Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 17 NOVEMBER 2018

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 17 NOVEMBER 2018


Vice president says Indian witnessing an urban renaissance

• The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that India is witnessing an urban renaissance and has been set in motion. He was interacting with the Mayor of Houston, USA, Mr. Sylvester Turner, who called on the Vice President along with a high level trade and investment delegation including counselors, city planners, urban development officers and members of the Indo-American Business Chamber, in Mumbai today.

• The Vice President said that Government’s initiatives such as Smart Cities, AMRUT Mission, Housing for all are changing the urban landscape by providing amenities to common man at an affordable price.

• A good beginning has been made and it needs to be taken to its logical conclusion to realize a new and resurgent Urban India, he said. With a new found spirit of confidence and a healthy competition among cities to improve urban amenities and quality of life of citizens, he added.

• Shri Naidu said that the ultimate aim of the Government is to recast the urban landscape of our country and to ensure decent living for the rapidly growing urban citizens besides making our cities and towns dynamic engines of economic growth.

• The Vice President informed the delegation about the transformative changes brought into governance by the government, and said it empowered state and city governments in respect of project formulation and appraisal under new urban missions in conjunction with capacity building.

• The Vice President said that India and United States being the largest and oldest democracies in the world should come together and strengthen the existing relationship to foster new ties.

Centre claims Indian would become a start up global hub in future

• Indian startups have the capacity to bring about transformational change to India’s growth story said Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu, in New Delhi today.

• He was speaking at the launch of a report on the State of the Indian StartupEcosystem-2018 by Inc 42 which is an Indian information platform known for its coverage of the Indian startup ecosystem.

• The Minister went on to say that the Commerce & Industry Ministry is taking many initiatives to foster a positive and empowering ecosystem for startups togrow and flourish in the country.

• To this end many regulations which were in place for traditional industries are now being reviewed and either scrapped or modified in order to facilitate the ecosystem which will foster and encourage startups to take root in India.

• Commerce Minister also said that the Ministry is holding a global investors meeting next month in India where top investors are being invited to participate in a roundtable meeting in order to pave the way for greater investments in Indian startups.

• Commerce Minister in his address at the event said that change is the new constant in today’s world and the youth of India have within them the grit and determination to create positive change through new ideas which will benefit citizens of not only India but bring about positive change globally.


Rabi crop sowing lagging behind, says agriculture ministry

• Crop sowing in the ongoing winter (rabi) season is lagging behind this year, with the acreage sown of most major crops lower than usual for this time of year. Overall, 21% less acreage has so far been sown, according to the data released by the Agriculture Ministry on Friday.

• Wheat, the major winter crop, has been sown on just 51 lakh hectares this year, as against the average 85 lakh hectares in the corresponding week over the last five years. That is a drop of almost 40%. However, compared to last year, the decrease is only 5%.

• The major States where wheat sowing is lagging behind include Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan, where the delay is partly due to the late harvesting of the kharif paddy crop. Rabi crops are sown from October, while harvest begins in March.

• While the sowing of pulses is higher than the five-year average, it is 18% lower than last year in the corresponding week. Farmers in Karnataka and Maharashtra, which have been hit by drought, have covered less acreage than last year.

• Coarse cereals, such as bajra, ragi and jowar, are the worst hit, with farmers planting only half the acreage that is usual for this time of year. Total oilseed acreage is only slightly lower than usual, and the sowing of the largest oilseed crop, rapeseed, is largely proceeding on schedule, according to the data.

WCD ministry approves fresh expenditure proposals for Nirbhaya Fund

• The Empowered Committee of Officers under Nirbhaya Fund, under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Women and Child Development Ministry has today approved the following three major proposals:

• Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice proposal to set up 1023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) to dispose off pending cases of rape, and POCSO Act across the country. The project has a total financial implication of Rs. 767.25 crores. In the First phase, 777 FTSCs may be set up in 9 states and in second phase 246 FTSCs will be set up.

• The Proposal of Ministry of Home Affairs for procurement of forensic kits for sexual assault cases to kick start usage of such kits in States/UTs through TOTs (Training of Trainers), capacity building/training for forensics in sexual assault cases and strengthening of State FSLs under Nirbhaya Fund with a total financial implication of Rs. 107.19 crores was also approved today.

• The Proposal from Konkan Railway Corporation Limited for setting up video surveillance system at 50 Railway Stations with a total Project cost of Rs 17.64 crores that will be utilised for surveillance hardware and accessories, local connectivity equipment and power supply devices also stands approved.

• Also, in-principle approval was given to the proposal, from Ministry of Road Transport and highways, of C-DAC for customisation, deployment and management of state wise vehicle tracking platform for safety and enforcement with AIS 140 specification.

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Chinese envoys urges India to join OBOR

• India’s Act East policy and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (One Belt One Road or OBOR) are a “natural” area of cooperation between the two countries, said China’s Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui on Thursday, making another pitch for India to join China’s mega-infrastructure corridor, which New Delhi has rejected thus far.

• However, instead of the more contentious part of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor that he has spoken of in the past, Mr. Luo suggested that the cooperation could come through the “China-India-Myanmar” BCIM corridor to India’s North-East.

• In a written message for the Youth event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he hoped it would “provide a platform for the youth of both nations to build a ‘Great Wall of Trust and Cooperation’ between the two countries.”

• “Act East and OBOR are quite natural…. And [we must see] how to synergise these two strategies together between the two countries and between the two leaders and benefit from cooperation and development. That is the right direction and I am quite optimistic,” Mr. Luo said, speaking to delegates at a “China-India Youth Dialogue” seminar.

India and ADB sign important loan agreements for infrastructure development

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India today signed a $105 million loan to continue financing the transmission system upgrades in Himachal Pradesh for increased supply of hydropower to the state and the national grid.

• The tranche 3 loan is part of the $350 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for Himachal Pradesh Clean Energy Transmission Investment Program approved by the ADB Board in September 2011.

• The program is aimed at developing and expanding the transmission network to evacuate clean and renewable power generated from the State’s hydropower sources to load centers within and outside the State.

• It also supports the institutional capacity development of the state transmission utility, Himachal Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Limited (HPPTCL), as the executing agency for this project.

• The loan will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s lending facility based on the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), and a commitment charge of 0.15% per year.

• ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in co-financing.


CSIR organises conference on pavement technology & infrastructure development

• CSIR-Central Road Research Institute has organized a two-day international conference titled “Pavements and Computational Approaches” from 16-17 November 2018, at its premises in New Delhi.

• The objective of the conference is to deliberate upon advancements in pavement technology and road infrastructure engineering across the world, with special emphasis to the requirements of developing countries.

• Experts will discuss issues related to design and construction of pavements, material characterization, computational analysis and modelling. Deliberations during the conference are likely to bring out new thoughts on technology up-gradation and its successful implementation in the field.

• Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation has said in a video message that the mission of the Road Transport & highways Ministry is to build high quality roads at low costs.

• He called upon the experts at the conference to be ready to experiment with innovative technology, make all possible use of indigenous raw material including waste material, and promote pre-cast technology.

• He said the thrust of technological innovation should be on reducing costs and time for completion of projects without any compromise on quality.

• Dedicated R&D efforts are needed in the theme areas such as development of smart materials, innovative design and maintenance technologies, improved data analysis approaches for pavement performance and management, improvements in material behaviour characterization, use of soft computing tools for analysis and modelling of pavement.


Pankaj Advani wins 3rd straight billiards title

• India's ace cueist Pankaj Advani yesterday won his third straight IBSF billiards crown in the 150-up format, taking his overall tally of world titles to 20. Advani overcame Nay Thway Oo of Myanmar in the final.

• This win also marks a hat-trick of wins for Advani in the shorter format. He had won in his hometown Bengaluru in 2016 before doing the same in Doha last year.

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