30 October 2015

 

 

India, Africa two bright spots of hope, opportunity: Modi  -    (International Relation)

  • Calling India and Africa “the two bright spots of hope and opportunities in the global economy,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the leaders of African nations here on Thursday that India and Africa must “speak in one voice” for U.N. reforms. He was addressing representatives of African nations at the third India-Africa Forum Summit.
  • “This is a world of free nations and awakened aspirations. Our institutions cannot be representative of our world, if they do not give voice to Africa, with more than a quarter of U.N. members or the world’s largest democracy with one-sixth of humanity,” he said.

 

Civil society faults govt. for not checking ‘intolerance’  -   (Indian Polity)

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi came under a severe attack from civil society as scientists, filmmakers, artists, writers and historians joined hands in censuring the government for its ‘failure to address the rising intolerance and inability to maintain peace in society.’
  • Eminent scientist and founder director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, P.M. Bhargava told The Hindu on Thursday that he would soon be returning the Padma Bhushan awarded to him in 1986. “At no time in our history has the situation been as bad as it is now,” Mr. Bhargava said.

 

As workforce ages, China ends its one-child policy  -    (International Relation)

  • China has dropped its controversial one-child policy, allowing all couples to have two children for the first time in more than three decades amid pressure from an ageing society and a growing shortfall in the workforce. The decision was taken by the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday.
  • The policy change is an advance over the 2013 ruling, which allowed couples, where one of the parents was a single child, to have two children.

 

Security agencies eye Israel spy balloons  -    (Security)

  • Indian security agencies such as the National Security Guard, the Border Security Force and the Karnataka police have shown interest in acquiring balloon-based aerial surveillance systems from Israel’s RT, according to the Israeli company’s Bengaluru-based partner Mistral Solutions.
  • The aerostat system, widely used by the Israel Defence Forces and recently purchased by the U.S. army, includes a helium balloon that is tethered to a mobile ground platform and provides surveillance images from its airborne perch.

 

First Scorpene class submarine set afloat  -    (Security)

  • Kalavari, the first of Scorpene class submarines being manufactured at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL), was set afloat in the Mumbai naval dockyard on Thursday, setting the stage for its sea trials, and eventual commissioning on schedule in September 2016.
  • The submarine mounted on a pontoon was moved out of submarine yard at the MDL on Tuesday, and it was set afloat in the naval dockyard on Thursday after a ceremony to mark the milestone.

 

PM offers $10 billion credit for infrastructure projects  -    (International Relation)

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday outlined his desire to assist Africa with infrastructure building from “Cairo to Cape Town, Marrakesh to Mombassa.”
  • Addressing the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) here, Mr. Modi announced credit at concessional rates of $10 billion over 5 years, in addition to about $7.4 billion that India had already pledged since 2008, and the first IAFS. “We will also offer a grant assistance of $600 million. This will include an India-Africa Development Fund of $100 million and an India-Africa Health Fund of $10 million,” the PM said, adding that 50,000 scholarships would be given to African students, whom he called the “new links” between India and the African continent.

 

Copters, long-range missiles on Defence Minister’s Russia agenda  –   (International Relation)

  • Acquisition of long-range air defence systems and two different kinds of helicopters are among the top issues on the agenda of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s three-day visit to Russia beginning on Saturday. These agreements are likely to be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in December.
  • According to officials, India is interested in procuring S-400 Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) from Russia, which have a range of up to 400 km. Also, negotiations are expected to be wrapped up to build Kamov-226 T utility helicopters in India and buy additional Mi-17 V5 medium lift helicopters.

 

‘Differences of opinion are being sought to be settled by violence’  -    (Indian Polity)

  • As the Narendra Modi govt. came under a severe attack from civil society for its ‘failure to address the rising intolerance and inability to maintain peace in society,’ eminent scientist P.M. Bhargava told The Hindu on Thursday that his decision to return the Padma Bhushan award was an individual act.
  • Mr. Bhargava blamed the government for its ‘failure to nurture and promote scientific temper and basic research.’ “The decision to cut budgetary support to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, premier R&D organisation, by half and directing the institute to earn its money effectively means the government will give no money to fund basic research.

 

An anti-constitutional judgment   -    (Indian Polity)

  • The ability of the two ‘eminent persons’ to veto any appointment flowed not from the 99th Constitutional Amendment but the NJAC Act. Therefore, it defied logic to render the entire amendment invalid solely because of this provision.
  • It is indisputable that judicial independence, based on the principle of separation of powers, is part of the Indian Constitution’s basic structure. However, the majority judgment in the NJAC case has wrongly interpreted judicial independence to mean primacy in appointments.

 

Ideology over science   -    (Indian Polity)

  • The Science and Technology Ministry has directed all laboratories under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to begin “self-financing” their research. The ostensible purpose is to make financing for scientific research more accountable.
  • But taken together with other developments, this must flag serious concerns about the priorities and the ideological agenda the government is bringing to bear on the scientific community. The decision on “self-financing” was announced at a “Chintan Shivir” in Dehradun this June, in consultation with the RSS.

 

Tough penalties will only punish the victims   -    (Indian Polity)

  • When the criminal justice system offers little support or protection to victims, a stringent penalty often is yet another disincentive for families of victims.
  • Any proposal to enhance punishment cannot ignore the fact that in a majority of the cases, the perpetrators are known to the victims and even related to them.

 

An unjustified pay hike  -    (Indian Polity)

  • As we brace for another series of Pay Commission-mandated salary hikes, the question is not whether the government can afford it but if it is the best use of government resources.
  • The contention of vast disparities between private sector and government employees is not borne out by data, which show that at every single level of education, the latter are paid more.

 

Animals caught in the headlights  -    (Environment)

  • Sophisticated mapping technology can ensure that roads steer clear of wildlife areas, but the government has been reluctant to address the issue of highways passing through forests.
  • Four- or six-lane highways, with a median, present an almost insurmountable barrier for wildlife, particularly animals with cubs or calves.

 

China confirms sending fuel to Nepal  -    (International Relation)

  • ​China on Thursday confirmed it was sending fuel supplies to Nepal, breaking India’s monopoly on the export of petroleum products to the Himalayan nation.
  • China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in his regular media briefing that in response to a request from the Nepali side, “the Chinese government decided to supply Nepal with a certain amount of emergency fuel assistance so as to help Nepal to tide over its fuel shortage”.

 

Iran got nuclear tech from Pak.: Rafsanjani  -    (International Relation)

  • ​The former Iranian President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has said his country considered building nuclear weapons during the 1980s and that it received centrifuges from Pakistan.
  • In an interview to Iranian daily Etemaad , Mr. Rafsanjani, who’s now the Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, an administrative assembly appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the post-revolutionary regime had held talks with A.Q. Khan, founder of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb programme.

 

Pakistan loses UNHRC seat  -   (International Relation)

  • Pakistan on Wednesday failed to win a re-election to the top UN human rights body, garnering just 105 votes in the 193-member General Assembly.
  • A total of 18 members were elected to the UN Human Rights Council through a secret ballot. Pakistan’s current term is set to expire on December 31 and it was seeking re-election to the 47-member Council.

 

World Bank projects sub-8% growth till 2018  -   (Economics)

  • The World Bank projected on Thursday that India’s GDP growth will remain below 8 per cent till 2018, the penultimate year of the Modi Government’s tenure. The projection contrasts sharply with the Government’s projection that the growth rate will cross 8 per cent this year and will be in double digits before the end of its term.
  • “Productivity and investment need to accelerate to match India’s ambitions of double-digit growth,” World Bank’s Senior Country Economist for India Frederico Gil Sander cautioned, releasing its India Development Update.

 

Oil Minister confirms BS-VI fuel rollout target of 2020   –   (Economics)

  • Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday confirmed that his Ministry still aimed to implement introduction of the cleaner Bharat Stage-VI fuel in the country by 2020, notwithstanding the substantial resistance to the proposal from automakers.
  • “We already have BS-III, equivalent to Euro-III specifications, across the country and BS-IV, in major cities, which will shortly be extended to the entire country. A revised Auto Fuel Policy is in the offing which will lead to the introduction of BS-VI fuels by 2020,”Mr. Pradhan said while speaking at a workshop on ‘Carbon Emission Management’.

 

Call drop penalty to stay for now, says TRAI Chief  -   (Economics)

  • Days after operators’ requested withdrawal of regulation on compensating users for call drops, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Thursday said the regulations are valid as of now and operators should ready their systems to comply with them from January 1.
  • The regulator will, however, examine the issue raised by the industry, post which a final decision will be taken.
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