14, December 2017

1.SANKALP Project

Source: PIB

A Financing Agreement for IBRD loan of USD 250 million (equivalent) for the “Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Project” signed with the World Bank.

  • The Financing Agreement was signed in New Delhi by Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of Government of India and Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank.

The Objective of the project is to enhance institutional mechanisms for skills development and increase access to quality and market-relevant training for the work force.

Key facts:

  • The Key result areas for the project include Institutional Strengthening at the National and State Levels for Planning, Delivering, and Monitoring High-Quality Market-Relevant Training; Improved Quality and Market Relevance of Skills Development Programs; Improved access to and completion of skills training for female trainees and other disadvantaged groups; and Expanding skills training through private-public partnerships (PPPs).

2.INS Kalvari

Source: PIB

INS Kalvari is the most potent platform to have been constructed in India. The construction of the Submarine, designated as MDL Yard 11875 commenced with the first cutting of steel at MDL

  • Interestingly she is the first Indian Naval vessel to be built using this modular approach of construction. She was hauled out on Pontoon from the East Yard Dry Dock of MDL.
  • INS Kalvari, a diesel-electric submarine, a part of ‘Project 75’ has been built by the Mazgaon Dockyard Limited in collaboration with French naval defence and energy company DCNS.

INS Kalvari

  • Kalvari is a potent Man o’ War capable of undertaking offensive operations spanning across the entire spectrum of Maritime Warfare.
  • She embodies cutting edge technology and compares favourably with the best in the world.
  • She has an overall length of 67.5 metres and a height of about 12.3 metres.
  • The hull form, the fin and the hydroplanes are specifically designed to produce minimum underwater resistance. Her 360 battery cells (each weighing 750 kg) power the extremely silent Permanently Magnetised Propulsion Motor.
  • Her stealth is further enhanced through the mounting of equipment inside the pressure hull on shock absorbing cradles.
  • As is the tradition, ships and submarines of the Navy, are re-incarnated after decommissioning. So it is with Kalvari, named after the dreaded Tiger Shark, a deadly deep sea predator of the Indian Ocean. The first Kalvari, commissioned in December 1967, was also the first submarine of the Indian Navy. She was decommissioned on 31 May 1996 after almost 30 years of yeoman service to the nation.

3.Amarnath cave shrine not a silent zone, NGT clarifies

Source: The Hindu

Following protests over its decision, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) clarified it has not declared a “silence zone” at the Amarnath cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas.


  • The NGT on December 13 declared the cave shrine as a “silence zone” and prohibited religious offerings beyond the entry point.
  • It had earlier said that declaring the area around the Amarnath cave shrine a “silence zone” would be helpful in preventing avalanches and maintaining its pristine nature.

Amarnath cave:

  • The Amarnath cave shrine is considered one of the major holy shrines by the Hindus. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year barring a short period of time in summer when it is opened for pilgrims.
  • The Amarnath caves, located in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, are one of the most famous shrines in Hinduism. Dedicated to the god Shiva, the shrine is claimed to be over 5,000 years old and forms an important part of ancient Hindu mythology.

Sheshnag Lake, near Amarnath cave

Sheshnag Lake is an alpine high altitude oligotrophic lake situated at the track leading to Amarnath cave 23 kilometers from Pahalgam in Anantnag district of Kashmir valley in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir at an elevation of 3590 meters.

4.SC eases petcoke ban in two sectors

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court relaxed its ban on the use of petroleum coke (petcoke) and allowed cement and limestone industries to use it.

The decision to modify its ban was largely due to the government’s submissions that petcoke is used as an ingredient and not as fuel in the cement industry.  The sulphur is mostly absorbed in the process of cement-making.

Petroleum coke:

  • Petroleum coke, abbreviated coke or petcoke, is a final carbon-rich solid material that derives from oil refining, and is one type of the group of fuels referred to as cokes.
  • Petcoke is the coke that, in particular, derives from a final cracking process–a thermo-based chemical engineering process that splits long chain hydrocarbons of petroleum into shorter chains—that takes place in units termed coker units.
  • Stated succinctly, coke is the “carbonization product of high-boiling hydrocarbon fractions obtained in petroleum processing”.

Coal and Coke:

  • Petcoke is over 90 percent carbon and emits 5 to 10 percent more carbon dioxide (CO2) than coal on a per-unit-of-energy basis when it is burned.
  • As petcoke has a higher energy content, petcoke emits between 30 and 80 percent more CO2 than coal per unit of weight.
  • The difference between coal and coke in CO2 production per unit of energy produced depends upon the moisture in the coal, which increases the CO2 per unit of energy – heat of combustion and on the volatile hydrocarbons in coal and coke, which decrease the CO2 per unit of energy.

More details: http://pecconsultinggroup.com/newsflash/comparative-properties-of-coal-and-petcoke

5.ASEAN-India summit

Source: The Hindu

India is hosting a commemorative ASEAN-India summit in Delhi on January 25, while all 10 ASEAN-nation leaders will be the chief guests at the coming Republic Day parade.

Sources said the theme of the engagement this year would focus on the three “C’s” of Commerce, Connectivity and Culture, and would also underline similar convergence on issues in the Indo-Pacific, as the East Pacific-Indian Ocean region is popularly referred to.

In a first, all Asean leaders to attend India’s Republic Day

  • In a first, 10 world leaders from Asean will be chief guests at India’s annual Republic Day parade on January 26 to mark the silver jubilee of India’s relations with the bloc.
  • All 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – have accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invite to attend the 69th Republic Day parade at the historic Rajpath, where India’s military prowess and cultural heritage will be on display.

6.119 nations back move to remove barriers limiting women’s participation in trade

Source: The Hindu

Nearly three-fourths of the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) have supported a declaration seeking women’s economic empowerment by expeditiously removing barriers to trade, a decision that the global body termed as history-making.

India’s stand:

  • India, an influential WTO member, was among the minority group that chose not to endorse the move saying while it stoutly supports gender equality, it cannot concur with the view that gender is a trade-related issue. Agreeing to the proposition to link gender and trade could lead to advanced countries using their high standards in gender-related policies to not only curb exports from the developing world, but also indirectly restrict developing countries from incentivising their women citizens as part of measures to address developmental challenges.
  • India also observed that gender-related discussions should take place at appropriate fora and not at the WTO, which is purely a trade-related body. Otherwise, it will set a precedent to bring in other non-trade issues such as labour and environment standards into the WTO’s ambit.


  • Currently, many women worldwide stand on the sidelines of the economy.
  • While women comprise about half of the global population, they generate only 37% of gross domestic product (GDP) and run only about a third of small and medium-sized enterprises. In some developing countries, female business ownership can dip as low as 3-6%.
  • An International Trade Centre survey in 20 countries found that just one in five exporting companies is owned by women.
  • In more than 155 countries, there is at least one law impeding economic opportunities for women.
  • No country has managed to close the gender gap on economic participation and opportunity; progress is so slow it would take, at the current rate, 170 years to reach gender equality. It is also apparent that international trade and trade agreements affect women and men differently.

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