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National Current Affairs October 5th Week 2017
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National Current Affairs October 5th Week 2017

1. Uttar Pradesh declares Vrindavan, Barsana as sacred sites.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday declared Vrindavan Nagar Palika Parishad and Barsana Nagar Panchayat in Mathura district as “pavitra tirth sthal” (holy pilgrim place), reported PTI. The declaration was made at the eleventh hour as the State Election Commission announced civic polls in three phases from November 22. “Vrindavan area in Mathura is the birth place of Lord Krishna and his elder brother Balram, and is world famous. Barsana is Radha’s birthplace. Lakhs of tourists visit these places to pay obeisance. Keeping in mind their importance and in view of tourism, these are declared as holy pilgrimage places,” an official release.

The UP government added in its statement that special attention will be paid to these areas for the development of facilities for locals and tourists. Both these Nagar Nigams were recently constituted along with Ayodhya Nagar Nigam. After this decision, the newly constituted Ayodhya Nagar Nigam and Mathura-Vrindavan Nagar Nigam will also go to polls this time. The civic polls in Uttar Pradesh will be held in three phases from November 22, making it the first electoral test for the ruling BJP which stormed to power in the Assembly elections earlier this year with a massive mandate.

“As per the schedule, 24 districts will go to polls on November 22, 25 districts on November 26, and 26 districts on November 29,” State Election Commissioner SK Agarwal was quoted saying by PTI. Counting of votes polled for 16 nagar nigam, 198 nagar palika parishad and 438 nagar panchayat will be done on December one,” he said.

This year, a total of 3.32 crore voters will be eligible to cast their ballots at 36,269 polling booths and 11,389 polling stations. In the first phase of the polls, 24 districts in which 230 local bodies, spread over 4,095 wards, will vote while the second phase will cover 25 districts having 189 local bodies covering 3,601 wards. In the third and last phases, 26 districts will go to polls in which there are 233 local bodies spread over 4,299 wards.

2. Ministry of External Affairs Launches AsktheSpokesperson for better understanding of foreign policy.

The Ministry of External Affairs has launched a new initiative titled “#AsktheSpokesperson” on Twitter with an objective to bring better awareness and understanding of foreign policy issues to general public.

The inaugural session of #AsktheSpokesperson initiative was held on October 27, 2017 on the Ministry’s official Twitter handle @MEAIndia. Out of numerous queries received, the Spokesperson responded to selected question, live through periscope.

Under this initiative, the Ministry uses the social media platforms for inviting questions from public on India’s foreign policy and the selected questions are responded to by the Official Spokesperson live on social media.

This initiative is a part of Ministry’s policy to pro-actively use social media and digital technology to engage constantly with a general public on issues related with the activities of the Ministry. #AsktheSpokesperson initiative will be a regular feature to engage and educate the public about foreign policy matters in simplified terms. It will be held every two months.

The Ministry has also launched its LinkedIn profile with the objective to expand its engagements in the social space focussing on professionals and building network and to take digital activations to an altogether different set of audience.

3. SIDBI Revamps Portal for Easy Credit Access.

SIDBI Revamps Portal for Easy Credit Access

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has revamped its portal www.udyamimitra.in with enhanced features to provide easy access to credit and hand-holding services for micro small medium enterprises (MSME).

Transparency ensured

“The portal brings transparency and competition among lenders and removes the need to approach several banks individually,” SIDBI said in a statement.

“In the market place, any bank, other than those requested, can also pick up the application for sanction, thus bringing in best option to MSMEs,” it added.

The portal is mobile-enabled and provides a self-assessment module (auto assisting in categorization).

It sends various information on registered MSMEs from time to time.

It also allows loan applications to be perused and picked up by multiple lenders.

“The revamped version of the portal is planned to leverage the experiences to create and implement a much larger platform to transform the digital landscape for MSME loans,” SIDBI said.

Now new age FinTechs, non-banking finance companies and small finance banks are being on-boarded on the platform for enhancing flow of credit to MSMEs, it said.

“The objective of udyamimitra portal is to enable access to contact less loans, convergence with different agencies (including state/central subsidy agencies), co-lending, wholesale capital access to lenders from SIDBI as well as MUDRA,” the lender said.

4. Indian Army finalises mega Rs 40,000 crore procurement plan to replace ageing weapons.

Indian Army finalises mega Rs 40,000 crore procurement plan to replace ageing weapons

The army is set to launch a fresh hunt for assault rifles, light machine guns (LMGs) and carbines after a string of failed attempts to equip its soldiers with these basic weapons during the past decade, a senior officer said on Sunday.

The officer said the force’s road map for infantry modernisation was taking shape with the government preparing to release a tender for 7.7 lakh assault rifles and redoubling its efforts to buy more than 54,000 LMGs and 44,618 carbines – weapons that are expected to cost upwards of Rs 45,000 crore.

“Indian soldiers are the best in the world but the worst equipped,” said Lieutenant General Rajender Singh (retd), who was director general of infantry in 2007-08. It was during his tenure that the army moved files to buy these weapons.

“The delay is absolutely shocking. Our casualties in counter-terror operations can be reduced by half if soldiers are provided better assault rifles,” General Singh told Hindustan Times. He said the assault rifles should have come by 2010-11.

The army’s fruitless hunt for new assault rifles to replace the flaw-ridden 5.56mm INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifle returned to the drawing board last year. It has once again revised and finalised the qualitative requirements for the new assault rifles and will shortly seek the defence acquisition council’s (DAC) “acceptance of necessity” for the weapon.

Headed by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the DAC’s “acceptance of necessity” for weapons and systems is the first step towards making proposed procurements. She has identified equipping the soldiers with state-of-the-art weapons as one of her top priorities.

“We will move a case for getting the acceptance of necessity after which a tender will be issued. It’s an extremely critical requirement and we are running years behind schedule,” said another officer.

Simultaneously, the army hopes to firm up the qualitative requirements for the carbines and put out a request for information for the LMGs to take the infantry modernisation programme forward.

Two tenders for carbines and LMGs have been withdrawn during the past one year as, in both cases, only a lone vendor met the army’s requirements, delaying the projects by at least six years. A single-vendor situation is a strict no-no under India’s arms purchase policy.

“We have drafted simpler qualitative requirements so that a single-vendor situation does not crop up and basic weapons can be bought swiftly,” the officer said.

Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra will meet the army brass early this week to discuss the LMG programme. Army sources said the Defence Research and Development Organisation had claimed that it had a weapon to replace the LMG but hadn’t offered it for trials yet despite reminders. The force plans to buy 9,000 LMGs in the first phase. The new weapons could be inducted in six to seven years.

“These purchases will have a direct bearing on our operations in Jammu and Kashmir,” said former northern army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd). “Our deliverance of casualties on the enemy is not fructifying due to fault lines in the entire range of small arms except the AK-47,” said General Jaswal, who headed the army’s infantry directorate before General Singh.

It was no secret that soldiers preferred AK-47s to INSAS rifles while carrying out counter-terrorism operations, said General Singh.

5. Rwanda gets first cricket stadium.

Rwanda gets first cricket stadium

It was a historic moment for Rwanda and the cricket fraternity as the country’s first international cricket stadium was launched on Saturday.

The state-of-the-art Gahanga Cricket Stadium, which sits on 4.5 hectares (11 acres), was inaugurated by President Paul Kagame.

The construction of the permanent home for developing the sport in the country cost $1.3 million (about Rwf950million), mainly raised by international cricket players eager to see the game take off in Rwanda.

The effort was spearheaded by Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation which was set up by Alby Shale, the son of the late British politician and cricket lover, Christopher Shale who visited Rwanda to do aid work.

“We are very happy to have this cricket pavilion and ground built, and by that, we remember Christopher Shale, in whose memory this has been built,” President Kagame said at the opening.

“It is a great pleasure for us to have this facility which will see more young men and women playing and improving their skills. It is also good for us to have partners in the United Kingdom,” he added.

Eric Dusingizimana, the national team captain, helped raise funds for the stadium by setting a Guinness World Record by batting for 51 hours straight last year.

“This is an exciting development for us and the younger generation is going to benefit heavily from this,” said the 31-year-old captain.

Rwanda also holds the world record for women after Cathia Uwamahoro, a national team cricket player, became the first woman to bat for 26 hours.

The new stadium has been built to international standards, making it the first of its kind in the East African region.

The inauguration ceremony attracted over 200 high profile cricket personalities from different parts of the globe, but majority came from the UK.

The facility, which has a luxurious bar (club house), offices and changing rooms, will also have an HIV/AIDS awareness unit to provide testing and counseling services.

For the last 15 years, Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA) estimates that close to 10,000 Rwandans men and women of all ages have been introduced to the ‘gentleman’s game’.

The opening was attended by the Minister of Sports and Culture Juliane Uwacu, Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation (RSCF) Project Director Alby Shale.

Others included; Michael Paul Vaughan (OBE) a former English cricketer captain, Alan Higgin, the Chief Investment Officer at Coutts & Company, former South African cricketer and current CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC) David John Richardson, Sarah Ferguson the Duchess of York and British writer, as well as William Russell the Sheriff of the City of London, among others.

6. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurated Bidar-Kalaburagi New Railway Line in Karnataka.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated the Indian Railways’ 110km Bidar-Kalaburgi railway track in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region that is aimed at reducing the distance between Bengaluru and New Delhi by 380km and travel time by six to eight hours, IANS reports. The new track will provide direct rail connectivity from Bengaluru to Bidar in the state’s northern region, about 690km away from the state capital. The report says that work for the project had begun over two decades ago in 1996, but its construction work began only in 2000 and dragged on for years due to meagre fund allocation by the Railway Ministry. The delays in the project escalated its cost to a whopping Rs 1,542 crore from the original estimate of Rs 370 crore. Land acquisition between the towns also delayed its completion.
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Earlier, Modi also launched the digitised cashless Self-Help Groups (SHG) transactions in the state Charitable trust of the Sree Kshetra Dharmastala Rural Development project is organising the public function and the launch of the Rupay cards and SHG transactions at the rally in Karnataka’s Ujire, about 50km from Mangaluru in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada.. “Now an era of digital currency has started, and India should not lag behind,” Modi said at the rally. Modi said digitisation was aimed at bringing in accountability and added that more cash would bring with it social evils.

Modi also highlighted the success of direct benefit transfer scheme and said because of the government’s efforts, Rs 57,000 crore “going into someone’s hand illegally” had been stopped and the money was now reaching the right beneficiary. “Now tell me, those people whose pocket the Rs 57,000 crore used to go to, will they like Modi? Will they not get angry with Modi?… Difficulties will come, but standing at  this holy place I’m saying whether we are there or not, we will not let this country be destroyed,” he said.
 
7. Haryana Government to engage 15000 apprentices in various departments.
 Haryana Government to engage 15000 apprentices in various departments
About 15,000 apprentices will be engaged by the various departments, boards and corporations of the Haryana government by December 1 under the Centre`s National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS). 

A sum of Rs 31.64 crore has been allocated by the Finance Department for this purpose, an official spokesperson said. 

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has directed that the skill development and industrial department would be the nodal department for monitoring engagement of apprentices, he said. 

According to the decision taken by the government, all departments are required to engage apprentices to the extent of 10 per cent of their total manpower, including contractual or outsourced employees, working at directorates and in field offices. 

State departments and state public sector undertakings like universities, boards, corporations, councils, nigams, agencies, municipal corporations and committees are also covered under the Apprenticeship Act, 1961 and they are required to engage apprentices in the prescribed numbers and pay the stipend at the prescribed rates. 

During the first year of training, 70 per cent of minimum wages of semi-skilled workers notified by the state will be paid and during the second year of training, it will be 80 per cent of the minimum wages of semi-skilled worker, the spokesperson said. 

Similarly, during the third year of training, 90 per cent of minimum wages of semi-skilled workers notified by the state would have to be paid as stipend. 
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He said that under the NAPS, the government of India would reimburse 25 per cent of the prescribed stipend paid, subject to a maximum of Rs 1,500 per month per apprentice to the employers, for the period of apprenticeship training. 

Online registration of establishments and apprentices as well as on the apprenticeship portal is essential for availing of the benefits under NAPS, he added. 

Apprentices in the prescribed numbers are required to be engaged by all eligible establishments so as to prevent penal action under the Act. 

The Chief Minister would review implementation of the progress of engagement of apprentices by various departments in November, 2017, the spokesman added.
 
8. Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off `Run for Unity` to mark Sardar Patel`s birth anniversary.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off `Run for Unity` to mark Sardar Patel`s birth anniversary
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today flagged off the Run For Unity in New Delhi to mark the 142nd birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

A large number of people, including sports personalities like Sardar Singh, Deepa Karmakar, Suresh Raina and Karnam Malleswari participated in the Run.

The Prime Minister also administered the unity pledge to thousands of children gathered at Major Dhyanchand National Stadium for the run.

Several programmes are being organised across the country on this occasion.

Earlier, speaking at a function at the Stadium in New Delhi, Mr Modi said, the country can never forget the contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in nation building.

He said, Sardar Patel used all means and succeeded in uniting all princely states into a single nation within a very small span of time. Mr Modi said, generation of Indians will continue to remember Sardar Patel, particularly the youth, who will carry forward his legacy.

The Prime Minister said, in some countries, people of the same faith are even not ready to tolerate each other but in India, there is diversity yet all are united.

Mr Modi said, India must remain united and it is the responsibility of the 125 crore people to ensure its unity and integrity.

Mr Modi also appealed to the people to resolve to make New India when the country will celebrate its 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022.
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Speaking on the occasion, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said appealed to the people of the country to resolve for Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.

Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore and Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Sardar Patel at Patel Chowk in the national capital this morning and offered floral tributes at his statue.

Sardar Patel, known as the Iron Man of India, is credited with integrating more than 500 princely states and laying the foundation of a strong nation.

The day is observed as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas to foster and reinforce the government’s dedication to preserve and strengthen unity of the nation.

 

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