07, September 2016

India Kazakhstan Joint Exercise “PRABAL DOSTYK-16”

Source: PIB, Times of India

As a part of India’s continued efforts to strengthen Indo-Kazakhstan relations, troops of Indian & Kazakhstan Army are presently engaging in a joint exercise ‘PRABAL DOSTYK – 16. The exercise is being conducted in Karaganda region of Kazakhstan and will conclude on 17 Sep 2016.

‘Prabal Dostyk’ meaning ‘Robust Friendship’ will be a significant step towards fostering military as well as diplomatic ties between both countries.

The primary aim of the fourteen day exercise will be to enhance interoperability while undertaking Counter Terrorism & Counter Insurgency Operations in rural & semi-urban environment under the umbrella of United Nations. The exercise will be conducted in two stages;

First stage will be to familiarize with each other’s tactics, drills, weapons & equipment.

Second stage troops of both the armies will graduate to jointly execute a helicopter borne operation in a simulated environment. Combat battle drills and physical fitness will be the focal point of the exercise.

After Uzbekistan, India has forged ties with Kazakhstan in the fields of military exercises, training, jungle warfare, information technology and counter-terrorism as well as joint research and development of naval armaments and torpedoes.

WHO certifies India Yaws and maternal & neonatal tetanus free

Source: Hindustan Times, WHO

India is the first country to be officially acknowledged as being yaws-free. India was validated for maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination in April 2015, much ahead of the global target date of December 2015.

The elimination of tetanus as a public health problem means that in India, the annual rate of maternal and neonatal tetanus is now less than 1 per 1000 live births.

India being yaws-free is also significant as India has achieved this important milestone much before the WHO global target year of 2020.

The ministry plans to sustain the achievements by health system strengthening; high routine immunization coverage and promotion of institutional/clean delivery/clean cord practices and effective surveillance system.

The gains in keeping India free from preventable deaths continues with introduction of newer vaccines such as Rotavirus vaccine, Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Adult Japanese Encephalitis and soon-to- be introduced Measles-Rubella in the public health programme of the country.

About Yaws:

Yaws is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the skin, cartilages and bones. It is caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum pertenue.  It spreads by direct contact with the fluid from a lesion of an infected person. It mainly affects children below 15 years of age. It mainly occurs in overcrowded communities with limited access to basic amenities such as water, sanitation and health care services.

Health Ministry launches the biggest Leprosy Case Detection Campaign in the country

Source: PIB, Business Standard

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the biggest Leprosy Case Detection Campaign (LCDC) in the country on 5th September 2016 across 149 districts of 19 states/UTs. For this purpose, 297604 teams comprising of one lady ASHA worker and one male volunteer each would visit every house in their allotted area and screen all the family members for leprosy.

The Leprosy Case Detection Campaign is a unique initiative of its kind in the world where each and every member of the targeted population will be examined by the search team constituted of one male and one female volunteer at household level. The objective of the campaign is the early detection of leprosy in affected persons so that they can be saved from physical disability and deformity by providing them timely treatment and thus also halting the transmission of disease at the community level.

The first LCDC was launched during March-April 2016 in 50 districts of 7 states namely Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh wherein a population of about 6.8 crores was covered.

Union Government launches #Gas4India campaign to promote use natural gas in the country

The Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has launched #Gas4India campaign, aimed at promoting the use of gas in the country. Public and private sector companies working in the sector have joined hands to promote the natural gas sector. #Gas4India is a unified cross-country, multimedia, multi-event campaign to communicate the national, social, economic and ecological benefits of using natural gas as the fuel of choice to every citizen who uses, or will use in the near future, gas in any way- cook, travel, light their homes, and power their business.

HAL successfully tests Light Utility Helicopter

Source: The Economic Times, IBN Times

The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has successfully conducted a technical flight of the new indigenous Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).

The flawless test was conducted by HAL engineers and technicians in the air for 15 minutes inside the HAL complex in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Key Facts Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) is eight-seater chopper under development for the armed forces.

It has a maximum All-Up-Weight (AUW) of 3,150 Kgs and fitted with Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine of 750 KW power.

It has with a range of 350 Kms and service ceiling of 6.5 Kms. It can operate from sea level to high altitudes of Himalayas.

It has been designed to carry out various utility roles such as reconnaissance, transport, cargo load, quick response and special operation. It can also be used for ferrying VVIPs, as air ambulance, for policing and to search, rescue and evacuate people.

HAL has already developed four highly popular models of helicopters under its belt.  Its product range includes, Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), multi-role seven seater Chetak Helicopter, Light combat helicopter (LCH) Cheetah and Lancer, anti-insurgency, close air support chopper.

Indian film Thithi wins best film award at BRICS Film Festival

Source: The Indian Express

Indian film Thithi has won the best film award at the first BRICS Film Festival concluded in New Delhi.

The film festival had opened in New Delhi on 2nd September 2016. Thithi is a dramatic comedy Kannada film co-written and directed by Raam Reddy. It is about how three generations of sons react to the death of the oldest man in their clan, named Century Gowda who is a locally renowned, highly cantankerous 101-year-old man.

Other Awards:

Best film award: Thithi (India).

Best Director Award: Huo Jianqi (China).

Best Actor Award: Thabo Rametsi (South Africa).

Best Actress Award: Yulia Peresild (Russia).

Special jury award: Brazil’s Phillipe Barcinski for “Between Valleys”.

Union Government approves Rs 450 crore for five states under Swadesh Darshan scheme

Source: Business Standard, Economic Times

The Union Government has approved 450 crore rupees for Madhya Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim under the Swadesh Darshan scheme. It was approved by the Union Tourism Ministry for the development of Heritage circuit in Madhya Pradesh and Uttrakhand, Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh, North East Circuit in Sikkim and Coastal Circuit of Tamil Nadu.

The Heritage Circuit in Uttrakhand: It covers Jageshwar-Devidhura-Katarmal-Baijnath sites with total project cost of approximately 83 crores rupees.

Coastal circuit in Tamil Nadu: It envisages development of Chennai-Mamamallapuram-Rameshwaram-Manpadu-Kanyakumari. The total project cost is of approximately 100 crores.

Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh: It envisages development of two destinations, Chitrakoot and Shringverpur.

North East circuit in Sikkim: It includes development of cultural centre, paragliding centre and craft bazaar for mountaineering and meditation hall at approximate project cost of 95 crores.

The Heritage Circuit in Madhya Pradesh: It covers developing Tourism Infrastructure Gwalior-Orchha-Khajuraho-Chanderi-Bhimbetka-Mandu. The total project cost is of approximately 100 crore rupees.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

The Union Ministry of Tourism had launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme with an aim to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.

They will be developed by synergizing efforts to focus on concerns and needs of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.

Under this scheme, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development. They are Buddhist Circuit, North-East India Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.

Rs.20, 000 Crore Long Term Irrigation Fund to be raised

Source: PIB, Economic Times

The National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will raise in phases over Rs 77,000 crore from market to fund around 100 prioritized irrigation projects, including 56 in drought­prone areas, under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKYS) over the next four years.

A memorandum of agreement (MoA) was signed between the Ministry of Water Resources and NABARD for raising a long-term irrigation fund (LTIF) of Rs 20,000 crore.

About PMKSY:

PMKSY has been conceived amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and the On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).

The scheme will be implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.

The major objective of PMKSY is to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water and enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop).

Government approves 6 start-up centers

Source: Business Line, Indian Express, PIB

The Central government has approved six proposals to set up centers of excellence to promote and fund start-ups under the National Initiative for Development and Harnessing Innovation (NIDHI), a programme steered by the Department of Science and Technology.

The government has earmarked 500 crore to scale up the start-up eco system, under which seed funding of up to 10 lakh will be given to develop a prototype and access fabrication facilities in incubators.

About NIDHI:

NIDHI (National Initiative for Development and Harnessing Innovations), an umbrella program is pioneered by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) for nurturing ideas and innovations (knowledge-based and technology-driven) into successful startups.

NIDHI focuses on building a seamless and innovation driven entrepreneurial ecosystem especially by channelizing youth towards it and thereby bringing in the positive impact on the socio-economic development of the country. The program aims to provide technological solutions not only to the pressing needs of the society but also targets to create new avenues for wealth and job creation.

The key stakeholders of NIDHI includes various departments and ministries of the central government, state governments, academic and R & D institutions, mentors, financial institutions, angel investors, venture capitalists, industry champions and private sectors. NIDHI strongly addresses the new national aspirations by massively scaling up DST’s experience of three decades in promoting innovative startups.

CSCs may assemble LED lamps to boost rural economy: Prasad

Source: The Hindu

Looking at tapping the 2.29 lakh Common Service Centers (CSCs) in the country to boost rural economy, the government is planning to enable assembly and manufacturing of LED lights at these centers.

The government, through these centers, also will provide in rural regions, tele-consultation services for animal healthcare as well as legal issues. Kits for testing of diseases such as malaria and dengue will also be made available at these centers.

What are CSCs?

Common Services Centers (CSCs) are a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme. They are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.

CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:

  • Digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen.
  • Governance and services on demand.
  • Digital empowerment of citizens.

 Significance of CSCs:

CSCs are more than service delivery points in rural India. They are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods. They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.

2016 G-20 Summit held in Hangzhou, China

Source: The Hindu, Al Jazeera

The 2016 Group of Twenty (G20) Summit was held in Hangzhou, China from 4th to 5th September 2016 to discuss efforts to reform global economic governance. It was the eleventh meeting of the G20. It was the first ever G20 summit to be hosted in China and the second Asian country after 2010 G20 Seoul summit was hosted in South Korea. The theme of 2016 G20 Summit: “Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”.

Key Highlights of the Summit:

 G-20 leaders pledge have pledged to continue to work for a globally fair and modern international tax system, foster growth and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies.

They will continue the work on addressing cross-border financial flows derived from illicit activities, including deliberate trade mis-invoicing, which hampers the mobilization of domestic resources for development.

They vowed to go ahead on the ongoing co-operation on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), exchange of tax information, tax capacity-building of developing countries and tax policies to promote growth and tax certainty.

They also vowed to use all policy tools to achieve the goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. They agreed at the summit that refugees are a global issue and the burden must be shared. They called for strengthening humanitarian assistance for refugees.

The 2017 G20 summit will be held in Hamburg, Germany from 7-8 July 2017.

About G20:

The G20 is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. It was founded in 1999 with the aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.

The members include 19 individual countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States—along with the European Union (EU).

What is BEPS?

Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to make profits ‘disappear’ for tax purposes or to shift profits to locations where there is little or no real activity but the taxes are low, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.

Are BEPS strategies illegal?

Although some schemes used are illegal, most are not. Largely they just take advantage of current rules that are still grounded in a bricks and mortar economic environment rather than today’s environment of global players which is characterized by the increasing importance of intangibles and risk management.

GM mustard safe for ecology 

Source: The Hindu

Report:

The Genetically Modified (GM) mustard will not cause any ecological damage and is superior to the conventional mustard varieties being cultivated in India, says a panel of experts who reviewed the trial data on the GM oil seeds.

The (GM mustard) technology is safe for food/feed and environment,” a committee of scientists opined in a report released by the Union Environment Ministry.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee:

India’s highest regulatory body to decide on GM products. However, GEAC’s decisions can always be negated by the Union Environment minister as was done in the case of Bt brinjal around six years ago.

Analysis:

The history of safe use of the host and donor organisms, transgene expression analysis, composition analysis, acute and sub chronic toxicity assays of purified proteins and whole leaf and seed respectively, it can be concluded that the use of leaves, seed and oil derived from GE mustard line is not likely to pose any risk to humans and animals,” says the report on the assessment of food and environment safety for environmental release of genetically engineered mustard (DMH-11).

GM mustard is likely to be the first transgenic seed, to be available in farmer fields. It has had a tumultuous history in India with activist groups claiming that it will be a gateway to several other GM food crops — tomato, rice, brinjal, etc. — and that these may pose health and ecological risks. Currently GM cotton is the only transgenic crop commercially available in farmer fields.

What is GM Mustard?

 Hybrid variety of a crop is obtained by crossing of two genetically diverse plants of same species and it can give higher yields than their parents. But mustard cannot be naturally hybridized because it is a self-pollinating plant having both male and female reproductive parts in a single flower. But researchers have created hybridized mustard using GM technology. The GM hybridized mustard, as it is claimed, gives up to 30% more yield than the present best varieties.



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