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National Current Affairs September 2nd Week 2017
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National Current Affairs September 2nd Week 2017

1. New list of Cabinet ministers and their portfolios.

As many as 23 Cabinet Ministers and 22 Ministers of State took oath as part of the Narendra Modi government on Monday evening. However, there portfolios were formally allocated on Tuesday morning itself. Here’s a list of all the members of Team Modi and their portfolios:

CABINET MINISTERS

Narendra Modi – Prime Minister, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy Department of Space, All important policy issues and all other portfolios not allocated to any Minister

Rajnath Singh – Home Affairs

Sushma Swaraj – External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs

Arun Jaitley – Finance, Corporate Affairs, Information & Broadcasting

M Venkaiah Naidu – Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Parliamentary Affairs

Nitin Gadkari – Road Transport and Highways, Shipping

Manohar Parrikar – Defence

Suresh Prabhu – Railways

D V Sadananda Gowda – Law and Justice

Uma Bharti – Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation

Najma Heptullah – Minority Affairs

Ramvilas Paswan – Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

Kalraj Mishra – Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

Maneka Gandhi – Women and Child Development

Ananth Kumar – Chemicals and Fertilizers

Ravi Shankar Prasad – Communications and Information Technology

Jagat Prakash Nadda – Health and Family Welfare

Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati – Civil Aviation

Anant Geete – Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

Harsimrat Kaur Badal – Food Processing Industries

Narendra Singh Tomar – Mines and Steel

Chaudhary Birender Singh – Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation

Jual Oram – Tribal Affairs

Radha Mohan Singh – Agriculture

Thaawar Chand Gehlot – Social Justice and Empowerment

Smriti Zubin Irani – Human Resource Development

Dr Harsh Vardhan – Health and Family Welfare

MINISTER OF STATE (Independent Charge)

General (Retd) V K Singh – Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs

Inderjit Singh Rao – Planning (Independent Charge), Statistics and Programme Implementation (Independent Charge), Defence

Santosh Kumar Gangwar – Textiles (Independent Charge)

Bandaru Dattatreya – Labour and Employment (Independent Charge)

Rajiv Pratap Rudy – Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge), Parliamentary Affairs

Shripad Yesso Naik – AYUSH (Independent Charge), Health & Family Welfare

Dharmendra Pradhan – Petroleum and Natural Gas (Independent Charge)

Sarbananda Sonowal – Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge)

Prakash Javadekar – Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge)

Piyush Goyal – Power (Independent Charge), Coal (Independent Charge), New and Renewable Energy (Independent Charge)

Jitendra Singh – Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), Prime Minister’s Office Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space
Nirmala Sitharaman – Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge)

Mahesh Sharma – Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge), Civil Aviation

MINISTER OF STATE

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi – Minority Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs

Ram Kripal Yadav – Drinking Water and Sanitation

Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary – Home Affairs

Sanwar Lal Jat – Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation

Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya – Agriculture

Giriraj Singh – Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

Hansraj Gangaram Ahir – Chemicals & Fertilizers

G M Siddeshwara – Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

Manoj Sinha – Railways

Nihalchand – Panchayati Raj

Upendra Kushwaha – Human Resources Development

Radhakrishnan P – Road Transport and Highways, Shipping

Kiren Rijiju – Home Affairs

Krishan Pal – Social Justice and Empowerment

Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan – Agriculture

Mansukhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava – Tribal Affairs

Vishnu Deo Sai – Mines, Steel

Sudarshan Bhagat – Rural Development

Prof. (Dr.) Ram Shankar Katheria – Human Resource Development

Y S Chowdary – Science and Technology, Earth Science

Jayant Sinha – Finance

Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore – Information and Broadcasting

Babul Supria (Babul Supriyo) Baral – Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation

Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti – Food Processing Industries

Vijay Sampla – Social Justice & Empowerment
 
2. Jammu and Kashmir Government to introduce `electric buses` in Srinagar.
The Jammu and Kashmir Government is looking to revamp the public transport in the state through the introduction of electric buses for two cities of Srinagar and Jammu under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme.

This is done with an aim to curb pollution in these two cities which were recently declared `smart cities`.

In this regard, a meeting was also held recently in Srinagar among officials of the state government and experts from AMRUT.

According to experts, introduction of `electric buses` would help in making the environment healthy and also in providing a trustworthy public transport.

If all goes according to the plan, these electric buses will be seen running on the roads of both the cities of Srinagar and Jammu from mid-September.

The local residents have warmly welcomed this initiative taken by the government as this may help in benefitting the tourism sector and will increase employment opportunities in the state.
 
3. CBDT signs four Advance Pricing Agreement.
CBDT signs four Advance Pricing Agreement
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Monday said it has entered into four advance pricing agreements (APAs) in August, which takes the total number of APAs in the current fiscal to 23.  Of the latest pacts, three are unilateral while one is a bilateral agreement, the policymaking body of the income tax department said on Monday.
 
The APA programme was launched by the government in 2012 to provide taxpayers with an alternate dispute resolution mechanism with respect to transfer pricing. The board said the bilateral APA is for international transactions between an Indian company and a UK-based company. It added this is the 8th bilateral APA with the UK and 13th overall (the other 5 being with Japan), the Central Board of Direct Taxes said.
 
With the signing of agreements, the total number of APAs entered into by the Central Board of Direct Taxes has reached 175. This includes 162 unilateral APAs and 13 bilateral APAs.  In the current financial year, a total of 23 APAs (two bilateral and 21 unilateral) have been signed till date.
 
The agreements signed last month pertain to sectors including telecom, banking, manufacturing and education.
 
4. National Teachers Day is observed on September 5th.
Every year, on September 5, classrooms across India fill up with greeting cards, chocolates, flowers and performances as student showcase what their teachers mean to them. We all appreciate the vital role that teachers play in shaping the future, but do we really know why we celebrate Teachers’ Day?

The first Teachers’ Day was celebrated in India in 1962. This is the year when Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan began serving as the second president of India. To celebrate his esteemed position, his students suggested that his birthday be celebrated as ‘Radhakrishnan Day’.

However, he declined this move and suggested that “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud priviledge if September 5 is observed as Teachers’ Day.”Radhakrishnan was born in 1882 in a town called Tirutani in Andhra Pradesh. 

Though his father wanted him to take on the role of a priest, the boy’s talents brought him to join schools in Tirupati and Vellore. He eventually joined Christian College, Madras, in order to study philosophy.
 
5. CIPAM-DIPP launches social media campaign to promote Geographical Indications.
CIPAM-DIPP launches social media campaign to promote Geographical Indications
The Cell for IPR Promotions & Management (CIPAM) under the aegis of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has launched a social media campaign to promote Indian 

Geographical Indications (GIs) with #LetsTalkIP which is an ongoing movement initiated by CIPAM to make more people aware about the importance of Intellectual Property Rights.

A Geographical Indication or a GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality. Darjeeling Tea, Mahabaleshwar Strawberry, Blue Pottery of Jaipur, Banarasi Sarees and Tirupati Laddus are some of the GIs.

GIs are of utmost importance to the country as they are an integral part of India`s rich culture and collective intellectual heritage. The promotion of GIs is in line with the Government`s `Make in India` campaign. It`s an area of strength and optimism for India, whereby the GI tag has accorded protection to a number of hand-made and manufactured products, especially in the informal sector.
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Certain GI products can benefit the rural economy in remote areas, by supplementing the incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmen. Our rural artisans possess unique skills and knowledge of traditional practices and methods, passed down from generation to generation, which need to be protected and promoted.

In the recent past, the government had launched similar initiatives such as #IWearHandloom and #CottonIsCool to promote and revive traditional handwoven textiles.

This time around, CIPAM will be talking about interesting facts and stories related to GIs from across the country on its Twitter handle @CIPAM_India and Facebook Page @CIPAMIndia using #LetsTalkIP hashtag. The government will also be coming up with various other initiatives to promote registered GIs in the future.
 
6. Union Government forms task force for speedy implementation Namami Gange.
Union Government forms task force for speedy implementation Namami Gange
Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who assumed additional charge of water resources on Monday, has announced the formation of an inter-ministerial task force to expedite implementation of the Centre’s Namami Gange mission.

Accompanied by his predecessor Uma Bharti, he also said the ministry would come out with a detailed schedule on achieving various targets under the mission in a time-bound and transparent manner in a week.

He also heaped praises on Bharti for working hard and doing all the ground 
work towards cleaning the river in the past three years and said he would 
try to see that the ministry attained all the goals she had set.

“We will form a task force...We will come out with a schedule of targets to 
be achieved under the mission in a week. We will try to realise the dreams 
of the prime minister in a time-bound, transparent manner...we will attain 
all the deadlines fixed by Umaji,” Gadkari told reporters here.

The task force is expected to have ministers and officials from water 
resources, urban development, drinking water and sanitation and rural development among others onboard.

Praising Bharti, who headed the water resources ministry till the Cabinet 
was reshuffled yesterday, he said, “Assuming charge from her is like 
everything was ready in the kitchen and I took charge when the food was 
about to be served.”

On her part, Bharti exuded confidence that the ministry would be able to attain its goals under Gadkari’s leadership.

Ministers of state for water resources Arjun Ram Meghwal and Satyapal Singh were also present at the briefing.
 
Gadkari replaced Bharti in the ministry, allegedly as the Namami Ganga mission, dear to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a key poll promise of the ruling BJP, was moving at a snail’s pace.
 
7. Prakriti Khoj’ an Environment Quiz on Teachers’ Day.
Prakriti Khoj’ an Environment Quiz on Teachers’ Day
In an attempt to spread awareness about the environment, the government will launch a national-level online quiz competition, "Prakriti Khoj", tomorrow. 

On Teachers` Day, it will be the best way to teach the young minds through a fun-filled activities and to trigger their sensitivity towards environment protection and conservation, an environment ministry statement said.

The quiz will have multiple choice questions on climate change, biodiversity, forest and wildlife, pollution, waste management, rivers and lakes and natural history etc.

"This will help in sensitising students to issues related to the environment and motivate them about conservation-oriented lifestyles," it added. 

The quiz will be conducted in two phases. In the first phase, students under the National Green Corps (NGC) programme will participate. The NGC was initiated by the ministry in 2001 and saw the formation of around one lakh Eco-clubs in schools across the country. These clubs conduct activities such as cleanliness drives, waste segregation, composting using bio-degradable wastes, subsisting the concept of three Rs.--Reduce, Reuse and Recycle; nukkad nataks etc. 
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The quiz will be open only to Eco-clubs in the age-groups of 8-12, 13-15 and 16-18 years. In the second phase, the quiz will be open to students from all schools in the country in 2018, the statement said.

A separate web portal, www.ngc.nic, will provide information on the quiz competition. Dates of the quiz will be updated on the `Prakriti Khoj` portal, as well as the ministry`s website and the students from Eco-clubs will be able to participate in the qualification round from September 18 onwards. The quiz will be organised in schools under the supervision of Principals/Eco-club coordinators and the winners will also be given cash prizes.
 
8. DBS becomes second bank to get in-principle nod to operate as wholly-owned unit.
DBS becomes second bank to get in-principle nod to operate as wholly-owned unit
Singapore-based bank DBS has got final approval to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary (WOS) in India after a delay of two years.

DBS was the first foreign lender to apply for the new operating WOS model two years ago and had recently said that its request is pending with the Ministry of Finance and the lack of a precedent was causing delays.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had issued the guidelines in late 2014 and DBS was the first to apply in early 2015, followed by at least two others including SBM Bank (Mauritius).

DBS is the second foreign lender after SBM (Mauritius) to get an in-principle approval to operate as WOS in India.

"A new category of banks have to be created...100 percent-owned foreign banks do not exist. With the first bank (licence), a new category of banks will be created. It is still a new thing," DBS Chief Executive for India, Surojit Shome said.Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Group, said the WOS model will help to shift to the 

subsidiary structure from a branch structure in India in 6-9 months. We will fine-tune the earlier target of 75 branches and decide in the next 60 days. We will not be shy of adding more capital in the India unit.

Gupta says the bank now hopes to scale up in SME banking, consumer finance and supply chain management in India.

DBS also has a strong network in the form of Digibank in India with about 1.5 million customers.
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Shome said that the bank has exposure to three of the 12 companies from the RBI`s first list currently admitted in the bankruptcy court. Of these two have exited already.

At the time of making the application, the bank had expected approvals to come by March 2016.

Shome had hinted that their application has been approved by the Reserve Bank of India and is pending in the Ministry of Finance at present, which has to take a call on it after consulting other ministries, including Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of External Affairs.

The RBI has been wanting foreign banks to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary in the country, which will insulate the local operations from any difficulties which the parent may face.

The present branch model exposes the banks to risks if an event like the 2008 financial meltdown happens.

Most foreign lenders did not want to opt for the WOS model owing to the slowing local and global factors leading to a reduction in their business in India.

DBS operates through 12 branches in the country at present with over a million customers. The bank has already drawn up plans of expanding presence in the country in a staggered way which is included in the application submitted, he said.

The RBI had mandated all the new foreign lenders and existing ones having a certain size to operate as a WOS.

As a WOS, DBS wants to expand its physical network to 50-75 branches in five years and primarily target the small businesses for its growth in the country.

Further, DBS is the only foreign lender offering a savings rate of 7 percent to its Digibank customers. Gupta said the premium pricing will not be tweaked as it "continues to remain cost competitive in our product offering".

DBS would be adding about 6 people in the key managerial positions and double its employee base from 2000 currently in the next 5 years.

9. Yogi Adityanath and Rajnath Singh flagged-off Lucknow Metro.
Yogi Adityanath and Rajnath Singh flagged-off Lucknow Metro
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will flag off the maiden run of the Lucknow Metro in Lucknow today.

The first train will be flagged off by the home minister, who represents the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat, and the chief minister from the Transport Nagar metro station.

The services will be opened for public use the next day. The 8.5-km-long `Priority Corridor` from Transport Nagar to Charbagh, which is part of the Phase-1 of the project, will be operational for the public from 6 am to 10 pm everyday.
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Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav had flagged off the trial run on the same stretch in December last year, just ahead of the assembly elections, to showcase it as a signature project of the erstwhile Samajwadi Party government.

However, the Union home minister`s presence at the event is a strong signal from the BJP that it was the Narendra Modi government at the Centre which contributed the bulk of the funds to the project.

The BJP had attacked the Akhilesh government during the assembly election campaign, asking why metro trains were not running in Lucknow.

As the matter got embroiled in politics, Akhilesh had shot back saying it was due to the delay in obtaining clearance from the commissioner, Metro Railway Safety, and had blamed the Centre for it.
 
10. NITI Aayog launches National Nutrition Strategy.
NITI Aayog launches National Nutrition Strategy
The government on Tuesday unveiled the national nutrition strategy which aims at ensuring every child, adolescent girl and woman attains optimal nutritional status by 2022.

The Integrated Child Development Services Mission would be expanded to form a National Nutrition Mission along the lines of National Health Mission under the ministry of women and child development (WCD), as per the strategy document.

Federal think tank Niti Aayog, which has authored the strategy, has suggested setting up a steering group for monitoring the progress of mission that will report directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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The outcome of deliberations of an inter-ministerial group, the strategy document titled ‘Nourishing India’ envisages use of tracking and targeting children from birth until they are three years old, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said.

Describing malnutrition among children as “India’s biggest governance failure”, Kant said one third of the world’s stunted children live in India.

The document lays the roadmap for targeted action to address India’s nutritional needs. The Aayog has been tasked with monitoring the governance of the strategy, vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar said.

The strategy envisages a framework that will focus on improvement in health, food, drinking water, sanitation, income and livelihoods. Currently 50% of pregnant women and 60% of children in the country are estimated to be anaemic.

As per the document, the states will be asked to create customised district specific action plans with greater role for rural and urban local bodies. The focus will be on decentralised planning and local innovation, officials said. Nutrition outcomes will be monitored by the think tank.

The steering group will be headed by WCD minister Maneka Gandhi while ministers from states with high burden districts will be made members on a rotational basis. Other members will include secretaries of WCD, expenditure in finance ministry, health, panchayati raj, rural development, drinking water supply and food; state chief secretaries and five sector experts.

11. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu honours 219 teachers with National award.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu honours 219 teachers with National award 
 In a break from tradition, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, instead of the president, today gave away the national awards for teachers.

President Ram Nath Kovind later interacted with the 219 awardees at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

Constituted in 1958, the National Award for Teachers is presented by the president to teachers, who have rendered exemplary service to the nation by exhibiting meritorious performance. The awards cover teachers working in primary, middle and secondary schools in the country.

Congratulating the teachers on the occasion, Naidu called them the "unsung heroes".

"Teachers are `bharata bhagya vidhatas` (shapers of India`s development), dedicating their time and energy to shape individuals for creating New India. They have a formidable responsibility to achieve 100 per cent literacy in next five years," he said at the award ceremony at Vigyan Bhavan here.

"India was once known as `Vishwa Guru` with people from across the globe flocking to our ancient seats of learning like Nalanda and Takshashila. Today all teachers must pledge to transform classrooms into hubs of joyful learning and raise the education system to a much higher level," he said.

A total of 219 teachers, including 124 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) teachers, were awarded today.

The recognition is extended to teachers of CBSEaffiliated schools, independent affiliated schools situated abroad, ICSCE, Sainik School, KVs, NVs, CTSA and schools run by the Atomic Energy Education Society.
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The award ceremony was also presided over by Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and the newly inducted Minister of State for HRD Satyapal Singh.

On the occasion, the vice president also launched DIKSHA, a national digital infrastructure for teachers.

"DIKSHA is a customisable national digital infrastructure that states, Teacher Education Institutions (TEI) and private entities can use for their respective teacher-centric initiatives.

"Teachers will be able to use DIKSHA to access and create high quality teaching, learning and assessment resources for all subjects and levels in al Indian languages. They will be able to use DIKSHA to access and create high quality teaching," Javadekar said.
 
12. Reliance General Insurance gets IRDA Nod for IPO.
Reliance General Insurance gets IRDA Nod for IPO 
Reliance General Insurance, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Capital, has received in-principle approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority for the process of its proposed IPO.

Listing of Reliance General Insurance is expected to be completed in FY18, subject to necessary approvals, the company said in its filing.

Sources told CNBC-TV18 that the general insurance company may file draft red herring prospectus for its IPO, with capital market regulator SEBI by September-end.

The company is planning to launch IPO by November.

CNBC-TV18 learnt that the wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Capital is looking to raise Rs 1,500-2,000 crore by diluting upto 25 percent through IPO.

Reliance General Insurance provides a wide range of general insurance products like fire, motor, health, home, crop, travel etc.

Meanwhile, Reliance Capital`s another subsidiary Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management Company is likely launch its initial public offer by first week of November, sources in know of the development told Moneycontrol.
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Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group`s asset management arm had filed draft papers with markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India to float an IPO on August 18 which is expected to value the company at about Rs 18,000 crore, according to merchant bankers.

This would be the first initial public offering by an asset management company in India, although UTI Mutual Fund IPO have been in the works for a long time.

At 14:34 hours IST, the share price of Reliance Capital was quoting at Rs 752.00, down 8.30 percent due to demerger of home finance business that is expected to list on exchanges in second half of September.
 
13. India’s first Hyperloop to come up in Andhra Pradesh.
India`s first Hyperloop to come up in Andhra Pradesh
Hyperloop travel is set to come to India. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has signed an agreement with the Andhra Pradesh government to connect the city centres of Amravati and Vijayawada. The MoU marks the first agreement in India for the new transportation system. This route would turn a trip of over an hour into a five-minute ride.

HTT signed an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB) on Wednesday.

The APEDB, along with the government of Andhra Pradesh, will assist Hyperloop Transportation Technologies with all regulatory requirements to develop and implement the hyperloop in Amravati. It will facilitate the development of HTT’s Hyperloop Transportation System in Andhra Pradesh. The proposed hyperloop project between Vijayawada and Amravati will use a public private partnership model, with funding primarily from private investors.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies chairman and co-founder Bibop Gresta said HTT would work with local stakeholders to build the regulatory standards necessary for safe and efficient operation of the HTT. “During Phase-1 of the project, HTT will conduct a six-month feasibility study commencing in October,” Gresta said.

14. Union Government allows import of 3 lakh metric tonnes of raw sugar through southern ports at concessional duty of 25 %.

The government on Thursday allowed import of 3 lakh tonnes of raw sugar at concessional duty of 25 percent to augment domestic supplies ahead of the festive season.

It had hiked import duty on sugar in July to 50 percent from 40 percent to curb dumping of the commodity in India as international prices fell.

"To supplement the availability of sugar in southern India and to stabilise sugar price, import of 3 lakh MT of raw sugar through southern ports of India at 25 percent import duty under Open General License (Tariff Rate Quota) has been allowed through millers/refiners," a statement from the food ministry said.

Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the import of 3 lakh tonnes of raw sugar was allowed to increase domestic availability and maintain retail prices at reasonable level.

"If required, we will import more, but we will not allow consumer prices to rise abnormally," Paswan told PTI.

Retail prices of Rs 42-43 per kg is reasonable, he added. The imports will be allowed through the ports of Tuticorin, Karaikal, Chennai, Mangalore, Kakinada, Gangavaram and Vishakapatnam in the South, the statement added.

The food ministry said such imports shall be open to millers/refiners who have their own capacity to convert raw sugar into refined /white.

Sugar production in India, the world`s second largest producer, is estimated to decline to around 21 million tonnes in 2016-17 season ending September from 25 MT in the previous year. The annual demand is 24-25 MT.
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National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories MD Prakash Naiknavre told PTI that the decision is "in right direction because southern states specially Tamil Nadu is reeling under third consecutive year of drought and not having adequate sugarcane for the next crushing season. As a result this crushing capacity with mills would have remained unutilised".

The raw sugar arriving at end October will be handy to attain adequate utilisation of crushing capacity, he added.

Asked about the impact on sugar prices, Naiknavre said: "This will not have an impact on prices on all-India basis because quantity is limited and arriving at restricted ports in southern states".

The government had in April allowed duty free import of 5 lakh tonnes of raw sugar to boost domestic supply.

Last month, the government had imposed stock limit on sugar mills for the next two months to keep prices in check during the festive season. By the end of September, a mill cannot keep more than 21 percent of its total sugar availability for the entire 2016- 17 marketing year and a factory cannot hold more than 8 percent at the end of October, according to the government notification issued last month.

Sugar is selling at an average price of Rs 42 per kg in the retail market, while branded sweetener is available at Rs 50 per kg. White sugar prices in the international market have fallen by 8 percent since July but raw sugar prices have remained flat. The domestic wholesale prices of sugar are also flat.
 
15. Nestle Sets up First Food Safety Institute in India.
Nestle Sets up First Food Safety Institute in India
More than two years since the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) banned Nestle India Ltd’s Maggi instant noodles over health and safety worries, the new FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal on Wednesday inaugurated the Nestle Food Safety Institute that will provide guidance and training on food safety.

“This partnership is very well thought strategy. Nestle Food Safety Institute will conduct training programmes, on food safety management systems, testing methods and regulatory standards. Partnerships with private parties on food safety and standards are an imperative for FSSAI. This is our effort to implement a first world regulatory ecosystem in India,” said Agarwal.

The FSSAI has been working with Nestle India for setting up the institute at Manesar, where Nestle has its research and development centre, for the past seven months.

While this is the first such institute in India, Nestle already runs a similar institute each in China and Lausanne, Switzerland.

“Nestle can also help with its global expertise in areas of food science, which will help FSSAI in taking informed decisions while formulating regulations,” said Suresh Narayanan.
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“Milestones are reached by companies at certain stages. For me this (opening up of the institute with FSSAI’s support) is a milestone for me and it reflects commitment of Nestle in India,” added Narayanan.

Nestle India, which launched 43 products after the Maggi crisis, is looking at consolidating its portfolio over the next 18-24 months. “Now we are in the process to see what is working and what is not working. We cannot support so many products going forward. What you need to do is to prioritise on what you need to focus on, and that core exercise is happening,” said Narayanan.

The company will focus on increasing penetration to ensure volume-led growth, he added.
 
16. Nagaland to implement DBT under MGNREGA.
Nagaland to implement DBT under MGNREGA 
Along with rest of the Country, Nagaland will start implementing Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) under MGNREGA beginning from the current financial year 2017.

Wages of the MGNREGA workers will be directly credited to the individual accounts of Job card holders who have actually done the works on the basis of Rs.177 per day as daily wage through National Electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS)–Public Financial Management System (PFMS), a press release from Kelei Zeliang, IAS, Secretary, RD & Commissioner MGNREGA informed. 

Under this system, every Job card holder must have a Bank Account duly linked with Aadhaar and unlike the present practice, where wages of MGNREGA workers are paid by cash through the VDBs, no cash payment will be possible in the new system.

In this system, if any Job card holder needs employment, he or she must demand for work from their respective BDOs, who have been designated as PO MGNREGA. Every job seeker will be given employment within 15 days, the release informed.

On being provided employment and measurement of work taken thereof, muster rolls will be filled and uploaded in the NREGA-Soft MIS. The concerned PO will prepare bills, digitally sign them and generate Fund Transfer Order (FTO). Once FTO is generated, it will directly go to the Program Division of the Ministry of Rural Development (New Delhi) who will sanction and transfer wage amount straight to the workers account through PFMS. In any case no person-days will be allowed to generate in the MIS unless the job card holders does the work.
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This, the Commissioner MGNREGA stated, will ensure transparency and check corruption at all levels.

In view of the above, all MGNREGA workers both under bank covered Blocks and unbanked Blocks in the State have been directed to open their Bank Accounts immediately.

The Commissioner MGNREGA has also directed all the BDOs and Junior Engineers/SOs to remain in their respective station and assist the Job card holders.

Presently 46,894 active MGNREGA workers have opened their bank accounts linked with Aadhar and are ready for DBT. A total of 1.79 lakh MGNREGA workers have been verified with Aadhar and being processed for opening Bank Account. Currently there are 4.25 lakh active job cards with 5.82 lakh active MGNREGA workers in the state.

 17. Union Govt to launch School Chalo Abhiyan to enrol 80 lakh kids.

Union Govt to launch School Chalo Abhiyan to enrol 80 lakh kids
"When all these challenges are met, we will be able to fulfil Prime Minister`s dream of 100 per cent literacy, digital and otherwise, by 2022," said HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar. 

With the government taking several initiatives to eradicate illiteracy in India, reports claim that 70-80 lakh" students in the country are still out of school.

Now, in order to send kids to school, the Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar has said that the government will undertake a programme from next year to enrol "70-80 lakh" students in the country who are out of school.

Here`s what the HRD minister said:

 "There are about 70-80 lakh children who are not going to schools. We have thought of a plan to address the problem... it will be known as `school chalo abhiyan`," Javadekar said while addressing a seminar here on International Literacy Day.

"Many states have started it already. From next year onwards we will launch it in the entire country with more planning," Javadekar added.

81 per cent literacy rate in India:

A lot of progress has happened in the country since 1947 in that "we have achieved 81 per cent literacy" which was 18 per cent at the time of Independence, Javadekar added.

Furthermore, the minister stressed that literacy, as we know it, is not enough, he emphasised on getting digital literacy to the masses. "This is not only the time for literacy in terms of reading and writing, but of digital literacy as well. And people have moved in that direction already. Rural India alone has 70 crore mobile phones," said the minister.

In a notable announcement, the minister said, "When all these challenges are met, we will be able to fulfil Prime Minister`s dream of 100 per cent literacy, digital and otherwise, by 2022."

Along with HRD minster, Minister of State (HRD) Satya Pal Singh, who also addressed the event, advised people to read a bit of India`s history, which he said, led the world in education during as recent as 19th century.

Excerpts from his statement:

"The problem is that we do not read. Thomas Monroe (a British administrator) had written an account in the year 1810, in which he mentioned that India had 100 per cent literacy," Satya Pal Singh said.

"We have a lot to do now. I am new to the Ministry but we will plan on what can be done to bring complete literacy," Singh added.
 
18. In Hyderabad, First water ATM inaugurated at Nalgonda X Roads.
In Hyderabad, First water ATM inaugurated at Nalgonda X Roads
Safe Water Network, an international NGO has partnered with Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to launch water ATMs, providing affordable, 24x7 safe water access in Hyderabad.

The first of the ATMs was inaugurated by Telangana State Home Minister N Narasimha Reddy on Thursday at Nalgonda X Roads. A total of 200 ATMs will be set up to reach a targetted 150,000 people. In the first phase 50 water ATMs will be operationalised by next year.

The initiative is supported by USAID under the Urban WaSH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Alliance Partnership and funded by Honeywell India.Cloud based monitoring

These water ATMs use a seven step treatment process to purify water that adheres to national norms.

They are connected via cloud-based technology for real-time monitoring and analyses operational parameters, thereby minimising downtime. The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) is supplying raw water for these ATMs.
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Consumers can collect water that is affordably priced at ?1 per glass, ?2 per litre, ?5 per 10 litres, and ?10 per 20 litres.

According to Ravi Sewak, Country Director, Safe Water Network: “Empowering local youth to operate and maintain these safe water stations and mobilising strong grassroots community support will ensure sustainable access to safe drinking water.”

Honeywell India, which is engaged in water projects in Telangana for the past couple of years with investments, has already committed funding for 100 safe water stations benefiting more than 300,000 people.
 
19. Sjoerd Mrijne appointed as new Chief Coach of India mens Hockey team, Harendra Singh for womens team.
Sjoerd Mrijne appointed as new Chief Coach of India mens Hockey team, Harendra Singh for womens team
In a big reshuffle of coaching staff, Hockey India on Friday named Sjoerd Mrijne as the new chief coach of the India men’s senior hockey team. The current coach of the senior women’s team Mrijne will take the position of Roelant Oltmans who was sacked by Hockey India last week.

Junior World Cup winning coach Harendra Singh will take the charge of the women’s team as the High Performance Specialist from Saturday. The women’s team is current on its tour to Europe with coach Marijne who will take charge of the men’s team from September 20.

“Current Chief Coach of Indian Senior Women Hockey Team, Mr. Waltherus Marijne,will take over as Chief Coach of Indian Senior Men Hockey Team,” Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore tweeted. “Pleased to announce appointment of Sh Harendra Singh, Dronacharya Award winner, as High Performance Specialist Coach fr Indian Snr Women Hockey Team.”

Hockey India had issued an advertisment for applicants for the vacant post of men’s hockey but that was withdrawn on Thursday.

“The advertisement has been withdrawn as both HI and the Sports Authority of India felt Marijne is the best candidate for the job having spent more than six months in the country,” an Hockey India official told PTI.

The Dutchman has never coached a men’s team before and was appointed as coach of women’s team only in February this year which makes the decision of his appointment as men’s coach as a surprise.
 
20. Biodiversity-rich Uninhabited Parali I island of Lakshadweep vanished.
 Biodiversity-rich Uninhabited Parali I island of Lakshadweep vanished 
One of the biodiversity-rich uninhabited islands part of Lakshadweep has vanished due to coastal erosion and another four such territories in the sea are shrinking fast, claims a new study.

Parali I island, part of Bangaram atoll, which was 0.032 km in 1968 has been eroded to an extent of 100%, resulting in its inundation, said R.M. Hidayathulla in his research work.

Hidayathulla, who is from Androth in Lakshadweep, was awarded PhD in July this year by Calicut University in Kerala for his work “Studies on Coastal Erosion in Selected Uninhabited Islands of Lakshadweep Archipelago with Special Reference to Biodiversity Conservation.”

He conducted studies on assessment of the biodiversity confining to five uninhabited islands —Bangaram, Thinnakara, Parali I, II and III, of which Parali I has been inundated—of Bangaram atoll in Lakshadweep, an archipelago of 36 islands in the Lakshadweep sea.

The study said the complete erosion and inundation of Parali I was pointing to the gravity of issues associated with coastal erosion within the atoll.

On an overall assessment of the changes in the aerial extent of islands using RS/GIS, it has been noticed that all the five islets of Bangaram atoll had undergone coastal erosion, it said.

“The results are indicative of the urgent measures to be implemented on each islet of the atoll to check further erosion.. It is also recommended to check the feasibility of a bio protection strategy using mangroves, in addition to the conventional physical protection measures,” Hidayathulla told PTI.

His guide on the environmental studies, C C Harilal, said submergence of Parali I was noticed when he visited the Bangram atoll in 2011.

The data obtained were processed using Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) softwares, Harilal said.

“One island has submerged.. We can say Lakshadweep now is not an archipelago of 36 islands,” he told PTI.

Hidayathulla said the assessment of the extent of geo-morphological changes associated with each island for a period of 45 years was carried out using geospatial techniques.

“Since the absence of this island (Parli I) is noticed in both observations carried out in 2003 and 2007, it is assumed that the island has been subjected to complete erosion during 1968-2003 periods and an assessment of the exact year of its inundation requires data analysis for a span of 35 years extending from 1968,” said the study.

Hidayathulla, in his study, said a general trend in erosion has been noticed in almost all islands he studied. The magnitude of such events was higher in Parali group, evidenced by the complete erosion and inundation of the island Parali I, the study said.

Noted climate expert Chandra Bhushan hailed the work and said this is one of the very studies done in India to establish the erosion and complete inundation of an island.

“It is now widely recognised that islands and coastal areas are going to get eroded and inundated due to rising sea levels because of increasing global temperature. 

India’s coasts and islands, which are densely populated, are highly vulnerable,” said Bhushan, who is also deputy director general of New Delhi-based advocacy group Centre for Science Environment (CSE).

“With the sea levels predicted to rise further, we should start preparing for building defenses to protect our coastlines and islands,” he told PTI.

The magnitude of net erosion was higher in Parali I island (100%), which resulted in its inundation. Apart from Parali I, net erosion was higher in Parali II (80%), followed by Thinnakara (14.38%), Parali III (11.42%) and Bangaram (9.968%), the study said.

 

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