October 3, 2018

October 2018

31 october 2018

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas 2018 observed to commemorate 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas 2018 observed

India observed Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, also known as National Unity Day, on October 31, 2018 to commemorate the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Iron Man of India.

On this occasion, Home Minister Rajnath Singh flagged off the ‘Run for Unity’ from Major Dhyanchand Stadium. He also administered unity pledge to the participants.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated world’s tallest ‘Statue of Unity’ to the nation at Kevadiya in Narmada district of Gujarat. The Prime Minister also unveiled the ‘Wall of Unity’, a wall created with the earth samples collected from various states across the country.

Activities planned for the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas 2018

The Central Armed Police Forces actively participated in State-level and other field level functions and organised March pasts.

The Surya Kiran of the Air Force performed aerobatics in the sky over the statue while spreading the colours of the Indian flag in the sky.

A team of Jaguar fighter aircraft also flew, and a team of MI-17 choppers showered rose petals on the statue.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting telecasted the film ‘Sardar’ on Doordarshan, play radio and TV jingles.

The Ministry of Railways organised pledge and March Past at its Zonal and Divisional Headquarters.

Under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, various events such as Run for Unity, pledge, floral tribute, competitions involving all citizens of Tier-I and Tier-II cities including SMART and AMRUT cities and towns were organised.

The National School of Drama organised a special play on Sardar Patel.

Cultural programmes and folk dance performances by artists from Gujarat, Punjab, Assam and Mizoram were also held.

Statue of Unity

• The Statue of Unity is a dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This project was announced on October 31, 2013 by Narendra Modi, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

• For development of the project, Modi launched a country wide campaign to collect iron to build the Statue of Unity and iron was collected from around seven lakh villages across the nation.

• The statue will be 182m tall that is double the size of New York’s Statue of Liberty (93 metres) and surpasses the height of Spring Temple Buddha in China (153 metres).

• The project will include an exhibition hall and audio-visual presentation on the life of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

• The main structure will be completed at an expense of Rs 1345 crore, a part of Rs 2979 crore total amount allocated for the project.

• Out of the remaining cost, Rs 235 crore is being spent on the construction of exhibition hall and convention centre; Rs 83 crore is being spent on the bridge connecting the memorial to the main land; and Rs 657 crore rupees will be spent to maintain the structure for next 15 years.

• Around 75000 cubic meters of concrete, 5700 metric tonne of steel structure, 18500 steel rods and 22500 metric tonne of bronze is being used for this project.

About Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Born on October 31, 1875, Sardar Patel was a lawyer by profession.

He was one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India and the architect of modern political India.

Popularly known as the Iron Man, Patel was addressed as ‘Sardar’, which means Chief or leader.

In 1946, during Congress elections thirteen out of sixteen states chose Sardar Patel as their president, who was the more popular candidate for the first Prime Minister of independent India than Jawaharlal Nehru. However, upon Mahatma Gandhi’s behest he stepped down as a candidate and endorsed Jawaharlal Nehru instead.

Eventually, Sardar Patel became the first deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India in 1947.

He is acknowledged for the political integration of over 500 princely states into the independent Indian Union. He united 565 princely states to be part of India.

In 1991, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously.

The ‘National Unity Day’ or Rashtriya Ekta Diwas commemorates Sardar Patel every year on 31 October.

PM Modi unveils world’s tallest statue ‘Statue of Unity’

PM Modi unveils world’s tallest statue ‘Statue of Unity’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, 2018 unveiled the bronze statue of India’s first deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Kevadia in Gujarat’s Narmada district.

The ‘statue of unity’ dedicated to the ‘Iron Man of India’ has been constructed on a river island called the Sadhu Bet on the Narmada river in Kevadiya town.

Key Highlights

 PM Modi unveils world's tallest statue 'Statue of Unity' The Prime Minister inaugurated the structure on the occasion of Sardar Patel’s 143rd birth anniversary, dedicating the Statue of Unity to the country.

At 182 metres, the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel will be the tallest statue in the world, surpassing the height of Spring Temple Buddha in China, which had previously held the record at 153 metres.

The structure will be double the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York city in the United States.

A viewing gallery has been set up at a height of 135 metres, which can accommodate 200 visitors at one time. It offers a spectacular view of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, its reservoir, and the Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges.

The dedication ceremony shall comprise a flypast of IAF aircraft and performances of cultural troupes.

The Surya Kiran of the Air Force will perform aerobatics in the sky over the statue while spreading the colours of the Indian flag in the sky. At the same time, a team of Jaguar fighter aircraft will also fly and a team of MI-17 choppers will shower rose petals on the statue.

Besides, cultural programmes and folk dance performances by artists from Gujarat, Punjab, Assam and Mizoram have also been planned.

Other Details

The Statue, set up under the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust, has been constructed at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore in less than four years.

Built by engineering major Larsen & Toubro Ltd, the statue will be treated as the largest memorial to the ‘Iron Man of India’.

Approximately, more than 70,000 tonnes of cement, 24,000 tonnes of steel and about 1,700 tonnes of bronze have gone into its construction. About 15,000 tourists are expected to visit the statue daily.

‘Wall of Unity’

On the occasion, PM Modi also unveiled the ‘Wall of Unity’ that has been created with the earth samples collected from various states across the country.

As part of the effort to make the region around the statue a tourist spot, many projects like Valley of Flowers and Tent City have also been developed.

The Prime Minister also unveiled a ‘Light and Sound show’ on Sardar Patel in the exhibition hall built at the pedestal of the Statue of Unity. The show will depict the Iron Man of India’s fight against British rule.

Background

PM Modi had laid the foundation stone of the project on October 31, 2013 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

With the unveiling, the statue will become a representative and inspiration of Unity, Integrity and Peace across the globe.

Seychelles launches world’s first sovereign Blue Bond

Seychelles launches world’s first sovereign Blue Bond

The Republic of Seychelles on October 29, 2018 launched the world’s first Sovereign Blue Bond, a financial instrument designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects.

The bond raised USD 15 million from international investors. The bond demonstrates the potential for countries to harness capital markets for financing the sustainable use of marine resources.

With this, Seychelles became the first nation to pioneer such a novel financing instrument.

Assistance and investors
The World Bank assisted in developing the Blue Bond and helped the country in reaching out to the three investors:

  • Calvert Impact Capital
  • Nuveen
  • U.S. Headquartered Prudential Financial Inc.

Key highlights of the Blue Bond

The Blue Bond is a part of an initiative that combines public and private investment to mobilise resources for empowering local communities and businesses.

Proceeds from the bond will be utilised for the expansion of marine protected areas, improved governance of priority fisheries and the development of the Seychelles’ blue economy.

Proceeds from the bond will also contribute to the World Bank’s South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Program, which supports countries in the region to sustainably manage their fisheries and increase economic benefits from their fisheries sectors.

Grants will be provided through the Blue Grants Fund and will be managed by the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT)

Loans will be provided through the Blue Investment Fund and will be managed by the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS).

It will greatly assist Seychelles in achieving a transition to sustainable fisheries and safeguarding oceans.

Important names behind the creation of Blue Bond
  • The Seychelles blue bond is partially guaranteed by a USD 5 million guarantee from the World Bank (IBRD) and is further supported by a USD 5 million concessional loan from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which will partially cover interest payments for the bond.
  • A World Bank team comprising experts from its Treasury, Legal, Environmental and Finance groups worked with investors in structuring the blue bond.
  • The business case for a sovereign blue bond was initially identified through support to Seychelles from HRH Prince of Wales’ Charities International Sustainability Unit.
  • Standard Chartered acted as placement agent for the bond and Latham & Watkins LLP advised the World Bank as external counsel.
  • Clifford Chance LLP acted as transaction counsel for the bond.

Seychelles and its rich marine resources

The Seychelles is an archipelagic nation consisting of 115 granite and coral islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves as well as rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises.

As one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, Seychelles is balancing the need to develop economically and protect its natural resources. After tourism, the fisheries sector is the most important industry in the country, contributing significantly to annual GDP and employing 17 percent of the population.

Fish products make up around 95 percent of the total value of domestic exports.

Sri Lankan Political Crisis: Everything you need to know!

Sri Lankan President Sirisena ousts PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

Sri Lanka, one of Asia’s oldest democracies is in the midst of a political turmoil, following the sudden dismissal of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by President Maithripala Sirisena on October 26, 2018.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced through a live television address that Ranil Wickremesinghe, with whom he had governed in a fragile coalition since 2015, had been dismissed and in his place, he had decided to appoint former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the same man he had joined forces with Wickremasinghe in 2015 to defeat.

The decision has created a wedge in the country’s politics with parliamentarians showing more favour towards Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has termed the sacking as illegal and is standing his ground despite attempts to replace him with Rajapaksa.

Despite warnings of a possible breakout of extreme violence, President Sirisena suspended Parliament to give Rajapaksa time to muster enough support to survive any no-confidence vote. This was followed by the swearing in of 12 Cabinet ministers including one state minister and deputy minister on October 29. The new cabinet includes four MPs who switched sides from the alliance led by the ousted PM Ranil Wickremesinghe.

One nation, two Prime Ministers

This entire development has left Sri Lanka with two Prime Ministers, as even though Rajapaksa took control of the prime ministerial office and starting naming a new cabinet, Wickremesinghe continues to occupy his official residence.

The move has increased pressure on President Sirisena to call an early session of Parliament, to decide between two men claiming to be the country’s lawful prime minister.

 Sri Lankan Political Crisis: Everything you need to know

According to the ousted PM, he cannot be legally dismissed until he loses the support of parliament. Wickremesinghe’s party, which holds a majority of seats in the 225-member assembly, was prevented from holding a confidence vote when Sirisena abruptly suspended parliament on October 27 until November 16.

The Parliamentary Speaker has called for an all-party meeting and may reach a decision for the early convening of Parliament despite President’s order to discontinue it.

Meanwhile, Sirisena has removed Wickremasinghe of most of his staff and privileges as the Prime Minister. Not only has Wickremasinghe lost his official cars, his office but his security detail has also been reduced from a force of more than 1,000 officers to just ten.

Political Turmoil turns Violent

On October 28, Arjuna Ranatunga, the Petroleum Minister in the ousted PM Wickremesinghe’s government was confronted by Rajapaksa’s loyalists when he approached his ministry.

When they were not allowed to move out, the Minister’s security personnel opened fire at the crowd, which injured three persons, leaving one person dead.

Following the incident, Ranatunga, a cricket legend who had captained the Sri Lankan side to victory in the 1996 World Cup, was arrested on October 29.

Friends turn Foe

Rajapaksa and Sirisena were former political allies and Sirisena was Rajapaksa’s minister of health until 2015 when Sirisena broke away from Rajapaksa’s party and plotted to defeat him.

On the other hand, Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe were political opponents, who united their parties in 2015 to unseat Rajapaksa, who had been ruling for more than 10 years, fearing that he was becoming too powerful.

 Sri Lankan Political Crisis: Everything you need to know

However, over the past three years, differences arose between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe over several issues including economic reforms, key policy moves and a probe into military officers accused of human rights violations during the country’s civil war with LTTE.

Executive Power in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the President is the most dominant political force. The Prime Minister’s role is limited to a deputy to the President, besides being the leader of Cabinet.

However, in the latest development, the final call to decide whether the President has the power to straightway dismiss or replace a Prime Minister lies with the Sri Lankan Supreme Court.

In 2015, Sri Lanka had amended its constitution to prevent the president from sacking any prime minister unless they had died, resigned or lost the confidence of parliament.

Who has more numbers in the Parliament?

In the current Parliament, Rajapaksa and Sirisena combined have 95 seats, which is short of a simple majority. Rajapaksa though claims to have around 100 loyal MPs and requires 13 more for a majority of the 225-seat assembly.

On the other hand, Wickremesinghe’s party has 106 seats on its own with just seven short of the majority. Wickremesinghe claims to have obtained the signatures of 126 MPs calling for parliament to be returned immediately to end the political standoff.

 Sri Lankan Political Crisis: Everything you need to know

Background

The president’s move to consolidate power and invite Rajapaksa back into government starkly counters the promises he made to investigate the former government’s actions during the country’s long civil war.

During his 10 years in power, Rajapaksa and his government were accused of authoritarianism, corruption and human rights abuses, especially against the country’s Tamil minority.

Rajapaksa oversaw the end of the 27-year Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 through a series of brutal military offensives in which the UN estimates up to 40,000 Tamil civilians died.

His tenure was also marred by accusations his security forces were forcibly disappearing, torturing and murdering opposition politicians, aid workers, activists, journalists and dissidents.

Tamil groups fear that an uneasy reconciliation process that began after the end of the 2009 civil war could be imperilled with the reinstation of Rajapaksa’s regime.

Impact on India, other nations

During his 10-year stint in the presidency, Rajapaksa had a sour relationship with the west.

However, under him, Sri Lanka had grown closer to China with the nation pumping billions into huge infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.

Sirisena and Wickremesinghe’s party had come in with the promise of lessening financial ties with China, in order to reduce the debt created due to such projects, which had pinched the country’s economy.

Hence, China’s potential gains with the change in the government of Sri Lanka could possibly impact the broader rivalry between India and China across the Indian Ocean.

NMCG approves 12 projects worth Rs 929 crore under Namami Gange programme

NMCG approves 12 projects worth Rs 929 crore under Namami Gange programme

The Executive Committee (EC) of the National Mission for Clean Ganga on October 29, 2018 approved 12 projects worth Rs 929 crore under the Namami Gange programme in its 16th meeting.

The committee sanctioned two sewage treatment plants for Delhi, various projects for Uttar Pradesh, two projects for West Bengal, and two projects under CSR category.

Two Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) for Delhi

The committee sanctioned two Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) for Delhi for creating 340 MLD (Millions of Liters per Day) waste treatment capacity at a cost of Rs 580 Crore.

The first STP will be of 318 MLD capacity at Coronation Pillar.

The second is a project in Chattarpur assembly constituency where various sewage pumping stations and 9 STPs of total 22.5 MLD capacity will be constructed.

Sewage flow will be collected and pumped to STPs for treatment.

The treated water will be used for development and rejuvenation of eight nearby water bodies and for irrigation purpose.

The Central Government will fund Rs 256 Crore for the project.

Uttar Pradesh

The Committee approved various projects for Uttar Pradesh at a total cost of Rs 128 crore.

The Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in Mathura Industrial Area of 6.25 MLD capacity for textile printing units will be upgraded.

The Rampur Drain in Rampur will be treated using the NSN-Technology based Bio Oxygenation.

Treatment of 30 drains and third party inspection of 123 drains in the state was also approved.

For inspection and monitoring of industries, STPs and CETPs by third party technical institutions, Rs 0.98 Cr has been sanctioned for strengthening of UP Pollution Control laboratories to enable UP Pollution Control Board to monitor and inspect all Grossly Polluting Industries, STP & CETPs.

West Bengal

For West Bengal, the committee sanctioned two projects at a cost of Rs 50 crore.

One project was approved for upgrading the STP in Kancharapara from 13 MLD to 18 MLD capacity, along with its operation and maintenance for the next 15 years.

Another project was sanctioned for Hilsa fisheries improvement at Farraka barrage.  Implementation of this project will increase the natural stock of Hilsa in the river Ganga. The project will also study and monitor Hilsa migration across the Farakka barrage in the main river Ganga.

Projects sanctioned under CSR category

Under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) category, the committee sanctioned two more projects that will be funded by corporate groups.

INDORAMA Charitable Trust will fund the Ghat and Crematoria Work at Badrinath and Gangotri in Uttarakhand at a cost of Rs 26.33 crore.

Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) will take up renovation and beautification of Ganga River Bank at Katwa, West Bengal at a cost of Rs 0.35 crore.

13th India-Japan Annual Summit: India, Japan sign various agreements, agree to start ‘2+2’ dialogue

13th India-Japan Annual Summit: India, Japan sign 32 agreements

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan on October 28-29, 2018 to attend the India-Japan Annual Summit with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

After the summit, the two sides exchanged 32 MoUs or agreements including USD 75 billion currency swap agreement and agreed to ‘2+2’ dialogue.

USD 75 billion currency swap agreement

Japan and India entered into a USD 75 billion currency swap agreement that will boost Indian economy as it encounters a steep drop in the rupee’s value. This swap arrangement would be 50 percent higher than the previous swap agreement. Japan had offered a USD 50 billion currency swap in 2013.

This facility will enable the agreed amount of foreign capital being available to India for use as and when the need arises. Equally, Japan can also seek dollars from India in exchange for yen.

2+2 dialogue with Japan

After the United States, India will now hold a 2+2 dialogue with Japan. Both the sides agreed for a 2+2 dialogue between Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers. The aim is to work towards world peace and stability.

Japan announced to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA)

During the Summit, Japan announced to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) by submitting the instrument of ratification on October 29, 2018. As of now, there are 70 countries that have signed the ISA Framework Agreement and 47 countries that have ratified it.

Japan will be the 71st country to sign and 48th country to ratify the ISA Framework Agreement.

Here is the list of other agreements signed between India and Japan

Category MOU or Agreement Objective
Defence and Strategic Implementing arrangement for cooperation between Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and Indian Navy For greater cooperation and exchange of information in maritime domain
Digital and new technologies MoC between Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry on Japan-India Digital Partnership To tap into the synergies between Japan’s “Society 5.0” and India’s flagship programmes like “Digital India”, “Smart City” and “Start-up India” in next generation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), and IoT (Internet of Things), etc.
Digital and new technologies Statement of Intent between NITI Aayog and Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI) of Japan on Artificial Intelligence (AI) To encourage and develop cooperation on artificial intelligence technologies
Healthcare and wellness MoC between Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the Office of Healthcare Policy, Cabinet Secretariat of Japan and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare To establish a mechanism to identify potential areas for collaboration between India and Japan in primary healthcare, prevention of non-communicable diseases, maternal and child health services, sanitation, hygiene and elderly care
Healthcare and wellness MoC between Ministry of AYUSH and the Kanagawa Prefectural Government of Japan For cooperation in the field of Healthcare and Wellness
Healthcare and wellness MoU on food safety between Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI); and Food Safety Commission of Japan, Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan For furthering cooperation between the agencies from India and Japan in area of food safety
Food value chain and agriculture areas MoC between Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries, and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan To develop India’s food processing industry with involvement of relevant stakeholders such as local governments, private companies, etc.
Food value chain and agriculture areas Program agreement between Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan To promote development of agricultural value chain and fisheries, including aquaculture, by improving the investment environment for Japanese companies.
Food value chain and agriculture areas MoC between Maharashtra Government and Japanese Ministry of Agriculture on Development of Food Value Chain in Maharashtra To facilitate investment of Japanese companies in food value chain in Maharashtra
Food Value Chain and agriculture areas MoC between Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Uttar Pradesh Government on development of food value chain in Uttar Pradesh To facilitate investment of Japanese companies in food value chain in Uttar Pradesh
Economic MoU between Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India and NEXI, Japan For stimulating trade and investment between India and Japan and strengthening cooperation in projects in third countries.
Postal MOC in Postal Field between the Union Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan To strengthen cooperation in postal field including through setting up of Postal Services Dialogue between Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Science & Technology MoU between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of India and Hiroshima University of Japan for Research Partnership. To promote research partnership in areas such as Electronics, Sensors, High Speed Vision, Robotics, Advanced Manufacturing including Mechatronics, Environmental Research, Intelligent Transportation, etc.
Science & Technology MoU between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of India and Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), University of Tokyo, Japan To promote research partnership in areas like Renewable Energy, Electronics including Robotics/IoT, Advanced Materials, etc.
Science & Technology Agreement for Cooperation between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India and Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT), Japan To establish research partnership CSIR and TIT in areas such as Advanced Materials, Bioscience and Information Technologies.
Environment MoC between India and Japan in the field of Environment Cooperation To promote greater cooperation between India and Japan for protection and improvement of environment
Academic Exchanges MoU between National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), India, and Shizuoka University, Japan To promote academic linkages between the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research S.A.S Nagar, and Shizuoka University
Academic Exchanges MoU on Further Cooperation toward Indo-Japan Global Startup between Nagasaki University and IIITDM Kancheepuram, India Information Technology and Human Resources development along with Indo-Japan Global Startup
Academic Exchanges MoU on Academic and Educational Exchange between Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, India and Hiroshima University, Japan. Joint Research Promotion and exchange of students and faculties between the two institutions
Academic Exchanges MoU between IIT, Hyderabad and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Joint Research Promotion and exchange of students and faculties between the two institutions
Academic Exchanges Academic Exchange Agreement between IIT Kanpur and Hokkaido University Joint Research Promotion and exchange of students and faculties between the two institutions.
Sports MoU between Sports Authority of India (SAI) and University of Tsukuba, Japan To strengthen cooperation in the field of sports development and excellence through joint programmes.

Japan agrees to provide 316 Billion Yen loan for seven major infrastructure projects in India

Apart from these agreements, Japan agreed to provide loans of about 316.458 billion yen for seven major infrastructure projects in India. These include:

Project for the Construction of Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet or high speed train

Project for Renovation and Modernisation of Umiam-Umtru Stage-III Hydroelectric Power Station in Meghalaya

Delhi Mass Rapid Transport System Project (Phase 3)

North East Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project (Phase 3)

Project for Sustainable Catchment Forest Management in Tripura

Government to Business/Business to Business agreements

Memorandum of Understanding between KAGOME Co Ltd. of Japan and Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries

Joint Venture Agreement between State Bank of India (SBI) and SBI Payment Services Pvt. Ltd; and Hitachi Payment Services Pvt Ltd

Memorandum of Understanding between Nissan Steel Industry Co. Ltd. of Japan and Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries

Letter of Intents and Acknowledgements of Private Sector Investment Project Proposals by 57 Japanese companies to make investment in India and 15 Indian companies to make investment in Japan

30 october 2018

Union Transport Minister to lay the foundation for India’s largest Dry Dock

Union Transport Minister to lay the foundation for India’s largest Dry Dock

The foundation stone for India’s largest Dry Dock will be laid by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at Cochin Shipyard in Kerala on October 30, 2018.

The Dry Dock will give a major boost to the “Make in India” initiative under Sagarmala and raise India’s share in global shipbuilding to 2 percent. India currently occupies 0.66 per cent share in global shipbuilding market.

Key Highlights

The commercial ship building industry in India is worth Rs. 3,200 crore and focuses primarily on small-medium sized offshore vessels and cargo/bulk carriers.

Currently, the Cochin Shipyard has two dry docks. One that has a size of 255m x 43 x 9m and capacity 1,10,000 DWT is predominantly used for ship building and the other one, which has a size of 270 x 45 x 12m and capacity 1,25,000 DWT, is used for ship repair.

The new Dry Dock is being constructed at a cost of Rs 1799 crore. It will be 310 m long, 75m wide, with a depth of 13 m and drought of 9.5m.

The dock will be designed to handle both ship building and repairs and bear a load up to 600 T/m. It will be equipped with international safety standards.

The dock will also have a water treatment plant and green belt development.

The project is expected to be completed by May 2021 and it is expected to generate employment opportunities for about 2000 people.

Significance

Equipped with this Dry Dock, Cochin Shipyard will be able to build specialised and technologically advanced large vessels like LNG Carriers, drill ships, jack up rigs, large dredgers, aircraft carriers for Indian Navy and high end research vessels.

It will also help make Cochin a one stop maritime hub for all repair needs in South East Asia.

Other Details

The Transport Minister would also be launching two 500 capacity passenger vessels built by CSL for Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration on the occasion. These vessels will help enhance intra island connectivity.

Besides this, the Minister will also lay the foundation stone for three National Highways projects in Kerala, the cost of which would be about Rs 1557 crore.

These would include the construction of the 18.6 km, 4 lane Thalassery – Mahe bypass (NH-66) at a cost of Rs 1181 crore, construction of 0.78 km, 4-lane Railway Over Bridge near Neeleshwaram town (NH-66) at a cost of Rs 82 crore and widening of 46.72 km from Nattukal to ThanavuJn (NH-66) to two lane with paved shoulder at a cost of Rs 294 crore .

India, Qatar establish joint commission to strengthen bilateral relations

India, Qatar establish joint commission to strengthen bilateral relations

India and Qatar on October 29, 2018 established a joint commission to review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest. A joint declaration was issued to this effect.

The decision was taken following a meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, during former’s visit to Qatar.
During the meeting, both the sides held comprehensive discussions on bilateral relations and regional and international issues.

Key Highlights

India and Qatar have decided to establish a joint commission to strengthen the relations between the two countries in various fields with a view to further the common interests of their people.

The commission will be charged with the following tasks:

– Formulating the required basis to strengthen the relations between the two countries particularly in economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, technological, information technology and educational fields.

– Following up the implementation of the agreements concluded between the two countries

– Finding suitable solutions for the resulting problems of the implementation.

– Facilitating the exchange of information and expertise and encouraging bilateral consultation in service of cooperation between the two countries.

The commission will be co-chaired by the Ministers of External Affairs and Foreign Affairs of the two countries or their representatives and may include representatives of the sectors concerned with bilateral cooperation in both the countries.

Further, the commission will hold a meeting at a time agreed by both countries alternately in each country. Extraordinary session may be held at the consent of both the countries.

Background

Qatar is home to around 700,000 expatriate Indians and the Gulf nation is a reliable energy partner of India, supplying more than 50 per cent of India’s natural gas imports.

The India-Qatar bilateral trade stood at $9.9 billion in 2017-18.

The Indian external affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Qatar on October 28 on the first leg of her two-nation tour of West Asia that will also see her going to Kuwait.

Supreme Court prohibits plying of 15-year-old petrol, 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi-NCR

Supreme Court prohibits plying of 15-year-old petrol, 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi-NCR

The Supreme Court on October 29, 2018 prohibited the plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the Delhi-NCR (national capital region) in a move to deal with the prevailing “very critical” and “horrible” pollution situation in Delhi-NCR.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta also clarified that such vehicles would be seized, if found on roads in Delhi-NCR.

The ruling

The apex court directed that a list of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles will be published on the website of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and transport departments of the NCR area.

The bench directed the CPCB to immediately create a social media account on which citizens could lodge their complaint about pollution directly, which will be acted upon by the task force responsible for implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

It said a “meaningful advertisement” shall be published in a local newspaper for convenience of the owners of these vehicles.

It permitted the court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to take preventive measures under the Graded Response Action Plan without strict adherence to pollution stages defined in the plan.

The Transport Departments of NCR will immediately announce that all the diesel vehicles more than 10 years old and petrol vehicles more than 15 years old shall not ply in NCR in terms of the order of the National Green Tribunal dated April 7, 2015 that was challenged in the court and the civil appeal was dismissed.

Graded Response Action Plan
The Graded Response Action Plan is aimed at tackling air pollution in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas and it is designed to take urgent corrective action, when air quality declines.

First of its kind, the Plan envisages to roll out a host of emergency measures like the closure of power plants and schools. It also includes issue of advisories asking people to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement.

Directions came on a note placed by advocate Aparajita Singh

The apex court passed these directions on a note placed before it by advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the court as amicus curiae in the air pollution matter, seeking urgent directions to correct the prevailing situation of pollution.

Singh told the bench that currently, the air quality level in Delhi-NCR is under “very poor” level and citizens in the national capital are facing health emergency due to pollution. Only farmers cannot be blamed for pollution due to crop burning. As per the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, pollution load from transport was around 41 percent in the NCR.

She suggested for the creation of accounts on Facebook or Twitter so that citizens can lodge complaints about pollution.

NGT order dated April 7, 2015
National Green Tribunal (NGT) on April 7, 2015 banned plying of 15-year-old petrol, 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi-NCR.

It asked the governments and concerned agencies to ensure within 20 hours that all entry points have units to check pollution levels, weight and age of vehicle. The ruling was given by a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar.

Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazil’s Presidential election

Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazil’s Presidential election

Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro was on October 28, 2018 declared as the winner of Brazil’s 2018 Presidential Elections by a wide margin. Bolsonaro swept the election results with 55.1 per cent of the votes cast, as against 44.8 per cent votes of his opponent, Fernando Haddad from the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT).

Bolsonaro had also won the first round of the elections in October amid a field of 13 candidates, but he had fallen short of the 50 per cent needed to win out rightly and avoid a runoff against Haddad. The clear victory of Bolsonaro now marks a rightward swing in the largest democracy of Latin America, which was governed by the left-wing party for 13 years between 2003 and 2016. Since the past two years, the country had been led by a conservative, Michel Temer, who was elected following the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff. However, Temer had become deeply unpopular with Brazilians.

Bolsonaro had campaigned on a promise to eradicate corruption and to drive down Brazil’s high crime levels. He will be sworn into his new post on January 1, 2019.

Aggressive Campaign

Many termed the presidential campaign of both Bolsonaro and Haddad as extremely aggressive and division. Each camp argued that victory for the other could destroy Brazil.

As a result of the hostility, dozens of politically motivated acts of violence were registered by voters, journalist and politicians.

In fact, the 63-year-old Bolsonaro was stabbed in the stomach last month during a rally in the city of Juiz de Fora, in Minas Gerais state.

While the stabbing took him off the campaign trail for weeks as he recovered, it strengthened his position among Brazilians looking for a change.

#Nothim Campaign

Bolsonaro’s increased visibility prompted a social media backlash known as #elenao, or #nothim, which gained support throughout the country and internationally.

The right-winger was also compared to US President Donald Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, due to his misogynistic, racist and homophobic remarks.

He once told a congresswoman that she did not deserve to be raped because she was “very ugly”.

He also said publicly he’d prefer to see his son “die in an accident” than a member of his family be homosexual.

 Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazil’s Presidential election

Besides this, Bolsonaro’s opponents voiced concerns that his victory could threaten human rights and ecological preservation in the world’s fourth-largest democracy.

Bolsonaro’s promises to open up tracks of the Amazon rainforest to development led environmental groups to say that his election would be a “profound setback.”

According to the environmental groups, Bolsonaro’s plans to industrialise the Amazon in concert with Brazilian and international agribusiness and mining sectors will bring untold destruction to the planet’s largest rainforest and spell disaster for the global climate.

About Jair Bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro, aged 63, is a retired army officer and member of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), an anti-establishment group that combines social conservatism and pro-market policies.

Casting himself as a political outsider, Bolsonaro ran a campaign characterised by violent talk and far-right positions.

He has in the past defended the killing of opponents to the country’s former military regime and said he is “in favour of dictatorship”.

Two years ago he commented that the dictatorship’s mistake was “to torture and not kill” leftist dissidents, and during his campaign he vowed to send opponents “into exile or into prison”.

However, after the results were announced, he said that he would be a “defender of democracy” and uphold the constitution.

One of his flagship policies is to restore security by relax gun laws and suggested that “every honest citizen” should be able to own a gun.

He also promised to reduce state intervention in the economy and indicated that Brazil could pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

28-29 october 2018

Ayodhya Verdict: Supreme Court adjourns hearing till January 2019

Ayodhya case adjourned to January 2019 by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India on October 29, 2018 adjourned the hearing on pleas challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict in the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid site title dispute to January 2019.

The decision was taken by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph. The apex court will in January fix the date for commencing hearing on the matter. Hence, the hearing may be in January, February, March or anytime after that, as per clarification by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

The court stated that an appropriate bench, which will be constituted to hear the matter, will decide the date of the hearing. The decision comes nearly a month after a ruling by SC that there was no need to look into the top court’s observations in its 1994 judgment that a mosque was not integral to Islam.

Key Highlights

The top court listed the string of appeals against the 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court in the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid dispute in the first week of January 2019 for fixing the date of hearing by an appropriate bench.

The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the state of UP, had urged that in view of the nature of the dispute, it may be taken up on an earlier occasion.

The appeals against the 2010 judgement of Allahabad High Court were listed before the bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S K Kaul and Justice K M Joseph under the caption “direction matters”.

However, the Supreme Court in its four-minute hearing decided to delay the hearing till 2019.

The top court justified its decision by saying that it had more matters in the pipeline that require an urgent hearing.

Supreme Court’s September 27 Judgment

On September 27, 2018, the Supreme Court declined to refer the 1994 Ismail Farooqui judgment that mosques are not integral to Islam to a larger constitution bench.

The judgement was delivered by a three-judge bench with 2: 1 majority. The majority judgement was written by Justice Ashok Bhushan on behalf of himself and Chief Justice Deepak Misra. The third judge, Justice Abdul Nazeer presented a dissenting judgment.

 Supreme Court adjourns Ayodhya case to January 2019

In the majority verdict, the apex court bench said that the present case on Ayodhya land dispute shall be decided on its own facts and the Ismail Farooqui judgment would have no impact on it.

Justice Ashok Bhushan, who read out the majority judgement on behalf of himself and the CJI, said that the court has to find out the context in which the five-judge had delivered the 1994 judgement.

He said that the statement in Faruqui case was in the limited context of immunity claimed by the petitioners for the mosque from acquisition and added that it need not be read broadly to mean mosque can never be essential to practise of Islam.

Justice S Abdul Nazeer disagreed with the two judges and said whether a mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided considering belief of religion and it requires detailed consideration.

The order paved the way for the apex court to hear the main Ayodhya land dispute. The bench said that the civil suit on the land dispute will be heard by a newly constituted three-judge bench on October 29, as CJI Misra was scheduled to retire from his post on October 2.

Background

The issue whether a mosque is integral to Islam had cropped up when the three-judge SC bench headed by CJI Misra was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict by which the disputed land on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid area was to be divided in three parts.

The Allahabad high court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had ordered that the 2.77 acres of land be divided equally among the three concerned parties -the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla represented by the Hindu Maha Sabha.

Ismail Farooqui judgement

In 1994, the Supreme Court had ruled that namaz or prayers could be offered anywhere and that a mosque was not necessary.

This cleared the way for the government to acquire the land where the 16th century Babri mosque was demolished by large crowd of Hindu Kar Sevaks. The site is considered by some of Hindus to be Ram Janmabhoomi, or the birthplace of Lord Ram and so they feel that a Ram temple should be built at the site.

 SC refuses to refer 1994 judgment on Ayodhya case to larger bench

According to various muslim organisations, the decades-old verdict played a big role in the disputed land in Ayodhya being divided in 2010 into three parts by the Allahabad High Court.

The organisations argue that the “sweeping” observation of the apex court in the 1994 verdict needed to be reconsidered by a five-judge bench as “it had and will have a bearing” on the Babri Masjid-Ram Temple land dispute case.

Arunachal Pradesh, British Council sign MoU for cultural, educational cooperation

Arunachal Pradesh, British Council sign MoU for cultural, educational cooperation

The state government of Arunachal Pradesh on October 27, 2018 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the British Council to strengthen educational and cultural cooperation, in order to support the knowledge ambitions and economic growth of the state.

The agreement aims to enhance the opportunities for the youth of Arunachal Pradesh and connect them to international expertise and ideas. It was signed by Tayek Talom, Director of Higher and Technical Education of Arunachal Pradesh and Alan Gemmell, Director of British Council India, on the sidelines of the Tawang Festival. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu was also present on the occasion.

Significance

The agreement celebrates the British Council’s 70th anniversary in India and seeks to strengthen the relationship for the next 70 years.

It also celebrates the rich cultural connections that Arunachal Pradesh has had with the UK.

Key Provisions

As per the provisions of the MoU, as many as 50 faculty members from government higher education institutions will be trained by the British Council every year, starting from December 2018.

Among these, 30 faculty members will be from government colleges, 10 from governmental polytechnic institutes, eight from central institutions established in Arunachal and 2 from officers of the higher education administration.

Besides this, 50 students of higher and technical education institutes will be trained by the British Council in English language skills each year.

The agreement will also work towards improving English communication of Arunachal Pradesh’s civil servants.

It will also help develop capacity-building initiatives in the state and support improvements in the teaching of mathematics and science and capacity-building programmes for faculty and senior administrators of higher education institutions

The agreement will also seek to increase student and academic mobility for Arunachal Pradesh.

Background

The British Council has had a long association with both Arunachal Pradesh and the Northeast region of India.

The council had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the North Eastern Council (NEC), to strengthen educational and cultural cooperation in all eight states of the region.

To strengthen employability and promote gender inclusion, the British Council had launched Premier Skills Guwahati earlier in 2018, in which UK Premier League coaches trained 57 Indian football coaches from the Northeast, including Arunachal Pradesh.

Further, the British Council’s Crafting Futures initiative had given artisans from the northeast access to a national platform, Lakme Fashion Week.

Besides, in education, the British Council had offered scholarships to 6 women from the Northeast to pursue higher studies in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Researchers develop web-based tool to monitor fake news on social media

Researchers develop web-based tool to monitor fake news on social media

Researchers from the University of Michigan in the US have developed a web-based tool to monitor fake news on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

The tool uses a Platform Health Metric called the ‘Iffy Quotient’, which draws data from two external entities: NewsWhip and Media Bias/Fact Checker.

How does it work?

The NewsWhip is a social media engagement tracking firm, which collects URLs from hundreds of thousands of sites each day and then gathers information on, which of these sites have engagements on Facebook and Twitter.

The Iffy Quotient queries NewsWhip for the top 5000 most popular URLs on the two social media platforms.

Then the tool checks to see if those domain names have been flagged by Media Bias/Fact Check, which is an independent site that classifies various sources based on their reliability and bias.

The tool divides the URLs into three categories based on the media bias and fact checklists:

Iffy: If the site is on the Questionable Sources or Conspiracy lists

OK: If the site is on any other list, such as Left-Bias, Right-Bias or Satire

Unknown: If it is not on any list.

Study Findings

The first report issued by the researchers confirmed what was suspected about the 2016 US presidential election, the Iffy Quotient increased dramatically on both Facebook and Twitter during the elections.

It also showed that the two social media platform companies have made progress since early 2017 on their promises to crack down on misinformation, but one has succeeded more than the other.

While the Facebook Iffy Quotient has seen a steady decline since early 2017 and has now returned to its early 2016 levels, the Twitter Iffy Quotient has not shown much decline and is still nearly twice its level in early 2016.

Though Facebook and Twitter Iffy coefficients were roughly comparable through most of 2018, Facebook’s is now somewhat lower.

The contrast between Facebook and Twitter is even more pronounced in an engagement-weighted version of the Iffy Quotient, which can be taken as a rough proxy for the fraction of total user attention.

Former Delhi CM Madan Lal Khurana passes away

Former Delhi CM Madan Lal Khurana passes away

Madan Lal Khurana, former Delhi Chief Minister, passed away on October 27, 2018 after a prolonged illness. He was 82.
The veteran BJP leader was suffering from a chest infection and fever since the past few days and was feeling breathless since 27th morning. He had suffered a brain haemorrhage about five years ago and was ailing since then. He is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters. His another son had died last month.
His last rites would be held on October 29. As a mark of respect, the Delhi government on October 28 declared a two-day state mourning. “We all are deeply saddened to hear of the demise of veteran leader and former CM of Delhi Madan Lal Khuranaji. As a mark of respect to the departed soul, state mourning shall be observed by Delhi government for two days,” Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted.

About Madan Lal Khurana

 Former Delhi CM Madan Lal Khurana passes away Madan Lal Khurana was born on October 15, 1936 in Lyallpur, Punjab Province (British India), which is now known as Faisalabad and is a part of Punjab in Pakistan.

Khurana was barely 12 when his family was forced to migrate to Delhi after Partition and began to piece its life together again at a refugee colony Kirti Nagar in New Delhi.

He finished his bachelor’s from Kirori Mal College in Delhi University. As a youth, Khurana became a teacher at PGDAV (evening) College before deciding to enter politics.

Then he along with Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Kedar Nath Sahani and Kanwar Lal Gupta founded the Delhi chapter of the Jan Sangh, which in 1980 transformed into BJP.

Khurana was the Jan Sangh’s general secretary from 1965 to 1967. He dominated first Municipal Corporation politics and then the Metropolitan Council where he was the Chief Whip, Executive Councillor and Leader of the Opposition by turns.

He along with Kedar Nath Sahani and Vijay Kumar Malhotra kept the party afloat in New Delhi for more than four decades spanning from 1960 to 2000.

BJP suffered badly in 1984 general elections, which was held after the death of Indira Gandhi. Khurana is credited with reviving the party in the capital, New Delhi. He worked tirelessly and his efforts earned him the title of ‘Dilli Ka Sher’ (Lion of Delhi).

He served as the Chief Minister of Delhi from 1993 to 1996, after which he resigned amid controversy.

He also served as the Union Minister of Parliamentary affairs and Tourism in the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, before resigning in January 1999, owing to a fallout with the senior leadership of the party.

He also served as the Governor of Rajasthan from January 2004 to October 2004, after which he resigned to return to politics in Delhi after almost half a dozen MLAs from Delhi went up to him in Jaipur Raj Bhawan requesting him to return to active politics.

In August 2005, Khurana was removed from the BJP for indiscipline for publicly criticising the then BJP president L K Advani and expressing inability and discomfort at serving with him.

In September 2005, he was taken back to the party and given back his responsibilities after he apologised about his remarks about the party’s leadership. He was again expelled from the primary membership of the BJP in March 2006 for his anti-party statements.

Though he was subsequently brought back into BJP, Khurana remained inactive from active politics until his death.

27 october 2018

Asma Jahangir wins UN Human Rights Prize posthumously

Asma Jahangir wins UN Human Rights Prize posthumously

Asma Jahangir, late Pakistani human rights activist and lawyer was posthumously announced as one of the winners of the UN Human Rights Prize on October 26, 2018.The announcement was made through the official Twitter account of President of the UN General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces.

Jahangir was chosen for the prize  along with three other including Rebeca Gyumi of Tanzania, Brazil’s first indigenous lawyer Joenia Wapichana and Ireland’s human rights organisation Front Line Defenders,

Before Jahangir only three Pakistani women, Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan (1978), Benazir Bhutto (2008) and Malala Yousufzai (2013) have been accorded the honour.
About Asma Jahangir

Asma Jahangir, who passed away on February 11, 2018 due to cardiac arrest at the of 66, was known for her outspoken nature and unrelenting pursuit of human rights as well as for remaining undaunted in the face of extreme pressure and opposition.

She was the first woman to serve as the president of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association.

She vehemently opposed military strongmen in Pakistan and fought her battles both on the streets and courts, steadfastly championing the rights of women, minorities and LGBTs.

In 1987, Jahangir co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary-General. In 1993, she was elevated as the commission’s chairperson.

She also co-chaired South Asia Forum for Human Rights and was the vice president of International Federation for Human Rights.

In between 1998-2000 , Jahangir served as the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions

From 2004 to 2010, she served as the  Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

In 2016, she was named as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Iran, remaining till until her death in February 2018.

Overall, she is remembered as a champion of the disenfranchised and for her services towards building a democratic and more inclusive Pakistan.

Awards

Jahangir is the recipient of several awards including the 2014 Right Livelihood Award along with Edward Snowden, 2010 Freedom Award, Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2010, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2005, 1995 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights.

She was awarded the Legion of Honour by France, the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, in 2014.

In 2016, she received a honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Her writings include The Hudood Ordinance: A Divine Sanction? and Children of a Lesser God.

 

About UN Human Rights Prize

The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is an honorary award given for outstanding achievement in human rights.

Prize was established by the UN General Assembly in 1966 and was awarded for the first time on December 10, 1968, on the twentieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Prize is an opportunity not only to give public recognition to the achievements of the recipients themselves, but also to send a clear message to human rights defenders the world over that the international community is grateful for, and supports, their tireless efforts to promote all human rights for all.

The 2018 award ceremony will take place on December 10 on World Human Rights Day in New York.

List of major International Awards conferred upon Prime Minister Modi

List of major International Awards conferred upon Prime Minister Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was recently awarded with the Seoul Peace Prize 2018 for his contribution to international cooperation and fostering global economic growth. He was credited for his contribution towards regional and global peace.

On the similar lines, PM Modi has been honoured with various awards and accolades since the time of taking the hold of premiership of the country in 2014. Have a look at these honours:

1. PM Narendra Modi awarded with prestigious Seoul Peace Prize 2018 for ‘Modinomics’

The Seoul Peace Prize Committee on October 24, 2018 conferred the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Committee recognised Modi’s contributions to the growth of the Indian and global economies, crediting ‘Modinomics’ for reducing social and economic disparity between the rich and the poor.

With this, PM Modi became the 14th recipient of this coveted award.

About Seoul Peace Prize

The Seoul Peace Prize was established in 1990 to commemorate the success of the 24th Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea which saw participation of 160 nations, creating harmony and friendship.

The award was established to crystallise the Korean people’s yearning for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of the world.

The award has been conferred biennially to individuals who have made their mark through contributions to the harmony of mankind, reconciliation between nations and to world peace.

The awardee receives a diploma, a plaque and honorarium of USD 200,000.

2. PM Modi honoured with UN Champions of the Earth Award 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on September 26, 2018 awarded with the prestigious UN Champions of the Earth Award 2018, the highest environmental honour of the United Nations. Modi received the award on October 3, 2018 by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Prime Minister Modi was selected in the leadership category for his pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance, a global partnership to scale up solar energy. PM Modi was also acknowledged for his unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single use plastic in India by 2022.

Champions of the Earth Award

The Champions of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental recognition, was founded in 2005.

The award celebrates exceptional figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society, whose actions have had a transformative positive impact on the environment.

The award also recognises the efforts for promoting new areas of levels of cooperation on environmental action.

The past laureates include – Afroz Shah, who led the world’s largest beach cleanup (2016), Rwandan President Paul Kagame (2016), former US Vice-President Al Gore (2007), Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat (2014), scientist-explorer Bertrand Piccard, and developer of Google Earth Brian McClendon (2013).

3. PM Modi conferred with ‘Grand Collar of the State of Palestine

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on February 10, 2018 conferred with the ‘Grand Collar of the State of Palestine’ by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, recognising his contributions in promoting relations between India and Palestine.

The award was conferred after the bilateral meeting between the two leaders during the first ever visit of PM Modi to Palestine. Moreover, Modi is also the first Indian Prime Minister to make an official visit to Palestine.

Grand Collar of the State of Palestine

The Grand Collar is highest order of Palestine given to foreign dignitaries such as Kings, Heads of State or Government and persons of similar rank.

The past laureates include King Salman of Saudi Arabia, King Hamad of Bahrain, President Xi Jinping of China, amongst others.

4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi awarded with Amir Abdulla Khan Award of Afghanistan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his brief visit to Afghanistan, was on June 4, 2016 conferred with the Amir Amanullah Khan Award, the highest civilian honour of Afghanistan.

He was awarded the honour by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani following the inauguration of the landmark Afghan-India Friendship Dam.

Amir Amanullah Khan Award

Amir Amanullah Khan Award is the Highest Civilian honour bestowed by Afghan government to Afghan national as well as foreigners in appreciation of their services.

The award is named after the Afghan national hero, Amanullah Khan (Ghazi), who championed the cause of Afghanistan’s freedom.

The citation on the reverse of the medal reads: “nishan-e dawlati Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan”, or “State Order of Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan.”

Previous recipients include- US President George Bush, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NATO General James Jones, former Afghan President spiritual leader Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, and Afghan Chief Justice (CJ) Abdul Salam Azimi.

5. PM Modi conferred with King Abdullaziz Sash Award of Saudi Arabia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on April 3, 2016 conferred with the Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour ‘King Abdulaziz Sash’ by King Salman bin Abdulaziz at the Royal Court of Saudi Arabia.

King Abdulaziz Sash Award

The King Abdulaziz Sash Award is named after Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the modern Saudi state.

Among other notable recipients of this honour are US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Other honours and achievements
Narendra Modi wins reader’s poll for the TIME Person of the Year 2016

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 4, 2016 won the online reader’s poll for the TIME ‘Person of the Year 2016’.

Amoung the total votes cast, 18 percent went to Modi, which is almost two times more than the percentage of yes votes received by U.S President Barack Obama, US President-elect Donald Trump and Founder of Wikileaks Julian Assange, who all got 7 percent votes each.

PM Modi ranked 9th in Forbes World’s Most Powerful People list 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on May 8, 2018 ranked among the 10 most powerful people in the world in the 2018 World’s Most Powerful People list that is topped by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

PM Modi (9th rank) and Mukesh Ambani (32nd rank) were the only two Indians on the Forbes World’s Most Powerful People list. PM Modi emerged as a key figure on international front to tackle climate change through the launch of the International Solar Alliance.

PM Modi featured in TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2017

Time Magazine on April 20, 2017 released the annual list of 100 most influential people of 2017. The only two Indians to feature on the list were Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

PM Modi third most followed world leader: Burson Cohn & Wolfe study

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the third most followed leader on Twitter in July 2018 after US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, as per a study by a global communications agency Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW).

Modi took the third spot among the world’s most followed leaders with 42 million followers on his personal account. Modi’s institutional account @PMOIndia ranked fourth with over 26 million followers.

Complete enquiry against Alok Verma in two weeks; Interim CBI chief can’t take any policy decisions: SC to CVC

Interim CBI chief cannot take any policy decisions: Supreme Court on CBI feud

The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on October 26, 2018 ruled that Interim Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), M Nageswara Rao, is not authorised to take any policy decisions.

The decisions taken by Rao between October 23 -26, including transfers of investigations, change of Investigating Officers, etc. will be furnished before the apex court in a sealed cover on November 12, 2018.

From now on, Nageshwar Rao shall not take any policy or major decisions and will only perform the routine processes to keep the CBI functioning.

Complete enquiry against Alok Verma in two weeks

CJI Gogoi also directed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to complete enquiry into divested CBI chief Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana cases in two weeks under retired Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik.

The Court clarified that the allocation of supervision of investigation to a former SC judge was a one-time exception and it should not be understood as reflection on any authority of Government of India.

Who filed the petition?

The bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S K Kaul and Justice K M Joseph was hearing the petition filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and PIL filed by NGO Common Cause against the orders of CVC and Central Government divesting Verma of the powers of CBI Director and giving the charge of CBI to M. Nageshwara Rao.

Background

After a spell of internal strife in the CBI, the CVC and Central Government divested CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana from their roles and asked them to go on leave.

Verma and Asthana accused each other of taking bribe and blocking investigation of several important cases.

Alok Verma, Rakesh Asthana removed from their CBI posts

Central Bureau of Investigation
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating agency of India.
  • Operating under the jurisdiction of the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the CBI is headed by the Director.
  • The Director is an IPS officer with a rank of Director General of Police or Commissioner of Police (State) and is appointed for a term of two years.
Appointment of CBI Director
The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act empowers a high-power Committee to appoint the Director of CBI. The committee comprises:

  • Prime Minister (Chairperson)
  • Leader of Opposition
  • Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice
Jurisdiction of CBI
Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act covers investigations to be carried out by the CBI, if an offence is alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, with a prior approval of the Central Government.

The CBI investigate cases that flow from the DSPE Act. The Central Government has the power to extend the jurisdiction of the CBI to any area, except union territories, that falls within the geographical boundaries of our country, subject to the consent of the state concerned.

Removal process of CBI Director
In the Vineet Narain judgment, the Supreme Court had fixed the tenure of CBI Director to be a minimum of two years so that the officer could work with independence.

As per the Supreme Court order, “the Director of CBI shall have a minimum tenure of two years, regardless of the date of his superannuation. This would ensure that an officer suitable in all respects is not ignored merely because he has less than two years to superannuate from the date of his appointment”.

The apex court had also ruled that the director can be transferred only in “extraordinary” circumstances with the approval of Selection Committee comprising Central Vigilance Commissioner with the Home Secretary and Secretary (Personnel) as members.

Affidavit filed by Government: As per the affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court by the government during hearings on coalgate scam case, the CBI director is appointed by a collegium comprising of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of the Opposition. The CBI director cannot be appointed or removed without the consent of this collegium.

As per the affidavit, the CBI Director can be removed before expiry of fixed tenure of minimum two years on the ground of misbehaviour only. The President can issue such an order only after an inquiry.

Pakistan to send first manned space mission in 2022

Pakistan to send first manned space mission in 2022

Pakistan has decided to launch its first manned mission in 2022, the same year that India has planned to launch its own manned space mission.

The decision was taken during Pakistan’s federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on October 25, 2018. The cabinet approved the plan of sending an astronaut to space for the first time in 2022 with China’s help.

The information was shared by Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry.

Collaboration with China

For the mission, an agreement between Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and a Chinese company has already been signed.

Pakistan and China already have robust defence ties and Pakistan is one of the top buyers of Chinese military hardware.

Earlier in 2018, Pakistan had launched two satellites into orbit, using a Chinese launch vehicle.

The satellites were launched aboard a Chinese Long March (LM-2C) rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre located at the Gobi desert, China.

The satellites included a remote sensing satellite (PRSS1), a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite, and PAK-TES-1A.

Developed by Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO), the PAK-TES-1A satellite was launched to enhance satellite manufacture capabilities in the country that would help end Pakistan’s dependency on commercial satellites for information related to weather, environment and agriculture.

The satellites had to be transported to China as Pakistan lacks the infrastructure to launch objects to space.

Space Race with India?

Pakistan’s plan to send a human to space is aimed for the same year that India plans to launch its own manned human space mission.

The major difference between the two missions is that while ISRO’s mission will be their own, Pakistan will do so with China’s help.

India’s ambitious space mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day address this year. If successful, the mission would make India the fourth nation in the word to do so.

China had launched its first manned space mission in 2003, becoming the third country in the world to independently develop a manned spaceflight, after Russia and the United States.

India wins CAPAM International Innovations Awards 2018

India wins CAPAM International Innovations Awards 2018

India on October 23, 2018 won the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management Award (CAPAM) 2018 for an initiative that envisages quality education for all.

The initiative entitled ‘Unnayan Banka– Reinventing Education Using Technology of Banka District’, state of Bihar has been awarded under the category ‘Innovation Incubation’.

About Unnayan Banka Initiative

It is an initiative that envisages ‘quality education for all’ especially for those at the bottom of the pyramid, using the latest technologies.

It is a holistic model aimed at ensuring the overall development of youth starting from education to employability.

‘Education’ is one of the most important Millennium Development Goals. It is a great social mobiliser and must be everyone’s birthright and it is the Union Government’s endeavour to provide this to all children.

Besides this, another initiative entitled ‘Unified Agriculture Markets’ of Co-operation Department of Government of Karnataka was selected under the category of ‘Innovation in Public Service Management’.  The initiative has also been awarded the overall Gold Award at CAPAM Awards, 2018.

About CAPAM

The CAPAM is a non-profit association representing an international network of over 1100 senior public servants, Heads of Government, leading academics and researchers located in over 50 different countries across the Commonwealth.

The association is guided by international leaders who believe in the value of networking, knowledge exchange and the promotion of good governance for the betterment of citizens in the Commonwealth countries.

It has been announcing its International Innovations Awards (IIA) Programme bi-annually, since 1998.

The CAPAM award celebrates the spirit of innovation in public service by recognising organisations that have made significant contributions to improve governance and services in the public sector.

Background

The Union Government had sent entries for CAPAM International Innovations Awards, 2018 under a host of different categories.

The CAPAM Innovation Awards were announced during the Annual General Members Meet, which was held on October 23, 2018 at Georgetown, Guyana.

On the occasion, another significant development for India included the election of the Union Secretary in the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), KV Eapen to the CAPAM board.

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) under the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is an institutional member of Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management.

Government to set up National Sports Stadium for differently-abled in Meghalaya

Government to set up National Sports Stadium for differently-abled in Meghalaya

The Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot, announced on October 25, 2018 that a stadium of international standard for differently-abled persons will be set up in Meghalaya.

The stadium will be constructed at an estimated cost of over Rs 200 crore. The announcement was made by the Minister while speaking at the Samajik Adhikarita Shivir, aids and assistive devices distribution camp, for differently-abled persons.

Key highlights

The Union Social Justice Ministry intends to set up national sports stadium for differently-abled persons in five states across the country and Meghalaya is one of the states.

The decision was taken after Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma came forward with the proposal and also provided 50 acres of land for the same.

The detail project report (DPR) for the same will be prepared very soon. The stadium is expected to be completed before National Games 2022.

The Social Justice Ministry would also be setting up a Composite regional centre in Meghalaya, which will start work once space is made available.

Background

The thought of setting up a stadium for the differently-abled was initiated 3-4 months back when Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had met Union Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot and discussed an array of issues and received good response and support.

The stadium would also be put to use during the National Games 2022.

26 october 2018

IDFC Bank to be renamed as IDFC First Bank

IDFC Bank to be renamed as IDFC First Bank

IDFC Bank on October 25, 2018 proposed to change its name to ‘IDFC First Bank Ltd’ in the wake of its amalgamation with the non-banking financial company Capital First. The decision was taken during the meeting of the Board of Directors of IDFC Bank.

The proposal now needs the approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). It would further require the approvals of statutory or regulatory authorities including the Registrar of Companies, Shareholders and other Stakeholders.

Amalgamation of Capital First with the IDFC Bank
  • The Amalgamation of Capital First with the IDFC Bank is presently at an advanced stage and has received approvals from the Competition Commission of India, stock exchanges, RBI, shareholders and creditors of all the parties involved.
  • However, the amalgamation awaits the approvals from the National Company Law Tribunals.
  • With this merger, Warburg Pincus-backed Capital First and IDFC Bank, in an all-stock deal, would create Rs 88000-crore combined entity.
  • The share swap ratio for the merger is fixed at 139:10. The IDFC Bank will issue 139 shares for every 10 shares of Capital First.
  • After the merger, V Vaidyanathan, Chairman and Managing Director of Capital First, will succeed Rajiv Lall as the MD and CEO of the combined entity. Rajiv Lall will step into the role of Non-Executive Chairman of IDFC Bank and guide the transition process.

IDFC Bank

IDFC had applied for a banking licence in 2013 and got in-principle approval from the RBI in 2014.

IDFC Bank was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.

Started its operations on October 1, 2015, the bank has its headquarters in Mumbai and forms a part of IDFC, an integrated infrastructure finance company.

IDFC
IDFC was incorporated on January 30, 1997. It founded as a non-operative financial holding company (NOFHC) in 2014. It manages its five subsidiaries – IDFC Bank, IDFC MF, IDFC Alternatives, IDFC IDF & IDFC Securities as per the RBI guidelines.

India, Bangladesh sign agreements for enhancing waterways connectivity; Bangladesh opens Chattogram and Mongla Ports

India, Bangladesh sign agreements for enhancing waterways connectivity

India and Bangladesh on October 25, 2018 signed several milestone agreements for enhancing inland and coastal waterways connectivity for trade and cruise movements. Bangladesh agreed to open its Chattogram and Mongla ports for trade with India.

The decisions were taken during the 19th Standing Committee meeting under ‘Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade’ (PIWTT) held at New Delhi.

New Ports of Call

An addendum to ‘Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade’ (PIWTT) between India and Bangladesh has been signed for inclusion of Dhubriin India and Pangaonin Bangladesh as new Ports of Call.

Both the countries signed an agreement to use Chattogram and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh for movement of goods to and from India.

The two sides also agreed to consider inclusion of Rupnarayan River (National Waterway-86) from Geonkhali to Kolaghat in the protocol route and to declare Kolaghatin West Bengal as new Port of Call. Chilmari was agreed to as a port of call in Bangladesh.

The new arrangement will facilitate movement of flyash, cement, construction materials etc from India to Bangladesh through Inland Water Transport (IWT) on Rupnarayan River.

Both sides agreed to declare Badarpur on river Barak (NW 16) as an Extended Port of Call of Karimganj in Assam and Ghorasal of Ashuganj in Bangladesh on reciprocal basis.

The Indian side proposed for extension of the protocol routes from Kolkata upto Silchar in Assam. Currently 3.5 MMT cargo is transported on protocol routes through inland waterways which is expected to increase substantially after the declaration of additional Ports of Call and extension of protocol routes.

The North Eastern states would get connected to directly to the ports of Kolkata and Haldia in India and Mongla in Bangladesh through waterways which would facilitate movement EXIM cargo and would also reduce the logistic costs.

All these agreements will facilitate easier movement of goods and passengers between the two countries, giving an impetus to trade and tourism.

Standard Operating Procedure for movement of passenger and cruise services
  • Both the sides have also finalised the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for movement of passengers and cruise vessels on Inland Protocol route and coastal shipping routes.
  • These river cruise services are likely to commence between Kolkata – Dhaka – Guwahati – Jorhat and back.

Joint Committees and Groups to be constituted

It was also agreed that a Joint Technical Committee will explore the technical feasibility of operationalisation of Dhulian-Rajshahi protocol route upto Aricha and the reconstruction and opening up of Jangipur navigational lock on river Bhagirathi subject to the provisions of the Treaty between India and Bangladesh on Sharing of Ganga Waters at Farakka in 1996.

This move has the potential to reduce the distance to Assam by more than 450 kms on the protocol routes.

A Joint Monitoring Committee has also been constituted for overall monitoring of the dredging works of Ashuganj-Zakiganj and Sirajganj-Daikhowa stretches of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route in Bangladesh that will be engaged with 80 percent financial contribution from India and rest by Bangladesh.

Other developments

To bring about significant reduction in logistics cost and faster delivery of Bangladesh export cargo, India proposed permitting ‘Third country’ EXIM Trade under Coastal Shipping Agreement and PIWTT by allowing transhipment through ports on the East Cost of India.Bangladesh agreed to hold stakeholder consultations and revert on the matter.

Both sides have also agreed for development of Jogighopa as a hub or terminal for movement of cargo to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Bhutan and notifying Munsiganj River terminal by Bangladesh Customs for routing third party Exim cargo through Kolkata Port.

Both the sides discussed to make Nakugaon Land Port in Bangladesh and Dalu ICP (India) operational and to connect Gelephu (Bhutan) as tripartite cross-border route.

Inclusion of Dhamra Port, V.O. Chidambaranar Port (formerly Tuticorin Port) and Kamarajar Port under Coastal Shipping Agreement was also deliberated upon.

Key takeaways
  • North-Eastern States of India to use Chattogram sea port and Mongla river ports in Bangladesh. This will restore pre-partition logistics arrangements, when the North-East was served by the then East Bengal ports.
  • The deal will particularly help Tripura, which is nearly 2000 km away from Kolkata but a few hundred km from the Chattogram port.
  • A cruise service will be launched between Kolkata and Dhaka from March 2019. The cruise operator, Exotic Heritage Group, has already booked the service for five years. Exotic heritage group already runs cruises on River Ganga.
  • Setting up of a multi-modal transshipment hub at Jogighopa in Assam for movement of cargo to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Bhutan. Goods from Bhutan and the North-East can take the river route to Bangladesh and vice-versa through Jogighopa.

Ethiopia appoints Sahle-Work Zewde as first female president

Ethiopia appoints Sahle-Work Zewde as first female president

Ethiopia on October 25, 2018 appointed diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde as its first-ever female President. The position of the President is largely ceremonial in the nation.

Zewde was appointed by the Ethiopian lawmakers through a unanimous vote. She would be replacing Mulatu Teshome Wirtu who resigned on October 24. Prior to her appointment, she was serving as the UN’s top official at the African Union.

She is now expected to serve two six-year terms as President.

Significance

Though the President’s role in Africa’s second-most populous country is mostly ceremonial, the appointment of Sahle-Work Zewde as the head of the nation is deeply symbolic, as it follows the latest cabinet reshuffle, in which women made up half the ministers.

Speaking on the same, Fitsum Arega, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff and de facto government spokesman stated through a tweet that in a patriarchal society such as theirs, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalises women as decision-makers in public life.

About Sahle-Work Zewde

 Sahle-Work Zewde appointed as Ethiopia’s first female president

The 60-year-old has previously served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to France, Djibouti, Senegal and the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

She began her diplomatic career as an ambassador to Senegal in 1989 with responsibilities in neighbouring African countries and later went to Djibouti before eventually serving as ambassador to France.

She is fluent in English and French as well as Amharic.

Till recently, she was serving as the special representative of the United Nations Secretary General to the African Union.

Prior to that, she headed the United Nation’s Nairobi office with the rank of undersecretary general.

Ethiopia: Executive’s Role and New Reforms

Executive Role

According to Ethiopia’s constitution, the President is the head of state but the powers are largely ceremonial, as the real executive power is vested in the office of the prime minister

The powers of the President mainly include opening parliament, appointing ambassadors and high military ranks following the prime minister’s recommendation and receiving credentials of ambassadors.

Hence, the political power is largely wielded by the prime minister, while the president’s role is restricted to attending ceremonies and functions.

Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the latest cabinet reshuffle appointed a 20-person cabinet, in which half the posts are held by women ministers.

New Reforms

A number of new reforms have been brought on under Ethiopia’s new and young Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, including the release of political prisoners, inviting back exiles and making peace with the country’s chief opponent, Eritrea, after two decades of hostilities.

Abiy has also publicly declared the need to promote women in what has been a largely patriarchal conservative society.

Under his charge, in the latest cabinet reshuffle, a woman was given the responsibility of the most powerful ministries in the country, the Ministry of Peace, which controls the intelligence agency and security forces.

However, on the other hand, Abiy’s government has also come under criticism for not being able to contain the ethnic unrest in the countryside and also for a mass arrest campaign that saw thousands detained in Addis Ababa, some of whom then spent time in re-education camps.

Train 18: India’s first engineless train set for trials on October 29

Train 18: India’s first engineless train set for trials on October 29

India’s first ‘Made in India’ engineless train ‘Train 18’is set to hit the tracks for trials on October 29, 2018.

The train will be unveiled on October 29 for three to four days trial outside the Coach Factory’s premises. After successful trials, the train will be handed over to Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) for further trials.

The Train 18 will be tested at a speed of 180 km per hour. It will feature a stainless steel body, with full scape windows and driver’s cabin at both ends of the train.

10 interesting facts about Train 18

1. Train 18 is driven by a self-propulsion module without a separate locomotive.

2. It is capable of running at a speed of up to 160 kmph. It will cut travel time by 15 percent compared to the Shatabdi Express.

3. The superior 16-coach model of the train has been developed by the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in time span of just 18 months. Passengers can have a look at the driver’s cabin.

4. It took an investment of nearly Rs 100 crore to build this prototype and the subsequent production would bring down the cost.

5. It will be fully air-conditioned train.

6. The train will also be equipped with CCTV cameras.

7. It will have two executive compartments in the middle with 52 seats each and the trailer coaches would have 78 seats each.

8. Train 18 has soft lighting, automatic doors, footsteps and GPS-based Passenger Information System.

9. The footstep in a coach’s doorway slides outward when the train stops at a station enabling passengers to board or deboard safely with comfort.

10. Train 18 is regarded as a successor to the 30-year-old Shatabdi Express. Shatabdi was introduced in 1988 and is presently running on over 20 routes connecting metros with other important cities.

HRD Ministry launches the web portal of SPARC scheme

HRD Ministry launches the web portal of SPARC scheme

The Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar on October 25, 2018 launched the web portal of the scheme – “Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC)” in New Delhi.

Objective

The SPARC scheme aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions in the world.

About SPARC scheme

The scheme was sanctioned by the Indian Government in August 2018 at a total cost of Rs 418 crore.

It will be implemented up to March 31, 2020 and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur has been chosen as the National Coordinating Institute to implement the programme.

Under the scheme, 600 joint research proposals will be awarded for 2 years to facilitate strong research collaboration between Indian research groups with the best in class faculty and renowned research groups in the leading universities of the world, in areas that are at the cutting edge of science or with direct social relevance to the mankind, specifically India.

Key Features

• The scheme will help in improving the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions from 28 selected nations to jointly solve problems of national and international relevance.

• As per the criteria mentioned above, 254 top Indian Institutes and 478 top ranked global Institutes have been already identified.

• The 28 selected nations include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK and the US.

• The following 5 thrust areas and sub-theme areas in each thrust area have been identified for collaboration under SPARC based on emergent relevance and importance for the nation:

– Fundamental Research

– Emergent Areas of Impact

– Convergence

– Action-Oriented Research

– Innovation-Driven

• Each thrust area will have a section chair and the main role of the chair would be to review shortlist and recommend the potential joint-proposals submitted under the SPARC scheme.

• The nodal institutions for each participating foreign country have been already been identified. The role of the institutions mainly include to help, handhold and coordinate with willing Participating Indian (PI) Institutions to forge an alliance with the Institutions of concerned participating foreign country, for academic and research collaboration. India’s 25 such reputed Institutions have been notified as Nodal Institutions.

Eligibility

1. All Indian Institutions ranked in the overall top-100 or category-wise top-100 in the India Rankings (NIRF) are eligible to apply.

2. Only such private institutions that are falling in the above category, and also recognised under Section 12(8) of the UGC Act are eligible.

3. The partner institution shall be in the top-500 of Q5 World University Rankings or in the top-200 of Q5 World University Rankings by subject.

The SPARC scheme proposes to enable productive academic cooperation by supporting the following critical components that can catalyse impact making research:

i) Visits and long-term stay of top international faculty/researchers in Indian institutions to pursue teaching and research.

ii) Visits by Indian students for training and experimentation in premier laboratories worldwide.

iii) Joint development of niche courses, world-class books and monographs, translatable patents, demonstrable technologies or action-oriented research outcomes and products.

iv) Publication, dissemination and visibility through a high profile annual international conference in India.

Impact

The scheme is expected to have a major impact in providing the best international expertise to address major national problems, expose Indian academicians to the best collaborators abroad, enable international faculty to stay in India for a longer duration, provide Indian students an opportunity to work in the world-class laboratories, to develop strong bilateral relationships in research and improve the international ranking of Indian Institutes.

Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank, Dena Bank to set up internal committees to merge operations

Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank, Dena Bank set up internal committees to merge operations

Bank of Baroda (BoB), Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank on October 24, 2018 decided to constitute internal committees to help integrate the functions of the banks before the merger happens.

These committees include committees on credit, human resources (HR) and information technology. The committees will comprise the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Executive Directors of all the three banks.

The banks also decided to appoint three separate valuers to fix the swap ratios of merger. The valuer appointed by one bank will also evaluate the other two banks, before a common ratio is arrived at.

The merger of Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank

The Union Finance Ministry on September 17, 2018 announced the proposal to merge three public sector lenders – Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank.

The combined lending entity is expected to create India’s third largest bank with a total business of more than Rs 14.82 lakh crore, after the SBI and ICICI Banks.

The amalgamation would be through share swap which will be the part of scheme of merger.

The scheme of amalgamation will be laid before Parliament.

This amalgamated entity will increase banking operations and expansion is inevitable. The three banks will continue to work independently post merger.

The amalgamation would be carried out under Alternative Mechanism. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who heads Alternative Mechanism, assured capital support to the merged entity. Other members of Alternative Mechanism included Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Post this merger, the number of PSU banks will come down to 19.

Key figures of Amalgamated Bank
Total Business Rs 14.82 lakh crore
Gross advances Rs 6.4 lakh crore
Deposits base Rs 8.41 lakh crore
Gross Non Performing Assets Rs 80,000 crore
Net NPA Ratio 5.71 percent
Provision Coverage Ratio (PCR) 67.5 percent
Cost to Income Ratio 48.94 percent
Capital Adequacy Ratio (CRAR) 12.25 percent

Satish Kumar Gupta appointed as new CEO of Paytm Payments Bank

Satish Kumar Gupta appointed as new CEO of Paytm Payments Bank

The Paytm Payments Bank announced on October 24, 2018 that it has appointed Satish Kumar Gupta as its new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. Gupta would be succeeding Renu Satti, who stepped down from her position to head the bank’s new retail segment.

Gupta, who has over 35 years of leadership experience, previously served as the chief product officer at National Payments Corporation of India and the State Bank of India. His appointment comes a few months after Renu Satti had stepped down as the CEO of Paytm Payments Bank to take over as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Paytm’s new retail segment.

With his appointment, Gupta has become the third CEO of the Paytm Payments Bank in the span of just two years. The first CEO Shinjini Kumar had left Paytm in May 2017.

About Satish Kumar Gupta

Satish Kumar Gupta joined the State Bank of India in April 1979. He held several positions in the Bank and worked as Branch Manager in rural, semi-urban and urban branches for a period of five years, staff training centre in Jammu for two years, credit appraisal cell for four years and the corporate centre in Mumbai for eight years.

In total, he worked with SBI for more than three decades. In February 2011, he deputed to the National Payments Corporation of India to create India’s own card-RuPay.

He accomplished the task in less than one year and continued to work for the NPCI even post-retirement. He was appointed as the Chief Project Officer and Chief Project Advisor.

Overall, Gupta has over 35 years of experience in the field of Banking. His expertise will help Paytm realise the vision that it has set out for its payments bank.

About Paytm Payments Bank

Launched in May 2017, Paytm Payments Bank is a mobile-first bank with zero charges on all online transactions (such as IMPS, NEFT, RTGS) and no minimum balance requirement.

Based in NCR, the payments bank is a separate entity with 51 per cent of its shares owned by Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma and the rest held by One97 Communications.

The payments bank operates on a smaller scale where it can perform most of the banking operations but cannot advance loans or issue credit cards.

The bank currently offers an interest rate of 4% per annum for savings accounts. According to RBI guidelines, the payments bank is allowed to accept demand deposits of up to Rs 1 Lakh.

Besides, the bank can also offer remittance services, mobile payments, transfers, purchases and other banking services like ATM/debit cards, net banking and third party fund transfers.

The bank currently aims to build a new business model that caters to 500 million underserved consumers in the country by 2020.

Controversy

The payments bank had recently come under scrutiny after the Reserve Bank of India directed the bank to stop enrolling new customers following audit observations.

The bank is presently still awaiting RBI confirmation on enrolling new customers

Other payments banks in the country include Fino Payments Bank, Airtel Payments Bank and India Post Post Payments Bank among others.

25 october 2018

Government to create special fund to boost fish production by 2020

Government to create special fund to boost fish production by 2020

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 24, 2018 gave its approval for the creation of a special Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF).

The fund size is estimated to be around Rs 7,522 crore, out of which around Rs 5,266.40 crore would be raised by the Nodal Loaning Entities (NLEs), Rs 1,316.6 crore through beneficiary’s contribution and Rs 939.48 crore through budgetary support from the central government.

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), National Cooperatives Development Corporation (NCDC) and all scheduled Banks will be the nodal loaning entities.

Key Highlights

The creation of the special fund will enable the creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and inland fisheries sectors.

It aims to boost fish production and help achieve the target of producing 15 million tonnes of fish by 2020, which was set under the Blue Revolution.

It will also support the government’s aim to achieve sustainable growth of 8 -9 per cent and thereafter take the fish production to the level of about 20 million tonnes by 2022-23.

The fund will also boost employment opportunities for over 9.40 lakh fishermen and other entrepreneurs in fishing and allied activities.

It will also attract private investment in the creation and management of fisheries infrastructure facilities.

Further, it will encourage the adoption of new technologies in the fisheries sector.

Other Details

The fund would provide concessional finance to the state governments, union territories and state entities, cooperatives, individuals and entrepreneurs, for taking up the identified investment activities of fisheries development.

Under the fund, loan lending will be over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23 and maximum repayment will be over a period of 12 years inclusive of a moratorium of two years on repayment of principal.

India’s fish production is estimated at around 12 million tonnes annually.

Virat Kohli becomes fastest batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs

Virat Kohli becomes fastest batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs

Virat Kohli on October 24, 2018 became the fastest batsman to score 10,000 runs in one-day internationals, reaching the milestone in just 205 innings. With the feat, he surpassed the record held by Sachin Tendulkar, who had achieved the feat in 259 innings.

Kohli reached the milestone while batting on 81 during the second ODI against West Indies in Visakhapatnam, India. He got to 10,000 runs with a single off the bowling of spinner Ashley Nurse.

India are currently leading the series, 1-0. They had won the first seventy-two by 8 wickets at Guwahati.

Key Highlights

Virat Kohli became the fifth Indian batsman and 13th overall to reach 10000 ODI runs.

 Virat Kohli becomes fastest batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs

The other Indians in the elite 10K club include Tendulkar (18426), Sourav Ganguly (11221), Rahul Dravid (10768) and MS Dhoni (10123).

  Overall, twelve other batsmen have scored over 10,000 runs in the ODI format.

Tendulkar was the first in history to breach the 10,000 mark in ODIs. He got there in 2001 against Australia in Indore.

While Tendulkar leads the list with 18,426 runs, Kumar Sangakkara is second with 14,234 runs.

Besides Kohli, the only other active player on the list is MS Dhoni, who passed the milestone against England at Lord’s earlier in 2018.

 Virat Kohli becomes fastest batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs

10K Club in ODIs

S.no

Name

Country

Runs

Innings

1.

Sachin Tendulkar

India

18426

259

2.

Kumar Sangakkara

Sri Lanka

14234

296

3.

Ricky Ponting

Australia

13704

266

4.

Sanath Jayasuriya

Sri Lanka

13430

328

5.

Mahela Jayawardene

Sri Lanka

12650

333

6.

Inzamam-ul-Haq

Pakistan

11739

299

7.

Jacques Kallis

South Africa

11579

272

8.

Sourav Ganguly

India

11363

263

9.

Rahul Dravid

India

10889

287

10.

Brian Lara

West Indies

10405

278

11.

Tillekaratne Dilshan

Sri Lanka

10290

293

12.

MS Dhoni

India

10123

273

13.

Virat Kohli

India

10076

205

About Virat Kohli

 Virat Kohli becomes fastest batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs Virat Kohli made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka at the age of 19 in August 2008, after he captained India’s under-19 side to victory at the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia.

Initially, though he played as a reserve batsman in the Indian team, Kohli soon established himself as a regular in the ODI middle-order and was a part of the squad that won the 2011 World Cup. He then made his Test debut in 2011.

Kohli reached the number one spot in the ICC rankings for ODI batsmen for the first time in 2013.

In 2014, he became the top-ranked T20I batsman in the ICC rankings, holding the position for three successive years until 2017.

Since October 2017, he has been the top-ranked ODI batsman in the world and is currently the leading batsman in the Test rankings.

Among Indian batsmen, Kohli has the best ever Test rating (937 points), ODI rating (911 points) and T20I rating (897 points).

Kohli was appointed the vice-captain of the ODI team in 2012 and handed over the Test captaincy following Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Test retirement in 2014.

In early 2017, he was appointed as the captain in the limited-overs game as well after Dhoni stepped down from the position.

Kohli holds the record of the second highest number of centuries and the highest number of centuries in run-chases in the world.

He also holds numerous Indian batting records including the fastest ODI century, the fastest batsman to 5,000 ODI runs and the fastest to 10 ODI centuries and now the fastest to reach 10000 ODI runs.

He also holds many T20I world records including being the fastest batsman to reach 1,000 and 2,000 runs, having most runs in a calendar year and most fifties in the format.

He also holds the record of most runs in a single tournament of both the World Twenty20 and the IPL

He is the only batsman in history to average over 50 in Tests, ODIs and T20Is simultaneously.

Kohli has been the recipient of many awards. He was given the Arjuna Award in 2013, the Padma Shri under the sports category in 2017 and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the highest sporting honour in India, in 2018.

United Nations Day 2018 observed across the world

United Nations Day 2018 observed across the world

24 October: United Nations Day

The United Nations Day was observed across the world on October 24, 2018, marking the 73rd anniversary of the UN Charter’s entry into force.

The Day was observed with an aim to celebrate everything that the UN represents and has achieved since its establishment in 1945. On this occasion, all the member states of the United Nations contributed finances to its operation to help further its goals.

2018 UN Day Concert
  • The 2018 UN Day Concert was held in the General Assembly Hall at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
  • The Concert was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.
  • The theme of 2018 UN concert was “Traditions of Peace and Non-violence”.
  • It featured Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan accompanied by his sons Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, and the Refugee Orchestra Project conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya.

When was the Day proclaimed?

United Nations Day is part of United Nations Week, which runs from 20 to 26 October.

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly declared 24 October, the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, as the United Nations Day.

In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a further resolution (United Nations Resolution 2782) declaring that United Nations Day shall be an international holiday and recommended that it should be observed as a public holiday by all United Nations member states.

Charter of the United Nations
• The UN Charter of 1945 is the foundational treaty of the United Nations.

• It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries.

• It entered into force on 24 October 1945, after being ratified by the original five permanent members of the Security Council.

• As a charter, it is a constituent treaty, and all members are bound by its articles.

• Furthermore, Article 103 of the Charter states that obligations to the United Nations prevail over all other treaty obligations.

No sale of Bharat Stage-IV vehicles across the country from April 1, 2020: SC

No sale of Bharat Stage-IV vehicles across the country from April 1, 2020: SC

The Supreme Court on October 24, 2018 ruled that no Bharat Stage-IV vehicle shall be sold across the country with effect from April 1, 2020. The Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission norm would come into force from April 1, 2020 across the country.

The ruling was made by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur. The bench clarified that only BS-VI compliant vehicle will be sold in India from April 1, 2020.

No grace period for automobile manufacturers beyond April 2020

The court ruled for no grace period for automobile manufacturers for the sale of BS-VI non-compliant vehicles after April 1, 2020.

Earlier, advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the apex court as amicus curiae, had opposed the Union Government’s move to give time till June 30, 2020 to automobile manufacturers to sell their BS-VI non-compliant four-wheelers manufactured till March 31, 2020.

Singh also opposed the government’s proposal to give grace period till September 30, 2020 for the sale of BS-VI non-compliant heavy transport vehicles.

However, the automobile manufacturers justified the grace period to sell their vehicles contending that India was switching from BS-IV emission norms to BS-VI within a short span of time and they should be granted reasonable time to sell their stock.

Why BS-VI grade fuel?
The Bharat stage emission standards were instituted by the Government to regulate the output of air pollutants from motor vehicles. The BS-IV norms were in force across the country since April 2017.

In 2016, the Union Government decided to switch over to BS-VI grade fuel directly from BS-IV skipping BS-V, after Environment Pollution Control Authority in its April 2017 report told the apex court that only BS-VI emission standards complaint vehicles should be allowed to be sold from April 1, 2020.

India had switched over to BS-IV grade fuel in April 1, 2017 following the directions of the court banning BS-III grade fuel.

What are Bharat Stage norms?

Bharat Stage emission standards were introduced in 2000 in line with recommendations made by RA Mashelkar Committee.

These emission standards were set up by the Union Government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.

The different norms are brought into force in accordance with the timeline and standards set up by the Central Pollution Control Board which comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) in its ‘The Auto Fuel Policy 2003’ had recommended implementing BS-VI norms by 2023 by compressing the technology development time by one year.

Union Cabinet approves constitution of high-level committee to monitor SDGs

Union Cabinet approves constitution of high-level committee to monitor SDGs

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the constitution of a High-Level Steering Committee for periodically reviewing and refining the National Indicator Framework (NIF) for monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with associated targets.

Composition of the Committee

The high-level committee will be chaired by Chief Statistician of India and Secretary under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

The members of the committee will include Secretaries of data source ministries and NITI Aayog.

The Secretaries of other related Ministries will be special invitees to the committee with the function of reviewing of National Indicator Framework including refinement of the indicators from time to time.

Key Highlights

The committee aims to mainstream SDGs into on-going national policies, programmes and strategic action plans to address the developmental challenges.

The statistical indicators of NIF will be the backbone of monitoring of SDGs at the national and state level and will scientifically measure the outcomes of the policies to achieve the targets under different SDGs.

Based on the statistical indicator, the MoSPI will bring out national reports on the implementation of SDGs. The report will facilitate the assessment of progress, identify challenges and give recommendations for follow up at the national level.

The high-level steering committee will review the National Indicator Framework on regular basis for its improvement. Advanced IT tools will be used for close and effective monitoring.

The data source Ministries / Departments will be responsible for providing regular information to MoSPI at required intervals and disaggregation for national and sub-national reporting of SDGs.

Impact

The SDGs integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. They are aimed at eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world with the basic motto of ‘SabkaSaathSabkaVikash’.

Further, the SDGs with 17 goals and 169 targets intend for the promotion of sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social development and inclusion, promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

The National Indicator Framework will help in outcome-based monitoring and reporting on progress on SDGs at the national level.

However, there is no direct financial implication on the implementation of the National Indicator Framework.

The SDGs are expected to bring change in the lives of people and the monitoring of progress of implementation of SDGs will benefit the entire nation.

Background

The UN General Assembly in its 70th session considered and adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years. The 17 SDGs came into force with effect from January 1, 2016.

Though not legally binding, the SDGs have become de facto international obligations and have the potential to reorient domestic spending priorities of the countries during the next fifteen years.

The countries are expected to take ownership and establish a national framework for achieving these goals.

However, the implementation and success will rely on countries’ own sustainable development policies, plans and programmes.

The countries would be responsible for follow-up and review at the national level with regard to the progress made in implementing the goals and targets.

24 october 2018

CBI vs CBI: Government removes CBI Director Alok Verma from his post; appoints M Nageshwar Rao

Government removes CBI Director Alok Verma from his post; appoints M Nageshwar Rao

In a dramatic midnight action, the Union Government on October 23, 2018 removed CBI Director Alok Verma from his post. Verma was appointed as CBI Director in 2016 for two years and his tenure ends in December 2018.

The decision was taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) in the past midnight. The committee also issued an order appointing M Nageshwar Rao, presently working as Joint Director at the CBI, as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Rao will take over the duties and functions of CBI Director with immediate effect. Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha cadre officer, joined the CBI as Joint Director and was promoted as Additional Director in 2018 itself.

What led to this midnight action?
The decision came after the ongoing tussle between CBI Chief Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana escalated over bribery allegations, hurled at each other.

Earlier, the CBI divested Asthana of all the supervisory charges. The bureau also added five new sections into the existing bribery FIR lodged against Asthana.

Suspension and arrest of DySP Devender Kumar

The CBI also suspended its Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who was arrested on the charge of falsification of records while probing allegations against meat exporter Moin Qureshi and was sent to CBI custody for seven days.

Kumar is an Investigating Officer in a case against Qureshi, who is facing multiple cases of money laundering and corruption.

CBI versus CBI: Accusations against Asthana and Verma
Asthana, a 1984 batch Indian Police Service officer of Gujarat cadre, is alleged to have demanded a bribe of Rs 5 crore and accepting Rs 2 crore from a Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana through two middlemen Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad to help Sana get clear of his charges in the Moin Qureshi case. The case was being examined by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Asthana.

On the other hand, CBI chief Verma also alleged corruption charges on Asthana with regard to the Sterling Biotech case.

However, Asthana hit back by writing to the Cabinet Secretary saying that Verma was interfering in his probes and had tried to stop a raid on Lalu Prasad in the IRCTC case, alleging corruption on Verma’s part.

Six cases of corruption against Asthana
On September 21, 2018, the CBI informed the Central Vigilance Commission that it was investigating Asthana in six cases of corruption including two FIRs related to the Vadodara-based Sterling Biotech case.

In 2016, a pre-wedding party for Asthana’s daughter’s marriage was hosted at a farmhouse owned by Sterling Biotech, company owned by Nitin Sandesara and his brother Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara.

In October 2017, Sterling Biotech had taken loans of over Rs 5383 crore from a consortium led by Andhra Bank, which later turned into Non-Performing Assets. The CBI had booked Sterling Biotech, its directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, CA Hemant Hathi, and former Andhra Bank Director Anup Garg.

In September 2018, the CBI got in touch with the Interpol in Nigeria to locate the Sandesaras, who have operations in Nigeria, Mauritius and the UAE. The Enforcement Directorate took cognisance of this FIR to file a money laundering case and during its raids, it got leads on Asthana.

Rakesh Asthana and the cases handled by him
  • Rakesh Asthana is a 1984-batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer and served as Vadodara Commissioner of Police during 2008-11.
  • He holds a track record of handling several high-profile cases beginning with the fodder scam of Bihar (RJD Chief Lalu Prasad was convicted in one of the cases), Godhra train burning case of 2002, 2008 Ahmedabad bomb blasts; and cases related to Asaram and his son Narayan Sai.
  • Recently, Rakesh Asthana was heading probe in cases of AgustaWestland, coal scam and also that of businessman Vijay Mallya.
Central Bureau of Investigation
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating agency of India.
  • Operating under the jurisdiction of the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the CBI is headed by the Director.
  • The Director is an IPS officer with a rank of Director General of Police or Commissioner of Police (State) and is appointed for a term of two years.
Appointment of CBI Director
The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act empowers a Committee constituted under the chairmanship of Central Vigilance Commissioner to appoint the Director of CBI. The committee comprises:

  • Prime Minister (Chairperson)
  • Leader of Opposition
  • Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice
Jurisdiction of CBI
Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act covers investigations to be carried out by the CBI, if an offence is alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, with a prior approval of the Central Government.

The CBI investigate cases that flow from the DSPE Act. The Central Government has the power to extend the jurisdiction of the CBI to any area, except union territories, that falls within the geographical boundaries of our country, subject to the consent of the state concerned.

Removal process of CBI Director
In the Vineet Narain judgment, the Supreme Court had fixed the tenure of CBI Director to be a minimum of two years so that the officer could work with independence.

As per the Supreme Court order, “the Director of CBI shall have a minimum tenure of two years, regardless of the date of his superannuation. This would ensure that an officer suitable in all respects is not ignored merely because he has less than two years to superannuate from the date of his appointment”.

The apex court had also ruled that the director can be transferred only in “extraordinary” circumstances with the approval of Selection Committee comprising Central Vigilance Commissioner with the Home Secretary and Secretary (Personnel) as members.

Affidavit filed by Government: As per the affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court by the government during hearings on coalgate scam case, the CBI director is appointed by a collegium comprising of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of the Opposition. The CBI director cannot be appointed or removed without the consent of this collegium.

As per the affidavit, the CBI Director can be removed before expiry of fixed tenure of minimum two years on the ground of misbehaviour only. The President can issue such an order only after an inquiry.

PM Narendra Modi awarded with prestigious Seoul Peace Prize 2018 for ‘Modinomics’

PM Narendra Modi awarded with prestigious Seoul Peace Prize 2018 for Modinomics

The Seoul Peace Prize Committee on October 24, 2018 conferred the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his contribution to world peace through his economic vision, ‘Modinomics’.

Recognition of ‘Modinomics‘, ‘Modi Doctrine‘ and ‘Act East Policy

The Committee recognised Modi’s contributions to the growth of the Indian and global economies, crediting ‘Modinomics’ for reducing social and economic disparity between the rich and the poor.

The Committee lauded PM Modi’s initiatives to make the government cleaner through anti-corruption measures and demonetisation. He has also been credited for his contribution towards regional and global peace through a proactive foreign policy with countries around the world under the ‘Modi Doctrine’ and the ‘Act East Policy.’

With this, PM Modi became the 14th recipient of this coveted award. The award will be presented by the Seoul Peace Prize Foundation at a mutually convenient time.

Selection of PM Modi among a hundred candidates
The committee assessed over a hundred candidates proposed by over 1300 nominators from around the world and decided to bestow the Prize on PM Modi, calling him ‘the perfect candidate for the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize’.

The nominating group consists of 300 Korean nationals and 800 internationals.

Past recipients
Year Recipient Country
1990 Juan Antonio Samaranch Spain
1992 George Shultz United States
1996 Medecins Sans Frontieres Switzerland
1998 Kofi Annan Ghana
2000 Sadako Ogata  Japan
2002 Oxfam  United Kingdom
2004 Vaclav Havel  Czech Republic
2006 Muhammad Yunus  Bangladesh
2008 Abdul Sattar Edhi  Pakistan
2010 Jose Antonio Abreu  Venezuela
2012 Ban Ki-moon  South Korea
2014 Angela Merkel  Germany
2016 Denis Mukwege  Democratic Republic of the Congo
2018 Narendra Modi  India

About Seoul Peace Prize

The Seoul Peace Prize was established in 1990 to commemorate the success of the 24th Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea which saw participation of 160 nations, creating harmony and friendship.

The award was established to crystallise the Korean people’s yearning for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of the world.

The award has been conferred biennially to individuals who have made their mark through contributions to the harmony of mankind, reconciliation between nations and to world peace.

The awardee receives a diploma, a plaque and honorarium of USD 200,000.

Past laureates include distinguished global personalities like former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and international relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

Foreigners seeking Indian visa must reveal criminal records now

Foreigners seeking Indian visa must reveal criminal records now

Foreigners applying for Indian visa will now have to declare their criminal records as a part of India’s new visa format. The decision to introduce such a provision for processing of visa applications of the foreign nationals was taken by the Union Home Ministry following a request from the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry.

In a series of tweets, WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi confirmed that her request to revise the visa application process for foreign nationals travelling to India by requiring them to declare any criminal record has been accepted.

Objective

The move aims to ensure placement of protective mechanisms to prevent travelling child sex offenders (TCSOs) from entering India and perpetrating sexual violence on children here.

Hence, it aims to check child sexual abuse and a range of other crimes committed by travellers.

Key Highlights

Under the new format, an appropriate questionnaire and a declaration will be incorporated in the visa application form, which will have to be filled by the visa applicants.

The step aims to be a strong deterrent for perpetrators of heinous crimes such as child abuse.

India on account of its lenient visa rules has remained a favourite destination for child traffickers and paedophiles convicted in their countries of origin.

There have been several instances where foreigners convicted of child abuse at home have travelled to India to run child sex rackets.

The latest known crime involves an Australian, Paul Dean, who was convicted recently of abusing a host of differently-abled poor children from Vishakapatnam and Puri during his three-decade stay in India.

In another instance, a US citizen John Jones was arrested recently by the Hyderabad police for circulating child sex abuse literature online.

Background

India has been a witness to several cases involving worst forms of child abuse being perpetrated by travelling foreigners who were then not required to tell the Indian visa and passport authorities whether they had any criminal records back home.

IBBI notifies IBBI (Mechanism for Issuing Regulations) Regulations, 2018

IBBI notifies IBBI (Mechanism for Issuing Regulations) Regulations, 2018

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) on October 23, 2018 notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Mechanism for Issuing Regulations) Regulations, 2018.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code) is a modern economic legislation. The Issuing Regulations are effective from October 22, 2018.

The Section 240 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 empowers the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board to make regulations subject to the conditions that:

(a) Regulations carry out the provisions of the Code
(b) Regulations are consistent with the Code and the rules made there under
(c) Regulations are made by a notification published in the official gazette
(d) Regulations are laid, as soon as possible, before each House of Parliament for 30 days

Mechanisms for issuing regulations
Section 196 (1) (s) of the Code requires the IBBI to specify mechanisms for issuing regulations, including the conduct of public consultation processes, before notification of regulations.

Hence, the IBBI notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Mechanism for Issuing Regulations) Regulations, 2018 (Issuing Regulations) to govern the process of making regulations.

The Issuing Regulations provide that for the purpose of making or amending any regulations, the IBBI shall upload the following documents on its website for seeking comments from the public-

  • Draft of proposed regulations
  • Specific provision of the code under which the board proposes regulations
  • A statement of the problem that the proposed regulation seeks to address
  • An economic analysis of the proposed regulations
  • A statement carrying norms advocated by international standard setting agencies and international best practices, if any, relevant to the proposed regulation
  • The manner of implementation of the proposed regulations
  • The manner, process and timelines for receiving comments from the public

 

Procedure to be followed post issuing notification of regulations

• The IBBI will now allow at least 21 days for public to submit their comments.

• It will consider the public comments received and upload the same on its website along with a general statement of its response on the comments, not later than the date of notification of regulations.

• If the Governing Board decides to approve regulations in a form substantially different from the proposed regulations, it will repeat the process under the Issuing Regulations.

• The regulations will be notified promptly after it is approved by the Governing Board and the date of their enforcement shall ordinarily be after thirty days from the date of notification.

• However, where the IBBI is of the opinion that certain regulations are required to be made or existing regulations are required to be amended urgently, it may make regulations or amend the existing regulations with the approval of the Governing Board, without following consultation.

China to launch its own artificial moon by 2020

China to launch lunar lighting in outer space

The People’s Republic of China is planning to launch its own artificial moon by 2020 to replace streetlamps and lower electricity costs in its urban areas.

According to reports, a city in China’s south-western Sichuan province, Chengdu, is developing “illumination satellites” that will shine in tandem with the real moon, but just eight times brighter.

The illumination satellites are being developed by the Tian Fu New Area Science Society in close coordination with other universities and institutes, including the Harbin Institute of Technology and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

Key Highlights

China’s first man-made moon will launch from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan.

The first test will be experimental and if it goes well, three more artificial moons will be launched in 2022. The satellites are expected to carry great civic and commercial potential.

The satellites could replace streetlamps in urban areas, saving an estimated 1.2 billion yuan ($170 million) a year in electricity costs for Chengdu, if they could illuminate an area of 50 square kilometres by reflecting light from the sun.

The extraterrestrial source of light could help rescue efforts in disaster zones during blackouts.

Background

The artificial moon project was announced by Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society, the organisation responsible for the project at an innovation and entrepreneurship conference in Chengdu on October 10.

However, China is not the first country to try beaming sunlight back to Earth. In the 1990s, Russian scientists reportedly used giant mirrors to reflect light from space in an experimental project called Znamya or Banner.

Besides the current project, China has a number of other ambitious projects in the pipeline, including the Chang’e-4 lunar probe.

The probe named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology is going to be launched later this year. If it succeeds, it will be the first rover to explore the “dark side” of the moon.

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016: Why Assam is on boil?

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been gaining momentum amid protests against the Bill by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and 44 other organizations in Assam.

These organisations called for the 12-hour shutdown in Assam to protest against the Centre’s proposal to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Winter Session of Parliament.

Moreover, Assam Government has refused to take part in the proposed rally of organisations from West Bengal in support of the Bill. Earlier on October 11, 2018, BJP President of West Bengal, Dilip Ghosh announced BJP Rath Yatras to be held in December 2018 to garner support for the Assam NRC and for the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill.

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) would undertake three Rath Yatras covering 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, highlighting state-level issues as well as constituency specific issues.

Purpose behind Rath Yatras

During the 2014 General Elections, the BJP had promised to grant citizenship to Hindus persecuted in the neighbouring countries. In its election manifesto, the BJP had promised to welcome Hindu refugees and give shelter to them.

Why Assam opposes the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016?
BJP’s ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has termed the Bill as “Anti-Assam” and has threatened to end the coalition, if the Bill is passed. The Parishad considers that the Bill works against the cultural and linguistic identity of the Assamese people.

Over 45 local organizations have opposed the Bill including NGOs such as ‘The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti’ and students’ organisation ‘All Assam Students’ Union’.

They all believe that if the Bill becomes an Act, it will nullify the updated National Registration of Citizenship (NRC) of Assam. The process of updating the NRC is currently underway in Assam.

Moreover, earlier in October 2018, when the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Bill visited Assam and Meghalaya, it witnessed protests against the Bill, claiming that the Bill would make Assam a “dumping ground for Hindu Bangladeshis”,

The opposition parties such as Congress and the All India United Democratic Front have also opposed the Bill for its provision of granting citizenship to an individual on the basis of religion.

How will the Bill impact the Assam NRC?
The NRC does not distinguish migrants on the basis of religion. It deports anyone of his or her citizenship who has entered the State illegally post March 24, 1971, irrespective of their religion.

On the other hand, the Bill provides citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. However, it excludes Muslim sects like Shias and Ahmediyas, who face persecution in Pakistan.

If the Bill becomes an Act, it will erase the need for the non-Muslims to go through any deportation process, thereby nullifying NRC process, an unjust move against the Muslims identified as undocumented immigrants.

Assam NRC

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list that contains names of Indian citizens of Assam. It was last prepared after Census in 1951.Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC.

The Assam government on July 30, 2018 released the second and final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). The draft includes the names of Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.

As per the Draft, the total number of persons included in the list is 2,89,83,677 leaving a total of 40,70,707 as ineligible for inclusion. Out of 40,70,707 names, 37,59,630  names have been rejected and 2,48,077 names are kept on hold.

What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 was proposed in the Lok Sabha on July 19, 2018. The Bill referred to a Joint Select Committee in August 2016. It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Three key amendments:

Once the Bill is passed in Parliament, illegal migrants from certain minority communities such as Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India before December 31, 2014 will become eligible for Indian citizenship and hence, would not be imprisoned or deported.

As per the bill, the citizens would gain permanent citizenship of India by naturalisation after six years of residency in India instead of 11 years, as mentioned in the Citizenship Act, 1955.

In case of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), their registration may get cancelled, if they violate any law.

Key Issues with the Bill
The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality.

The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences such as parking in a no parking zone.

Bill changes definition of the Illegal Immigrant
The Act defines Illegal Immigrant as a person who enters India without a valid passport or stays in the country after the expiry of the visa permit or an immigrant who uses false documents for the immigration process.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 changes the definition of illegal migrants.

Citizenship in India

Citizenship in India is currently covered under two legislations: Part II of the Constitution of India, 1950 and the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The Articles 5 to 11 under Part II of the Constitution of India deal with the citizenship. As per Article 9, a person who voluntarily acquires citizenship of any other country is no longer an Indian citizen.

Citizenship by descent: Persons born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, but before December 10, 1992, are citizens of India by descent if their father was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.

Persons born outside India from December 3, 2004 onwards shall not be considered citizens of India unless their birth is registered at an Indian consulate within one year of the date of birth.

The Citizenship Act, 1995 prescribes 5 way of acquiring citizenship i.e. by Birth, Descent, Registration, Naturalisation, and Incorporation of the territory.

The Section 8 of the Citizenship Act states that if an adult makes a declaration of renunciation of Indian citizenship, he loses Indian citizenship.

23 october 2018

SC permits sale, manufacture of green crackers with stringent conditions

Sale of less polluting crackers to be allowed for limited time period

The Supreme Court of India on October 23, 2018 decided not to impose a blanket ban on the sale and manufacture of firecrackers ahead of the popular Indian festival, Diwali.

The apex court, however, decided to allow the same with a set of stringent conditions.  The SC bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan permitted the sale and manufacture of green and low emission crackers alone.

SC Judgement: Key Highlights

 SC permits sale, manufacture of green crackers with stringent conditions

The top court ruled that only firecrackers with reduced emission and decibel levels will be permitted during all festivals.

The court also ordered a ban on the online sale of firecrackers and put a restraint on e-commerce portals from selling them. The responsibility of the same has been placed on the companies.

Should the e-commerce companies be used for the sale of the banned firecrackers then, the concerned company will be held for contempt.

The apex court has also fixed a time limit for the bursting of the crackers. On Diwali, people will only be allowed to burn crackers between 8 pm and 10 pm. The time limit for New Year and Christmas has been set from 11:45 pm to 12:15 am.

The court has directed the Central Pollution Control Board to monitor air quality 7 days before and 7 days after Diwali.

Further, the court has permitted bursting of crackers in only designated community areas in Delhi-NCR identified by Central Pollution Control Board.

Significance

The Supreme Court’s directions apply to all festivals and functions such as marriages.

Only crackers with reduced emission would be permitted to be manufactured. Hence, noisy crackers such as ladis or other chain firecrackers will be banned.

The sale of the crackers will also only happen through licence holders. In case of sale of the banned firecrackers, the station house officers of the police station concerned will be held liable.

Background

The Supreme Court’s order came on a plea seeking a ban on the manufacture and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.

The top court had earlier on August 28 reserved its order in this case after hearing the petitioners, the firecracker manufacturers as well as the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The court had earlier opposed a complete ban on firecrackers and said there is a need to take into account all aspects including the fundamental right of livelihood of the firecracker manufacturers.

This followed an appeal by the firecracker manufacturers who told the court that the use of crackers should not be completely banned as it will cost thousands their livelihood.

They also contested that crackers are not the sole reason for the increase in air pollution and factors like wind and temperature also contribute to it.

India is home to the ten most polluted cities in the world. In October 2017, the Supreme Court had imposed a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi NCR. This ban was meant to test the effectiveness of such a ban on pollution levels if any.

Invest India wins UN Investment Promotion Award for promoting renewable energy investment

Invest India wins UN Investment Promotion Award for promoting renewable energy investment

The ‘Invest India’ initiative of the Union Government on October 22, 2018 won the top United Nations Investment Promotion Award in recognition of its efforts to boost investments in the renewable energy sector in India.

The award was presented by Armenian President Armen Sarkissian to Deepak Bagla, the CEO of Invest India, in Geneva, Switzerland at the inauguration of the World Investment Forum organised by the UN Convention on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

What is Invest India and why was it honoured?
What?

• A non-profit venture of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Invest India promotes sustainable investment.

• Invest India is the official Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of the Union Government, mandated to facilitate investments in the country.

• It is the first stop for potential global investors in the country.

• It provides sector and state-specific inputs and other supports to investors through entire investment cycle.

• All efforts like hand-holding and facilitation support are made by Invest India under the Make in India programme.

Why?

Invest India received the award for excellence in servicing and supporting major global wind turbines company for establishing blade manufacturing plant in India while producing 1 gigawatt of renewable energy. Implementation of the project is expected to reduce India’s wind energy cost significantly.

Other Winners: Bahrain, Lesotho, South Africa and Special Recognitions

Apart from India, agencies from Bahrain, Lesotho and South Africa won top honours at the United Nations Investment Promotion Awards for excellence in boosting investment into sectors that will have social and economic benefits and will help meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB Bahrain)

The EDB Bahrain was awarded for its role in attracting a large-scale regional data center, which will provide cloud computing services in Bahrain and neighbouring countries. The award was presented by Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, President of Botswana.

Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC)

The LNDC received the award for a large horticulture investment project that will create 15000 direct and indirect jobs. The LNDC was honoured for its proactive role in securing the project and facilitating a partnership approach with joint financing by local and international private investors. The award was presented by Khaltmaagiin Battulga, President of Mongolia.

InvestSA (South Africa)

InvestSA was awarded for its role in facilitating two pioneering waste-to-nutrient recycling projects to up-cycle organic waste into natural and high-protein animal feed. Each project will offer much-needed jobs in local communities and is expected to save an annual 80000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by diverting organic waste from landfill.

The award was presented by Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Special Recognitions

Three Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) were also honoured with special recognitions at the awards. These IPAs were:

• Apex-Brasil of Brazil: It received a Special Recognition for fostering partnership for its efforts in initiating and facilitating strategic, financial and technology partnerships between foreign-invested auto parts companies and local suppliers.

• Invest Pacific of Colombia: It received a Special Recognition for promoting investment for targeting and attracting a seed nursery project by a Peruvian company in a region affected by armed conflict. The project consolidated peace and generated 120 direct jobs, especially for women.

• Tatarstan Investment Development Agency (TIDA) of Russia: It received a Special Recognition for promoting investment by targeting and securing American investment in an advanced radiotherapy medical centre through a public-private partnership.

UN Investment Promotion Award

• The Investment Promotion Awards, organised by UNCTAD, honours Investment Promotion Agencies and their governments for their achievements.

• It honours agencies that showcase best practices in attracting investment into SDG-related projects that can inspire investment promotion practitioners in developing and developed countries.

• The Awards have been given annually since 2002 as part of UNCTAD’s investment promotion and facilitation programme.

• The 2017 winners were COFIDES of Spain, the Ethiopian Investment Commission and the Board of Investment of Mauritius.

Environment Ministry launches Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali campaign

Environment Ministry launches Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali campaign

The Union Ministry of Environment has launched Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali campaign. The campaign was first launched in 2017-18 to encourage school children in Delhi and NCR to take the pledge to ensure a green and healthy Diwali by minimising the bursting of crackers.

The Environment Ministry has initiated the campaign on the similar lines this year but extended it to include pan-India.

Key Highlights

 Environment Ministry launches Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali campaign

In 2017, a large number of school children especially from eco-clubs participated and took a pledge to minimise bursting of crackers and discourage others including their neighbours and friends from bursting of crackers.

During the intensive campaign, the children were advised to celebrate Diwali in an environment-friendly manner by gifting plant sapling to their relatives and friends along with sweets and undertake cleaning of houses, neighbourhoods, schools, collect old books and unused notebooks gift to needy children, donate old warm clothing, blankets to night-shelters and other homeless people.

The children were also encouraged to light up their houses and their schools with candles and diyas.

The campaign was extremely successful and the air quality had not deteriorated post-Diwali in 2017 unlike what was experienced in 2016.

This year the campaign has been extended Pan-India. The Harit Diwali-Swasth Diwali campaign is now merged with ‘Green Good Deed’ movement that has been initiated for the conservation and protection of the environment.

The Ministry is encouraging all schools and colleges to be part of this campaign.

Background

 Environment Ministry launches Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali campaign

Air pollution is a serious health issue in the country especially in the northern parts during winter seasons.

It is attributed to dust, burning of crops in certain states, burning of garbage construction and prevailing climatic conditions.

The pollution has serious impacts on the health of children, aged people and people suffering from respiratory ailments.

The festival of Diwali, which is celebrated by most people through the practice of bursting crackers, falls during the same period.

The crackers not only contain combustible chemicals that include potassium chlorate powdered aluminum, magnesium, salts of barium, copper, sodium, lithium, strontium but also emit smoke on combustion of these chemicals along with the sound.

As a result, there has been a significant impact on the environment and health of the people and animal and birds.

The airborne pollution has also been rising above safe limits during winter in many cities.

The pollution levels in Delhi in 2016, especially post Diwali, reached such levels that the government had to declare an emergency situation, which had socio-economic consequences like closing down of schools, construction sites and power stations.

ILC submits 2nd Report on Cross Border Insolvency; recommends adoption of UNCITRAL Model Law

ILC submits 2nd Report on Cross Border Insolvency; recommends adoption of UNCITRAL Model Law

The Insolvency Law Committee (ILC) on October 22, 2018 submitted its 2nd Report on Cross Border Insolvency to Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs.

The ILC was constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to recommend amendments to Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of India, 2016,

The ILC recommended the adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law of Cross Border Insolvency, 1997 as it provides for a comprehensive framework to deal with cross border insolvency issues. The Committee also recommended a few steps to ensure that there is no inconsistency between the domestic insolvency framework and the proposed Cross Border Insolvency Framework.

UNCITRAL Model Law of Cross Border Insolvency, 1997
The UNCITRAL Model Law has till now been adopted in 44 countries and forms part of international best practices in dealing with cross border insolvency issues. The model law gives precedence to domestic proceedings and protection of public interest.

The advantages of the model law include greater confidence generation among foreign investors, adequate flexibility for seamless integration with the domestic Insolvency Law and a robust mechanism for international cooperation.

Four major principles of UNCITRAL Model Law

The model law deals with four major principles of cross-border insolvency, namely:

  • Direct access to foreign insolvency professionals and foreign creditors to participate in or commence domestic insolvency proceedings against a defaulting debtor
  • Recognition of foreign proceedings & provision of remedies
  • Cooperation between domestic and foreign courts & domestic and foreign insolvency practioners
  • Coordination between two or more concurrent insolvency proceedings in different countries. The main proceeding is determined by the concept of centre of main interest (COMI).

Significance

Considering that many Indian companies have a global footprint and many foreign companies have presence in multiple countries including India, having Cross Border Insolvency Framework under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code becomes necessary.

Although the proposed Framework for Cross Border Insolvency will help dealing with Indian companies having foreign assets and vice versa, it still does not provide for a framework for dealing with enterprise groups, which is still work in progress with UNCITRAL and other international bodies.

The inclusion of the UNCITRAL Model Law of Cross Border Insolvency in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of India, 2016 will bring Indian Insolvency Law on a par with that of matured jurisdictions.

Green fund approves $1 billion to assist poor countries to tackle climate change

Green fund approves $1 billion to assist poor countries to tackle climate change

Green Climate Fund, the UN-backed fund has approved more than $1 billion for 19 new projects to help developing countries tackle climate change. The decision was taken during a four-day meeting in Manama, Bahrain that ended late on October 20, 2018.

The officials overseeing the Climate Fund also agreed to start seeking fresh money next year as its initial capital of about $6.6 billion will soon be used up.

Funds shortage

The green fund, considered a key vehicle for climate-related development programs, was originally meant to receive over $10 billion from rich countries by 2018.

However, US President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold $2 billion of the $3 billion pledged by his predecessor, Barack Obama, has contributed to a shortfall in its projected assets.

Key Highlights

The funding was approved for projects linked to geothermal energy in Indonesia, greener cities in Europe and the Middle East and protection for coastal communities in India.

Besides this, host nation Bahrain put forward a request to approve funding for a project aimed at protecting its freshwater resources.

The request led to a debate between the delegates present, in which the environmentalists pointed out that the Gulf nation could pay for the project itself using the money it has made off its vast reserves of oil and gas.

The contested project was eventually approved, but with only $2.1 million of the $9.8 million requested by Bahrain.

In other decisions, the decision on a funding bid by China was postponed after concerns from Japan and the United States about the possibility that the money could be used to subsidise research into new technology.

Background

The debates within the Green Climate Fund have often split Western countries and large emerging economies such as China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The fund’s former director, Howard Bamsey, resigned in July 2018 after a “very difficult and disappointing” meeting.

The recent meeting has taken place weeks before a summit in Katowice, Poland, on the future of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

The meeting is also expected to be centred on funding to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to global warming.

About Green Climate Fund

The Fund is a unique global platform to respond to climate change by investing in low-emission and climate-resilient development.

It was established to limit or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in developing countries and to help vulnerable societies adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

Given the urgency and seriousness of this challenge, the Fund is mandated to make an ambitious contribution to the united global response to climate change.

PM Modi launches National Police Memorial; announces Award in name of Subhas Chandra Bose

PM Modi announces Award in name of Subhas Chandra Bose; launches National Police Memorial

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 21, 2018 dedicated the National Police Memorial to the nation on the occasion of the Police Commemoration Day 2018.

PM Modi also inaugurated the Museum of National Police memorial and signed the visitor’s book. He laid wreath and paid homage to the martyrs at the National Police Memorial.

Note
The National Police Commemoration Day is observed on 21 October every year to pay homage to the 10 men of the Central Reserve Police Force killed in an ambush by Chinese troops in 1959 in Ladakh’s Hot Spring area.

National Police Memorial

• The Memorial was accorded priority by the Union Government and was finished on time. It underlines the vision of the Government to accord maximum respect to people who played a vital role in nation building.

• The National Police Memorial consists of Central Sculpture, a Wall of Valour and a State of Art Museum dedicated to the memory of the martyred police personnel.

• A 30-foot granite pillar, weighing around 238 tonnes, has been installed at Chanakyapuri, Delhi to honour the policemen. The sculpture was conceptualised by Advaita Gadanayak of the National Gallery of Modern Art.

• The ‘Wall of Valour’ is engraved with the names of police personnel, including those killed in the 1965 India-Pak war, the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 and the 2001 Parliament attack.

• The Central Sculpture of the National Police Memorial represents capability, courage and service orientation of the police forces.

• Every object associated with the Memorial would inspire the citizens and educate them about the bravery of police and para military personnel.

• The memorial is in recognition of the sacrifice made by nearly 35000 police personnel killed in action since Independence.

PM Modi announces Award in name of Subhas Chandra Bose

On the same occasion, Prime Minister also announced an award in the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The award will honour those involved in disaster response operations.

The award would be announced every year, recognising the bravery and courage displayed in saving lives of people, in the wake of a disaster.

US to pull out of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia

US to pull out of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia

US President Donald Trump confirmed on October 20, 2018 that the United States will pull out of the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which it had signed with Russia during the Cold War.

Explaining the decision, Trump alleged that Russia has “violated” the agreement. He said that they have been violating it for many years. He said that the US would not let Russia violate a nuclear agreement and go out and develop the weapons while the US is not allowed to. “We’ll have to develop those weapons,” he added.

Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

What is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty?

The INF treaty was signed in December 1987 between the then US President Ronald Reagan and his USSR counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

The treaty banned all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 km or 310–620 miles (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km or 620–3,420 miles (intermediate-range).

Significance of the treaty

The treaty offered a blanket of protection to the United States’ European allies and marked a watershed agreement between two nations at the centre of the arms race during the Cold War.

It was designed to provide a measure of some strategic stability on the continent of Europe.

 US to end decades-old nuclear arms control treaty with Russia

What led US to withdraw from the agreement?

The Trump Administration has repeatedly alleged that Russia has violated the treaty. The US insists the Russians have, in breach of the deal, developed a new medium-range missile called the ‘Novator 9M729’ – known to NATO as the SSC-8. The missile would enable Russia to launch a nuclear strike at NATO countries at very short notice.

In 2014, President Barack Obama had accused Russia of breaching the INF after it allegedly tested a ground-launched cruise missile. He, however, reportedly chose not to withdraw from the treaty under pressure from the European leaders, who said such a move could restart an arms race.

Recently, NATO officially confirmed Russia’s activity constituted a likely violation. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this month that the military alliance remained concerned about Russia’s lack of respect for its international commitments, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Stoltenberg stated that after years of denials, Russia recently acknowledged the existence of its new missile system ‘9M729’.  However, Russia did not provide any credible answers on its new missile.

Russia’s failure to adhere to the agreement was also addressed in the most recent Nuclear Posture Review published by the Defense Department in February, which said Russia “continues to violate a series of arms control treaties and commitments.”

Other Factors

The INF treaty was a bilateral treaty between the US and the USSR. Hence, other nations such as China were free to develop and deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles without restraint.

This led many in the Trump administration to feel that the INF treaty placed them at a growing disadvantage in their developing strategic rivalry with China.

Russia’s reaction

According to reports, a Russian foreign ministry source has said that the US’s move is motivated by a ‘dream of a unipolar world’ where it is the only global superpower.

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to discuss the decision with US national security adviser John Bolton when he visits Russia this week.

Impact

The withdrawal of the United States from the treaty could provoke an arms race across Europe, similar to the one that was occurring when the agreement was initially signed in the 1980s.

21-22 october 2018

One lakh benefitted under Ayushman Bharat in one month of its launch: JP Nadda

One lakh benefitted under Ayushman Bharat in one month of its launch: JP Nadda

Union Health Minister JP Nadda on October 21, 2018 announced that nearly a month after the roll out of the health insurance scheme ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)’ (Ayushman Bharat), one lakh people have availed of the ambitious programme.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, considered as the world’s largest health insurance programme, was launched pan-India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Jharkhand on September 23, 2018.

Earlier, on October 5, Indu Bhushan, CEO of the National Health Agency, announced that around 38000 people have availed of the scheme within two weeks of launch of the PMJAY.

Over 9000 hospitals have been empanelled for the scheme, and 32 states and Union territories have signed MoUs with the Centre to implement the programme.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (Ayushman Bharat or AB-NHPM)

What?

• Ayushman Bharat, the government-sponsored health insurance scheme, will provide free coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year in any government or even empanelled private hospitals all over India.

• The Ayushman Bharat programme will be funded with 60 percent contribution from the Centre and the remaining from the states.

• The benefit cover will also include pre and post-hospitalisation expenses. All pre-existing conditions will be covered from day one of the policy.

• A defined transport allowance per hospitalisation will also be paid to the beneficiary.

• The payment for treatment will be done on package rate which will be defined by the Government in advance basis. The package rates will include all the costs associated with treatment. The States and UTs will have the flexibility to modify these rates within a limited bandwidth.

• For beneficiaries, it will be a cashless and paper less transaction.

Why?

• Launched with an aim to help the poor and the economically deprived, the scheme will be available for 10.74 crore beneficiary families and about 50 crore Indian citizens.

• This scheme will strengthen the healthcare services in India. Around 13000 hospitals in the country have been coordinated for the implementation of the scheme.

• The scheme aims to target poor and vulnerable population of the country, based on the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC) database. There will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme.

• The scheme allows the beneficiary to take cashless benefits from any public or private empanelled hospitals across the country.

Who?

• The scheme will work in partnership with NITI Aayog to operationalise a robust, modular and interoperable IT platform which will involve a paperless and cashless transaction.

• The National Health Agency (NHA), the apex body implementing the scheme, has launched a website (mera.pmjay.gov.in).

Government notifies special courts for trial of benami transaction cases

Representative Image

The Union Government has issued a notification stating that sessions courts in 34 states and union territories, will act as special courts for the trial of offences under the benami transaction law.

Key Highlights

The Union Ministry of Finance stated in its notification that the sessions courts were notified of the same after consultation with Chief Justices of High Courts under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 for the trial of offences punishable under the provision of the Act.

In the case of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, the courts of additional session’s judge in each district have been designated as the special court.

Further, under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, every trial should be conducted as expeditiously as possible.

The law also prescribes that every endeavour should be made by the special court to conclude the trial within six months from the date of filing of the complaint.

What is Benami transaction?

Benami transaction refers to transactions made in a fictitious name, or the owner is not aware of the ownership of the property, or the person paying for the property is not traceable.

Background

• The Indian Parliament passed the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act in August 2016 to curb the menace of black money. The bill sought to amend the Benami Transactions Act, 1988.

 The rules and all the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act came into force on November 1, 2016.

 After coming into effect, the existing Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 was renamed as the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions (PBPT) Act, 1988.

 The new legislation provided for seven years imprisonment and fine for those indulging in illegal transactions. The previous Act provided for up to three years of imprisonment or fine or both. It stated that the properties held as Benami are liable for confiscation by the government without payment of compensation.

• The act has amended the definition of benami transactions and establishes adjudicating authorities and an Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions.

 Further, the act defines benami transactions, prohibits them and provides that violation of the PBPT Act is punishable with imprisonment and fine.

• It also prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamidar by the real owner. The properties held benami are liable for confiscation by the Government without payment of compensation.

19-20 october 2018

Sajjan Jindal elected as Treasurer of World Steel Association

Sajjan Jindal elected as Treasurer of World Steel Association

JSW Steel CMD Sajjan Jindal was on October 18, 2018 elected as the Treasurer of the World Steel Association (worldsteel). The association has also appointed Tata Steel MD TV Narendran and ArcelorMittal Chief LN Mittal as its members.

The appointments were made during the worldsteel General Assembly in Toyko, Japan during which the Board of Directors elected new officers for 2018-19 at the. The new officers were elected for a one-year period.

Here are the other appointments made by the board:

Name Post at worldsteel Profession
Andre Johannpeter Chairman Executive Vice Chairman of Gerdau S.A.
Yu Yong Vice Chairman Chairman of HBIS Group Co. Ltd.
Kosei Shindo  Vice Chairman President & Representative Director of Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation
Liberty Speciality Steel  Associate members Represented by Jonathan Bolton
Mughal Iron & Steel Industries Limited Associate members Represented by Fahad Javaid
Members of 2018-19 Executive Committee
Wolfgang Eder of voestalpine AG John Ferriola of Nucor Corporation
Sajjan Jindal of JSW Steel Limited Andre Johannpeter of Gerdau S.A.
Koji Kakigi of JFE Steel Corporation Lakshmi Mittal of ArcelorMittal
Alexey Mordashov of Severstal (PAO) Thachat Viswanath Narendran of Tata Steel Limited
Roger Newport of AK Steel Corporation Paolo Rocca of Techint Group
Kosei Shindo of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation Yu Yong of HBIS Group Co. Ltd.
Edwin Basson of World Steel Association  

About World Steel Association

• The World Steel Association (worldsteel) is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and its second office in Beijing, China.

• It was founded as the International Iron and Steel Institute in July 1967. It changed its name to the World Steel Association in October 2008.

• It represents over 160 steel producers (including 9 of the world’s 10 largest steel companies), national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes.

• The worldsteel members cover around 85 percent of world steel production.

• The association celebrated its 50th year anniversary in 2017.

Union HRD Ministry releases revised CBSE affiliation bye-laws for smooth functioning

Union HRD Ministry releases revised CBSE affiliation bye-laws for smooth functioning

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar on October 18, 2018 released the revised CBSE Affiliation Bye Laws to ensure speed, transparency, hassle-free procedures and ease of doing business with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

The revised affiliation byelaws indicate a major shift from the highly complex procedures to a simplified system based on preventing duplication of processes.

Earlier this year, the HRD Ministry had directed the Board to completely revisit its affiliation bye laws to make the system more robust and quality driven.

Note
CBSE is a national level Board conducting examinations for Classes X and XII. It affiliates schools across India and abroad upon fulfilment of various conditions as prescribed in its Affiliation Bye Laws.At present, 20783 schools are affiliated with the Board. The Affiliation Byelaws were first made in the year 1988 and were last modified in the year 2012.

Objective: To prevent duplication of affiliation process

For issuing recognition under RTE Act and NOC, the state education administration verifies various certificates to be obtained from local bodies, revenue department, cooperatives department, etc.

The CBSE re-verifies them after applications are received. This is very long process. Therefore, to prevent this duplication, schools will now be required to submit only two documents at the time of applying for affiliation, instead of 12-14 documents being submitted earlier.

One document would be vetted by the head of district education administration validating all aspects such as building safety, sanitation, land ownership, etc; and another document would be a self-affidavit where the school would certify its adherence to fee norms, infrastructure norms, etc.

Key highlights of the revised affiliation byelaws

• The Board shall not revisit any of the aspects evaluated by the state during inspection; and the delay due to scrutiny and non-compliance of deficiencies in these documents shall be drastically curtailed.

• Inspection of schools will now be outcome-based and more academic and quality oriented, rather than focussing only on school infrastructure.

• The inspection will focus on academic excellence and progress of students over time, innovations and quality of pedagogy, capacity of teachers and teacher training, inclusive practises in school, quality of co-scholastic activities, whether curricular load is as per norms.

• This will not only help the Board and the school to track students’ progress over time, but will also identify areas that would need further efforts.

• Regarding fee, the provisions include full fee disclosure to be made and no hidden charges to be levied by schools in the garb of fees.

• The byelaws clearly state that fee is to be charged as per the regulation of the appropriate government and fee revision shall be subject to laws, regulations and directions of the appropriate government.

• Also, for the first time, the byelaws encourage schools to promote environmental conservation through harnessing solar energy, rain water harvesting, greening of campus, recycling and segregation of waste, Swachhata on campus, etc.

The Process
  • In the new byelaws, the school inspection will be done as soon as applications are received.
  • On satisfactory inspection report, the Board will issue a Letter of Intent to the school, indicating its intention to affiliate the school.
  • The school will then be expected to fulfil all the conditions laid down under the Post-Affiliation process, such as recruitment of qualified teachers, special educator, wellness counsellor, salaries through digital payment, etc.
  • On complying with all these conditions, the school will submit an online commencement certificate latest by 31 March of the given year.
  • Based on the certificate, the Board shall confirm affiliation of the school. Only then, the schools will be able to start new academic session under CBSE.

Significance

The new affiliation bye laws aim on achieving academic excellence through mandatory teacher training. Even the Principals and Vice Principals of every school are expected to undergo two days mandatory training.

The revised bye laws will positively impact the existing and future schools by easing procedures and redirecting their focus towards improving the quality of education.

12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit begins; Vice President Venkaiah Naidu leads Indian delegation

12th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit begins; Vice President Venkaiah Naidu leads Indian delegation

The 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit began on October 18, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu led the Indian delegation at the two-day summit.

Theme 2018: The theme of 12th Asia-Europe Meeting was ‘Global Partners for Global Challenges‘.

The 12th Asia-Europe Meeting brought together Heads of state of 30 European and 21 Asian countries, besides top representatives of the European Union and Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The summit prioritised issues related to connectivity, trade and investment, sustainable development, climate change, terrorism, migration, maritime security and cyberspace.

Venkaiah Naidu’s schedule at the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting
  • Naidu is likely to seek cooperation to strengthen bilateral relations and also to deal with the global challenges through Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) platform.
  • Apart from the opening ceremony, Naidu will participate in the plenary session of the Summit and have interactions with various stakeholders.
  • He will also have bilateral meetings with the Heads of State of various countries on the sidelines of the summit.
  • On the first day itself, Naidu held one to one meeting with the King of Belgians, King Phillipe at Presidential Palace in Brussels.
  • He will also hold a meeting with prominent Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and CEOs of Belgium. He will address the Indian Diaspora at the Jain Culture Centre in Wilrijk, Antwerp.
  • He will also pay floral tributes at the monument of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi located at the Governorate of Antwerp.

12th ASEM Summit

• The 12th ASEM Summit (ASEM12) was held during October 18-19, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

• European Council President Donald TUSK chaired the summit. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini represented the EU.

• The ASEM summit brought together Heads of state of 51 European and Asian countries, representatives of the European Union and the Secretary General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Current Affairs in Short

Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister ND Tiwari passes away

• Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister ND Tiwari, who suffered multiple organ failure in July 2018, passes away on October 18, 2018 on his 93rd birthday at Delhi’s Max Hospital, where he had been admitted since September 2017. He was 93.
• Tiwari joined the Congress in 1963 and was the only Indian politician to have served as Chief Minister of two states, Uttar Pradesh and later Uttarakhand.
• While in power, he helped lead the Congress to victory in the state elections held months after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. However, Rajiv Gandhi replaced him within months of the victory.
• Tiwari was elected to both Houses of Parliament during his days in the Congress. In 1980, he was elected to the 7th Lok Sabha.
• Tiwari also served as Governor of Andhra Pradesh between 2007 and 2009.

RBI issues guidelines to facilitate payments among PPI

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released operational guidelines to facilitate payments among prepaid instruments (PPI) such as mobile wallets.
• The guidelines elaborate on requirements for achieving inter-operability for mobile wallets and cards, and norms for customer protection and grievance redressal.
• Inter-operability among mobile wallets, and between bank account and e-wallet would be enabled through the UPI system.
• The inter-operability shall be facilitated to all KYC-compliant PPI accounts and entire acceptance infrastructure.
• The inter-operability would be achieved in a phased manner.
• Paytm, MobiKwik, Oxigen and Ola Money are some of the popular mobile wallets in the country.
• Currently, a mobile wallet does not allow customers to send or receive money from a wallet run by another company.

Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati distributes Rajbhasha awards

• Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati distributed Rajbhasha awards to Prasar Bharti employees in New Delhi.
• The awards were given for the various competitions held during Hindi Pakhwada organized by Prashar Bharti Secretariat.
• Vempati asked employees to increase the use of Hindi in day-to-day work.
• He also said that common Hindi words should be used instead of difficult words.

Vice President leaves for Belgium to attend 12th ASEM Summit

• Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu left for Belgium to attend the two-day 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels.
• The theme of the ASEM Summit is ‘Global Partners for Global Challenges’.
• The bi-annual event is considered the highest platform for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe in the areas of trade, investment, security and tourism.
• As many as 51 Heads of States or Heads of Government are expected to participate in the Summit where a wide range of issues from climate change to terrorism are expected to be discussed.
• This will be the first multi-lateral summit the Vice President will be attending after taking office in August 2017.
• The Vice President will also participate in the Plenary Session and have interactions with various stakeholders.
• The Vice President will also address the Indian Diaspora at the Jain Culture Centre in Wilrijk, Antwerp and pay respects and offer floral tribute at a sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi located in the Governorate at Antwerp.

Indian Navy augments Submarine Rescue capability

• The Western Naval Command of Indian Navy successfully concluded the maiden trials of the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV).
• The DSRV, which is operated by a crew of three, can rescue 14 personnel from a disabled submarine at one time.
• On October 15, 2018, the DSRV carried out under water mating with a bottomed submarine at over 300 feet depth. On successful mating the DSRV opened its hatches and carried out transfer of personnel from the submarine to the DSRV.
• These sea trials prove DSRV’s ability to undertake rescue operations from disabled submarines at sea and have provided the Indian Navy with a critical capability.
• During the trials the DSRV also dived successfully up to 666 m. This is a record for deepest submergence by a ‘manned vessel’ in Indian waters.
• The DSRV crew has also carried out ROV operations at over 750 metres and Side Scan Sonar operations at over 650 metres, which are all ‘firsts’ for the Indian Navy.

CSIR develops affordable Water Disinfection System “OneerTM”

• The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR) of Lucknow developed an innovative technology for “Drinking Water Disinfection System” with Trade name “OneerTM” which was transferred to Bluebird Water Purifiers.
• OneerTM is useful for continuous treatment of water and eliminates all disease causing pathogens such as virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and cyst to provide safe drinking water as per National and International standards prescribed for potable water.
• Infection through drinking water results in an increase in morbidity and mortality particularly amongst children and Oneer developed by CSIR-IITR will provide access to safe and clean drinking water at a cost of just 2 paise per litre.
• It is of 450 LPH capacity which can be scaled up to 5000 to 1 lakh litre per day and is also maintenance and membrane free.
• The technology will be helpful especially for rural people since it can be solar powered and this development is in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Not a single mobile phone faces disconnect threat: Department of Telecommunications

Not a single mobile phone faces disconnect threat: Department of Telecommunications

The Department of Telecommunications (DOT) and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on October 18, 2018 clarified in a joint statement that a few news reports stating that 50 crore mobile numbers are at the risk of disconnection are completely untrue and imaginary.

These news reports try to create unnecessary panic among mobile users by claiming that there are prospects of disconnection, “if SIM cards procured on the basis of Aadhaar verification are not backed up by a fresh identification”.

The Clarification

The joint statement clarifies that the Supreme Court in its judgement in Aadhaar case has nowhere directed that the mobile number which has been issued through Aadhaar eKYC has to be disconnected. Therefore, there is no reason for panic or fear at all.

The Court has also not asked to delete all the eKYC data of telecom customers after 6 months. However, the apex Court has asked that UIDAI should not keep authentication log for more than 6 months. The restriction is on UIDAI and not on the telecom companies.

The Supreme Court prohibited the issue of new SIM cards through Aadhaar eKYC authentication process. There is no direction to deactivate the old mobile phones.

Therefore, there is no need for telecom companies to delete authentication logs. If anybody wishes to get Aadhaar eKYC replaced by the fresh KYC, he or she can request the service providers for delinking of Aadhaar as per earlier DOT Circulars on mobile KYC.

Digital process for issuing new SIM cards
  • The Department of Telecom and UIDAI are in a process to bring out a completely hassle-free and digital process for issuing new SIM cards through a mobile App which will be fully compliant of the Supreme Court judgement in Aadhaar Case.
  • In the new digital process, live photograph of the person with latitude, longitude, and time stamp will be captured.
  • The photo of ID such as Aadhaar card, voter ID, etc., will also be captured.
  • The SIM card agent will be authenticated through OTP; and the SIM card will be issued.

Aadhaar Verdict: Supreme Court upheld constitutional validity of Aadhaar Act

The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on September 26, 2018 upheld most of the provisions of the Aadhaar Act by 4:1 Majority while hearing the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other. Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

 Majority of judges upheld the validity of Aadhaar, Justice Chandrachud dissented.

 Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, allowing private entities to use Aadhaar for verification purpose, struck down.

– Aadhaar – PAN Linkage mandatory.

 No need of Aadhaar for CBSE, NEET, UGC and school admissions.

 No need of Aadhaar for mobile connections and for opening bank accounts.

18 october 2018

WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index 2018: US tops; India ranked 58th

WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index 2018: US tops; India ranked 58th

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on October 16, 2018 released the Global Competitiveness Report 2018. The report publishes the Global Competitiveness Index, ranking 140 countries on the basis of 98 indicators organised into 12 pillars.

These 12 pillars are Institutions; Infrastructure; ICT adoption; Macroeconomic stability; Health; Skills; Product market; Labour market; Financial system; Market size; Business dynamism; and Innovation capability.

India’s rank on the Global Competitiveness Index 4.0
  • India was ranked as the 58th most competitive economy with a score of 62.0 on the Global Competitiveness Index 2018. India jumped five spots from 2017, the largest gain among G20 economies.
  • As per the report, India leads the region in all other areas of competitiveness except for health, education and skills. As per the report, India’s greatest competitive advantages include its market size and innovation.
  • India ranked highest among South Asian countries. Sri Lanka was ranked 86th, Bangladesh 103rd, Pakistan 107th and Nepal 109th.

Key Highlights

• The report states that the global economy is projected to grow nearly 4 percent in 2018 and 2019.

• On the list of 140 economies, the United States topped the list with a score of 85.6, followed by Singapore and Germany at the second and the third positions respectively.

• Other countries in the top 10 include Switzerland (4th), Japan (5th), Netherlands (6th), Hong Kong (7th), United Kingdom (8th), Sweden (9th) and Denmark (10th).

• In Europe, Sweden is ranked the highest among the Nordic economies at 9th position, while France (17th) is among the top 20. Countries such as Germany and Switzerland set the global standards for innovation.

• Chile (33rd) leads the Latin America and the Caribbean region by a wide margin, ahead of Mexico (46th) and Uruguay (53rd). Insecurity and weak institutions are two of the biggest challenges for most countries in the region.

• Competitiveness performance in the Middle East and North Africa remains diverse, with Israel (20th) and the United Arab Emirates (27th), leading the way in their respective regions.

• 17of the 34 sub-Saharan African economies are among the bottom 20. Mauritius (49th) leads the region, ahead of South Africa and nearly 91 places ahead of Chad (140th).

• India remained the “South Asia‘s main driving force” with 58th rank.

• Among the BRICS economies, China topped the list at 28th place with a score of 72.6, followed by Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil respectively.

Global Competitiveness Index 4.0

The 2018 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report introduced the new Global Competitiveness Index 4.0 (GCI 4.0). The new index sheds light on an emerging set of drivers of productivity and long-term growth in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The GCI 4.0 provides novel insights on four factors that will grow in significance as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers pace. These four factors are human capital, innovation, resilience and agility.

Irish Author Anna Burns wins Man Booker Prize 2018 for her novel ‘Milkman’

Irish Author Anna Burns wins Man Booker Prize 2018 for her novel ‘Milkman’

Irish Author Anna Burns on October 16, 2018 won the Britain’s renowned Man Booker Prize 2018 for her third novel ‘Milkman’. Burns received the award from Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as 50000 pounds (USD 65900) as the prize money.

Note
With this, Burns became the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the Booker Prize. The previous Irish winners were John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle. She is also the first woman to win the award since 2013, when Eleanor Catton took the award for ‘The Luminaries’.

The judges of the annual award praised Anna Burns’ work as utterly distinctive. Burns was born in the Northern Irish capital Belfast in 1962 and now lives in southern England. She had previously authored two novels – ‘No Bones’ and ‘Little Constructions’.

‘Milkman’

• Milkman is an exploration of Northern Ireland’s three decades of violence told through the voice of a young woman.

• The novel chronicles the struggles of a middle sister in a family as she confronts rumour, social pressures and politics amid violent sectarian divisions in her community.

• It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour.

• In an interview posted by the Booker Prize foundation, Burns said that “Milkman was inspired by her own experience… I grew up in a place that was rife with violence, distrust and paranoia, and peopled by individuals trying to navigate and survive in that world as best as they could.”

Finalists
The finalists competing for the 2018 Man Booker Prize were:

  • Esi Edugyan for her novel “Washington Black” which is about a young slave who escapes from a plantation in Barbados by hot-air balloon
  • Daisy Johnson for “Everything Under”, a modern-day retelling of a classical myth that imagines Oedipus as a female lexicographer. It will be published soon in the United States by Graywolf Press in Minneapolis.
  • Rachel Kushner for “The Mars Room”, telling the story of a woman imprisoned for killing an abusive man who was stalking her.
  • Richard Powers for “The Overstory”, a multi-part story about trees and people who dedicate their lives to saving them.
  • Robin Robertson for “The Long Take,” a book that mixes poetry and prose to tell the story of a traumatised World War II veteran who has left his home in Nova Scotia to see America. It will be published in the United States in November by Knopf.

Man Booker Prize

• Established in 1969, the Man Booker Prize recognises the judges choice of “the best original novel written in English and published in the UK”.

• Initially, Man Booker Prize was only open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth nations until it began permitting authors from other English-speaking countries in 2014.

• Last year’s Booker Prize went to “Lincoln in the Bardo,” by American writer George Saunders.

ESA to send spacecraft to Mercury in a first-of-its-kind mission

ESA to send spacecraft to Mercury in a first-of-its-kind mission

In a first-of-its-kind mission, a UK-built spacecraft will set off for Mercury to determine whether the plant, which is the closest to the Sun, contains water.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) BepiColombo mission will send two orbiters to explore the planet where the surface temperatures reach about 450 degrees Celsius.

Significance

Through the mission, the space agency hopes to get answers to the questions raised by the previous missions such as whether the planet holds water.

Key Highlights

 ESA to send spacecraft to Mercury in a first-of-its-kind mission

• The spacecraft will launch from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on October 20 and will take seven years to reach Mercury, arriving in 2025.

• During its 5.2 billion miles journey, the spacecraft will make a complex series of fly-bys of Earth, Venus and Mercury to help it slow down enough to avoid the huge gravitational pull of the Sun.

 The mission is aimed at expanding the existing knowledge surrounding Mercury.

• Despite being the nearest to the Sun, the tilt of the planet signifies that some of its areas are permanently in shade and temperatures can fall to minus 180 degrees Celsius, allowing ice to form on the planet.

• Through the mission, the researchers also look to learn more about Mercury’s magnetic field.

• While it was thought that the planet was solid all the way through, some of the previous missions discovered a magnetic field suggesting that it may have a molten interior.

Background

Only two spacecraft have been to Mercury until now. The first one was NASA’s ‘Mariner 10’, which flew past the planet in 1974 and 1975 and second was US space agency’s ‘Messenger’, which orbited the planet between 2011 and 2015.

Though the spacecraft sent home a great deal of information, they also raised more questions.

#MeToo movement: Union Minister MJ Akbar resigns from his post over sexual harassment charges

#MeToo movement: Union Minister MJ Akbar resigns from his post over sexual harassment charges

Union Minister of State for External Affairs, MJ Akbar resigned from his post on October 17, 2018 over sexual harassment charges levelled against him by several women journalists in the wake of #MeToo movement.

President Ram Nath Kovind accepted Akbar’s resignation from the Union Council of Ministers with immediate effect.

Reaction of NCW
The National Commission for Women (NCW) welcomed MJ Akbar’s resignation. NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said, “Finally, the government has listened to the voice of women and acted accordingly. NCW welcomes the move”.

#MeToo allegations against Akbar by over 20 women
Akbar’s resignation came two days after he filed a criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi’s Patiala House Court against journalist Priya Ramani, who was the first to put #MeToo allegations against Akbar.Following Ramani’s complaint, as many as 20 women came out in support of Priya Ramani, accusing Akbar of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour when he worked as an Editor in ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper.

The journalists urged the court to hear their testimonies against Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

Who are these women?

These women are Meenal Baghel, Manisha Pande, Tushita Patel, Kanika Gahlaut, Suparna Sharma, Ramola Talwar Badam, Hoihnu Hauzel, Aisha Khan, Kushalrani Gulab, Kaniza Gazari, Malavika Banerjee, A T Jayanthi, Hamida Parkar, Jonali Buragohain, Meenakshi Kumar, Sujata Dutta Sachdeva, Reshmi Chakraborty, Kiran Manral, Christina Francis and Sanjari Chatterjee.

#MeToo movement in India

• The #MeToo campaign first began as a hashtag on Twitter in 2017, when Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment by over 70 women.

• Almost after an year, the movement has now arrived in the Bollywood, Indian film industry; and is spreading through India.

• The #MeToo movement started after former Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta alleged that Nana Patekar sexually harassed her on a movie set in 2008. However, Patekar has rejected Dutta’s allegations and said he made the same denial 10 years ago.

• The movement has recently gained momentum in India as more women have begun sharing their experiences of sexual harassment on social media.

• To name a few, these brave women are actress Kangana Ranaut, actress Sandhya Mridul, writer-director-producer Vinta Nanda, singer Sona Mohapatra, journalist Avantika Mehta, writer Mahima Kukreja, reporter Anoo Bhuyan, journalist Sandhya Menon, and many more.

• Many well-known comedians, journalists, and actors have been named and shamed on social media as allegations of sexual misconduct continue to burst out.

Lady Irwin College, Ministry of Rural Development sign MoU for establishing ROSHNI

Lady Irwin College, Ministry of Rural Development sign MoU for establishing ROSHNI

The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM), under the Union Ministry of Rural Development signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lady Irwin College for establishing ROSHNI – Centre of Women Collectives led Social Action.

ROSHNI is technically and financially supported by UNICEF India that also serves as a technical support unit at national level for DAY-NRLM and is embedded in the Department of Development Communication and Extension, Lady Irwin College, New Delhi.

Why ROSHNI?

• Though India has made significant strides in improving maternal survival, many challenges still persist for women to achieve their development and economic potential.

• Almost one in 10 girls marry too young, every fifth woman of reproductive age group is undernourished and every second woman is anaemic.

• A model that brings the much needed focus on women’s nutrition and that demonstrates layering of of Food, Health, Nutrition and WASH (FHNW) interventions on DAY-NRLM platforms is Swabhimaan.

• Swabhimaan makes the last mile delivery of FHNW interventions, which has been considered a voluntary function for field mobilisers for too long.

• Launched in 2016, Swabhimaan is a collaborative initiative of DAY- NRLM and UNICEF India in five poorest DAY-NRLM resource blocks in four districts of three Indian states Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

• Roshni aims to work with women collectives for social action on FHNW interventions for supporting implementation of convergent action plan under POSHAN Abhiyaan.

• Roshni will learn from Swabhimaan and similar models, and extend support to DAY-NRLM for expanding the scope of FHNW interventions.

• The Centre will lead knowledge creation, capacity building for scale-up of convergent action plan, learning and re- learning in Swabhimaan sites and provide policy guidance to DAY-NRLM on POSHAN Abhiyaan initiatives.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM)

• The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission was launched as the Aajeevika – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in 2011.

• DAY-NRLM aims to reach out to 8-10 crore rural poor households (based on SECC 2011) in a time bound manner, and, stay engaged with them till they come out of miserable poverty.

• It envisions breaking the cycle of malnutrition-illness- out of pocket expenditure for treating poverty through its savings and enterprise approach and layering of Food, Health, Nutrition and WASH (FHNW) interventions through Self-help groups (SHG) and their federations.

• Since the launch of DAY-NRLM, 5.39 crore women have been mobilised for SHGs and over 47 lakh SHGs have been created.

• DAY-NRLM is also nodal agency of Ministry of Rural Development for implementation of the convergent action plan under the POSHAN Abhiyaan.

• The four areas of convergence under the POSHAN Abhiyaan are – mobilisation for fixed day health, nutrition and WASH camps (Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Day), convergence through behaviour change communication, convergence through common use of infrastructure and promotion of nutri-based livelihoods for women collectives.

NITI Aayog launches guidelines for public-private partnership in treatment of NCDs

NITI Aayog launches guidelines for public-private partnership in treatment of NCDs

NITI Aayog on October 17, 2018 launched the model guidelines for Public-Private partnership in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Under the guidelines, the private partner will invest in upgrading, building and deploying human resources. They will be responsible for operational management and service delivery.

Key Highlights

 The model guidelines suggest that the state governments will provide the required physical space.

 They also suggest that the tariff structure for the services offered under the NCD care facility may be linked to the existing state and central government health insurance scheme.

 Further, in case a government health insurance scheme is introduced in a state after the adoption of CGHS tariff, the tariff rates would be revised in accordance with the newly introduced scheme in the state.

 Besides, all the services in the NCD care facility will be offered by a single entity, be it a trust, company and consortium under the PPP arrangement.

• All categories including trusts, companies will also be allowed to bid for the project and no restrictions will be imposed on any of these categories.

Significance

The newly issued guidelines will help streamline private participation and encourage world-class infrastructure and patient care in the health sector.

Background

The model guidelines have been framed by NITI Aayog keeping in mind the fact that the contribution of non-communicable diseases (NCD) to the overall disease burden in the country has increased over the years.

In the past, many district hospitals in the country focused mainly on communicable diseases and reproductive and child health. As a result of this, the capacity for handling NCD cases has not been adequately developed.

Hence, NITI Aayog and the Union Healthy Ministry worked along with the state governments and representatives from the healthcare industry to develop the Model Concessionaire Agreements (MCA) to supplement efforts for the provision of prevention and treatment services for non-communicable diseases (Cardiac Sciences, Oncology, and Pulmonary Sciences) at the district hospitals particularly especially in tier 2 & 3 cities.

After Uruguay, Canada becomes second country to legalises use of cannabis

Canada becomes second country to legalises use of cannabis

Canada on October 17, 2018 legalised the possession and use of recreational cannabis. After Uruguay, it has become the second country and the largest country to do so.

The Canadian government will also pardon the Canadians convicted of possession of marijuana. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would pardon individuals convicted in the past for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana.

It means it would also ease their travelling to the US. Earlier, many Canadians who have a criminal record of possessing cannabis for recreational use mean they cannot enter the US. A conviction for possession of marijuana allows US Border Patrol agents to prevent Canadian residents from entering their country since Ottawa shares that database with Washington.

It is expected that lakhs of people could benefit from the measure.

What is Cannabis?Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). It is also known as marijuana among other names. It is used as a psychoactive drug for medical or recreational purposes. Cannabis has mental and physical effects such as creating a “high” or “stoned” feeling, a general change in perception, heightened mood, and an increase in appetite.

Execution of sale

The Government of Canada is preparing to send the mail to 15 million households, through which new cannabis laws will be explained and public awareness campaigns will take off.

However, the government is concerned about the readiness of the police to tackle drug-impaired driving.

Canadian provinces and municipalities have been preparing for months for the end of cannabis prohibition. They are also preparing out the details of places where recreational marijuana can be bought and consumed.

This has created a patchwork of legislation across the country as jurisdictions choose more or less restrictive frameworks for selling and using cannabis.

Legality of cannabisUruguay and Canada are the only countries that have fully legalized the consumption and sale of recreational cannabis nationwide. In the United States, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized sales and consumption although it remains federally illegal. Court rulings in Georgia and South Africa have led to the legalization of personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis, but not legal sales.

Countries that have legalized the medical use of cannabis include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom (effective November 1, 2018).

Others have more restrictive laws that only allow the use of certain cannabinoid drugs, such as Sativex or Marinol.

In the United States, 31 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, but at the federal level, its use remains prohibited for any purpose.

The recreational use of marijuana is legal in nine US states, as well as in Washington DC.

However, a number of analysts showing concerns regarding the shortage of the recreational marijuana in the first year of legalisation as production and licensing would continue to be ramped up to meet the demand, with the marketplace still in its infancy.

17 october 2018

RBI approves appointment of Sandeep Bakshi as MD & CEO of ICICI Bank

RBI approves appointment of Sandeep Bakshi as MD & CEO of ICICI Bank

Private sector lender ICICI Bank on October 16, 2018 announced that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved the appointment of Sandeep Bakshi as the Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ICICI Bank for three years.

Earlier on October 4, 2018, the board of ICICI Bank elevated Chief Operating Officer Bakhshi as the bank’s new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer after resignation of Chanda Kochhar.

Sandeep Bakshi

• Sandeep Bakshi started his professional career in 1983 at a computer marketing company ORG Systems.

• He joined the ICICI group in the year 1986.

• He was appointed as the MD and CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company on August 1, 2010.

• He was appointed as the bank’s COO in June 2018.

• In his 32 years at ICICI, he has looked after the insurance, corporate and lending businesses of the group.

• Under his leadership, the company redesigned various products, re-engineered the distribution architecture and made significant improvement in productivity.

Enquiry on Chanda Kochhar: Timeline
2008: Deepak Kochhar, in partnership with Videocon group chairman Venugopal Dhoot, sets up NuPower Renewables.
May 2009: Chanda Kochhar joins ICICI Bank.
2012: NuPower Renewables gets a loan of Rs 3,250 crore from the ICICI Bank. Prior to sanctioning of loan, Venugopal Dhoot transfers a controlling stake in NuPower to Mahesh Chandra, who sells the stake further to Deepak Kochhar for a mere Rs 9 lakh.
2016: Whistleblower Arvind Gupta wrote to PM Narendra Modi and Finance Minster Arun Jaitley alleging that Chanda Kochhar was a part of the credit committee which sanctioned a loan to Videocon Group.
March 2018: Arvind Gupta’s letter got published, revealing that Kochhar was also a shareholder in NuPower Renewables.
March 2018: Indian Express reported details of many suspicious financial transactions between Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd and many of Venugopal Dhoot’s companies. Kochaar was charged of nepotism and conflict of interest.
March 2018: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed an initial enquiry and began investigating whether Chanda’s husband Deepak Kochhar’s company NuPower Renewables received an investment from a Videocon group company as a quid pro quo from the bank as a loan.
April 2018: Kochhar is accused of not disclosing that her brother-in-law Rajiv Kochhar helped ICICI Bank’s debtors restructure their foreign loans. However, the bank denied any wrongdoing.
May 2018: The Securities and Exchange board of India (SEBI) initiates an inquiry against Kochhar and the bank for not making adequate disclosures.
June 2018: Kochhar goes on her annual planned leave from June 1, 2018.
June 2018: Former Supreme Court Judge B N Srikrishna was appointed to lead the independent investigation into the whistleblower’s complaint.
September 2018: SEBI begins adjudication proceedings against ICICI Bank and Chanda Kochhar. They questioned her for alleged violations to the disclosure requirements under the securities law.
September 2018: ICICI Bank held its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) after the charges against Kochhar came to light.
October 2018: Chanda Kochhar had quit the bank on 4 October, six months before her current tenure was about to end. She also resigned from all subsidiaries of the bank, including ICICI Securities where she had sought reappointment as the Chairperson.

International Day for Eradication of Poverty observed globally

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty observed globally

17 October : International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was observed across the world on October 17, 2018. This year’s theme of the day is ‘coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.’

Significance

The year 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the declaration of the day by the UN General Assembly, in its resolution dated December 22, 1992.

The year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski, which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty and the recognition by the United Nations of the day as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The year also marks the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is a fundamental connection between extreme poverty and human rights and the people living in poverty are disproportionately affected by many human rights violations.

Objective

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty aims to ensure that the active participation of people living in extreme poverty and those furthest behind is a driving force in all efforts made to overcome poverty, including in the design and implementation of programmes and policies which affect them.

The day highlights that only by creating and nurturing a genuine partnership with people living with poverty will it be possible to build an inclusive world where all people can enjoy their full human rights and lead lives with dignity.

Human Rights and Extreme Poverty

Joseph Wresinski was one of the first persons to highlight the direct link between human rights and extreme poverty.

In February 1987, he appealed to the Human Rights Commission to examine the question of extreme poverty and human rights.

He observed that wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. He said that to come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.

Key Highlights

The commemoration of October 17 each year demonstrates how the society can achieve greater social inclusion by enabling people from all walks of life to come together to respect the human rights and dignity of people living in poverty.

It underscores the importance of reaching out to people living in poverty and building an alliance around their priorities with citizens from all backgrounds to end extreme poverty.

The government policies alone cannot create the social inclusion that is fundamental to reaching those left furthest behind and overcoming poverty in all its dimensions.

The commemoration also recognises the important mutual roles and relationships that people have with each other based on common and equal dignity.

Background

 The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was established by the UN General Assembly on October 17, 1987.

 On that day, over a hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris , where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.

• They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected.

• Since then, people of all backgrounds, beliefs and social origins have gathered every year on October 17 to renew their commitment and show their solidarity with the poor.

 The day presents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard and a moment to recognise that poor people are the first ones to fight against poverty.

• The commemoration also reflects the willingness of people living in poverty to use their expertise to contribute to the eradication of poverty.

Central Warehouse set up to facilitate distribution of Jan Aushadhi medicines

Central Warehouse set up to facilitate distribution of Jan Aushadhi medicines

The Union Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya on October 16, 2018 inaugurated the hi-tech Central Warehouse of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) at Bilaspur, Gurugram.

The warehouse, setup by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI), would facilitate seamless distribution of Jan Aushadhi generic medicines to all PMBJP Kendra functional across the country.

Key Milestones achieved under PMBJP

• 
Currently, there are more than 4200 PMBJP Kendra functional in 34 states and union territories across India.

• 
As a result, over 700 medicines and 154 surgical and consumables are available in the basket for sale. Shortly the basket will be enhanced to 1000 medicines.

• The central warehouse has been established as per WHO guidelines for ensuring better quality storage and logistics services.

 Further, a distribution network of one central warehouse, four regional warehouse and 53 distributors spread over different states has been made functional.

• IT-enabled (SAP based) end-to-end supply chain management system has been implemented.

• The ‘point of sale’ software application at all the PMBJP Kendra has also been implemented.

• Around 638 districts have been covered and the remaining 81 will be covered on priority basis under the healthcare scheme.

• Further, all financial transactions are being done in digital mode upholding the concept of “Digital India”.

Digital Cash Management System

MoS Mansukh Mandaviya also inaugurated the Digital Cash Management System for the healthcare scheme, which will be implemented as a partnership between BPPI and Bank of Baroda.

The system will be implemented at all PMBJP Kendras for purchasing medicines and cashless payment system with BPPI. The Bank of Baroda will also provide a loan to all PMBJP Kendras for purchasing medicines.

The cashless transactions will be done only through unique virtual accounts opened by Bank of Baroda for each and every PMBJP Kendra, across the country.

Besides, the Minister also released the first edition of e-magazine of PMBJP “Jan Aushadhi Samvad” (September 2018 edition). On the occasion, the Minister said that it is important to have open communications with all stakeholders and publication of the e-magazine is a positive step in the direction.

About Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana

The scheme aims to bring down the healthcare budget for all Indian citizens, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, by providing quality generic medicines at affordable prices.

It further aims to:

  • Create awareness among public regarding generic medicines.
  • Create demand for generic medicines through medical practioners.
  • Create awareness through education and awareness program that high price need not be synonymous with high quality.
  • Provide all the commonly used generic medicines covering all the therapeutic groups.

 https://www.jagranjosh.com/imported/images/E/Others/Jan_Aushadhi_Pariyojana.jpg

Jan Aushadhi Campaign

The PMBJP scheme aims to make all commonly used generic drugs available at Jan Aushadhi Stores.

‘Jan Aushadhi’ is a project launched by the Union Government in 2008 to provide quality medicines at affordable prices for all.

The campaign was undertaken through sale of generic medicines through exclusive outlets by the name ‘Jan Aushadhi Medical Store’ in various districts of the country.

The first ‘Jan Aushadhi Medical Store’ was opened on November 25, 2008 at Amritsar in Punjab.

ICFRE signs two MoUs to spread awareness on forests and environment

ICFRE signs two MoUs to spread awareness on forests and environment

The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun on October 15, 2018 signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).

The agreements were signed to launch ‘Prakriti’ programme, which aims to promote awareness about forests and environment and stimulate interest among the students of NVS and KVS in maintaining a balanced environment and for acquiring skills that reflect care and protection towards forests, environment and society.

Objective

The main objective behind the agreements is to provide a platform for the school children to learn practical skills towards sustainable use of the resources.

Key Highlights 

• 
The two agreements have been signed for a period of 10 years. They aim to make the Indian youth more sensitive towards national and global issues of environment and thus, help them become responsible citizens.

• The agreements also aim to mobilise a cadre of youth for raising a peoples’ movement, which is committed to the conservation of forest and environment.

 The collaboration will enable transfer of knowledge to students and teachers of NVS and KVS on environment, forest, environmental services and contemporary areas of forestry research through lectures and interactive sessions by ICFRE scientists.

• Under the agreement, visits of students and teachers of NVS and KVS schools will also be arranged to the field and laboratories of ICFRE institutes for a first-hand experience.

About ICFRE

The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) is an autonomous council under the Union Environment Ministry.

The council mainly guides, promotes and coordinates forestry research, extension and education at the national level through its nine institutes and five centres located across the country.

Presently, the council’s activities are focussed on contemporary issues of national and international importance particularly in the areas of climate change, forest productivity, biodiversity conservation and skill development.

Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS)

The Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti is an autonomous organisation established under the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The organisation was established to provide modern quality education to talented children, predominantly from rural areas, without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition.

Currently, there are 660 functional residential schools under the Samiti.

Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).

The Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan was established in 1963 to provide uninterrupted education to the children of the transferable central government employees.

The KVS established Kendriya Vidyalayas all over the country to impart quality education, promotion of national integration, adventure activities and physical education.

The Sangathan has one of the world’s largest chains of schools. It runs around 1,183 schools in India and three abroad.

Union Government launches Award Scheme under ‘Saubhagya’

Union Government launches Award Scheme under ‘Saubhagya’

Minister of State for Power and Renewable Energy RK Singh on October 15, 2018 launched an award scheme under the umbrella Saubhagya Scheme, also known as Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana.

The Saubhagya award scheme will felicitate the power distribution companies (DISCOMs) and Power Department of the States and their employees for achieving 100 percent household electrification.

Eight States which have already achieved more than 99 percent household electrification prior to launch of Saubhagya scheme are ineligible for participation under the award scheme. These eight states are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

All the remaining States and their Discoms are eligible for the award.

Three categories of Saubhagya award scheme
Award will be given in three categories. These categories are:(i) DISCOMs / Power Departments of Special Category States (Seven North Eastern States, Sikkim, J&K and Uttarakhand)

(ii) DISCOMs / Power Departments of  Non-Special Category States having more than 5 Lakh un-electrified households (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal)

(iii) DISCOMs / Power Departments of other than Special Category States having less than 5 Lakh un-electrified households

Two quantum of award

• There will be two quantum of award in each of the three categories.

• Under first quantum of award, the 1st DISCOM or Power Department that achieves 100 percent household electrification by November 30, 2018 would be provided cash award of Rs 50 Lakh.

• The Principal Secretary (Power) of the State will distribute this cash prize amongst employees of the concerned DISCOM / Power Department.

• From this amount, Rs. 20 Lakh will be given to the division of DISCOM/Power Department with highest number of households electrified.

• Certificate of appreciation would be given to five officials of concerned DISCOM of any level from managing Director to Lineman.

• The second quantum of award includes cash award of Rs 100 crore as grant to the concerned DISCOM to be spent in distribution infrastructure development in their area of operation.

• Other DISCOMs or Power Department of the States that achieves 100 percent household electrification by December 31, 2018 would be provided certificate of appreciation for five officials of any level from Managing Director to Lineman.

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya)

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Rs 16320-Crore ‘Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana’- Saubhagya on September 25, 2017 to mark the birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

• The scheme aims to achieve the goal of universal household electrification in the country by March 31, 2019.

• The scheme envisages providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining households in rural as well as urban areas.

• With the support of State Power Departments and DISCOMs, more than 1.65 crore households have already been connected since the launch of scheme.

• The Eligibility for free electricity will be identified through Caste Census of 2011 and on the basis of Socio-Economic.

• The Households that do not fall under the free criteria of this scheme will be provided electricity at a sum of Rs 500.

• To identify and register beneficiaries under the Saubhagya scheme, a mobile app will be used.

• Households in remote areas like hilly or tribal areas where providing electricity is not feasibile, will be provided with solar power packs of 200 to 300 Wp (Watt peak).

• The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) has been appointed as the nodal agency for the implementation of the Saubhagya scheme.

UP Cabinet approves changing name of Allahabad to ‘Prayagraj’

UP Cabinet approves changing name of Allahabad to Prayagraj

The Uttar Cabinet on October 16, 2018 approved the proposal of the state government to rename the city of ‘Allahabad’ as ‘Prayagraj’. The decision has been vehemently opposed by the opposition parties.

The move, however, fulfils the long-standing demand of seers before the Ardh Kumbh Mela in January 2019. Speaking ahead of the cabinet meeting, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath had said that there was a proposal from the Akhara Parishad to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj ahead of 2019 Kumbh.

The state’s governor had already given his approval on the matter.

Why Akbar renamed Prayag as Allahabad?

The city of Allahabad was originally known as Prayag in ancient times. Between 1574 and 1583, the 16th-century Mughal emperor Akbar founded a fort near the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna, known as Sangam, as he was impressed with its strategic position.

In fact, Akbarnama states that, “For a long time [Akbar’s] desire was to found a great city in the town of Piyag, where the rivers Ganges and Jamna join, which is regarded by the people of India with great reverence and which is a place of pilgrimage for the ascetics of the country and to build a choice fort there.”

Hence, Akbar named the fort and its neighbourhood as Ilahabad, which meant the “Abode of God”, inspired by the religion he had founded, Din-i-Illahi. In the later years, Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan renamed the entire city as Allahabad.

However, the area near the Sangam, which is the site of the Kumbh Mela, continued to be called Prayag.

Significance of the name Prayag

The city’s original name Prayag, which means a “place of offerings”, comes from its position at the Sangam of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna and the mythical river, Saraswati. The place plays a central role in the Hindu scriptures.

The city is also mentioned in the Veda as the location where Lord Brahma attended his first ritual sacrifice.

It is also the site for historic Kumbh Mela, which is held once in every 12 years and it is also believed to be the same place where the drops of holy nectar fell.

 UP Cabinet approves changing name of Allahabad to Prayagraj

Why Prayagraj?

UP CM Yogi Adityanath while explaining the reason behind keeping the name Prayagraj said, “the confluence of two rivers is a ‘prayag’ and in Allahabad, three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet. Hence, it is the king of ‘prayags’. That is why it is ‘Prayagraj’.”

What critics say!

There have been mixed reactions to the rechristening with critics saying that there have been quite a few name changes over the past few years.

According to the opposition, when there is already an area called ‘Prayag’, there was no need to rename ‘Allahabad’ as ‘Prayagraj’.

The opposition claims that the change would diminish the importance that Allahabad had in the country’s freedom movement.

They also claim that the decision is an attempt to disturb and toy with the history of the nation and a political gimmick ahead of the Lok Sabha assembly polls, which are scheduled to be held in 2019.

Other major name changes

The ruling government of Uttar Pradesh had earlier changed the name of ‘Mughalsarai Junction’ to ‘Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction’.

The Government had also previously re-named ‘Mughalsarai’ as ‘Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar’ and ‘Ardh Kumbh’ as ‘Kumbh’.

Background

In 2017, seers belonging to different akharas had met CM Yogi in Lucknow and had urged him to change the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj ahead of the 2019 Ardh Kumbh fair to be held in the holy city.

The Akhara Parishad in the meeting of Margdarshak Mandal had put forward the proposal to rename the city.

16 october 2018

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies of cancer at 65

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Paul Gardner Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, an investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, passed away on October 15, 2018. He was 65.

He died in Seattle from complications related to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the less-common Hodgkin’s disease, is a cancer of the lymphatic system.

Apart from his role in Microsoft, Allen influenced many aspects of modern life from technology and science to sports and music and invested in conservation, space travel, arts and culture and professional sports.

Paul Allen’s career at Microsoft and beyond
  • Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975 before becoming a billionaire philanthropist.

  • They founded the Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their first product was a computer language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer.
  • Microsoft’s big break came in 1980, when IBM Corporation decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.
  • The first versions of two classic Microsoft products, Microsoft Word and the Windows operating system, were released in 1983.
  • Allen served as Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Research and New Product Development until 1983, when he resigned after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • However, Allen stayed on Microsoft’s Board of Directors for several years until 2000 while establishing his own philanthropic foundation, along with his investment firm ‘Vulcan’, which managed his business and philanthropic interests.
Sports

He bought two professional sports teams, namely, the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. He was involved with both until his death.

Space Travel and Science

He also founded several organizations, including the space transportation company Stratolaunch, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and another Allen Institute that focuses on bioscience.

Music

Allen was also fond of music. In 2013, during an interview with Guitar Player, Allen revealed that “Are You Experienced” song by the Jimi Hendrix prompted him to start playing guitar. Allen even loaned money to Hendrix’s family during a legal battle in 1995 to regain rights to the guitarist’s image.

He also funded a USD 100 million museum for music and pop culture in Seattle, now called the Museum of Pop Culture.

Charity and Adventure
  • In his later years, Paul Allen took up a number of other projects from the charitable to the adventurous.
  • In 2014, he pledged USD 100 million to help fight the Ebola virus. In 2017, he donated USD 30 million to house Seattle’s homeless.
  • Worth around USD 20.3 billion at the time of his death (Forbes estimates), Allen donated more than USD 2 billion to charity.
  • In March 2018, a team of explorers led by him discovered wreckage from the USS Juneau, a World War II cruiser sunk by a Japanese torpedo in 1942.
  • He owned one of the world’s biggest yachts, the 400-foot (122 meters) ‘Octopus’, which was the venue for many lavish parties and the base for scuba expeditions.
  • He spent millions more on a collection of vintage warplanes and funded the first non-government rocket to make it into space.

Transport Ministry launches youth road safety learners licence programme

Transport Ministry launches youth road safety learners licence programme

The Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Mansukh L Mandaviya, launched the Youth Road Safety Learners Licence programme in New Delhi on October 15, 2018.

The first-of-its-kind training programme is a PPP initiative to be run in collaboration with Diageo India and the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) and attempts to bring a formal and structured training program for the young, first-time drivers as they apply for learner’s license.

Significance

The programme is a part of the Union Government’s efforts to emphasise on the importance of road safety, as recent times have seen an alarming rise in road fatalities especially among the youth.

The programme will help the government achieve its target of reducing road accidents by 50 percent by 2020.

Some of the major factors resulting in high road accidents include rash driving, drunken driving and the lack of adequate safety measures like not wearing helmets.

Key Highlights

 The youth road safety learners licence programme is an immersive and interactive module led by senior faculty members of IRTE covering varied aspects of responsible driving including defensive driving, ill effects of driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding and wearing of helmets spread over two days.

 It will help improve road safety awareness amongst the young adults by inculcating behavioural change and creating awareness about responsible driving habits.

 This programme adopts the means of creating awareness amongst youth so that they become defensive road users.

• 
In the first year, the programme will cover 20 universities with a total of 400 programmes across the country.

Other Details

India’s Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) has been successfully running its ‘Road to Safety’ initiative to provide capacity building training to traffic police officials and educate commercial drivers such as truckers and bus drivers and university students on the dangers of drunken driving.

The programme has trained over 4624 traffic officials in road safety capacity-building, 6,000 commercial vehicle drivers and over 5,000 university students in more than 64 cities of 17 states.

Background

India accounts for 12.5 per cent (over 1.45 lakh fatalities a year) of global road accidents, with one road accident occurring every four minutes.

Alarmingly, 72 per cent victims involved in such road mishaps are between the age groups of 15-44 years with speeding, reckless and drunk driving being the top reason accounting for 1.5 per cent of road traffic accidents and 4.6 per cent of fatalities.

Government lays foundation stone for Prime Ministers’ Museum at Teen Murti Estate

Museum on Prime Ministers of India to be set up in Delhi

Minister of state for culture, Mahesh Sharma and Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri on October 15, 2018 jointly laid the foundation stone for proposed Museum on Prime Ministers of India at Teen Murti Estate, New Delhi.

The new museum will incorporate the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) at the Teen Murti Estate, the official residence of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The proposed Museum will be constructed at a cost of Rs. 271 crore.

Museum on Prime Ministers of India

• The Teen Murti Estate has a total area of 25.50 acres out of which, Nehru Memorial Museum Building occupies an area of 4286 sq meter and the Library Building has an area of 4552 sq meter. Put together, both the areas occupy roughly around 2 acres.

• The Government has decided to set up the “Museum on Prime Ministers of India” in the remaining area of 23 acres of Teen Murti Estate which is under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

• The Museum Building Complex will be constructed with a built up area of 10975.36 sq meters comprising of basement, ground and first floor with galleries at all the three levels.

• The proposed Museum will include an orientation space, souvenir shop, space for organising talks and discussions, seminar halls, auditorium, workshop areas, library, documentation room, laboratory and archive areas.

• The design of the proposed Museum shall be symbolic of an emergent and rising India, shaped over the years by its eminent leaders and would focus on collecting, documenting, researching and disseminating information in respect of all the Prime Ministers of India.

Significance
  • The proposed Museum is dedicated to all the Prime Ministers of India and is envisaged to give visitors a holistic understanding of the continued thread of leadership.
  • It would be a single institution where the visitors can learn about the Prime Minister’s Office, its evolution, role and centrality to governance at the Union level.
  • It will depict Modern India through collections relating to each of the Prime Ministers of India, their lives, works and significant contributions made towards nation building.
  • It will bring India’s democratic experience alive to the visitors.
  • It will encourage curiosity and research about the role of PM and his office.
  • It will provide an interactive and informative experience to the visitors and youth of India through state of the art audio-visual technology and effective modes of communication.

Congress’ objection against the construction of Museum

The construction of the proposed museum has been disputed and opposed by Congress leaders and few members of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) society, opining that the museum would stain Nehru’s legacy.

Moreover, Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking the government to leave NMML “undisturbed”. He said that the present museum respected both history and heritage

About Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML)
• The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), a memorial to Jawaharlal Nehru, is housed in the historic Teen Murti House, the official residence of the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.

• The Teen Murti House or Teen Murti Estate was designed by Robert Tor Russel and built in 1929-30 as part of Edwin Lutyens’ imperial capital.

• Teen Murti House has four major constituents namely, a Memorial Museum, a Library on modern India, a Centre for Contemporary Studies and Nehru Planetarium.

• Under the supervision of the NMML Society, which has the Prime Minister as its Head, the NMML council manages the overall affairs of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

International Day of Rural Women observed globally

International Day of Rural Women observed globally

15 October: International Day of Rural Women

The International Day of Rural Women was observed globally on October 15, 2018 with the theme, “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.

The theme places empowerment of rural women at the heart of fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Objective

The day aims to recognise the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

Significance

The day aims to highlight the invaluable contribution of rural women to development and the crucial role they play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing.

Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas.

Thus, they make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

However, the women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. While extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty are heavily concentrated in rural areas.

The poverty rates in rural areas across most regions are higher than those in urban areas, yet smallholder agriculture produces nearly 80 per cent of food in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and supports the livelihoods of some 2.5 billion people.

Though the women farmers may be as productive and enterprising as their male counterparts, they are less able to access land, credit, agricultural inputs, markets and high-value agrifood chains and obtain lower prices for their crops.

Structural barriers and discrimination

The structural barriers and discriminatory social norms constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities.

Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and healthcare, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men.

Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

The impacts of climate change, including on access to productive and natural resources, amplify the existing gender inequalities in rural areas.

The climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict and climate-related natural disasters.

Indian Observance of the Day

• The Union Government of India declared October 15 as Mahila Kisan Diwas or the Day of Women Agriculturists.

 The day is being organised in association with the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

• It aims to recognise the contribution of women in agriculture as 80 per cent independent women in India were associated with the farm sector, while women lead 18 per cent of all agricultural households.

 The Indian theme for the day was decided as – ‘Sashakt Mahila, Sashakt Bharat’ (empowered women, empowered India).

Contribution of women in farming in India

Women play a crucial role in sustaining rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing.

 International Day of Rural Women observed globally

They significantly contribute to agro-biodiversity conservation and agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, building climate resilience, family incomes, health and education leading to improved quality of life.

Women also account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force.

The 2011 Census data shows that 65.1 per cent of female workers depends on agriculture, either as labourers or cultivators as opposed to 49.8 per cent of male workers.

Despite this, the significant presence of women in agriculture, women’s role and contribution remain unrecognised.

The non-recognition means that women remain largely invisible in agricultural policies, schemes, programmes and budgets and as compared to their male counterparts, they lack equal access over land tenure, wages, agricultural inputs, credit, markets, appropriate technologies and infrastructure.

Women also continue to suffer disproportionately due to poverty, structural barriers and discriminatory social norms and remain largely excluded from decision making and political processes in rural households and communities.

Background

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008.

The day was established by the UN General Assembly through a resolution on December 18, 2007.

The day aims to recognize the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

Government launches air quality warning system in Delhi to combat air pollution

Government launches air quality warning system in Delhi to combat air pollution

The Union Environment Minister Harshvardhan on October 15, 2018 unveiled an air quality early warning system for the Delhi region. The system has been designed with the help of American and Finnish models to predict extreme air pollution levels.

Speaking on the occasion, the Environment Minister said that with the early information on bad air quality, people can be educated to get well prepared in advance. Talking about stubble burning, the Minister said that there has been a decrease in detection of fire incidents as per satellite mapping in Haryana and Punjab. He said that instructions have been issued to monitor stubble burning in these areas on priority.

Objective

The system has been launched by the Union Government in Delhi, keeping in view the city’s deteriorating air quality. An associated website has also been launched along with it.

The system will help combat air pollution in the National Capital by getting information 2-5 days in advance. It will also give signs for necessary actions.

Key Highlights

 The system called – Air Quality Early Warning System – will have an in-built web-based dissemination tool to inform public and enforcement agencies about episodic high pollution events in advance. Such information may be helpful for the general public in planning their outdoor activities.

• The system will also make it easier for government’s pollution watchdogs to alert stakeholders and the general public about air quality 48 hours in advance. The move will give them adequate time to take precautionary measures.

• The system has been jointly developed by the scientists of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune, National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, Noida and India Meteorological Department (IMD).

 Besides this, the Central Pollution Control Board has constituted a 41 member-team, which will continuously monitor the air pollution levels and report to the board.

Air Quality Index in Delhi

The air quality in New Delhi was 204 on October 14, 2018. The city’s air quality usually breaches the ‘severe’ zone, when the AQI reading shoots up to five times above the safe limit, in November.

On November 9, 2017, AQI shot up to 486 on a scale of 0-500, underscoring conditions that prompted the Delhi government to declare a public health emergency and describe Delhi as a ‘gas chamber’.

 

 Government launches air quality warning system to combat air pollution in Delhi

Measures taken to reduce air pollution in Delhi

 According to the Union Government, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPBC) is proactively doing research in adjoining areas and sending reports of affected places to the concerned department. The government is also taking steps to reduce emission from vehicles.

 The Delhi Government also rolled out its emergency action plan – Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for the second year in a row on October 15.

• The plan, which was first implemented in 2017, aims to fight ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ air pollution level.

• Under the emergency action plan, stringent measures will be implemented such as a ban on diesel generator (DG) sets in Delhi.

 If the air quality deteriorates further and reaches the ‘severe’ or ‘emergency’ categories, other stringent measures including the ban on construction activities, ban on stone crushers and hot mix plants, enhancing parking fees and rolling out the odd-even road rationing scheme will be implemented.

 The measures listed under GRAP to control ‘moderate’ and ‘poor’ levels of pollution are generally enforced in the summer and monsoon months and measures to control ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ categories of pollution will be enforced from October 15 to March 15 of the following year.

• The move comes at a time when the city has already encountered nine days of ‘poor’ air quality in the first two weeks of October.

 In November 2017, schools were shut when air quality turned ‘severe’ for more than a week.

Background

In May, Delhi was declared the world’s most polluted city, according to the air quality data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for megacities with a population of 14 million or more.

While Greater Cairo in Egypt was adjudged the second most polluted city, Bangladesh‘s capital Dhaka was placed third, Mumbai fourth and Beijing fifth.

However, new measures including the installation of the early warning system in the capital have helped it become better equipped to fight air pollution in 2018.

Union Government releases Analytical Report of National Health Profile 2018

Union Government releases Analytical Report of National Health Profile 2018

Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, on October 13, 2018 released an Analytical Report of the National Health Profile 2018. This is the 12th edition of the health profile.

The report was prepared by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI), under the aegis of the Directorate General of Health Services. CBHI has been publishing National Health Profile every year since 2005.

The National Health Profile 2018 covers demographic, socio-economic, health status and health finance indicators, along with comprehensive information on health infrastructure and human resources in health.

National Health Resource Repository (NHRR)

• The National Health Resource Repository is the country’s first ever national healthcare facility registry of authentic, standardised and updated geo-spatial data of all public and private healthcare establishments.

• It provides understanding the health indicators of the country and an opportunity to monitor the situation. It indicates that significant progress has been made in the country for various health outcomes.

• The vision of the NHRR project is to strengthen evidence-based decision making and develop a platform for citizen and provider-centric services by creating a robust and secured IT-enabled repository.

• NHRR will be the ultimate platform for comprehensive information of both, Private and Public healthcare establishments including Railways, ESIC, Defense and Petroleum healthcare establishments.

• Under the Collection of Statistics Act 2008, over 20 lakh hospitals, doctors, clinics, diagnostic labs, pharmacies and nursing homes would be listed under the NHRR on over 1400 variables.

• This repository will enable advanced research towards ongoing and forthcoming healthcare challenges arising from diseases, environment, etc.

• Approximately 4000 trained professionals are working to approach every healthcare establishment for information collection.

Note
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the project technology partner adhering to paramount Data Security.

Objective

• The aim of the project is to develop a comprehensive platform for over 25 lakh healthcare establishments.

• The platform will be very useful for all key stakeholders – government, private health establishments and the public.

• NHRR will cohesively work with Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) and Central TB Division (CTD) on an integrated plan for the larger benefit of ensuing Hospital empanelment and private sector engagement.

National census for all healthcare facilities
  • The NHRR project involves conducting a national census for all public and private healthcare facilities including hospitals, doctors, clinics, blood banks, pharmacies, diagnostic labs etc.
  • Each healthcare establishment shall be visited by field operational teams from IQVIA Consulting & Information Services India Pvt Ltd (formerly IMS Health), the implementation partner for the NHRR project.
  • The information collected in the national census will be kept confidential and shall be used for statistical purposes only.

Expected outcomes

• The key expected outcomes of the NHRR project are to provide comprehensive data on all health resources including private doctors, health facilities, chemists, and diagnostics labs.

• It will establish a National Health Resource Repository for evidence based decision making, aligned with the Digital India mission.

• It will enhance the coordination between central and state government for optimisation of health resources and improving accessibility of data at all levels, including State HODs.

• It will create a reliable, unified registry of country’s healthcare resources showing the distribution pattern of health facilities and services between cities and rural areas.

• It will generate real-world intelligence to identify gaps in health and service ratios, and ensure judicious health resource allocation and management.

• It will identify key areas of improvement by upgrading existing health facilities or establishing new health facilities keeping in view the population density, nature, health condition, distance, etc.

• It will enhance center and state government coordination to ensure intelligent use of health resources to ensure superior health access, service delivery and improve accountability for effective centre-to-state funding.

• It will improve the visibility of Private providers to enable Public-Private Partnerships.

14-15 october 2018

Asian Para Games 2018: India records best-ever show with 72 medals

Asian Para Games 2018: India records best-ever show with 72 medals

India on October 13, 2018 concluded its campaign at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia with a record medal haul, winning a total of 72 medals that included 15 gold, 24 silver and 33 bronze medals. India was placed ninth in the overall tally.

In the last edition in 2014, India had won 33 medals including 3 gold, 14 silver, 16 bronze medals.

Key Highlights

 India recorded its best-ever show in the Asian Para Games by bagging 72 medals, including 15 gold. On the concluding day of the competition, Indian shuttlers added two gold and 3 bronze medals.

 With a total of 15 gold, 24 silver and 33 bronze medals, India was placed ninth in the overall tally. This was India’s best-ever performance at the Asian Para Games, as in the last edition at Incheon it had won 33 medals including 3 gold, 14 silver, 16 bronze medals.

 China finished at the top with 319 medals including 172 gold, 88 silver and 59 bronze, followed by South Korea at the second place with 53 gold, 25 silver and 47 bronze and then Iran with 51 gold, 42 silver and 43 bronze.

 India won around half of its medals in Para-athletics with the tally reading 36 medals including 7 gold, 13 silver and 16 bronze.

 While the sporting categories of Badminton and chess contributed nine medals each to India’s medal tally, para-swimming contributed eight medals.

Asian Para Games 2018 Medal Tally

Rank

Country

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

1

China

172

88

59

319

2

Republic of Korea

53

45

46

144

3

Iran

51

42

43

136

4

Japan

45

70

83

198

5

Indonesia

37

47

51

135

6

Uzbekistan

35

24

18

77

7

Thailand

23

33

50

106

8

Malaysia

17

26

25

68

9

India

15

24

33

72

10

Hongkong

11

16

21

48

 Asian Para Games 2018: India records best-ever show with 72 medals

Indian Medal Tally

Sport

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

Para Athletics

7

13

16

3

Badminton

3

6

9

Chess

2

5

2

9

Para Swimming

1

2

5

8

Shooting Para Sport

1

1

1

3

Archery

1

1

Para Powerlifting

2

2

4

Table Tennis

1

1

Cycling

1

1

Total

15

24

33

72

Key Wins for India

 Asian Para Games 2018: India records best-ever show with 72 medals

 In men’s singles SL3 class badminton, Pramod Bhagat defeated Ukun Rukaendi of Indonesia 21-19 15-21 21-14 to clinch the gold medal.

• In men’s singles SL4 class, Tarun Dhillon beat Yuyang Gao of China 21-16 21-6 to win gold.

• On the previous day, Rio Paralympics silver-medallist Deepa Malik bagged her second bronze in the women’s F51/52/53s discus throw event. Malik had earlier won a bronze in women’s F 53/54 javelin throw event.

 In the women’s club throw event, India’s Ekta Bhyan clinched gold, after she produced her best throw in her fourth attempt, 16.02m, winning the F32/51 event ahead of UAE’s Alkaabi Thekra, who threw 15.75m.

 Another Indian, K Jennitha Anto clinched the gold in women’s individual rapid P1 chess event after beating Manurung Roslinda of Indonesia 1-0 in the final round,

• Kishan Gangolli got the better of Majid Bagheri in the men’s individual rapid VI – B2/B3 event to claim the top spot.

 In para-badminton, Parul Parmar notched up a 21-9 21-5 victory over Wandee Kamtam of Thailand to win the gold medal in the women’s singles SL3 event.

 In swimming, Swapnil Patil clinched silver in the men’s 100m backstroke in the S10 category. Patil earlier won a bronze in the men’s 400m freestyle.

• India also won a bronze medal in the men’s C4 Individual Pursuit 4000m cycling event with Gurlal Singh claiming the third position. The event was for athletes with a below the knee amputation and a prosthesis on one leg.

• In the women’s discus throw F11 category, Nidhi Mishra claimed a bronze covering a personal distance of 21.82m.

Impairment Categories

SL3 Category

Athletes in the SL3 category generally have impairment in one or both lower limbs and poor walking or running balance.

Under the category, athletes with cerebral palsy, bilateral polio or loss of both legs below the knee compete in half-court (lenghtwise) to minimise the impact of their impairment.

Athletes in this class have impairment in one or both lower limbs and poor walking/running balance but they play in standing positions.

SL4 Class

The SL4 class athletes have a lesser impairment compared to SL 3 and play full-court.

The players that fall under the category include those with impairment in one or both lower limbs, unilateral polio or mild cerebral palsy.

Rapid P1 event

The event is for physically impaired athletes while rapid VI – B2/B3 event features partially blind competitors.

S10 Category

The S10 swimming classification covers physical impairment. The swimmers in this class tend to have minimal weakness affecting their legs, missing feet, a missing leg below the knee or problems with their hips.

The impairment category includes a number of different disabilities including people with amputations and cerebral palsy.

F51/52/53 Category

The classification is for disability athletics. The athletes in this category have full power and movements in their arms, but none in their abdominal muscles and typically no sitting balance. They compete in seated positions.

The class includes people with a number of different types of disabilities including spinal cord injuries.

F11 Classification

The classification covers visual impairment.  The athletes under this category have a very low visual acuity or no light perception.

F32/51 Category

The class features athletes with significant impairment in hand function. The athletes under this category have moderate to severe hypertonia, ataxia or athetosis affecting all four limbs and trunk, usually with slightly more function on one side of the body or in the legs.

The athletes with F51 category disability use the slightly decreased to full muscle power at the shoulders, elbow flexors and wrist extensors for throwing an implement. Their triceps muscles are non-functional and may be absent. The muscle power in the trunk is also absent.

Hence, the grip of the implements is difficult due to non-functional finger flexors. The non-throwing hand usually requires strapping to the support bar.

Asian Para Games 2018

The third Asian Para Games, which took place in Indonesia from October 6-13, 2018, saw participation from around 3000 athletes from 43 countries around the world.

The Games included 15 Paralympic and three non-Paralympic sports.

The official mascot of the Games was a Bondol eagle named Momo, which was chosen to represent motivation and mobility.

Sikkim wins FAO’s Future Policy Award 2018 for being world’s first 100 percent organic state

Sikkim wins FAO’s Future Policy Award 2018 for being world’s first 100 percent organic state

North-eastern state Sikkim on October 12, 2018 won the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Award 2018 for being the world’s first 100 percent organic state.

Sikkim defeated 51 nominated policies from 25 countries, winning the Gold Prize of the Future Policy Award 2018, also known as “Oscar for Best Policies”.

As per the press release, “Sikkim is the first organic state in the world. All of its farmland is certified organic… Embedded in its design are socioeconomic aspects such as consumption and market expansion, cultural aspects as well as health, education, rural development and sustainable tourism.

Moreover, Future Policy Award’s Silver Prize 2018 was awarded to the policies from Brazil, Denmark and Quito (Ecuador).

All the winners received the awards in a ceremony on October 15, 2018 at FAO headquarters during the celebrations of the World Food Week in Rome.

Sikkim’s policy and achievement

  • Sikkim implemented a phase out policy of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and achieved a total ban on sale and use of chemical pesticides in the state.
  • The transition benefitted more than 66000 farming families.
  • Sikkim tourism sector got benefitted greatly from the state’s transition to 100 percent organic as the number of tourists increased by over 50 percent between 2014 and 2017.

Future Policy Award’s Silver Prize 2018

• Brazil’s National Policy for Agroecology and Organic Production (PNAPO, 2012) helped 5300 municipalities to invest 30 percent or more of their school feeding budgets in organic and agroecological products purchased from family farmers.

• Denmark’s Organic Action Plan (2011-2020, updated in 2015) has helped Denmark in having the highest market share of organic products in the world, with almost 80 percent of Danes purchasing organic food.

• Quito’s Participatory Urban Agriculture Programme
 (AGRUPAR, 2002) led to the growth of over 3 600 urban gardens on 32 hectares. More than 21000 people got trained under the programme.

Other awards

The Vision Award 2018 of the FAO was conferred upon the TEEBAgriFood, an initiative of “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) by UN Environment. TEEBAgriFood developed a comprehensive evaluation framework for food systems to value food more accurately.

The three Honourable Mentions of the Future Policy Award 2018 went to the Good Food Purchasing Policy of Los Angeles, USA (2012); the Agriculture Development Programme of Ndiob, Senegal (2017); and to the From Arms to Farms Programme of Kauswagan, the Philippines (2011).

The Future Policy Award 2018: Topic and Organisers

• Every year, the World Future Council chooses a topic for the Future Policy Award on which policy progress is particularly urgent.

 The world’s best laws and policies promoting agroecology were awarded the 2018 Future Policy Award.

• The 2018 Award highlighted policies that scale up agroecology to contribute to the protection of life of small-scale food producers, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement climate resilient agricultural practices.

• This year’s award was co-organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM – Organics International.

• The award was supported by Green Cross International; DO-IT – Dutch Organic International Trade, Sekem Group, Egypt; and EcorNaturaSi, Italy.

Indian Navy inducts first deep submergence rescue vessel to rescue distressed submarines

Indian Navy inducts first deep submergence rescue vessel to rescue distressed submarines

The Indian Navy on October 13, 2018 inducted its first Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) at its base in Mumbai, enhancing its operational capabilities. The second DSRV would be added to its base in Vishakhapatnam by 2019.

With the move, India joined a select list of international navies with the ability to search, locate and provide assistance to downed or disaster-struck submarines at high sea.

Key Highlights

• The DSRV can reportedly be deployed at short notice for providing assistance to submarines in distress.

• The rescue vessel, complete with an associated kit in fly away configuration, can be crucial in quickly locating submarines through the vast expanse of sea and can be mobilised by air and water for rapid rescue.

 Some DSRV vessels are air transportable in very large military cargo.

• The DSRV that was inducted by India can be mobilised from the naval base in Mumbai to nearest mounting port by air, land and sea.

• The second DSRV is expected to be inducted at Visakhapatnam in 2019.

Significance

  • The vessels have played a significant role in saving lives as well as submarines during emergencies.
  • Most of these are capable of rescuing 24 people at depths of up to 600m in one go.
  • Besides for rescue operation, the vessels are also deployed for various other missions including to lay cables on the sea bed.

Which countries presently have DSRVs?

The countries that currently have DSRVs in their naval fleet include Singapore, United States, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, UK, Sweden and Australia.

Each of these countries have their own version of DSRVs based on their specific needs and the requirements of their respective naval fleets.

Background

The induction of the DSRV is a part of the Indian Navy’s efforts to enhance its operational capabilities, at a time when China is ramping up its maritime presence in critical sea lanes that are of strategic importance to India.

Last year, the Indian Navy operationalised a new concept of deployment of warships in the Indian Ocean region to effectively counter China’s growing presence in the strategically key waters.

The “new mission-based deployment” involves deploying mission-ready ships and aircraft along critical sea lanes of communications.

SC Collegium recommends names of chief justices for 5 high courts

SC Collegium recommends names of chief justices for 5 high courts

The Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has recommended the appointment of five Chief Justices to the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta, Uttarakhand, Gauhati and Sikkim.

The resolutions recommending the Chief Justices to the five High Courts were passed by the SC Collegium on October 9. Besides the CJI, the Collegium included Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

SC Collegium Recommendations

Justice NH Patil: The judge, who is currently functioning as the Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, has been recommended to be appointed as the Chief Justice of the court. The post has been vacant since the retirement of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur in December 2017. Justice N.H. Patil is due to retire in April 2019.

In this connection, the Collegium invoked the provision of the Memorandum of Procedure which provides for elevation of a puisne Judge as Chief Justice in his own High Court if he has one year or less to retire.

Justice DK Gupta: The justice, who has been working as Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, has been recommended to be appointed as the next Chief Justice, replacing Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya who retired recently. Justice Gupta is due to retire in December 2018.

Justice Ramesh Ranganathan: The senior-most judge of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana at Hyderabad has been recommended to be appointed as Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. The post has been lying vacant ever since Chief Justice KM Joseph was elevated to the Supreme Court earlier in 2018.

Justice AS Bopanna: The senior judge from the Karnataka High Court has been recommended to be appointed as the next Chief
Justice of the Gauhati High Court. He will replace Chief Justice Ajit Singh who recently retired.

Justice Vijai Kumar Bist: The senior-most judge of the Uttarakhand High Court has been recommended to be appointed as the next Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court. The post was vacant since the retirement of Chief Justice SK Agnihotri.

India-Azerbaijan sign protocol on trade, economic cooperation

India-Azerbaijan sign protocol on trade, economic cooperation

India and Azerbaijan signed a protocol on trade and economic, science and technology cooperation on October 12, 2018, during the 5th meeting of India-Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Science and Technology Cooperation (IA-IGC) that was held from October 11-12, 2018 in New Delhi.

The meeting was co-chaired by Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Government of Republic of Azerbaijan, Mukhtar Babayev.

Key Highlights

 During the meeting, both India and Azerbaijan exchanged views on current economic situation and reviewed the current status of bilateral trade, investment and their cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, science and technology.

 The nations emphasised to further strengthen and expand their cooperation in trade and investment, transportation, energy and hydro-carbons, SMEs, agriculture, food safety and environmental protection, tourism, culture, health and pharmaceuticals, space technology, education and scientific research, chemicals and petrochemicals and mining.

 The trade turnover between India and Azerbaijan in January-August 2018 was USD 657.9 million.

• The two nations felt that the bilateral trade was far below the potential and there was a need to step up the cooperation to enlarge the trade basket and increase bilateral trade and investment.

• 
The two nations also agreed to take measures to enhance trade relations and expand business relations between the two countries.

 The nations also decided to send trade delegations to raise awareness regarding economic developments and reforms in the two countries and have regular exchange of information about trade exhibitions, fairs, conferences and other business events.

• 
They also agreed to convene the next meeting of the India-Azerbaijan Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Science and Technology co-operation in Baku.

 The dates for the meeting will be mutually agreed through diplomatic channels.

India-Azerbaijan Relations

India and Azerbaijan have age-old historical relations and shared traditions.

India’s diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan were established on February 28, 1992. The Indian resident mission was opened in Baku in March 1999 and Azerbaijan opened its first resident mission in New Delhi in October, 2004.

Agreements signed

An agreement on economic and technical cooperation was signed in June, 1998.

Air service agreement and a protocol of intergovernmental commission were signed in April 2012.

Agreements on Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in civil and  commercial matters, MLAT in criminal matters and extradition treaty were signed in April 2013.

A protocol on cooperation between the foreign ministries of India and Azerbaijan was signed in May 2013.

Besides, agreements on visa exemption regime for diplomatic, official and service passport holders, bilateral investments, double taxation avoidance, cultural, tourism and educational cooperation are under discussions.

Trade

  • India’s bilateral trade with Azerbaijan has been growing steadily in recent years. India’s pharmaceutical sector is well known in Azerbaijan and many Indian pharmaceutical companies are represented in Azerbaijan either through their own representative offices or through tie ups with local dealers.
  • The main items of direct and indirect export from India include clothes and textiles, tea, meat, food processing equipment, electronic cards, boilers and other plant equipment. The primary import of India from Azerbaijan is crude oil.
  • A few Indian manufactured automobiles and mobile telephone handsets made their debut into Azerbaijan in 2010.
  • Azerbaijan has proven natural gas reserves of about 2.55 billion cubic meters, while proven oil reserves was estimated at 2 billion tones.
  • In 2012, Indian software development companies were given contracts by Azerbaijani banks and insurance companies. Some engineering consultancy companies have bagged projects in the cement and power sector respectively.
  • Coming to the Indian Diaspora in Azerbaijan, there are about 400 Indian residents in the nation.

India elected to UN Human Rights Council with highest votes

India elected to UN Human Rights Council with highest votes

India was on October 12, 2018 elected to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council ‘ for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019.

India secured 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates. Following the election, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said that India’s win with the highest number of votes reflects the country’s standing in the international community.

Key Highlights

• The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections for new members to the UN Human Rights Council.

• The countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.

• 18 new members were elected to UNHRC by absolute majority through a secret ballot.

• India got the highest number of votes among all 18 countries in the five regional categories.

• In the Asia Pacific category, India got 188 votes followed by Fiji with 187 and Bangladesh 178 votes.

• The new members will serve a term of three years beginning January 1, 2019.

Background

India had been looking to win the seat at the UNHRC in the Asia Pacific category.

India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017. Its last term had ended on December 31, 2017 and in accordance with the rules, it was not eligible for immediate re-election since it had already served two consecutive terms.

Along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and Philippines had also staked a claim in the same regional group.

So in total, there were five nations vying for five seats in the Asia Pacific category. India’s election to the Council was hence, all but certain.

About UNHRC

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was established by the UN General Assembly in March 2006 as its principal body dealing with human rights.

The body’s main mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world.

The UNHRC comprises 47 elected members states. The states are elected for a three-year term on a regional group basis.

On the basis of equitable geographical distribution, the council seats are allocated to the five regional groups as follows:

1.  African States: 13 seats

2. Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats

3. Eastern European States: 6 seats

4. Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats

5. Western European and other States: 7 seats

All five of the General Assembly’s regional groups had submitted competition-free slates, meaning that all candidates, regardless of their rights records, were virtually assured seats on the council.

Former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet assumed the role of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in September this year, succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who had in June this year released a first-ever report on Kashmir that was rejected by India.

13 october 2018

International Day for Disaster Reduction 2018 observed globally

International Day for Disaster Reduction 2018 observed globally

13 October: International Day for Disaster Reduction

The International Day for Disaster Reduction was observed across the world on October 13, 2018 to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.

The day celebrated how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the risks associated with them.

Theme

The theme of the 2018 International Day for Disaster Reduction was ‘Reducing Disaster Economic Losses’.

The 2018 theme continues as part of the “Sendai Seven” campaign, centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework. This year focuses on Target C of the Sendai Framework, which is, ‘reducing disaster economic losses in relation to global GDP by 2030’.

Sendai Seven Campaign
In 2016, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) launched the Sendai Seven campaign, which was centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework.The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action.

The campaign seeks to create a wave of awareness about actions taken to reduce mortality around the world.

The campaign is an opportunity for all, including governments, local governments, international organisations, the private sector and the UN family to promote best practices at the international, regional and national level across all sectors, in order to reduce disaster risk and disaster losses.

Seven targets of Sendai Framework

1) Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030

2) Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030

3) Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030

4) Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services by 2030

5) Substantially increase the number of countries with disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020

6) Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries by 2030

7) Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems by 2030

When was the day proclaimed?

• In 1989, the UN General Assembly through a resolution had designated the second Wednesday of October as International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction.

 Later on December 21, 2009, the Assembly adopted a new resolution on in which it designated 13 October as the date to commemorate the Day and it also changed the day’s name to International Day for Disaster Reduction.

• The main objective of the observance is to raise awareness of how people are taking action to reduce their risk to disasters.

WCD Ministry to set up panel to look into all #MeToo cases

WCD Ministry to set up panel to look into all #MeToo cases

The Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi announced on October 12, 2018 that her ministry will be setting up a four-member committee to examine all the #MeToo cases.

The WCD Minister stated through a tweet that she believes in the pain and trauma behind every single complaint and reiterated that cases of sexual harassment at work must be dealt with a policy of zero tolerance.

 WCD Ministry to set up panel to look into all #MeToo cases

Key Highlights

 WCD Ministry to set up panel to look into all #MeToo cases

The four-member committee will comprise senior judicial and legal persons.

It will be tasked with the responsibility of examining all the recent cases that have come up in the past few days under the #MeToo campaign.

The committee will look into the legal and institutional framework that is in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment, including some of the complaints if required and advise the ministry on how to strengthen these.

Background

The #MeToo campaign first began as a hashtag on Twitter in 2017, when Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment by over 70 women.

The campaign broke out in India after Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta accused veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment in September 2018.

Following her, many women came out with their horrific experiences of sexual exploitation at their workplaces and elsewhere through their social media accounts.

The movement has thrown out the names of many prominent people who have been accused of sexual harassment; some of them are very well known film and media personalities.

States, UTs set free over 900 prisoners under special remission scheme

States, UTs set free over 900 prisoners under special remission scheme

The Indian states and union territories released over 900 prisoners in the first phase of the centre’s scheme for grant of special remission to specific categories of prisoners. The move was undertaken as a part of the commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The decision to give special remission to a specific category of prisoners was taken by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 18, 2018. The prisoners will be released from prisons in three phases- on October 2, 2018, April 6, 2019 and October 2, 2019.

Key Highlights

• In the week-long first phase of special remission to prisoners, the States and UTs, after obtaining the approval of the competent authority in their jurisdictions, released over 900 prisoners.

• In the second and third phase, prisoners will be released on April 6, 2019 and October 2, 2019 respectively.

• The states and union territories have been advised to hold weeklong special functions in all prison premises based on the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi before the dates specified for the release of prisoners.

 At the time of their release, the prisoners will be taken to garland the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

• They will also be gifted with books relating to Mahatma Gandhi and will also be provided with suitable counselling.

Prisoners eligible for special remission

1. Women convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.

2. Transgender convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.

3. Male convicts of 60 years of age and above, who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.

4. Physically challenged or disabled convicts with 70 per cent disability and more who have completed 50 per cent of their actual sentence period.

5. Terminally ill convicts.

6. Convicted prisoners who have completed two-thirds or 66 per cent of their actual sentence period.

Prisoners not eligible for special remission

The special remission scheme is not available to prisoners who have been convicted for an offence for which the sentence awarded is death or where the death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment.

The cases of convicts involved in serious and heinous crimes like dowry death, rape, human trafficking and those convicted under  POTA, UAPA, TADA, FICN, POCSO Act, Money Laundering, FEMA, NDPS and Prevention of Corruption Act also do not fall under the scheme.

Draft National Policy on Electronics 2018 released; aims $400 billion manufacturing industry by 2025

Draft National Policy on Electronics 2018 released

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) on October 10, 2018 released the draft of the National Policy on Electronics 2018, aiming for a turnover of USD 400 billion in domestic electronics manufacturing industry by 2025.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will coordinate with the concerned ministries and departments to provide incentives to industry for robust expansion of electronics hardware manufacturing. MeitY will work out the details and facilitate decisions by the government.

Highlights of the Draft National Policy on Electronics 2018

• The policy targets production of one billion mobile handsets by 2025, valued at USD 190 billion (about Rs 13 lakh crore).

• It is targeted to export 600 million mobile handsets valued at USD 110 billion (about Rs 7 lakh crore).

• 20 greenfield and three brownfield electronic manufacturing cluster projects have been sanctioned with the project outlay of Rs 3898 crore, including Rs 1577 crore from the Government of India.

• It promotes a forward looking and stable tax regime, including advance intimation to the industry to plan investments in the form of Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP) in various segments of electronics, with a sunset clause should be promoted.

• It mentions that government would levy cess on identified electronic goods to be considered to generate resources for promotion of certain critical sub-sectors of electronics manufacturing such as semiconductor wafer fabrication and display fabrication units.

Objective of Draft National Electronics Policy 2018
  • The draft policy also aims to promote ease of doing business for the entire Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector.
  • It aims to encourage industry-led research and development and innovation in all sub-sectors of electronics.
  • The policy aims to also push the startup ecosystem in emerging technology areas such as 5G, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and their applications in areas such as defence, agriculture, health, smart cities and automation.
  • It involves development of core competencies in all the sub-sectors of electronics, including electronic components and semiconductors, telecommunication equipment, medical electronics, defence electronics, automotive electronics, industrial electronics, strategic electronics, etc.

Measures proposed

• Promotion of manufacturing of electronic goods covered under the Information Technology Agreement (ITA-1) of the World Trade Organization

• Exempting the import duty on equipment not being manufactured in the country to reduce capital expenditure for setting up of a unit or for expansion of existing units

• Replacing the M-SIPS (Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme) with schemes that are easier to implement such as interest subsidy and credit default guarantee to encourage expansion in electronics manufacturing sector

First National Policy on Electronics

• The first National Policy on Electronics (NPE) was rolled out in 2012.

• The NPE 2012 provided the road map for the development of Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector in the country.

• Implementation of the Schemes/ Programmes under the aegis of NPE 2012 successfully consolidated the foundation for a competitive Indian ESDM value chain.

• The Government now seeks to build on that foundation to propel the growth of ESDM industry in the country.

 

World Egg Day observed

• The World Egg Day was observed across the world on October 12, 2018. The day’s 2018 theme is “Protein for Life”.
• The day was established at the International Egg Commission, Vienna 1996 conference when it was decided to celebrate World Egg Day on the second Friday in October each year.
• The day aims to help raise awareness of the benefits of eggs and their importance in human nutrition.
• The proteins contained within eggs are considered highly important in the development of the brain and muscles, have a key role to play in disease prevention and contribute to general well being.

Global Hunger Index 2018: India ranks 103rd out of 119 countries

Global Hunger Index 2018: India ranks 103rd out of 119 countries

As per the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published on October 10, 2018, the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide fell to 20.9, down from 29.2 in the year 2000.
As per the index, India was ranked 103rd out of 119 qualifying countries. The Global Hunger Index 2018 report was prepared jointly by global NGOs namely, Concern Worldwide (Ireland) and Welthungerhilfe (Germany).

Key facts and figures of Global Hunger Index 2018
  • In the countries included in the GHI, the share of the undernourished population stood at 12.3 percent in 2015–2017, down from 17.6 percent in 1999–2001.
  • 27.9 percent children under five years of age were stunted based on data from 2013–2017, down from 37.1 percent in 1998–2002.
  • 9.3 percent children under-5 years were wasted, slightly down from 9.7 percent in 1998–2002.
  • The under-five mortality rate was 4.2 percent as of 2016, down from 8.1 percent in 2000.

Top 15 countries

The 15 countries with 2018 GHI scores of less than 5 are not assigned individual ranks, but rather are collectively ranked 1–15. These 15 countries are:

Rank Country
1 Belarus
1 Cuba
1 Estonia
1 Kuwait
1 Latvia
1 Croatia
1 Montenegro
1 Romania
1 Turkey
1 Ukraine
1 Uruguay
1 Costa Rica
1 Chile
1 Lithuania
1 Bosnia & Herzegovina

Country-wise findings

 GHI projections show that at the pace of hunger reduction observed since 2000, approximately 50 countries will fail to reach low hunger levels by 2030; at present, 79 countries have failed to reach that designation according to the 2018 GHI.

 Zimbabwe, Somalia, and CAR have the highest rates of undernourishment, ranging between 46.6 and 61.8 percent.

• Timor-Leste, Eritrea, and Burundi have the highest stunting rates with at least half of the children suffering from stunting in each country.

 Child Wasting is most prevalent in Djibouti (16.7 percent), India (21.0 percent), and South Sudan (28.6 percent).

 The highest under-five mortality rates are in Somalia (13.3 percent), Chad (12.7 percent), and CAR (12.4 percent).

 The six countries with alarming levels of hunger are Chad, Haiti, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Yemen, and Zambia.

 One country suffering from an extremely alarming level of hunger is the Central African Republic (CAR), which has the highest 2018 GHI score of 53.7 and has been suffering from instability, sectarian violence, and civil war since 2012.

• In Burundi, Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria, violent conflict, political unrest, and extreme poverty have prompted forced migration, which is closely associated with food insecurity.

 However, this year’s GHI includes 27 countries with moderate levels of hunger and 40 countries with low levels of hunger.

• Few countries have made improvement since 2000. Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda, which had extremely alarming hunger levels in 2000, have seen reductions in their GHI scores of 20 points or more.

India’s rank in 2018 GHI
 

In the 2018 Global Hunger Index, India was ranked 103rd out of 119 qualifying countries. With a score of 31.1, India suffers from a serious level of hunger.

Region-wise findings

• At the regional level, the 2018 GHI scores for South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara, at 30.5 and 29.4, respectively, are dramatically higher than those of other regions, indicating serious levels of hunger.

 The GHI scores for East and Southeast Asia, the Near East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe, and the Commonwealth of Independent States range from 7.3 to 13.2, indicating low or moderate hunger levels.

• Even regions with low or moderate GHI scores include countries where hunger and undernutrition are tremendously high.

 In Latin America and the Caribbean (GHI score of just 9.0), the Caribbean island nation of Haiti is one of just seven countries with GHI scores that are considered alarming or extremely alarming and nother country among these seven countries is Yemen of the East and North Africa region (GHI score of 13.2).

 In South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara, the rates of undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality are unacceptably high.

 South Asia has the highest child stunting and child wasting rates of any region, followed by Africa south of the Sahara. In terms of undernourishment and child mortality, Africa south of the Sahara has the highest rates, followed by South Asia.

 South Asia’s child wasting rate constitutes a critical public health emergency. The child wasting rate for the region is amplified by India, which has the region’s largest population and highest level of child wasting at 21 percent.

 Child stunting in South Asia is also very high. Since 2000, the rate of stunting in the region has fallen from approximately half of all children to over a third, but this still constitutes the highest regional child stunting rate worldwide.

 In Africa south of the Sahara, the 2015–2017 undernourishment rate, at 22 percent, increased marginally since 2009–2011 and is the highest regional rate of all regions in the report.

• The under-five mortality rate in the Africa south of the Sahara is also high. The 10 countries with the world’s highest under-five mortality rates are all located in this region.

Insufficient progress to reach Sustainable Development Goals

Despite these improvements, the question remains whether the world will achieve United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, which aims to end hunger, ensure food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

As per the index, the world is still far from a world without malnutrition. The index covers four indicators of stunting, wasting, severe wasting and overweight among children under 5, and reveal insufficient progress to reach the World Health Assembly targets for 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030.

Accelerated progress will be needed to achieve SDG targets in child survival.

Global Hunger Index and how it is calculated?

• The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.

• GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger.

 GHI scores are calculated using a three-step process.

   – Firstly, values are determined for each country in four indicators- Undernourishment, Child Wasting, Child Stunting and Child Mortality.
– Secondly, each of the four component indicators is given a standardised score on a 100-point scale based on the highest observed level for the indicator.
– Thirdly, standardised scores are aggregated to calculate the GHI score for each country, with each of the three dimensions (inadequate food supply; child       mortality; and child undernutrition.

Malaysian government decides to abolish capital punishment

Representative Image

The Malaysian Cabinet on October 11, 2018 decided to abolish the death penalty for all crimes and halt all pending executions. The decision is a rare move against capital punishment in Asia.
The government has taken the decision to scrap capital punishment following strong domestic opposition to the practice. The amendments to the laws with capital punishment are expected to be tabled in the Parliament on October 15.
Applauding the government’s decision, the Malaysian human rights group ‘Lawyers for Liberty’ said that the death penalty is barbarous, unimaginably cruel and pointless, as it has never been proven to deter serious crimes. It further said that once the sentence is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences abroad.

Key Highlights 
• Capital punishment is currently mandatory in Malaysia for a wide range of crimes including murder, drug trafficking, treason, kidnapping, possession of firearms and acts of terror.
 The sentence is carried out in the nation by hanging, a legacy which has lived on since the British colonial rule.
• The decision will have a huge effect on those on a death row, such as the two women accused of assassinating the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2017.
• A Malaysian court had ruled last year that the case could proceed against Indonesian national Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam after Kim Jong-Nam’s murder at Kuala Lumpur Airport.
• The International Human Rights group, Amnesty International, labelled the Malaysian government’s decision to abolish capital punishment as an encouraging sign.
• In April 2017, the Amnesty International had ranked Malaysia at the 10th spot in the use of the death penalty among the 23 countries that carried out capital punishment in 2016. Between 2007 and 2017, 35 individuals were hanged in the nation.
• Overall, a total of 1267 prisoners are currently on a death row, making up 2.7 per cent of the 60,000-strong prison population.

Impact

According to Amnesty International, the move would be a major advance. It said that the death penalty has been a “terrible stain” on Malaysia’s human rights record and death row prisoners often have to wait years for their appeals to be processed.

The international body urged the Malaysian government to “completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes, with no exceptions.”

The Current Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad’s alliance won a stunning election upset on May 9, ousting a scandal-tainted coalition in the first change of government since independence from Britain in 1957. The new government’s promises included eradicating corruption and bolstering human rights.

Rest of the World on Capital Punishment
 Around 142 countries across the world have rejected capital punishment as a form of punishment for crimes.
• Only 23 countries retain the death penalty. However, in Asia, many nations including India, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam still impose capital punishment.
• According to Amnesty International’s report on capital punishment in 2017, China is believed to be the ‘world’s top executioner’.
 Overall, 993 executions were recorded in 2017 in 23 countries. However, Amnesty says that these numbers do not include the “thousands” that it says are believed to have been executed in China, which classifies this information as a state secret.
 Excluding China, Amnesty says Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan, in that order, carried out 84 per cent of all executions in 2017.
• In Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand have death penalty laws.

Capital Punishment in India

India does not have a mandatory death penalty. Though murder is punishable by death under Article 302 of the Penal Code, in Mithu v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court of India had ruled that the mandatory death penalty is unconstitutional.

In Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court had held that the death penalty was constitutional only when applied as an exceptional penalty in ‘the rarest of the rare’ cases.

The crimes punishable by death in India include murder, terrorism-related offenses, rape, kidnapping, drug trafficking, treason and military offences.

Recent Executions in India

Yakub Memon: The last execution to take place in India was the July 30, 2015 hanging of Yakub Memon, whowas convicted of financing the 1993 Mumbai bombings.

Afzal Guru: On February 9, 2013, Muhammad Afzal, also known as Afzal Guru, was executed by hanging. He was convicted for the December 2001 attack on India’s Parliament, in which five gunmen armed with grenades, guns and explosives opened fire, killing nine people.

Ajmal Kasab: On November 21, 2012, the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab was hanged for several crimes, including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts.

Dhananjoy Chatterjee: The hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee was carried out in 2004. He was given the death sentence for the murder and rape of a 14-year old girl. This was the country’s first execution since 1995.

The following offenders are excluded from the death penalty in India:

Individuals below age 18 at time of crime: According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime cannot be executed.

Pregnant Women: According to a 2009 amendment, a pregnant woman sentenced to death must be granted clemency.

Intellectually Disabled: According to the Indian Penal Code, individuals who were mentally ill at the time of the crime and who did not understand the nature of the act or know that the act was wrong or against the law cannot be held criminally liable.

Mentally ill: According to the Indian Penal Code, individuals who were mentally ill at the time of the crime and who did not understand the nature of the act or know that the act was wrong or against the law cannot be held criminally liable.

12 october 2018

World Bank launches first Human Capital Index, Singapore tops list

World Bank launches first Human Capital Index, Singapore tops rankings

The World Bank launched its first Human Capital Index (HCI) in Bali, Indonesia on October 11, 2018, as part of the World Development Report 2019. The index ranks countries based on their success in developing human capital.

The index ranks 157 countries based on their education and health outcomes and the impact they are having on productivity. While Singapore tops the rankings, African countries occupying the bottom spots.

About Human Capital Index

Objective

The human capital index, which has been modeled on the World Bank’s existing doing business index that assesses national business conditions, aims to create a similar ranking for countries based on how well they look after their people.

The index claims to seek to measure the amount of human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by age 18.

The HCI index values are contended to convey the productivity of the next generation of workers, compared to a benchmark of complete standard education and full health.

The four key indicators of the index include:

1. Under‐5 mortality rates

2. Expected years of Quality-Adjusted School

3. Adult survival rates

4. Rate of stunting for children aged below five years

World Banks’s Human Capital Index

UN’s Human Development Index

HCI uses survival rates and stunting rate as measure of health HDI uses life expectancy as measure of health
HCI uses quality-adjusted learning as measure of education HDI uses years of schooling as measure of education
HCI excludes per capita income HDI includes per capita income
HCI excludes income component HDI includes income component

Significance

The index draws attention to the fact that human capital is connected to productivity, it’s connected to economic growth and it’s more highly correlated than other kinds of infrastructure investment that heads of state and ministers of finance are much likely to go for because of the sooner visible outcomes.

Key Highlights

• The index measures the Index outcomes for each country as a fraction of maximum value of 1.

• It also measures the mortality rate for children under five, early childhood stunting rates due to malnutrition and other factors and health outcomes based on the proportion of 15-year-olds who survive until age 60.

• Further, it measures a country’s educational achievement based on the years of schooling a child can expect to obtain by age 18, combined with a country’s relative performance on international student achievement tests.

• 
Overall, the index found that on an average 56 percent of children born today will forego more than half their potential lifetime earnings because governments were not investing adequately to ensure their people are healthy, educated and ready for an evolving workplace.

Top Findings

The index found that advanced economies such as North America and Europe mostly have HCI value of above 0.75, while South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa have the lowest HCI among the regions.

Singapore topped the rankings list, followed by South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. On the other hand, African countries with high childhood stunting rates and low access to formal education fared the worst in the rankings, with Chad and South Sudan taking up the two lowest spots. The United States was ranked 24th on the list, while the United Kingdom was ranked 15th.

The World Bank predicts that in the lowest country ranked on the list, Chad, productivity and earnings potential would be only about 29 percent of what their potential would be under ideal conditions.

In top-ranked Singapore, the earnings potential was 88 percent of potential, while in the United States, ranked 24th between Israel and Macau, productivity and earnings were measured at 76 percent of potential.

The HCI for India was estimated at 0.44. The quality-adjusted learning was measured in the case of India by using the data as old as 2009.

Besides, there were 28 countries, from Indonesia to Lesotho to Ukraine, who signed on as “early adopters” of the index to work with the World Bank to devise plans to improve their investment in health and education.

Further, the index showed that a country ranked at 50 percent, such as Morocco and El Salvador, would lose 1.4 percentage points of annual GDP growth compared to its potential under ideal health and education conditions.

The bank has warned that a wave of automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate many low-skilled jobs in the coming years, making it harder for people with low levels of education and poor health to compete for work.

HCI Observations for India

The children born in India today will be only 44 per cent as productive when they grow up as they could be if they enjoyed complete education and full health.

There has also been a marked improvement in the HCI components in India over the last five years:

Probability of survival to age 5: 96 out of 100 children born in India survive to age 5

Expected years of school: In India, children who start school at the age 4 can be expected to complete 10.2 years of school by their 18th birthday

Harmonised test scores: Students in India score 355 on a scale where 625 represents advanced attainment and 300 represents minimum attainment.

Learning-adjusted years of school: Factoring in what children actually learn, expected years of school is only 5.8 years.

Adult Survival Rate: Across India, 83 per cent of 15-year olds are expected to survive until the age of 60 years.

Healthy Growth (Not Stunted Rate): 62 out of 100 children are not stunted. 38 out of 100 children are stunted and so at risk of cognitive and physical limitations that can last a lifetime.

Gender Differences: The HCI in India is marginally better for females in comparison to that for males.

Conclusion

The index concludes that for 56 per cent of the world’s population the HCI is at or below 0.50 and for 92 per cent it is at or below 0.75.

Hence, only 8 per cent of the population can expect to be 75 per cent as productive as they could be.

Singapore’s high score of 0.88 out of a maximum possible score of 1 was driven by a strong focus on quality education and an innovative health insurance system delivered by spending a relatively modest 4 per cent of gross domestic product on health care.

World Development Report (WDR)

The main theme of the World Development Report (WDR) 2018 is “The Changing Nature of Work”.

As part of this report, the World Bank has launched a Human Capital Project (HCP).

The HCP programme is claimed to be a program of advocacy, measurement and analytical work to raise awareness and increase demand for interventions to build human capital.

The three main components of HCP include:

1. Cross-country human capital measurement metric called the Human Capital Index (HCI)

2. Programme of measurement and research to inform policy action

3. Programme of support for country strategies to accelerate investment in human capital

Central University of Jammu, ISRO sign MoU to set up Space Applications Center

Central University of Jammu, ISRO sign MoU to set up Space Applications Center

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on October 11, 2018 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central University of Jammu (CUJ) for setting up of the Satish Dhawan Center for Space Science in the University.

On the same occasion, another MoU was signed between CUJ and the Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIR-CSIO).

A two day workshop was also inaugurated at the CUJ campus to create awareness about space research and to motivate young minds to take up research related to space, astronomy, geology, atmospheric sciences and related fields.

Satish Dhawan Center for Space Science at Central University of Jammu

• The Center will help in tapping potential of Space Applications for Jammu & Kashmir in various fields like disaster management, health, education, communication, weather forecasting, land use planning, etc.

• This will provide opportunity to the youth of the region to contribute to the field of space science as well as to the nation.

 It will have facilities for Geospatial Data analysis that will help in sustainable use of natural resources and planning land-use pattern.

 It will have ground-based observations for Atmospheric Studies, resea