28, September 2017

1.Sujalam Sufalam Yojana

Source: PIB

Linkage of rivers will help farmers to grow more crops and contribute in progress of the country

  • Gujarat Government has given concrete shape to the concept of river linkage and has linked Narmada and Sabarmati rivers, so that more and more farmers are benefitted. He further said that he is fortunate to inaugurate the Plaque for the Project Sujalam Sufalam Yojana’ (Water and Irrigation Projects).

Sujalam Suphalam Spreading Canal

The works of 332 K.M. long Sujalam Suphalam Spreading Canal, traversing through seven districts from Mahi to Banas river which includes diversion of surplus flood water of Kadana Reservoir and Narmada to the water deficit areas.

2.CARA launches monthly “Jan Sampark” Program to facilitate adoption

Source: PIB

The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) of the Ministry of Women & Child Development has started a monthly “Jan Sampark” program to enable the public to have interaction with its officials and staff for seeking information related to Adoption as well as flagging their concerns.

Key facts:

  • The first of its kind programme was held in New Delhi yesterday. Nearly 150 Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs), Adoptive Parents and representatives of agencies participated in the session, which lasted for more than four hours.
  • Details pertaining to Immediate Placement and Special Needs Adoption Module of Child Adoption Resource Information & Guidance System (CARINGS) as well as the newly launched Grievance/Query portal were shared with all the stakeholders. Also many of the PAPs were counselled and motivated to go for adopting older children.

3.‘National Tourism Awards, 2015-16’ to Various Segments of The Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Industry on ‘World Tourism Day’

Source: PIB

The President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind presented the “National Tourism Awards, 2015-16” to various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry at a function organised by the Ministry of Tourism on the occasion of “World Tourism Day”

The President launched the “Incredible India 2.0 Campaign”; ‘Adopt A Heritage’ Project and new Incredible India Website on the occasion:

  • “Incredible India 2.0 Campaign” marks a shift from the present generic promotions being undertaken across the world, to market specific promotional plans and product specific creatives, with greater focus on digital presence and social media.
  • ‘Adopt A Heritage’ Project plans to entrust heritage sites to the public sector and private sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities. They will become ‘Monument Mitras’ and adopt bthe sites.
  • The “New Incredible India Website” is an advanced version of the website with more useful features.

Key facts:

  • Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world. Its evolution can be estimated from the fact that the number of tourists all over the world has increased from 2.5 crore in 1950 to 123 crore in 2016. The tourism industry contributes 10.2 percent of the world’s GDP.
  • It is estimated that every 10th person in the world works in the tourism industry.
  • In India too, the livelihood of a very large number of people is linked to the tourism industry. In the year 2016, tourism’s contribution to GDP was 9.6 percent and 9.3 percent to total employment.
  • The tourism industry can contribute significantly in generating permanent employment opportunities and eliminating poverty. According to an assessment, an investment of Rs. 10 lakh in tourism industry provides employment to about 90 people, while about 45 in agriculture, and about 13 people in manufacturing.

The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017:

  • The World Economic Forum has, for the past 11 years, engaged leaders in travel and tourism to carry out an in-depth analysis of the Travel and Tourism competitiveness of 136 economies across the world.
  • The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country”.
  • The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index enables all stakeholders to work together to improve the industry’s competitiveness in their national economies
  • The theme of this edition Paving the Way for a More Sustainable and Inclusive Future, reflects the increasing focus on ensuring the industry’s sustained growth in an uncertain security environment while preserving the natural environment and local communities on which it so richly depends.

4.Cabinet approves signing and ratification of the Bilateral Investment Treaty between India and Belarus on investments

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister has given its approval for signing and ratification of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the India and Belarus on Investments.

  • The Treaty is likely to increase investment flows between the two countries. The agreement is expected to improve the confidence of the investors resulting in an increase in FDI and Overseas Director Investment (ODI) opportunities and this will have a positive impact on employment generation.
  • The signing and ratification of a BIT between the two countries will work as a strategic initiative as Belarus is the member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
  • India has already initiated the BIT text with the Kyrgyz Republic and is in talks with the Russian Federation for a new BIT, based on the Model BIT text.

India and EEU

  • The Eurasian Economic Union comprises Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The FTA is expected to open up a huge market with a trade potential of $37 to 62 billion.
  • Trade between India and the five Eurasian countries stands at about $11 billion. The FTA with the Eurasian countries was dictated by India’s need to diversify into new markets.

What does the FTA with EEU has in store for India?

  • EEU has vast reserves of natural resources comprising oil, gas, electric power, mineral fertilisers, coal, iron and steel, etc, and offers a ready market to be harnessed and explored. Undoubtedly, the FTA with EEU will bring in a lot of benefits for the Indian economy.
  • The realisation of the North-South Transport Corridor—connecting India, Central Asia, Russia and Iran—will provide momentum to the trading relationship between India and EEU members by ensuring easy movement of goods and reducing time and freight costs. Granting business visas to Indian exporters will also get channelised once the FTA is in place.

5.BRICS Interbank Cooperation

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the signing of the

  • Interbank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement and
  • Cooperation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings by Exim Bank with participating member banks under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.

As both the Agreement and the MoU are umbrella pacts, and are non-binding in nature, the Board of Directors of Exim Bank has been authorized to negotiate and conclude any individual contracts and commitments within their framework.

Impact

  • The Agreements will promote multilateral interaction within the area of mutual interest which will deepen political and economic relations with BRICS nations.
  • Signing of the Agreement will position Exim Bank in the international platform along with large development finance institutions, like CDS, VEB and BNDES.
  • At an appropriate time, Exim Bank, leveraging this umbrella agreement, could enter into bilateral agreement with any of these member institutions to raise resources for its business. As and when an opportunity arises for co-financing in commercial terms, by any two member institutions (say India and South Africa), lending in single currency by both the institutions would also be possible.

Background

  • Exim Bank finances, facilitates and promotes India’s international trade.
  • It provides competitive finance at various stages of the business cycle covering import of technology, export product development, export production and export credit at pre-shipment and post-shipment stages and investments overseas.

Interbank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement

  • The initial Master Agreement on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism had a validity of five years, which has expired in March 2017.
  • It is understood that some of the member banks (like CDB and VEB; CDB and BNDES) have entered into bilateral agreements for local currency financing under the Master Agreement signed in 2012. Although the current conditions are not conducive to usage, it was useful to keep the same alive as an enabling feature in case a suitable opportunity materializes in future.
  • Exim Bank raises resources in the off-shore market in diverse currencies and swaps to mitigate the risk. The umbrella Agreement would serve as an enabler to enter into bilateral agreements with member banks subject to national laws, regulations and internal policies of the signatories.

Cooperation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings

  • It would enable sharing of credit ratings amongst the BRICS member banks, based on the request received from another bank. This would be an ideal mechanism to mitigate the credit risks associated with cross-border financing.
  • In future, such a mechanism could also serve as pre-cursor to the proposal of having an alternate rating agency by BRICS nations

6.Western Ghats throw up a new snake

Source: The Hindu

Scientists have described a new species of non-venomous endemic snake, Rhabdops aquaticus , from the northern Western Ghats.

Rhabdops aquaticus

  • Rhabdops aquaticus , was till now considered a variant of the Olive Forest Snake, first described in 1863. However, the new study confirms that the Aquatic Rhabdops is a different one: they sport not only different colours and patterns, but also vary in other features of size, shape and structure, and also genetic make-up.
  • The adults are mostly associated with freshwater forest streams and juveniles are seen in water-logged areas, mostly on rocky plateaus. The nocturnal snake hunts for prey underwater. While adults of the Rhabdops aquaticus have off-white bellies and black spots on their olive brown skin, juveniles are olive green, with yellow undersides. This colour difference in life stages could possibly be due to the different local habitats.
  • The Rhabdops aquaticus is found only in the laterite plateaus of the northern Western Ghats in Goa, southern Maharashtra and northern Karnataka, in areas facing severe human pressures.

7.Karnataka anti-superstition Bill

Source: The Hindu

The Karnataka Cabinet has cleared the much-delayed and debated Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017, popularly known as the anti-superstition Bill.

  • The Bill, if cleared by the State legislature, is expected to put an end to various inhuman practices such as black magic, witchcraft, or any act in the name of religion that causes harm to humans and animals. However, acts such as Kesh Lochan (plucking of hair), vaastu and astrology have not been barred.

The bill bans the following:

  • Performing any inhumane act, evil practices and black magic in search of treasure, bounty.
  • Tantric acts including physical and sexual assault.
  • Parading anyone naked.
  • Ostracising anyone in the name of ritual and encouraging inhumane acts.
  • Creating impression of ‘possession’ and exorcism.
  • Assaulting people under the garb of exorcism.
  • Spreading misinformation and creating panic in the garb of ghosts, black magic.
  • Making claims of healing power.
  • Propagating practices that involve self-mutilation.
  • Coercing people to perform fire-walking.

 What is not banned

  • The form of the worship such as Pradakshina, Yatra, Parikrama performed at religious places.
  • Harikata, Keerthana, Pravachana, Bhajana, teaching of ancient and traditional learning and arts, practice, propagation and circulation.
  • Miracles of the deceased saints propagation, publicity and circulation of the same and the propagation, publicity and distribution of literature about miracles of the religious preachers which do not cause physical injury.
  • Performance of prayers, upasana and religious rituals at home, temple, darghas, gurdwara, pagoda, church, and other religious places which do not cause physical injury.
  • All religious celebrations, festivals, prayers, procession and other act relating other rituals.
  • Piercing of ears and nose of children in accordance with rituals and performance of religious ritual such as Kesh Lochan by the Jains.
  • Advice in regard to vaastu shasthra, and advice by jyothishya and other astrologers.



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