this, Central Agriculture and farmers welfare minister Shri. Radha Mohan Singh has also announced opening of Apiary Development Centers in ten states
  • He also called upon the farmers to use the residual husk after paddy farming to make organic fertilizer, in paper making and Card-board Industry and as animal feed as this would prevent the adverse effect of husk burning on the environment.

What is Krishi Vigyan Kendra?

  • Krsihi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) are agricultural extension centres created by ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research) and its affiliated institutions at district level to provide various types of farm support to the agricultural sector. (The first KVK was established during 1974 (Pondichery) and has grown as a largest network in the country.)
  • KVKs provides several farm support activities like providing technology dissemination to farmers, training, awareness etc.
  • They play a vital role in conducting on farm testing to demonstrate location specific agricultural technologies.
  • KVKs conducts demonstrations to prove the potential of various crops at farmers’ fields & also conduct need based training programmes for the benefit of farmers and farm women, rural youths.
  • KVKs are creating awareness about improved agricultural technologies through large number of extension programmes. Critical and quality inputs like seeds, planting materials, organic products, biofertilizers and livestock, piglet and poultry strains are produced by the KVKs and made available to the farmers.

 First National Tribal Carnival-2016 in Delhi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a tribal attire, beats a drum at the inauguration of the National Tribal Carnival-2016 in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo by Kamal Kishore  (PTI10_25_2016_000268B)

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated First National Tribal Carnival-2016 in New Delhi on 25th Oct
  • The tribal carnival would showcase the capabilities of the tribal communities, in the national capital.
  • The Prime Minister said that the life of the tribal communities was marked by intense struggle & yet the tribal communities had imbibed the ideals of community living, and of living cheerfully despite troubles & the Government was committed to using modern technology such as underground mining and coal gasification, which would minimise disturbance to tribal settlements.
  • He also spoke of the Rurban Mission, which would focus on development of rural growth centres.
  • Union Tribal Affairs Minister said that his Ministry is concentrating on the education of tribals through Eklavya School and scholarships for the tribal youth.
  • The minister said Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana is another important scheme of his Ministry which has proved beneficial for the tribals & The Ministry is equally concerned to provide suitable market for the forest products produced by tribals.
  • The four day long carnival has been organised by Ministry of Tribal Affairs to promote a sense of inclusiveness amongst the tribals.
  • The carnival will showcase and promote various facets of tribal culture on a large scale.

The underlying idea is to :

  • preserve and promote various facets of the tribal life relating to culture, tradition, customs and their skills
  • to expose it to the general public with a view to utilizing the potential for overall holistic development of the Scheduled Tribes.

Activities like displaying documents on traditional socio-culture aspects, exhibition of art/artifacts, cultural performances, demonstration of skills like sports, paintings, traditional healing practices etc. will be part of the four day event.

Workshop on issues like Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) its implementation, benefit to tribal community and its drawbacks, Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006 and its implications and reservation in politics and recruitment will also be part of the carnival.

What will include in the carnival?

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  • The carnival will provide the stage for deliberations on important subjects affecting tribal development.
  • It will also give an exposure of marketability of tribal products like textiles, paintings, artefacts so that it has a catalytic effect on income-generating activities and tribal livelihood.
  • The events during the carnival will be a mix of live musical and dance performances, exhibitions, display of craft, fashion show, panel discussion, book fair etc.
  • It will have a mix of art, music, traditional food and one of its kind of non-stop venue for lively entertainment of India’s traditional tribal way of life full of experience and knowledge.

Who all are participatingin the carnival?

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  • About 1600 tribal artists and around 8000 tribal delegates from States/UTs such as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Telangana, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Sikkim, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Tamil Nadu are attending the carnival.
  • Eminent tribal personalities who have excelled in various field i.e sports, art and culture, literature, academic, medicine etc. are also attending the carnival.

About VANBANDHU KALYAN YOJANA

VKY a strategic process. It aims at creating enabling environment for need based and outcome oriented holistic development of the tribal people.This process envisages to ensure that all the intended benefits of goods and services under various programmes/schemes of Central as well as State Governments actually reach the target groups by convergence of resources through appropriate institut ional mechanism.

Scope

It covers all tribal people and all areas with tribal population across the country.

Objectives

  • Improving the quality of life in tribal areas
  • Improving the quality of education
  • Qualitative and sustainable employment for tribal families
  • Bridging infrastructure gaps with focus on quality
  • Protection of tribal culture and heritage

After Sikkim Himachal Pradesh declared India’s Second Open Defecation Free State

  • Himachal Pradesh on 28th Oct became Open Defecation Free (ODF), the second state in the country to achieve the feat after Sikkim.
  • Himachal Pradesh has successfully achieved a total rural sanitation coverage of 100 per cent in the state, with all 12 districts in the state being both, declared as well as verified as ODF, according to an official statement.
  • Himachal Pradesh has tipped ‘God’s own country’ Kerala by just four days to become the first big state to go completely Swachh as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan of achieving a clean open defecation free India by 2019.
  • Kerala had announced its intention well in advance, which was in August by the new Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to go fully Swachh by November 1, its formation anniversary.
  • All its state machinery targets were aligned to the same effect. As of today, its achievement of toilet construction targets stand at 99.89%.
  • States like Uttrakhand and Haryana are also catching up to become ODF by March next year and stand at 89.87% and 87.57% of their targets of household toilet construction.
  • However, the Swachh Bharat project is overall lagging behind and may struggle to comply with the October 2, 2019 target for the entire country as fixed by the Prime Minister over two years ago

India-Russia agree to double the range of BrahMos Cruise Missile

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  • India and Russia have agreed to double the range of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that the two produce together.
  • This follows India’s recent accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Earlier, India was denied access to the missile technology with range over 300 km as it was not a member state.
  • The Brahmos missile developed by India and Russia is probably the most deadly cruise missile in the world right now.
  • It’s supersonic speed and deadly accuracy has got nations lining up to buy it. It’s ability to hit targets 290 km away is of great tactical advantage too.
  • It lets the missile be fired from a standoff range without the Indian forces coming under enemy fire. But there’s a new development
  • India’s offensive capacity, especially against Pakistan, is set to take a huge step forward with New Delhi and Moscow deciding to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with 600 km-plus range and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy.
  • This range enables these missiles to strike anywhere within Pakistan. That Russia can work with India to produce these missiles is thanks to New Delhi joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June this year.
  • MTCR guidelines prohibit its members from transfer, sale or joint production of missiles beyond 300-km range with countries outside the club.
  • Brahmos’ current range is 300 km, which makes it difficult to hit targets deep inside Pakistan. India has ballistic missiles with longer range than the next generation Brahmos.

About BrahMos Missile

  1. BrahMos is one of its kind supersonic cruise missile. Named from the names of two rivers, India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moskva River.
  2. It operates on fire and forget principal and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets. It is capable of carrying a warhead of 300 kilogram and has top supersonic speed of Mach 3 (that is, three times the speed of sound).
  3. It is two-stage missile, the first one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant.

Microsoft opens Cyber-security Engagement Centre in India

  • Microsoft India on 28th Oct launched its first full-scale Cybersecurity Engagement Centre (CSEC) in the country.
  • Located in Delhi, this first-of-its-kind centre in India will bring together Microsoft capabilities to foster deeper cybersecurity collaborations with public and private sector organisations and build a trusted and secure computing environment, a critical enabler for India’s digital transformation.
  • After a successful year-long pilot,  the centre is India’s first and Microsoft’s seventh Cybersecurity Centre globally opened at a juncture when over three million debit cards of various banks are believed to be ‘tainted’ following a suspected security breach in the country.
  • It  will function as a satellite to the company’s Redmond Digital Crimes Unit (DCU). The company has also rolled out a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about cybersecurity among Indian organisations.
  • In addition to enabling and empowering enterprises to manage modern security threats effectively, the CSEC aims to expand Microsoft’s public-private partnerships in India.
  • The centre will also enable customers tap into a pool of resources such as security specialists and technologies at Microsoft.
  • As part of Microsoft Consultancy Services (MCS), a dedicated India-based response team will offer security consultancy services to enterprise customers.
  • Microsoft has also rolled out Microsoft Secure, a nationwide campaign to increase awareness on cybersecurity to help organisations understand their security requirements better.