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National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs Jan 3rd week 2018
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National Current Affairs Jan 3rd week 2018

1. Vajra Prahar: Indo-US joint military exercise to be held in Seattle.

IN line with the increasing military cooperation between India and the US, yet another edition of the joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Seattle, in which a 45-member Special Forces team from Indian Army’s Southern Command will train alongside US soldiers in the third week of January.

‘Vajra Prahar’ is a Indo-US Special Forces joint training exercise conducted alternately in India and the US. Though the exercise began in 2010, there was a gap of three years between 2012 and 2015. The last edition was held in Jodhpur in March 2017. This edition’s Indian Army team is from the Pune-headquartered Southern Command.

“The fact that a team from the Special Forces is participating takes the effort to a different level, as these forces have very special skill sets and training methods. This sends a very strong message about Indo-US relations to other countries,” an Army officer said.

“The aim of the exercise is to promote military relations between the two countries by enhancing interoperability and mutual exchange of tactics between Special Forces. The objectives of the joint training is to share the best practices between the two armies and to develop joint strategies by sharing expertise of conducting operations in a counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism environment, while capitalising on the rich repository of experiences of each other armies,” said another officer.


2. BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement India, Bangladesh, Nepal approve Passenger protocol.

Bangladesh, India and Nepal have given nod to operating procedures for movement of passenger vehicles in the sub-region under Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicles agreement, the government said on Monday.

For seamless flow of passenger and cargo traffic in the region, BBIN motor vehicles agreement (MVA) was signed by the transport ministers of the BBIN countries in Thimphu, Bhutan on 15 June 2015. However, Bhutan could not ratify it later.

“Bangladesh, India and Nepal have agreed on the text of the operating procedures for passenger vehicle movement in the sub-region under the BBIN MVA signed in June 2015, and will soon complete the internal approval processes for signing of the passenger protocol,” ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) said in a statement.

It said the participating countries have also agreed to conduct more trial runs for cargo vehicles under the agreement during a high-level meeting of officials of the three countries for implementation of the MVA last week in Bengaluru.

A Bhutanese official delegation also attended the meeting as observer. Earlier, trial runs for cargo vehicles under the MVA were conducted along the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Delhi-Kolkata- Dhaka routes. “Bangladesh, India, and Nepal have already ratified the MVA and have agreed to start implementation of the MVA among the three signatory countries, with Bhutan joining after it ratifies the Agreement,” the statement said.

Joint secretary, MoRTH, Dakshita Das said, “India will do its best to make the MVA successful, making it a key instrument in accelerating cross-border trade and economic integration in the subregion”. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been providing technical, advisory, and financial support to the BBIN MVA initiative as part of its assistance to the south Asia sub-regional economic cooperation (SASEC) programme, a projects-based economic cooperation initiative that brings together the BBIN countries, Maldives, Sri Lanka and more recently, Myanmar.

According to the statement, the officials of the three nations have agreed on the text of the passenger protocol, the document detailing procedures for cross-border movement of buses and private vehicles, to be signed by the three countries after completing necessary internal approval processes in their governments.

The delegations also agreed to continue to conduct trial movement of cargo vehicles along scheduled routes from April 2018 onwards, before finalising the protocol for cargo vehicular movement. 


3. Air Indias new year gift to women: Gives reservation for women in seats.

he public sector major aviation company has given women travelers special thanks to the New Year (2018). Air India has announced a reservation of seats for women in all its domestic flight services. This kind of service has become the country`s first airline company.

The company has given this information via tweet. In his tweet, the company wrote, "Honoring the women who brought us into this world. Special respect to women on our behalf Air India is booking a full line for all women at an economy class at no extra charge. This is for women who are traveling alone or with their young children. "

To avail this facility, female passengers can contact the airline`s counter or booking officer at the airport for up to 90 minutes before flying. This facility of the company is only valid for domestic flights only.


4. India emerging as a biggest tourism hub across the globe; over 11 lakh tourists arrived New Delhi in Dec 2017.

Tourism sector of the nation is blooming year by year, as the Foreign Tourists Arrivals have bloomed by 15.2% in December 2017 as compared to December 2016. And also 48.3% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals on e-Tourist visa in December 2017 Over December 2016.

The following are the important highlights regarding FTAs and FTAs on e-Tourist Visa during the month of December 2017:

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs):

The number of FTAs in December 2017 was 11.76 lakh as compared to FTAs of 10.21 lakh in December 2016 and 9.13 lakh in December 2015.

The growth rate in FTAs in December 2017 over December 2016 was 15.2%, compared to 11.9% in December 2016 over December 2015.

FTAs in the year 2017 were 101.77 lakh with a growth of 15.6% over 2016, compared to FTAs of 88.04 lakh with a growth of 9.7% is 2016 over 2015.

The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during December 2017 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (19.04%) followed by USA (16.90%), UK (10.41%), Australia (5.31%), Canada (3.85%), Russian Fed. (3.79%),Malaysia (3.11%), Germany (2.08%), China (2.06%), Sri Lanka (2.01%), Singapore (1.85%), France (1.81%), Japan (1.64%), Thailand (1.60%) and Italy (1.44%).

The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during December 2017 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (25.80%) followed by Mumbai Airport (17.31%), Haridaspur Land Check Post (9.75%), Chennai Airport (6.36%), Bengaluru Airport (5.33%), Dabolim (Goa) Airport, (5.29%), Kolkata Airport (4.95%), Cochin Airport (3.92%), Hyderabad Airport (3.02%),Ahmedabad Airport (2.63%), Gede Rail Land Check Post (1.94%), Trivandrum Airport (1.64%), Trichy Airport (1.44%), Ghojadanga Land Check Post (1.26%) and Sonauli Land Check Post (1.14%).

FTAs on e-Tourist Visa:

During the month of December 2017, a total of 2.41 lakh foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 1.62 lakh during the month of December 2016 registering a growth of 48.3%.

In the year 2017, a total of 16.97 lakh foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 10.80 lakh in 2016, registering a growth of 57.2%.


5. India and Israel sign 9 agreements in space, defence, cybersecurity.

You are here:  Latest News   India News
India, Israel sign nine agreements to boost cooperation in defence, cybersecurity: Full list
India FP Staff Jan 15, 2018 16:49:03 IST
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India and Israel on Monday signed nine agreements, including in the areas of cyber security and oil and gas, following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu in Delhi.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in cyber security was signed. A second MoU was signed between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Israel`s Ministry of Energy in oil and gas sector.
A protocol between India and Israel on amendments to the air transport agreement was also signed. Another agreement was on film-co-production between India and Israel.
A third MoU between the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH and the Centre for Integrative Complementary Medicine, Shaare Zedek Medical Centre of Israel, related to cooperation in the field of research in homeopathic medicine.
Another MoU between Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology for cooperation in the field of space was signed.
A memorandum of intent was on Invest India and Invest in Israel. Indian Oil and Israel`s Phinergy Ltd signed a letter of intent for cooperation in the area of metal-air batteries.
Another letter of intent between Indian Oil and Israel`s Yeda Research and Development Co Ltd was signed for cooperation in the area of concentrated solar thermal technologies.
Here`s the full list.
MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation between India and Israel
MoU between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Ministry of Energy on Cooperation inOil and Gas Sector
Protocol between India and Israel on Amendments to theAir Transport Agreement
Agreement on Film-co-production between India and Israel
MoU between the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH and the Centre for Integrative Complementary Medicine, Shaare Zedek
Medical Center on Cooperation in the field of Research inHomeopathic Medicine
MoU between Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology for cooperation in the field ofspace
Memorandum of Intent between Invest India and Invest in Israel
Letter of Intent between IOCL and Phinergy Ltd. For cooperation in the area of metal-air batteries
Letter of Intent between IOCL and Yeda Research and Development Co Ltd for cooperation in the area of concentrated solar thermal technologies Earlier on Monday, the Israeli Prime Minister was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
Netanyahu, accompanied by a 130-member business delegation, arrived in New Delhion Sunday on a six-day visit to India that will also see him going to Agra, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
This is the first Prime Ministerial visit from Israel to India in 15 years after that of Ariel Sharon in 2003.

6. Sixty Fifth meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education held in New Delhi.

 The 65th Meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) was held under Chairmanship of Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi.

The Education Ministers of 20 States, representatives of 28 states/UTs, members of CABE, heads of the autonomous organization.

The Operation Digital Board will be launched in all schools in five years and will be undertaken jointly by Centre, State, Corporate Social Responsibility.

CABE also will ensure to provide Quality, Equity, Accessibility, Accountability and Affordability in education by pro-active action and plan.


7. Indian Oil signed agreement with 2 Israeli Firms.

State-owned oil refining and marketing company Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) signed a Memorandum of Intent with the Israel firm, Phinergy for collaboration in the field of metal-air batteries.

The two companies agreed to cooperate in the area metal-air batteries. Phinergy is a pioneer in developing high energy-density systems based on metal-air technology. The company produces aluminium-air and zinc-air batteries. The company claims that its products are safe, affordable and fully recyclable.

The memorandum of intent was signed on Monday during a conference held on the sidelines of Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu`s two-day visit to India.

A metal-air battery uses metal as an anode (similar to a li-ion battery) but draws oxygen from the environment to be used as the cathode. This model helps reduce the weight of the battery and provides greater energy density which will be beneficial for EVs and other means of electric mobility.

Earlier, in November 2017, IOC launched the first electric charging station in India at a petrol pump in Nagpur. This agreement with Phinergy could help the company diversify into the renewable energy segment. IOC also signed a letter of intent with Israel`s Yeda Research and Development Company for cooperation in the field of concentrated solar thermal technologies, on Monday. 


8. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates Project Commencement of Rajasthan`s first Oil Refinery in Barmer.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the commencement of the work of an oil refinery in Rajasthan`s Barmer district on Tuesday and also address a public rally there. 

"Looking forward to visiting Rajasthan. Will attend a programme to mark the commencement of work for the Rajasthan Refinery at Pachpadra, in Barmer and will also address a public meeting," Modi said in a tweet. 

"The Rajasthan refinery will be the first in the state, which is blessed with immense oil and gas reserves. This refinery will benefit Rajasthan, especially the industrious youth of the state," he said. 

The project, a Joint Venture of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation LtdBSE 1.49 %. and Rajasthan government, is worth over Rs 43,000 crore.


9. Third Raisina Dialogue held in New Delhi.

Raisina Dialogue, a joint initiative of the Ministry of External Affairs and a leading think tank, Observer Research Foundation.

The three-day Dialogue, organised on the lines of the famous Shangrila Dialogue held in Singapore, will see participation of more than 100 speakers from over 35 countries. It is focusing on Asia’s physical, economic, human and digital connectivity, attempting to discover opportunities and challenges for the region to manage its common spaces, as well as the global partnerships needed to develop common pathways in this century.

A powerhouse panel of former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Bangladeshi foreign minister Mahmood Ali were amongst those who shared the stage with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at the opening session.

Ms Kumaratunga accused South Asian nations of lacking a common vision, saying, “shared cultures had succeeded in dividing us in our quest for a national identity as opposed to a regional identity. This has led to violent inter-state and intra-state conflicts, making South Asia one of the 2 most violent regions in the world.” She blamed India-Pakistan tensions for holding regional cooperation hostage for the last 70 years.


10. NITI Aayog launches first course under GIAN Program on Sustainable Urban Planning.

Shri Ratan P. Watal, Principal Adviser, NITI Aayog inaugurated the first GIAN course on Sustainable Urban planning using remote sensing and GIS at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpurs outreach centre at Noida on 15th January 2018. Shri Shiv Das Meena, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs was the Guest of Honour.

This course is being conducted under the Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN) Program of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and actively supported by NITI Aayog and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

This course aims to give participants state-of-the-art remote sensing and GIS skills which will allow them to rise to the challenge of managing the rapidly changing urban environment of Indian cities. Furthermore, the course will pay particular attention to issues of water resource management, water pollution and strategic emplacements for water treatment facilities.

The course is being coordinated by Ptofessor Rajiv Sinha of Department of Earth Sciences at IIT Kanpur and Dr. Patrice Carbonneau, Department of Geography, University of Durham, UK.

This course will contribute significantly to build trained manpower for the Smart Cities Mission launched by the Government of India on 25 June 2015 with an objective to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of Smart Solutions.

This course is being attended by participants from several Government departments such as ISRO, AP Remote Sensing Application Centre, National Mission on Clean Ganga and students from different engineering colleges and universities across the country.

Shri Watal in his inaugural address stressed the need for GIS and Remote Sensing technology in addressing the challenge of urbanization and exhorted the participants to come forward with smart solutions for smart cities.


11. Union Government ends Haj subsidy.

The central government has withdrawn the subsidy given to Haj pilgrims. Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the decision is in line with the government’s agenda to empower miniorities without appeasement. 
Naqvi said that for the first time in independent India, 1.75 lakh pilgrims will go to Haj without a subsidy, a rise from the 1.25 lakh that went for the annual pilgrimage last year. 
The union minister said the government would save Rs 700 crore by stopping the subsidy, and would use the funds for education of minorities, particularly girls. 
The decision to abolish Haj subsidy comes just a day after government allowed Muslim women above the age of 45 to go on the pilgrimage without a male guardian, in groups of at least four.
Naqvi also said that the Saudi Arabian government has in principle agreed to allow Haj journey from India by ships and officials of the two countries will sit together to finalise the modalities.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s Kamal Farooqui welcomed the move, saying that a wrong impression was being created that Muslims were gaining from the government aid. “Instead, it was national carrier Air India that was the biggest beneficiary of this government scheme,” he said. 
The Centre had in May last year formed a six-member committee to look into the Haj subsidy issue in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing subsidy given to pilgrims by 2022, sources said.
The Supreme Court had in 2012 directed the Union government to gradually reduce and abolish Haj subsidy by 2022. It had asked the government to invest the subsidy amount of approximately Rs 650 crore a year then on the educational and social development of the community.
12. Sikkim Government allows people to forge fraternal ies with trees.
Sikkim, one of the cleanest and greenest north-eastern States is keen to not just preserve its forest cover but also forge amity between people and trees.
Recently the Government of Sikkim came up with a unique way of preserving trees by encouraging people to forge a relationship of brotherhood or sisterhood with trees through a practice locally known as Mith/Mit or Mitini.
A recent notification by the Forests, Environment & Wildlife Management Department, Government of Sikkim titled Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017 states that the “State government shall allow any person to associate with trees standing on his or her private land or on any public land by entering into a Mith/Mit or Mitini relationship.”
‘Own child’
The notification also states that a person can also adopt a tree “as if it was his or her own child in which case the tree shall be called an adopted tree.”
A third way to forge a relationship with a tree is by “preserving a tree in remembrance of a departed relative in which case the tree shall be called a smriti tree.”
In case an individual wants to forge a relationship with a tree which does not stand on his or her land but another’s, the person concerned shall execute an agreement with the owner and compensate him or her in terms of the market value of the timber or the wood contained in the tree.
In the second scenario if the person desires to enter into a relationship with a tree located on public land then permission from the said department or agency needs to be taken.
Specific forms
For every clause, the Sikkim Forest Department has issued specific forms which a person will have to fill up and submit to the forest authorities.
The notification states that after verification the Assistant Conservator of Forests will register the tree in the name of the person concerned.
Thomas Chandy, Principal Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, told The Hindu that the idea behind the notification came from Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling. He said the notification is in consonance with the age-old tradition of promoting amity between man and nature, particularly trees.
“Soon after the notification the State went for panchayat polls. We will take up the issue in a major way at the upcoming Paryavaran Mahotsav organised by the Sikkim government,” Mr. Chandy said.
As per the Forest Survey of India, 2015 the forest cover of Sikkim is 47.80 % of the State’s total geographical area. Over the past few years the State government has also started an initiative of identifying heritage trees where 21 trees of 25-ft. girth and above and 32 trees of 20-25 ft. girth have been demarcated as heritage trees.
The Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules also prohibit felling or damage to any tree registered as Mith/Mit or Mitini, adopted or smriti and points out that any such violation shall be treated as a forest offence.
13. Union Government Centre Sanctions Projects over Rs. 10,000 crores in North East for Better Network Connectivity.
The Centre has sanctioned projects over 10 thousand crore rupees in North East for better network connectivity. Talking to newspersons in Guwahati after a conference, Telecommunication minister Manoj Sinha said that most of the projects would be completed within this year.
He said that 2 MoUs have been signed to cover the uncovered areas in North East including Assam and Arunachal Pardesh. The Union minister said that stress has been given to upgrade the network connection at border areas. Later , Assam IT minister Keshab Mahanta said that the Centre would send two nodal officers to monitor the progress of the works.
He hoped that laying of Optical Fibre Cable in Assam will be completed this year. (AIR)
14. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Netanyahu Inaugurates `iCreate Centre` in Ahmedabad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu have inaugurated the iCreate centre in Ahmedabad`s Deo Dholera Village on Wednesday.
The two leaders will also visit a startup exhibition and interact with innovators and startup CEOs.
They will dedicate a mobile water desalination van to Suigam Taluka of Sabarkantha district, through a video link.
Both the Prime Ministers will also visit the Centre of Excellence for Vegetables at Vadrad in Banaskantha district, where they will be briefed on the work plan of the Centre.
They will inaugurate the Centre of Excellence for Date Palms at Kukama, Kutch District, through a video link, and interact with the farmers.
Earlier, Prime Minister Modi and Netanyahu along with his wife Sara paid their tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
The two leaders reached the ashram after completing their 8-km long roadshow from Ahmedabad`s Sardar Patel International Airport
Netanyahu was earlier in the day received by Prime Minister Modi at the Sardar Patel International Airport.
Later, Prime Minister Netanyahu will depart for Mumbai.
15. India Attends its 1st SCO Military Cooperation Meeting in Beijing.
India for the first time took part in a meeting of the international military cooperation departments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) since joining the bloc last year.
An Indian delegation led by Major General Ajay Seth participated in the meeting, which discussed issues of practical cooperation among SCO nations, an Indian Embassy press release Beijing said Tuesday.
The two-day meeting concluded today.
This is the first meeting attended by India in the field of defence cooperation under the SCO framework.
India and Pakistan were admitted last year into the grouping in which China plays an influential role.
COMMENTSThe SCO is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
Officials say both India and China look to SCO as a major platform for improving bilateral ties bogged down by a host of differences, including the 73-day military standoff at Doklam last year.
16. India and Sri Lanka Sign 4 Agreements for Collaboration in ICT Sector.
India has said that its developmental assistance to Sri Lanka is tailored to the requirements and capacities of their partners and to ensure that they do not become another channel leading to debt trap.
This was stated by Union minister for Law & Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad during his memorial lecture in remembrance of Sri Lanka’s former foreign minister Laxman Kadirgamar in Colombo yesterday evening. Mr. Prasad said that India’s approach has not been one of demanding privileges or rights to projects but rather a desire to contribute to Sri Lanka’s development objectives as established by Lankans themselves.
The comment assumes significance as China has funded some big investment projects in Sri Lanka which have become non viable and has squeezed country’s fiscal space. Earlier, both countries signed four agreements for collaboration in ICT sector, setting up of e-office system and connecting of National Knowledge network (NKN) for collaboration among universities and academics.
17. Ministry of Petroleum Launches Saksham 2018 Campaign.
With about 40 lakh students participating from across schools of all education boards of the country, a competition was conducted named The PCRA Saksham National Essay and Painting competition-2017. Seeing this, a mega campaign has been launched “Saksham 2018’ on Tuesday.
‘Saksham 2018’, a vigorous and high intensity one-month long people-centric mega campaign of Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been launched on 16th January in an inaugural function held in Delhi.
The prizes of the competition held in 2017 were given away in the function to the winners, which include Singapore Study tour, Laptops, Tablets & cash prizes to encourage children in their efforts in the area of fuel conservation. The dignitaries were amazed to see the innovations, skill, and thoughts depicted in the paintings of the children reaching finals displayed in the exhibition.
The National Quiz competition finals are going to be held during this Saksham-2018, wherein students from 31 states shall be vying for the National Title.
18. Union Government planning to set up of Cyber Warrior Police Force to tackle internet-related crimes.
The government has decided to set up a Cyber Warrior Police Force (CWPF) to tackle internet-related crimes such as cyber threats, child pornography and online stalking.
The CWPF is likely to operate under the National Information Security Policy and Guidelines wing of the Union home ministry’s Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division, which was created last November. It is proposed to be raised on the lines of the Central Armed Police Force.
The other two wings under the CIS division are cyber crime and internal security.
“It’s a policy decision, and the process has already begun. The Army is also planning to do something on similar lines. We hope our unit will operate effectively,” a senior home ministry functionary said on the condition of anonymity, adding that the finer details of the proposed force will be worked out soon.
So far, there has been no decision on the CWPF’s jurisdiction, where it will derive its powers or personnel from, and whether it would be empowered to make arrests. Further information will be shared once the authorities come up with something concrete, the official added.
Meanwhile, the CIS division has already begun operations. The home ministry has already issued a communique asking states and Union territories to consider setting up state as well as district cyber crime coordination cells.
The Centre has suggested that state cyber crime coordination cells be headed by an additional director general or inspector-rank official, and district cyber cells by a deputy superintendent of police or additional superintendent of police-level official. State cyber security cells could likely form the foundation of the centralised CWPF, another home ministry official said.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh had recently asked state police and paramilitary forces to lay special focus on cyber crime at the recently held annual director general-level conference in Takenpur, Madhya Pradesh.
The home ministry also asked states to set up systems that will monitor “deep web activities” that enable the “planning and execution of nefarious deals by criminals”. It has further instructed them to maintain a list of suspected profiles linked with child pornography rackets, human trafficking and blackmailing; set up basic forensic labs; and focus on “capacity building”.
The home ministry has released Rs 82.9 crore to states under the Crime Prevention against Women and Children scheme for setting up cyber forensic training labs-cum-centres.
19. Central Government and CII Ink MoU for Development of Logistics Sector.
To enhance import and export performance, the Centre has entrusted the task of integrated development of the logistics sector to the Department of Commerce.
It is believed that improved logistics will up ways of doing business and be a game changer in the creation of billions of job.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has issued directions for a division for logistics in the government.
To fulfill this objective, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Tuesday with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the presence of Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu here.
Prabhu congratulated the Logistics Division of the DoC and CII for this initiative and asked them to work together for taking the country`s logistics sector to global levels, both in terms of efficiency and cost.
"The logistic division will work through digital platforms. The UAE will work with us on it," Prabhu said.
The Centre has decided to reduce the logistics cost from current 14 percent of GDP to less than 10 percent by 2022.
Prabhu has given a roadmap for modernizing the logistics sector in India and to bring it at par with the best across the globe.
The road map is as follows:
• To establish a logistics working group with representatives from the DoC and industry to examine issues related to logistics and recommend solutions
• To foster focused engagement with the industry
• To collaborate with the concerned agencies, including state governments and other related agencies
• To undertake mutually agreed focused studies on logistics
• To promote government`s policies on logistics
For this purpose, a concerted effort in collaboration with central ministries and state governments has been initiated for simplifying the regulatory processes in both domestic and EXIM logistics.
The logistics division will be headed by a Special Secretary of the DoC. It is working on a comprehensive action plan to reduce the cost of EXIM and domestic logistics in the country by making it more efficient through easing of processes, induction of information technology and co-ordinated enhancement of logistics infrastructure in the country.
The government has recently granted infrastructure status to a number of logistics activities which shall enable them to avail cheaper and long term commercial loans.
Work has also been initiated on an integrated logistics portal that will act as a transactional e-marketplace connecting buyers with logistics service providers with all the Government agencies such as Customs, PGAs, Port Community Systems, Sea and Air Port terminals, Shipping lines, Railways etc.
In order to establish linkages with government agencies, industry and academia for developing a detailed action plan, the logistics division has planned to enter into formal partnership with all the stakeholders.
20. Elections Dates in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland Declared.
Elections in Tripura will be held on February 18, while Meghalaya and Nagaland will vote on the February 27, the Election Commission has announced. Results for the all three states will be declared on March 3.
Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura all have 60 seats each. Tripura has to elect a new assembly by March 6. The terms of the Meghalaya and Nagaland assemblies end on March 13 and 14.
"Model code of conduct comes into effect from today," Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said, adding that "EVM (electronic voting machine) and VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) will be used in all three states, first level checks have been completed."
The Left Front has been in power in Tripura since 1993 and Chief Minister Manik Sarkar in in his fourth term. This time, the BJP is hoping to change that and increase its northeast scorecard after six Trinamool Congress and one Congress lawmaker joined the party.
The Congress-led government of Mukul Sangma has ruled for eight years in Meghalaya, which has seen years of political instability. The party faces a big challenge from the BJP, which has an alliance with the Manipur National People`s party founded by PA Sangma, a former Congressman who died in 2016.
In Nagaland, the Naga People`s Front-led Democratic Alliance, backed by the BJP, is in power with TR Zeliang as Chief Minister. In the past year, the state confronted a political crisis with the Chief Minister changing twice.
A large section of the state wants the election to be put off until there is a solution to the insurgency and the peace process is complete.
Polls to five more states are due this year - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.
These elections are seen as critical ahead of the national polls next year.
21. th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture held at Berlin.
The 10th edition of Global Forum for Food & Agriculture was held in Berlin, Germany from 18th -20th January 2018.
The theme of this year’s event is “Shaping the future of livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently”.
The Indian delegation to the event is led by Union Minister of State (MoS) for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
The event was organized by Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMEL) in cooperation with GFFA Berlin e.V., Senate of Berlin.
22. Pradhana Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan crosses 1 crore mark.
India launched a scheme on Friday to provide free health check-ups to pregnant women at government health centres and hospitals.
The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) — popular referred to as ‘I pledge for 9’ — was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his monthly radio address Mann Ki Baat on June 9. It invites the private sector to provide free ante-natal services (ANC) on the 9th of every month on a voluntary basis to pregnant women, especially those living in under-served, semi-urban, poor and rural areas.
In his radio address, Modi appealed to doctors across India to contribute 12 days in a year to save India’s mothers and newborns.
“We want this programme to turn into a movement. We have requested doctors in the private sector to visit public hospitals and provide free check up to pregnant women,” said health minister JP Nadda.
In India, one pregnant woman dies every 12 minutes, with 45,000 dying each year. Of them, less than one in five (19.7%) undergo pre-natal health checks.
23. Union Government Announces List of 9 New Smart Cities.
Three cities of Uttar Pradesh are among nine chosen in the latest round of the central government`s flagship Smart Cities Mission, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said today.
The number of cities picked under the project now stands at 99. Under the scheme, each city will get Rs. 500 crore from the centre for implementing various projects. An equal amount, on matching basis, will have to be contributed by the state or urban local bodies.
The nine cities chosen in the fourth round are; Bareilly, Moradabad and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, Erode in Tamil Nadu, Bihar Sharif in Bihar, Silvasa in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Diu in Daman and Diu, Kavarati in Lakshadweep and Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh.
Shillong will be the 100th city provided it submits its proposal to the centre in next three months, a senior official said.
The nine cities were selected from 15 cities that had submitted their proposals to the ministry, the official said.
Uttar Pradesh`s Meerut, Ghaziabad, Rampur and Rae Bareli were among cities that failed to make the cut for Smart City tag. Silvasa topped the list of winners in this round.
"The nine cities selected have proposed an investment of Rs. 12,824 crore... which would be impacting 35.3 lakh persons living in these areas," Mr Puri told a press conference in New Delhi.
He said these cities have proposed to take up various project, including "smart" roads, rejuvenation of water bodies, cycle tracks, walking paths, smart classrooms, skill development centres, upgradation of health facilities and pan city projects like integrated command control centre.
These cities have proposed 409 projects which would get around 61 per cent funding from the centre and the state, Mr Puri said.
In January 2016, 20 cities were announced under the Smart Cities mission, followed by 13 cities in May 2016, 27 cities in September 2016 and 30 cities in June 2017.
The total proposed investment in the 99 Smart City Mission would be Rs. 2.03 lakh crore.
Mr Puri said Kolkata`s New Town, which was selected for the mission in May 2016, was yet to form a special purpose vehicle to start implementing the projects.
The West Bengal government, however, has already announced that it would not participate in the centre`s Smart Cities Mission.
When asked whether New Town was still a part of the Smart Cities Mission, Mr Puri said, "West Bengal is part of India and it bid for the scheme and New Town was one of the announced city for the mission."
He further said the centre has released Rs. 2 crore to the city and it was supposed to form a special purpose vehicle and appoint PMC (project management consultant) which the city has not done yet while "most of the other cities did so".
Over private investment into the projects under the scheme, he said, roughly 25 per cent of the total investment would come from private sector.
On the outcome of the mission, he said `Smart city` does not mean something from a "science fiction which will fall from the heaven" but it consists of redevelopment of existing areas which will enhance the living experience.
Mr Puri said the Smart Cities Mission is setting a new benchmark in terms of project implementation and he was "more than satisfied" with rate of implementation.
Smart City Centers`, based on advanced technologies, have become operational in four cities - Pune, Surat, Vadodara and Kakinada and work is in progress in 18 more cities.
As on January 17, Mr Puri said there were 2,948 projects worth Rs. 1.38 lakh crore in various stages of implementation, while 189 projects worth Rs. 2,237 crore have been completed.
24. INS Vikramaditya Formally Affiliated to Bihar Regiment.
Indian Naval Ship Vikramaditya, the Indian Navy`s largest ship and its sole aircraft carrier was formally affiliated to the Indian Army`s highly-decorated and battle-hardened Bihar Regiment and the Indian Air Force`s No 6 Squadron, that is tasked with maritime strike operations with its Jaguar fighter aircraft.
A glittering ceremony was held onboard INS Vikramaditya at the Karwar Naval Base, nestled amongst the picturesque Western Ghats, attended by Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, and the Army`s Military Secretary Lt General Amarjeet Singh, who is also the Colonel of the Bihar Regiment.
Air Officer Commanding Maritime Air Operations, Air Vice Marshal M Fernandez was the senior officer from the IAF at the event also saw participation by a host of senior officers from all the three services.
The historic affiliation ceremony commenced with an inspection of the Tri-Service Guard of Honour by the senior officers.
Addressing the gathering, Western Fleet commander, Rear Admiral RB Pandit said the idea behind the affiliation was to foster espirit de corps and friendship between the three units that would lead to greater synergy and jointmanship between them and also promote interaction between the personnel and their families.
The formal association between the three units commenced with the reading of the `Charter of Affiliation` which listed its aims and the association that the units were to maintain. The charter was subsequently signed by the commanding officers of the three units and by senior officers from respective services.
This was followed by an exchange of mementoes between the three units.
The event also was an impressive flypast by aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm, led by a formation of Chetak helicopters followed by formation of MiG-29K fighters of the Indian Navy`s 303 Squadron from the Goa-based Naval Air Station, INS Hansa.
"The `raison d`etre` of affiliation between units of fighting forces is to act as a force multiplier by promoting better understanding of each other`s strengths and ultimately serves to maximise the combat potential of the Indian Armed Forces at the time of reckoning. It also fosters a deep understanding of each other`s service ethos, customs, traditions and sharing of new operational concepts and the same is aptly described in the affiliation motto `Victory through Jointness`," an official statement said.
The affiliation involved a host of activities over 17 and 18 January, including a formal dinner, affiliation ceremony and organized visits for the visiting personnel. The event culminated with a grand `Barakhana`, a ceremonial dinner which is attended by all ranks together, organised onboard INS Vikramaditya for all the participating personnel.



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