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National Current Affairs August 2nd Week 2017
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National Current Affairs August 2nd Week 2017

 1. 7 August: National Handloom Day.


The National Handloom Day is being observed every year on 7 August to honour the handloom weavers in the country and also carter an impetus to India’s handloom industry. This year it was third edition of the National Handloom Day after it was instituted in 2015.

The celebration of the day seeks to highlight the contribution of handloom to the socioeconomic development of the country and promote handlooms to increase income of weavers and also enhance their pride.

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The Union Government had declared 7 August as the National Handloom Day in July 2015 with the objective to generate awareness about importance of India’s handloom industry. The date August 7 was chosen to commemorate the Swadeshi Movement which was launched on this date in 1905 in the Calcutta Town hall to protest against partition of Bengal by the British Government. The movement had aimed at reviving domestic products and production processes. The first National Handloom Day was inaugurated on 7 August 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

Handloom sector contributes to nearly 15% of the cloth production in the country and also contributes to the country’s export earnings. 95% of the world’s hand woven fabric comes from India.
 
2. Indian Railways signs first EPC contract with L&T to speed up electrification.
 
Indian Railways signs first EPC contract with L&T to speed up electrification
 
The Indian Railways has signed its first EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) contract with Larsen and Turbo (L&T) for electrification of railway lines. 

The contract valuing Rs 1,050 crore was awarded by Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE) and Konkan Railways for electrification of 781 route kilometres (RKM). It will cover Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Rewari and Alwr – Bandikui – Jaipur – Phulera – Ajmer (353 rkm) section and Roha – Verna (428 rkm) of Konkan Railway.

Besides, eight such agreements were also exchanged between Zonal Railways and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) for 1,735 rkm of electrification projects valuing Rs 1,746 crore. 

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The EPC contracts were awarded as part of a strategy to speed up the electrification of railway lines under ‘Mission Electrification’ plan unveiled November 2016. So far only 42% of the lines are currently electrified. The Rail ministry is planning to increase its electrified network to 52,400 rkm by 2021. The Indian Railways is expecting to cut its fuel bill by Rs. 3,300 crore annually by 2020-21, by electrifying 90% of all broad gauge tracks under ‘Mission Electrification’ plan. In 2017-18 Budget, it was announced the Railways would tap the EPC route for expediting electrification projects.

Indian Railways consumes 2% of the country’s total power generation. The power could be effectively utilized in other sectors. The Mission Electrification plan will help in reducing the energy bill of railways considerably. It would also make the travel through Railways faster.
 
3. Two new species of Cycas discovered.
 
Two new species of Cycas discovered
 
Research conducted on Cycas pschannae, a lone tree found in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, West Bengal has revealed two new species of Cycas to the world. This discovery takes the total number of Cycas species found in India to 14.

Cycas are one of the most ancient plants whose fossils date to the Jurassic period. They are often referred to as living fossils. They have evolved on the earth as the first seeded plants and they grow very slowly, adding only a few centimetres every year. Nearly 65% of Cycas are threatened. There are over 100 species of Cycas found across the globe.

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Initial studies on the lone Cycas pschannae tree revealed that it was Cycas, a gymnosperm. Further research based on its anatomical and morphological characters led to the discovery of new species of Cycas pschannae and later Cycas dharmrajii in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

Cycas dharmrajii is characterised by the abnormal branching habit of its giant trunk and its swollen base. It has well-defined 10 to 28 hook-like structures in the apex of the mega sporophyll which makes it distinct from other Cycas found in the country. Sporophylls are spore-bearing leaf-like female sex organ of the plant. The sporophylls of Cycas pschannae are characterised by the presence of two lateral horn-like structures.
 
4. Government launches second phase of Measles-rubella vaccination campaign.
Government launches second phase of Measles-rubella vaccination campaign
 
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the second phase of measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign to reduce measles morbidity and mortality, The second phase of campaign will cover 8 states and union territories namely Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Uttarakhand.

The Health Ministry has initiated MR vaccination campaign in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years in a phased manner in the country. It was started across the country under the universal immunisation programme (UIP).The campaign aims to rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella diseases in the community to knock out the disease. Under the second phase, more than three crore children are expected to be covered in these 8 states. 

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Under this campaign, MR vaccine has replaced two doses of measles vaccine provided in the routine immunisation programme in these states. For those children who have already received such vaccination, the campaign dose will provide additional boosting to them.

Measles is one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person. It can also make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and brain infection. Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain.

Rubella disease is commonly known as German Measles (or three-day measles). It is symptomatically similar to measles. It is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (cataract, glaucoma), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation), ears (hearing loss) and heart defects.
 
5. Government merges NCRB with BPRD.
 
Government merges NCRB with BPRD
 
The Union Home Ministry has merged three-decade old National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) with Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD).

The merger aims at improving administrative efficiency and optimal utilisation of resources for development works related to policing. It will also boost crime data collection and research efforts.

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Now BPR&D will oversee all the data collection related to Crime in India, Suicides and Accidental Deaths, Prison Statistics and Fingerprints which was earlier done by NCRB. The BPRD Director General (DG) will be the head of the merged new entity, where the NCRB Director, an Additional DG rank post will report to the former.

Reasons for merger.

BPR&D has been given charge of NCRB so that there is more research based and methodological data collection in future as data collection by NCRB as of now was that of taken from states and was sometimes inaccurate. It was also felt that if the researchers of BPR&D there will be more accurate and research based data collection.

The NCRB was established in 1986 as the central police organisation to collect crime data, on various parameters, from across all the states of the country. The BPRD was established in 1970 as the national police organisation to study, research and develop on subjects and issues related to policing. Both the organisations were functioning under the aegis of Union Home Ministry.
 
6. Entire Assam declared as ‘disturbed’ area under AFSPA for another month.
 
Entire Assam declared as ‘disturbed’ area under AFSPA for another month
 
The Union Home Ministry has declared entire Assam state as a disturbed area under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for one more month, citing various violent activities by insurgent groups ULFA, NDFB, and others.

The Home Ministry also declared 20 km belt along Meghalaya’s border areas adjoining Assam and three districts in Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap, Changlang and Longding) as disturbed under the AFSPA for two more months.

AFSPA has been continuing in Assam since November 1990. In 2016, there were 75 incidents of violence reported in Assam in which 33 people, including four security personnel, were killed and 14 others were abducted. The violence was perpetrated in Assam by insurgent groups like ULFA, NDFB and others. Similarly, continuing violence perpetrated by NSCN(K), NSCN(IM), ULFA, NDFB, and others were key reasons for continuing with AFSPA in Arunachal Pradesh. Meghalaya too has witnessed violence by ULFA, NDFB militants in the recent past.
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About Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act
The AFSPA was enacted by the parliament in 1958. It grants extra-ordinary powers and immunity to the armed forces to bring back order in the disturbed areas. Some of these extra-ordinary powers include fire upon anyone after giving warning who is acting against law & order in the disturbed area, arrest anyone without warrant, stop and search any vehicle or vessel, legal immunity to armed forces personnel for their actions.

Note: Presently AFSPA is enforced in the 6 states of North East (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland) and Jammu and Kashmir. It was lifted in Tripura in May 2015.
 
7. Maharashtra to raise $270 m from Green Climate Fund.
 
Maharashtra to raise $270 m from Green Climate Fund
 
The 2030 Water Resources Group (2030WRG) will help the Maharashtra Government raise $270 million from the Green Climate Fund, which will be invested in integrated watershed programmes such as Jalyukt Shivar Yojana.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a new fund under the UN and is guided by the principles and provisions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 2030WRG is hosted by the International Finance Corporation and is a public-private-civil society collaboration for water resources reform in developing economies. Its ultimate aim is to close the gap between water demand and supply by the year 2030.

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Co-Head (Asia and Middle East) of 2030WRG, Bastiaan Mohrmann, told BusinessLine that ground water was being augmented under Jalyukt Shivar Yojana but it needs to be further connected with the efficient use of water for which one needs technology and infrastructure development at the village level, where the fund will be useful. It will also be used in crop diversification and adding market linkages, he said.

Mohrmann said for raising money from the Green Climate Fund, the State Level Climate Change Committee will endorse the proposal next week, after which it would be referred to the Central Government. The approvals will be in place in early 2018 and it could take a year to get the funding, he added.

Mohrmann also said 2030WRG, along with the State Government, has also launched the Maharashtra Water Resources Multi-Stakeholder Platform, which will address critical water resources challenges in the State. The platform will be chaired by the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra.

One of the areas of work under the platform will be acceleration of water use efficiency programme in irrigated areas, along with agriculture growth and income enhancement. It will also develop public-private-community partnership models for implementation of the programmes. Viable financing solutions, including blended finance models for promoting efficient use of water, will be worked out, he said.
 
8. Government constitute committee to make drugs more affordable.
 
Government constitute committee to make drugs more affordable
 
The Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers has constituted a committee of joint secretaries for ensuring enhanced affordability, availability and accessibility of drugs for the citizens. 

The committee will suggest ways to make pricing policy in favour of poor patients.
The committee will review the scope of Drugs (Price Control) Order 2013 (DPCO 2013) and suggest ways for strengthening the regulatory provisions of the order. It will also suggest ways to make DPCO 2013 more comprehensive in light of past experience of implementing the order.

It will also delve into making the existing mechanism for collection of market based data on prices of medicines more robust. It will also suggest ways for strengthening the existing pharmaceutical database management system.

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It will also look at procedural improvements and process of re-engineering in National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to ensure better and quicker implementation of the government policy and bring greater transparency to reduce litigations and review petitions.
 
9. 75th anniversary of Quit India Movement.
 
75th anniversary of Quit India Movement
 
The 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement was observed across the country. This year’s theme was “Sankalp se Siddhi- the attainment through resolve”.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent Mann Ki Baat programme had called for launching the mega campaign Sankalp Se Siddhi. The campaign pledges to build new India by 2022. It calls on everyone to pledge together towards Clean India, Poverty–free India, Corruption-free India, Terrorism-free India, Communalism-free India, Casteism-free India.  

Prime Minister Modi also had termed the month of August as a month of revolution as the non-cooperation movement was launched on August 1, 1920, Quit-India movement on August 9, 1942 and on August 15, 1947 India became independent.
 


 

 

Quit India Movement 

 

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The Quit India Movement (Bharat Chhodo Andolan or the August Movement (August Kranti)) was an important milestone in the Indian freedom struggle. It was a civil disobedience movement launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942 demanding an end to British Rule of India. It was launched after Mahatma Gandhi had made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on 7 August 1942. 

Gandhi hoped to bring the British government to the negotiating table as the Cripps Mission had failed. Quit India Resolution drafted by Jawaharlal Nehru and was moved by him on 8th August 1942 in AICCC session and Sardar Patel seconded it. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, people across India came together to uproot 
imperialism.

10. NITI Aayog partners with 6 states to transform Health & Education sectors.

NITI Aayog partners with 6 states to transform Health & Education sectors 
The NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog has announced partnership with three states each to radically transform their Health and Education sectors under its Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) initiative.

The shortlisted states for transforming their health sector are Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka. Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha were selected for transforming their education sector.

NITI Aayog had invited all states and Union Territories to participate in its SATH initiative to transform Health and Education sectors in order to give major push to competitive, cooperative federalism. Under this initiative, a Program Management Unit will now be available in the six chosen States for a period of 30 months to push for efficiency and efficacy in governance structures and service delivery.

It is expected that these three years of focussed attention and support from NITI Aayog will lead to a marked transformation and provide a model for other States to replicate and adapt. It will be three-way partnership between NITI, State Governments and knowledge partner for each of the sectors is part of the SATH initiative of NITI Aayog.
 
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Selection of States

 


These six states were chosen after a rigorous competitive process based on comprehensive metrics to determine potential for impact and likelihood of success. States had made presentations for each sector which was assessed by a committee comprising of senior members of NITI Aayog and Human Resources Development and Health ministries. The States had highlighted the initiatives undertaken by them and their willingness to accelerate improvement. On thorough technical evaluation, the chosen States have committed to time-bound, governance reforms in both sectors.
 

Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) initiative
NITI Aayog is working to foster co-operative federalism by ranking states through health, water, education, and agricultural indices. The SATH initiative was launched to go beyond ranking states and to handhold them in improving their social sector indicators.

The vision of SATH initiative is to initiate transformation in the education and health sectors by providing technical support to states from NITI. It aims to identify and build three future ‘role model’ states for health and education sectors.

Under it, NITI will work in close collaboration with state machinery to design a robust roadmap of intervention, develop governance structure, set up monitoring and tracking mechanisms and provide support on a range of institutional measures to achieve the end objectives.
 

NITI Aayog.
NITI Aayog is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Union Government, providing both directional and policy inputs. It is essentially an advisory body that seeks to provide critical directional and strategic inputs across spectrum of key elements of policy to the centre.
 
11. Amazon to offer training, aid to Telangana weavers.
 
Amazon to offer training, aid to Telangana weavers
 
Amazon India has signed an agreement with the Telangana government to promote handlooms on the e-commerce platform.

As part of the agreement, the firm will educate, train and enable weavers and artisans to directly sell their products to its customers in India.Training programme
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“Amazon India and the Department of Handlooms and Textiles will conduct training programmes to help them get ready for sales on a different window. The training programme would also have sessions on computers and Internet,” a statement from the company said.

“We will not only provide an online marketplace for marketing but will also engage with weavers and artisans across the State to train them on making the products more attractive, appealing and marketable online,” the statement added.
 
12. Bajaj Auto ties up with Triumph to make mid-capacity motorcycles.
 
Bajaj Auto ties up with Triumph to make mid-capacity motorcycles
 
Triumph Motorcycles UK and Bajaj Auto India on Tuesday put out a statement announcing their new partnership. In the statement put out by the two companies, it has been specified that this is a global partnership.

The aim of this partnership is to "deliver a range of outstanding mid-capacity motorcycles benefitting from the collective strengths of both companies".

While Triumph will benefit from this partnership by expanding its global reach and entering new higher volume markets, Bajaj will, in return, gain access to Triumph`s motorcycles and technology.
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In the statement put out by the two companies, nothing concrete has been revealed as to how the two companies will collaborate. However, they have mentioned that more information will follow soon.

In the statement, the two companies said:
"Triumph Motorcycles and Bajaj are pleased to announce their global partnership.

The objective of this non-equity partnership is to deliver a range of outstanding mid-capacity motorcycles benefitting from the collective strengths of both companies.

We hope to bring to bear upon global markets the indivudal strengths of the partners including brand position and perception, design and development technology, quality and cost competitiveness and worldwide distribution.

This new global partnership will enable Triumph to significantly expand its global reach by entering new higher volume market segments, especially within the emerging markets across the world.

Bajaj will gain access to the iconic Triumph brand, and its great motorcycles, enabling it to offer a wide range of motorcycles within its domestic market and other international markets.

Triumph and Bajaj are excited by the opportunities of this partnership and the prospect of entering the new market segments, thereby reaching a whole new group of motorcyclists across the world."
 
13. ONGC plans to invest $150 million in Colombia,Kazakhstan & Bangladesh.
 
ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, plans to invest $150 million in exploration this fiscal year to drill more wells in Colombia, where it just made a commercial discovery, as well as in Kazakhstan and Bangladesh.

ONGC Videsh, which operates the CPO-5 block of Colombia, has made a commercial discovery in its exploration well Mariposa-1, managing director Narendra Verma has said. 

The company is now drawing up plans for the development of the Mariposa-1well that has begun a test production of 4,500 barrels per day, he said. The success has also opened opportunity for further exploration in the block.

“To chase this lead, we plan to drill two more wells,” Verma said. ONGC has 70% participating interest in CPO-5 block in which the remaing 30% stake in held by Amerisur Resources of UK. ONGC has participating interest in a total of six blocks in Colombia. This includes a producing block whose current output is 35,000 barrels per day.
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ONGC has also accelerated its exploratory efforts in Kazakhstan and Bangladesh. Drilling has begun in the Kazakhstan block in the Caspian Sea while preparations are on to drill the first well in Bangladesh. “We are hopeful Kazakhstan drilling will end up in success,” Verma said. In all, the exploratory effort would require $150 million of investment this year, Verma said.

ONGC Videsh plans to make a total capital spending of $1 billion in 2017-18 in exploration, development and production across all its projects. ONGC Videsh’s production jumped 40% in 2016-17 mainly on 26% stake acquisition in Russia’s prolific Vankor fields.

The output is expected to rise further 15% in the current fiscal year to 14.35 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe). “We are actively working towards meeting our target of 20 mtoe by 2020,” said Verma. The company has also entered Namibia’s oil and gas sector with a purchase of 30% interest from Tullow Oil in the African country’s three oil blocks.

ONGC Videsh’s investment in the Imperial fields of Russia will likely get some production boost after an associated gas processing plant comes up. The tender for the plant has been awarded and it would be ready in about 18 months, Verma said. This would help push up oil production from the field by 4000 barrels/day from the current 7000 barrels/day.
 
14. Flipkart Launching `Budding Star Programme` for Staff.
 
Flipkart Launching `Budding Star Programme` for Staff
 
Flipkart is launching a programme under which the ecommerce major will provide financial assistance to employees who wish to participate in national orinternational challenges in any field of interest. Flipsters who have completed six months with the company are eligible for the ‘Budding Star Programme’. 

Those shortlisted — based on evaluation by an internal company panel — will get up to `3 lakh in assistance. “We want benefits to be meaningful to employees, and this programme will allow Flipsters to pursue their passion beyond work. It adds to our existing sabbatical policy,” said Satheesh KV, directortotal rewards at Flipkart. “If we need to delight our customers, we need to delight our employees as well. 
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The greater the autonomy and flexibility provided, the happier and more productive employees tend to be,” he added. The programme will cover all national and international sports and non-sports competitions recognised by government authorities. But it will not support regional or state-level competitions and leisure or tourist activities.
 
15. Government to expand Logistics Data Bank project ot South India.
 
Government to expand Logistics Data Bank project ot South India
 
The Union Ministry of Shipping is planning to expand Logistics Data Bank (LDB) project to the country’s southern region. So far, it had covered only only the western logistics corridor. 

The LDB project was launched at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT), Mumbai in July 2016, making it first port in India to provide this service. Later its operations were expanded to the container terminals at Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), Mundra and Adani Hazira Port — both in Gujarat.
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About Logistics Data Bank (LDB) project.

The LDB project was unveiled in July 2016 to make India’s logistics sector more efficient through the use of Information Technology. Under this project, every container in the port facility is attached to a Radio Frequency Identification Tag (RFID) tag and then tracked through RFID readers.

It is being implemented through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Logistics Data Service Ltd. (DLDSL). DLDSL is jointly (50:50) owned by the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Trust and Japanese IT services major NEC Corporation.

The LDB project covers the entire movement of containers through rail or road till the Inland Container Depot and Container Freight Station. Its service integrates information available with the agencies across the supply chain to provide detailed, real-time information within a single window.

Significance of project

It has helped to cut the overall lead time of container movement as well as reduced transaction costs that consignees and shippers incur. It also has aided importers and exporters in tracking their goods in transit. It is billed as a major ‘ease of doing business’ initiative aimed at boosting India’foreign trade and ensuring greater transparency.
 
16. Coconut regains `tree` status in Goa as Assembly passes bill.
 
Coconut regains `tree` status in Goa as Assembly passes bill
Goa Legislative Assembly today passed a bill which reclassifies coconut as a `tree`, ensuring legal protection for it.     

Goa Forward Party, a partner in the Manohar Parrikar-led government, had promised to reclassify coconut.

The previous Laxmikant Parsekar-led government had changed classification of coconut tree to a `palm`.    

However, the decision kicked up a controversy as green activists claimed that it would make it easy to cut down coconut trees indiscriminately in the coastal state as it would require no formal permission.     

The Assembly, on the last day of Monsoon session today, passed the Goa, Daman and Diu (Preservation of) Trees Act, 1984 to regulate felling of coconut trees and reclassify it as tree.   

 "Our government has kept the promise," said Agriculture Minister and GFP president Vijai Sardesai.
 
17. Government Launches Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017.
 
Government Launches Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017
 
The Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has released Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017, third party survey report to assess the progress Swachh Bharat Mission in rural India.

The survey was undertaken by the Quality Council of India (QCI) between May and June 2017 to take into account status of rural sanitation in all States and UTs. The survey covered 4626 villages across all States and Union territories.

Key Highlights of Swachh Survekshan Gramin.

QCI claims that 62.45% of the households have access to a toilet and 91.29% of the people who had access to a toilet also used it. Over 4.54 crore household toilets have been constructed since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin. 160 districts, 2,20,104 villages and 5 States declared have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Sanitation Coverage has increased from 39% in October 2016 to 66% in August 2017.
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Top performing states: 
Northeastern States of Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur with 95% rural households covered by toilets were top performers. Himalayan States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were also top performers with over 90% toilet coverage of the rural houses.

Performance of Big States: 
Almost all rural households in Kerala and Haryana have access to a toilet. In, Gujarat 85% of rural households have access to toilets. Tamil Nadu has 79% rural households access to a toilet.

Worst performing States: 
Bihar (30% coverage) and Uttar Pradesh (37%), Jharkhand (37%) were among the worst performers in terms of rural sanitation.

About Quality Council of India (QCI)

QCI was set up in 1997 by Union Government jointly with Indian Industry as an autonomous body. Its mandate is to establish and operate the National Accreditation Structure (NAS) for conformity assessment bodies and providing accreditation in the field of health, education and quality promotion.

It also promotes the adoption of quality standards relating to Food Safety Management Systems (ISO 22000 Series), Quality Management Systems (ISO 14001 Series) and Product Certification and Inspection. It has been assigned task of monitoring and administering the National Quality Campaign and also oversee function of National Information and Enquiry Services.
 
18. NCERT launches web portal to supply textbooks online.
NCERT launches web portal to supply textbooks online 
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has launched a web portal for supply of textbooks to schools and individuals.

The web portal of NCERT will enable schools to place orders for their books online. It will also enable individual buyers to place their orders by logging onto the portal and books will be delivered at their doorstep.

The portal will ensure better distribution of textbooks across the country and also address the apprehensions of schools and parents regarding unavailability of NCERT textbooks. It will enable schools to place orders for the session 2018-19 by enabling them to log on to the portal, by entering their respective Boards’ affiliation numbers and other details.

Moreover, schools will also have option of directly procuring textbooks either from their nearest NCERT vendors or from the Regional Production-cum-Distribution Centres (RPDCs) of the NCERT’s located at Kolkata, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru.

The move will help parents save money spent on sourcing expensive books from private publishers, often due to non-availability of NCERT books. NCERT is also exploring the option of having ecommerce vendors such as Flipkart and Amazon host its books and deliver them too to streamline the process further. About National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) The NCERT is an autonomous organisation set up in 1961 by the Union Government as a literary, scientific and charitable Society under the Societies’ Registration Act. Its mandate is to assist and advise the Union and State Governments on policies and programmes for qualitative improvement in school education.
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Its major objectives are to undertake, promote and coordinate research in areas related to school education, prepare and publish model textbooks, supplementary material, organise pre-service and in-service training of teachers etc. It acts as a nodal agency for achieving goals of Universalisation of Elementary Education. 

In addition, NCERT is an implementation agency for bilateral cultural exchange programmes with other countries in the field of  school education. Textbooks published by NCERT are prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) from classes I to XII.
 
19. Vijaya Bank opens self-employment training institute in Indore.
 
Vijaya Bank opens self-employment training institute in Indore
 
Vijaya Bank has disbursed loan sanction letters to beneficiaries who were trained at the Vijaya Bank Self Employment Training Institute (VIBSETI) in Bhenslay Village, Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

VIBSETI trains youth for starting their own enterprises. Kishore Sansi, Managing Director and CEO, Vijaya Bank, inaugurated the new premises recently. The event was attended by Nishant Warwade, District Collector, Indore; Kirti Khurasiya, Additional Collector and CEO, ZP, Indore; Sathish Ballal, General Manager, Vijaya Bank Head Office; Girish C Dalakoti, Regional Head, Vijaya Bank, Bhopal Regional Office, and others.

The bank has sponsored three VIBSETIs at Mandya and Haveri in Karnataka and Indore in Madhya Pradesh, where free residential training is provided to low-income groups/ rural youth. So far, more than 50,000 candidates have been trained, 70 per cent of whom have set up their own micro enterprises.
 
20. Kerala and Haryana Top Sanitation Survey.
 
Kerala and Haryana Top Sanitation Survey
 
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation on Tuesday released the findings of the survey of 1.4 lakh rural households, undertaken by the Quality Council of India (QCI) between May and June this year.The survey, covering 4626 villages across all States and Union territories, claimed that 62.45% of the households had access to a toilet.

The survey also pointed that 91.29% of the people who had access to a toilet also used it, indicating a change in sanitation behaviour.

Northeastern States of Sikkim, Manipur and Nagaland were top performers with 95% rural households covered by toilets. And so were the Himalayan States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand with over 90% toilet coverage of the rural houses.

Interestingly, BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and NDA-ruled Bihar were among the worst performers in terms of rural sanitation. In Bihar, only 30% of the rural household had access to toilets while Uttar Pradesh was marginally better at 37% . Another BJP-ruled State, Jharkhand, too scored the same as U.P.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s home State fared better in terms of rural sanitation as 85% of rural households had access to toilets.

Apart from Kerala, Tamil Nadu was the other performer as 79% rural households had access to a toilet. However, neighbouring Puducherry scored poorly with just 43% .“Look, it is not even six months since we have come to power in Uttar Pradesh but the way the 

Chief Minister has taken up the issue of cleanliness and sanitation, I am sure in the days to come both Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will see improvement,” asserted Narendra Singh Tomar, the 

Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, when asked why some BJP-ruled States did not score high despite Prime Minister Modi’s emphasis on Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission.

To instil a competitive spirit at the ground level, Mr. Tomar announced that his ministry would now start ranking all districts in terms of sanitation coverage and solid and liquid waste management. The results would be announced on October 2 when Swachh Bharat Mission completes three years but the rankings of the districts would be based on the data that the ministry collects between July and September.In the run up to the 70th Independence Day, the Ministry has drawn up a plan to celebrate a “Freedom from Open Defecation Week.”`

Mr. Tomar also announced that on Saturday he and his colleague, Uma Bharti, will travel to Allahabad to declare 24 villages by the banks of the Ganges — also called Ganga grams — as model Ganga villages. From Uttar Pradesh, 10 model Ganga villages have been chosen while Bihar has four Ganga villages. Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand are the other States that figure in the list of model villages. The Minister reiterated that 77 Central Ministries had a sum of 12,000 crore for the Swachh Bharat campaign and every Ministry should pitch in. “I think this provision of every Ministry having its own fund is a milestone. After all, the campaign isn’t about one Ministry but the entire country and society,” Mr. Tomar said.
 
21. Gujarat first state to implement coal utilisation between power units.
 
Gujarat first state to implement coal utilisation between power units
 
Setting a precedent, the Gujarat government has issued a tender for power developers to receive cheap coal marked for the state in return for selling coal-based power at less than Rs 2.82 a unit.

Through the auction, Gujarat will transfer the coal allocated to power generating stations owned by Gujarat State Electricity Corporation (GSECL) to more fuel-efficient private power plants.

The reverse auction would be held in September for procuring 1,000 megawatt (Mw) of power. The successful power plant would be selling electricity to the state from October 1 to June 30, 2018, said officials in the Ministry of Power.

They said the average landed cost of coal for the seven thermal power units of GSECL was Rs 4,812 a tonne, of which half is accounted as transportation cost. GSECL has allocation from the Korba coalfield in Chhattisgarh and Korea Rewa coalfield in Madhya Pradesh. 
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The move is in line with the initiatives of the central government to ensure fuel availability to stressed power plants. The aim is to reduce the cost of fuel for financially ailing distribution companies and ensure effective distribution of domestic coal. 

In May last year, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal for allowing flexibility in utilisation of domestic coal among power generating stations. Under the new policy, the coal requirement of a state would be clubbed and assigned to the respective state or state-nominated agencies. The state would then award coal linkage based on need, efficiency and cost of electricity to power plants in its territory.

graph The policy also allowed coal swaps from inefficient plants to efficient ones, and from those situated away from coal mines to the pit-head, to minimise cost of coal transportation thus. leading to reduction in cost of power.

For central-owned power plants, coal linkages of individual central generating stations (CGS) would be clubbed and assigned to the company owning the CGS, to enable more efficient coal utilisation amongst end-use generating stations. For use of coal in state or central generating plants, the deciding criteria shall be plant efficiency, coal transportation cost, transmission charge and overall cost of power.

Privately owned independent power plants would have to bid for the coal linkage. The basis of bidding would be the location of source of coal, quantity of coal, quantum of power and delivery point for the receipt of power, which they would have to indicate upfront.
 
22. NGT bans use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in Delhi.
NGT bans use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in Delhi
 
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an interim ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags which are less than 50 microns in the entire national capital Delhi. 
 
It also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone found in possession of non-biodegradable plastic bags less than 50 microns, which is the thickness of a human hair.
 
NGT order
 
NGT ordered Delhi government to seize entire stock of the banned plastic bags within a week. Besides, it asked Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Delhi 
 
Government to file an affidavit on steps taken to implement the ban. It also imposed an environment compensation of Rs. 10,000 on vegetable vendors and slaughter houses for throwing garbage in public places.Plastic waste Non-biodegradable plastic waste has been identified as one of the major source of environmental pollution as they don’t decay naturally. These bags have zero reusable value. Besides choking drains, water-bodies and adding to the load of the already-exhausted landfill sites, there are also cases of cattle eating and dying after choking on plastic bags.
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According to plastic bag manufacturers, the market share of thin plastic bags (less than 50 microns) is not more than 25%. Mostly the banned bags are made by unregistered units which find many takers because of their cheaper products.
 
Most of the garbage bags used at homes are above 50 microns. Their use and manufacturing is already banned under the Plastic Management Handling Rules, 2016. The NGT in 2017 had banned the use of disposable plastic in Delhi and NCR with effect from January 1, 2017 and directed the city government to take steps to reduce dumped waste.
 
23. Lok Sabha passes State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill, 2017.
Lok Sabha passes State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill, 2017
 
The Lok Sabha has passed the State Banks (Repeal and Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill seeks to repeal the two Acts namely State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, and State Bank of Hyderabad Act, 1956.

It also seeks to amend the State Bank of India (SBI) Act, 1955 to remove references to subsidiary banks and powers of SBI to act as an agent of the RBI for subsidiary banks. 

Repealing of SBI (Subsidiary Banks) Act and State Bank of Hyderabad Act: 
These two acts have established the State Bank of Bikaner, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Hyderabad and State Bank of Travancore.  These banks were subsidiaries of the SB). This repealing of two acts is consequent to the decision of the Union Cabinet February 2017 to approve merger of five subsidiary banks of SBI were merged with it.
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Amendments to the SBI Act: 

 


The Bill removes references related to subsidiary banks from the parent Act. These references include the definition of a subsidiary bank and powers of SBI to act as an agent of the RBI for subsidiary banks.

Background
The Union Cabinet had approved the merger of five associate banks along with Bharatiya Mahila Bank with SBI. The five banks were State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, 

State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Patiala. After the acquisition by SBI, the subsidiaries banks have ceased to exist and, therefore, it was necessary to repeal the two Acts. The merger had made State Bank of India one of the 50 biggest banks of the world. The main motive behind the merger was to increase the capital base of the bank to enable it to disburse more loans.
 
24. Second National Deworming Day is observed on 10 August.
 
Second National Deworming Day is observed on 10 August
 
The National Deworming Day is observed on February 10 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and its main objective is to deworm children between the ages of (1-19) at schools and anganwadi centres.

This year for the first time, the Ministry has decided to give the deworming tablets to the private schools children also.

The government of India had launched the initiative in 2015, making it one of the largest single-day public health initiatives in India.

Necessity of deworming children:

Worm infections can cause anemia, malnourishment, impaired mental and physical development; and may cause a serious threat to children`s health, education, and productivity. According to a study, the infected children cannot concentrate on their studies and they find very hard to put up their daily activities.
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Necessity of deworming programme in India:

According to WHO,  India has the highest burden of Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) in the world, with 220 million children aged 1-14 estimated to be at risk of worm infections. Almost 7 in 10 children between 6 month and 5 years are anaemic, with even higher rates of anaemia in rural areas, the 2006 National Family Health Survey reported.   

Deworming tablet and its side effects: 

Children at the age of (1-2) are given half a tablet of albendazole (400mg), and above the age of 2 are given 1 full tablet of albendazole (400mg) to chew.

Albendazole  is very safe and has very few side effects and it occurs with mild side effects like nausea and diarrhea and pass quickly

Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STHs):

According to WHO, Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) or parasitic worms are among the most common infections worldwide. It lives in human intestines and consume nutrients meant for the human body. They produce thousands of eggs each day, which are passed in faeces and spread to others in areas used for public toilet. 

Expert`s View on National Deworming Day:

Dr. Munish Raizada, a board certified pediatrician from Chicago lauded the efforts of Govt of India for launching a National Deworming Day (NDD) in 2015. He said even though India carries the highest burden of worm infestation, a national combat program coupled with health education, proper hygiene and precautions would result in drastic reduction in this disease burden. Raizada cautioned, however, that the cycle of parasitic infections cannot be broken with drugs alone. Proper hand washing and sanitation play an important role in preventing such diseases.
 
25. Parliament passes Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
 
Parliament passes Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017
 
Parliament has passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 with the Rajya Sabha approving it. The Lok Sabha has already passed it. The bill will replace the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 promulgated by President in May 2017.
 
The bill seeks to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to insert provisions for handling cases related to stressed assets or non-performing assets (NPAs) are loans defaulted by borrower in repayment or the loan which has been restructured by changing the repayment schedule.
 
Key Features of the Bill
 
Initiating insolvency proceedings: 
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It will enable the Central government to authorize the RBI to direct banking companies to resolve specific stressed assets by initiating insolvency resolution proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
 
Issuing directions on stressed assets:  
 
It empowers RBI to issue directions to banks for resolution of stressed assets from time to time.
 
Committee to Advise banks: 
 
It enables RBI to specify committees or authorities to advise banks on resolution of stressed assets.  RBI will appoint or approve members on such committees.
 
 Applicability to State Bank of India (SBI): 
 
It inserts provision to make above provisions applicable to the SBI and its subsidiaries and also Regional Rural Banks (RRBs).
 
Need for Amendment
 
NPAs in the banks stand at Rs. 6.41 lakh crore in the public sector banks while total stressed assets are at Rs. 8.02 lakh crore. It has resulted in choking the banking system. So it had become necessary for the RBI to intervene in order to take urgent measures for their speedy resolution. Government is also expanding infrastructures in Debt Recovery Tribunal, National Company Law Tribunal to deal with stressed assets.
 
26. National Mission for Clean Ganga approves 10 projects.
National Mission for Clean Ganga approves 10 projects
 
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved ten projects in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to the tune of about Rs. 2,033 crore.

These projects were approved in the 5th meeting of the Executive Committee of NMCG. Eight of the ten projects pertain to sewage infrastructure and treatment, one each to ghat development and Ganga Knowledge Centre.

Approved Projects

In Bihar, three major sewage infrastructure projects were approved in Barh, Kankarbagh and Digha. These projects will create additional sewage treatment capacity in Kankarbagh and Barh.

In West Bengal, three projects were approved. Out of these two pertain to sewage infrastructure while the third one is for ghat development.  In Uttar Pradesh, sewage infrastructure work in Chunar, district Mirzapur, has also been approved at an estimated cost of around 28 crore rupees.
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Project to establish Ganga Monitoring Centres (GMCs) was also approved in five riparian Ganga states. The objective of GMCs is to establish efficient monitoring of wholesomeness of river including flow levels, pollution levels, point and non-point sources of pollution, among other parameters. Two pilot demonstrative projects of treatment of drains using bioremediation method were also approved.

About National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) 
NMCG is the implementation wing of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga (referred as National Ganga Council). It was established in 2011 as a registered society under Societies Registration Act, 1860.

It has a two tier management structure and comprises of Governing Council and Executive Committee. Both of them are headed by Director General (DG), NMCG. Executive Committee is authorized to approve projects under mission up to Rs.1000 crore.

Similar to structure at national level, State Programme Management Groups (SPMGs) acts as implementing arm of State Ganga Committees. This structure attempts to bring all stakeholders on one platform to take a holistic approach towards the task of Ganga cleaning and rejuvenation.

27. Odisha government and Facebook launches `SheMeansBusiness` programme.

 
Odisha government and social networking giant Facebook has launched ‘SheMeansBusiness’ programme to train women entrepreneurs in the state.

It was launched in partnership between Odisha’s MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) department and Project Mission Shakti.

Under this initiative, 25, 000 women entrepreneurs and self-help group (SHG) members from the state will be given training on digital marketing skills within by the end of 2018. Facebook will monitor the growth of the MSMEs in Odisha after imparting training to them in next one year.
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It will also prepare a data base of the MSMEs through registrations in which they will take the email ids and mobile numbers of entrepreneurs in all the workshops. 

SheMeansBusiness programme

The programme has been launched in 16 countries around the world including India. It is designed to reach out to aspiring and established women entrepreneurs to help them build and grow their business online.
 
28. Indian Govt. launched national anthem video in sign language.
Indian Govt. launched national anthem video in sign language
 
India is set to celebrate its 70th Independence Day this week and the government is busy in preparations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech is being written, the security in the national capital has been beefed up, Red Fort was washed on Thursday evening and the Union 

Minister Mahendra Nath Pandey also launched a new video of the National Anthem in sign language. The video was launched by the government on Thursday evening and Pandey called it a proud moment.

“This is a proud moment for us that the National Anthem has been produced in sign language for those who depend on it. We used to refer to people falling in the category as disabled (viklang), but now the government has modified the definition to divyang,” the Minister of 
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State for Human Resource Development was quoted saying by PTI. At the launch, he also said that the government has referred to the physically challenged as divyang and not viklang to ensure that there was no distinction.

The 3-minute 35-second long video features Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan along with some physically challenged children performing the national anthem in sign language with the Red Fort in the background. The video was directed by Govind Nihalani who is also the brother of current Director of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Pahlaj Nihalani.The video launch event in New Delhi was attended by United Nations Information Centre for 

India and Bhutan Director Derek Segaar and BJP National Spokesperson Sudesh Verma. “This is one of the efforts made to make their survival easier. India is an ancient country and sign language has been used since ancient times,” Mahendra Nath said at the event. Similar events were also held in Goa, Bhopal, Chandigarh and Kolhapur to launch the video.
 
29. Government to launch Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana.
Government to launch Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana
 
The Union Ministry of Rural Development will launch Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY), a sub-scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).

AGEY aims to provide an alternative source of livelihood to members of Self Help Groups 
SHGs) by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas.
AGEY will provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services like e-rickshaws, 3 and 4 wheeler motorised transport vehicles to connect remote villages. These transport vehicles will connect villages with key services and amenities including access to markets, education and health for the overall economic development of the area.

The scheme will be implemented in 250 blocks in the country on a pilot basis for a period of 3 years from 2017-18 to 2019-20. Under it, Community Based Organisation (CBO) is proposed to provide interest free loan from its own corpus to SHG member for purchase of the vehicle.
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About DAY-NRLM

 


DAY-NRLM is a poverty alleviation scheme implemented by Union Ministry of Rural Development. It was launched as NRLM in 2011 but was succeeded by Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana in 2016. The scheme aims at promoting self-employment and organization of rural poor.

The basic idea behind this programme is to organize the poor into SHG (Self Help Groups) groups and make them capable for self-employment. It has a special focus on women empowerment including a dedicated component for promoting farm and non-farm based livelihoods for women farmers in rural areas.

The scheme helps rural poor to set up self-employment ventures by ensuring easy access to credit. It is implemented across the country in all States and Union Territories (except Delhi and Chandigarh). It is one of the world’s largest initiatives to improve the livelihood of poor. It is supported by World Bank.
 
30. Government launches nationalwide campaign Gay Yatra to protect elephants.
Government launches nationalwide campaign Gay Yatra to protect elephants
 
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has launched a nationwide campaign Gaj Yatra to protect elephants. It was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day observed on August 12. 

The ministry also released the All India Census 2017 Report on elephants and Agreed Points of Action on Trans-Boundary Conservation of Elephants by India and Bangladesh.

 

Gaj Yatra Campaign 

 


The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states across the country. It is 15 months campaign the will be led by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The ‘Gaju’ mascot, which was released by the Ministry in 2012, will be helm of the campaign.
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The campaign aims create awareness about elephant corridors to encourage free movement in their habitat. During the period of the campaign, artists and craftsmen will 

create life-size works on the theme of elephants in places along the route of the roadshow using local art and craft. Specially fabricated vehicles will be also deployed to display these on pre-determined routes with campaigners.

World Elephant Day
The World Elephant Day is observed every year on August 12 to support various stakeholders involved in supporting various conservation policies to policies to protect elephants. It also seeks to support stakeholders involved in improving enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and trade in ivory, conserving elephant habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants and reintroducing captive elephants into sanctuaries.

The World Elephant Day was conceived in 2011 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest Pictures and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of Elephant Reintroduction Foundation of Thailand. Now it is supported by over 65 wildlife organisations and many individuals in several countries across the globe.

Elephants 
As per the available population estimates, there are about 400,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants across the globe. Asian elephants are listed as “endangered” and African elephants are listed as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species.
 
31. Indian Coast Guard Ship Shaurya Commissioned in Goa.
Indian Coast Guard Ship Shaurya Commissioned in Goa 
Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Shaurya was commission in Vasco, Goa. ICGS Shaurya is an offshore patrol vessel designed and built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL). It will be based at Chennai under administrative and operational control of Commander Coast Guard Region (East).

 

About ICGS Shaurya

 

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ICGS Shaurya is fifth of a series of six OPVs designed in-house and built by GSL. It is 105-metre long and capable of cruising at a speed of 23 knots.It has a range of 6000 nautical miles.

It is powered by twin diesel engines and carries four boats for boarding party operations. It is fitted with state-of-the-art advanced navigation and communication equipment. Its weaponry package has one 30 mm gun and two 12.7 mm guns associated with fire control system.

The ship has capacity to carry twin engine light helicopter and five high speed boats including quick response interceptor boats for quick boarding operations, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol. It is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment to combat oil spill contamination.
 
32. Ministry of Culture organizes Sankalp Se Siddhi Programme in Coimbatore.
Ministry of Culture organizes Sankalp Se Siddhi Programme in Coimbatore
 
To take forward the initiative of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for a New India movement from 2017 - 2022, a  Sankalp Se Siddhi  (Attainment through Resolve)  Programme was organized at  Sri Ramalinga Sowdambigai College of Science and Commerce, Onappalayam, Coimbatore on 12  August, 2017.  Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge), Dr. Mahesh Sharma graced the occasion.
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The New India Movement 2017-2022 envisages an India free of Poverty, Corruption, Terrorism, Communalism, Casteism and Un-cleanliness. Speaking on the occasion the Union Minister drew the attention of the audience to the urgent need to reform and transform India, through a common resolve for positive transformation. The participants took the New India Pledge of “Come, let us together pledge for building a New India by 2022, a Clean India,  a Poverty-free India, a Corruption-free India, a Terrorism-free India, a Communalism-free India, and a Casteism-free India”.

The pledge-taking ceremony was followed by performances of Thudumbattam, Thiruvathirakali and Bharathanatyam by the artists of South Zonal Cultural Center (SZCC), Tanjavur.  Shri. C. R. Nandakumar; Secretary, Shri Ramalinga Sowdambigai College of Science and Commerce, Shri. V. Rajkumar and Principal, Dr P. Balasubramanian spoke on the occasion.

 

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