Current Affairs Current Affairs - 02 October 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 02 October 2018

General Affairs 

Vice-President Seeks UN Action Plan In Dealing Cross-Border Terrorism
  • Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today said that the world must come together to fight against terrorism and urged the United Nations to come up with "strong, coded actions" to tackle terror, its sponsors and those who are funding and supporting it.

    Mr Naidu, in his address at an international conclave, also noted that one of India's neighbours is "aiding and abetting" terrorism while talking about peace. He made the veiled reference to Pakistan, while addressing a gathering of human rights leaders from several parts of the world.

    "Terrorism is an enemy of humanity. Some elements are spreading it in the name of religion, but no religion talks about violence. India has suffered the pain. The West, when they became the victims of terrorism, realised the problem," he said.

    "In our region too, one of our neighbours is aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorists. And, (it) talks about peace. Terror and talks can't go together," Mr Naidu said.

    In his 40-minute speech, the Vice President urged the world to "speak in one voice" to deal with terror globally. "The United Nations, at the earliest, should complete the deliberations (on terrorism) and come up with a strong, united, coded action to tackle terror, its sponsors and those who are funding or supporting it," he said.

    "It is the way forward for peace, and for protection of rights of people," Mr Naidu asserted.

    The conclave has been organised by the National Human Rights Commission as part of its Silver Jubilee celebrations.

    Foreign participants include senior officials from apex human rights bodies in Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and representatives from Scotland, Croatia and other countries.

    Mr Naidu also said that "misuse of provisions of human rights" is a matter of concern, as in recent times. 
    "Some people, they kill others, destroy public property and then claim human rights violations. Is it right? It has to be curbed, terrorists, extremists, they have to be curbed. Human rights cannot be in mutually exclusive categories. One cannot transgress the rights of others," he said.

    Mr Naidu said human rights are enjoyed to bring harmony in the nation and among fellow citizens. It does not confer "unfettered" rights to speak against the state and the nation.
    "So, dissent is fine in a democracy but not disintegration. You cannot indulge in violence, kill people and then claim protection under human rights," he said.

    When something happens, action is taken against some terrorists or extremists or Maoists, there is "uproar of human rights violations from some activists". "But, some tribals or innocent people are killed, these activists become silent," he said.

    "This has to be discussed. No one has a right to work against the unity and sovereignty of the nation. The country has a history of two of its prime ministers being killed," he said.

    NHRC chairperson Justice (retired) H L Dattu said the rights panel receives a large number of cases and of the most wide-ranging nature.

    "About 98 per cent of the recommendations of the NHRC have been accepted by state government and its authorities," he said.

    Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba said it was a "matter of concern that some groups, which preach and practise violence, affecting both civilians and security personnel...they are able to take unfair advantage of human rights architecture and laws as such".

Desperate Indonesians Flee Quake Zone, Scale Of Disaster Unclear
  • Indonesia scrambled on Monday to get help into quake-hit Sulawesi island as survivors streamed away from their ruined homes and accounts of devastation filtered out of remote areas, including the death of 34 children at a Christian camp.

    The confirmed death toll of 844 was certain to rise as rescuers reached devastated outlying communities hit on Friday by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami waves as high as six metres (20 feet).

    Dozens of people were reported to be trapped in the rubble of several hotels and a mall in the small city of Palu, 1,500 km (930 miles) northeast of Jakarta. Hundreds more were feared buried in landslides that engulfed villages.

    Of particular concern is Donggala, a region of 300,000 people north of Palu and close to the epicentre of the quake, and two other districts, where communication had been cut off.

    The four districts have a combined population of about 1.4 million.

    One woman was recovered alive from ruins overnight in the Palu neighbourhood of Balaroa, where about 1,700 houses were swallowed up when the earthquake caused soil to liquefy, the national rescue agency said.

    "We don't know how many victims could be buried there, it's estimated hundreds," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

    All but 23 of the confirmed deaths were in Palu, a city of about 380,000 people, where workers were preparing a mass grave to bury the dead as soon as they were identified.

    Nearly three days after the quake, the extent of the disaster was not known with authorities bracing for the toll to climb - perhaps into the thousands - as connections with remote areas up and down the coast are restored.

    Aid worker Lian Gogali, who had reached Donggala district by motorcycle, said hundreds of people facing a lack of food and medicine were trying to get out, but evacuation teams had yet to arrive and roads were blocked.

    "It's devastating," she told Reuters by text.

    Indonesian Red Cross spokeswoman Aulia Arriani said a church in an area of Sigi, south of Palu, had been engulfed in mud and debris. Officials said the area suffered liquefaction, when the shock of the quake temporarily destabilises the soil.

    "My volunteers found 34 bodies ... children who had been doing a bible camp," Arriani said.

    Sulawesi is one of the earthquake-prone archipelago nation's five main islands and sits astride fault lines. Numerous aftershocks have rattled the region.

    Pictures showed expanses of splintered wood, washed-up cars and trees mashed together, with rooftops and roads split asunder. Access to many areas is being hampered by damaged roads, landslides and collapsed bridges.

    Airport chaos

    A Reuters witness said queues at petrol stations on the approaches to Palu stretched for miles. Convoys carrying food, water and fuel awaited police escorts to prevent pilfering before heading towards the city while residents streamed out.

    The state energy company said it was airlifting in 4,000 litres of fuel, while Indonesia's logistics agency said it would send hundreds of tonnes of rice. The government has allocated 560 billion rupiah ($37.58 million) for the recovery.

    The government has played down worries about looting though witnesses have seen incidents.

    Chief security minister Wiranto said more than 2,800 troops had been deployed and plans were in place to send in a further 2,000 police.

    The government would accept offers of help from 18 countries and it had also commandeered 20 excavators from mines and plantations to help with a shortage of equipment to dig through wreckage and clear blocked roads, he said.

    Nearly 60,000 people were displaced, many terrified by powerful aftershocks, and they needed tents, water and sanitary facilities, while the power utility was working to restore electricity, he said.

    Commercial flights have yet to resume but military aircraft were taking people out of Palu. About 3,000 people thronged the small airport hoping to get out and officers struggled to keep order.

    "I'd get a plane anywhere. I've been waiting for two days. Haven't eaten, barely had a drink," said 44-year-old food vendor Wiwid.

    Indonesia is all too familiar with earthquakes and tsunamis. A quake in 2004 triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

    Palu sits astride the Palu-Koro fault, which runs north-south along the edge of Palu Bay. Geologists estimate segments of the fault have a slip that is among the highest in Indonesia, at 4 cm (1.6 inches) a year, exposing the area to a higher risk of quakes.

    Questions are sure to be asked why warning systems set up after the 2004 disaster appear to have failed.

    Disaster agency spokesman Nugroho told reporters on Sunday none of Indonesia's tsunami buoys, one device used to detect waves, had been operating since 2012. He blamed a lack of funds.

    The meteorological and geophysics agency BMKG issued a tsunami warning after the quake but lifted it 34 minutes later, drawing criticism it had been too hasty.

    However, officials estimated the waves had hit while the warning was in force.

Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut Backs "Rafale Father Of Bofors" Remark
  • Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Monday backed up his "Rafale is the father of Bofors scandal" remark he had made earlier by contrasting the size of funds allegedly involved in the two contentious Defence deals.

    Speaking to ANI, Mr Raut said, "There were Rs. 5-10 crore involved in the Bofors scam or assume it to be Rs. 100 crore, and at that time the turbulence went on for around 20-25 years. In the Rafale deal, some Rs. 700-800 crore scandal has surfaced. I am not saying it (scam) has happened, it has only come forth. Hence, as per these figures Rafale is the father of Bofors."

    There was doubt in people's mind since the deal pertained to India's security, he stressed while saying, "Defence deals are a matter of India's security. I won't say that Rahul Gandhi is asking repetitive questions; he is asking questions since he is the Congress president. It is the responsibility of Prime Minister Modi Ji, we trust him, to tell the nation the truth," Mr Raut said.

    Accusing that people are labeled as anti-nationals whenever anyone questions the government or the Prime Minister, the Sena leader asserted that by that logic former French President Francois Hollande should also be branded anti-national.

    "Asking questions is our right, this is a democracy. If there is a doubt in our minds, clear it," added Mr Raut.

    His comments come in the wake of an article he wrote in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece - Saamna, where he claimed that the controversial Rafale deal is the father of Bofors.

    In 2016 the BJP-led government signed a contract with France and Dassault Aviation worth around Rs. 58,000 crore for 36 - ready to fly - Rafale jets, after scrapping the UPA government's deal to buy 18 ready to fly jets and assemble a further 108 in India.

    The Congress-led Opposition has been attacking the central government over the alleged exorbitant cost per jet in the 2016 deal. Fuel was added to the fire when former French President Hollande said that the BJP had nominated Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as a partner in the deal.

    Speaking on the Maharashtra Election Commission's statement that political parties that make false promises should be invalidated, Mr Raut said, "If that is the case then the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is the most deserving candidate, as all the promises they made in 2014, be it the Prime Minister or anyone. They said they will get PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) back, remove Article 370 from Kashmir, build the Ram Mandir, tackle inflation,etc."

    He further said, "They made 101 promises like these. So if we consider all of this and the fact that the state's Election Commission has said that they will stop all of this and deny those parties validity, they should start with the BJP. It is the incumbent's responsibility to fulfill the promises they make, if the Election Commission has said something, implement it," Mr Raut said.

Justice Must Be Insulated From Disruptive Forces: Outgoing Chief Justice
  • Outgoing Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra in his farewell speech today shared a brief recap of his experiences during his eventful stint as the head of the country's highest court.

    The Supreme Court is the strongest institution standing tall in the face of attacks, he said, in a reference that many were likely to see as a nod to his turbulent tenure that saw an unprecedented rebellion by four senior-most judges earlier this year. He also said that justice had to be insulated from "disruptive forces".

    Before he took the mic at the farewell event in New Delhi, Chief Justice-designate Justice Ranjan Gogoi, one of the judges who had criticised the Chief Justice in January for misusing his role as "master of the roster", credited his predecessor for presiding over some of the most difficult cases the Supreme Court has seen.

    "History can be sometimes kind and unkind. I don't judge people by their history but by their activities, perspective," Chief Justice Misra said.

    "I am indebted to the Bar at every level and go from here with satisfaction. In my whole career as a judge, I have never dissociated myself from the lady of equity," said Chief Justice Misra, who was appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice in August last year.

    He has presided over key cases including the Aadhaar debate and decriminalising homosexuality. Last week, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Misra ended the ban on entry of women of menstrual age into Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

    Eight months into his stint as the top judge at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Misra faced a major challenge when the Congress sought to impeach him; the move was blocked by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. The Congress's attempt was criticised by top jurists including Fali Nariman, who said it would set a dangerous precedent -- for example, the ruling party could attempt to remove a Chief Justice if it doesn't agree with his decisions.

2 Jets Were Scrambled As Pak Chopper Violated Airspace: Air Force Sources
  • After a Pakistani helicopter entered Indian airspace at Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch on Sunday, Air Force sources have confirmed that two Indian fighters, most likely MiG-21s, were launched from Srinagar airbase to intercept the aircraft.

    The Pakistani helicopter managed to fly back to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or PoK moments after it was targeted by the army with small arms fire. No large-calibre anti-aircraft weapon was used.

    The Army sources added that the two fighters were Scrambled after radars picked up the helicopter as it crossed the Line of Control (LoC). As Pooch is a few minutes from Srinagar by air, the fighters would have been moments from shooting on that helicopter if they were able to lock on to the target.

    Pakistani authorities say that the Prime Minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was onboard this helicopter when it crossed into Poonch. But it retreated in time.

    According to norms recognised by both India and Pakistan, helicopters are not supposed to come within one kilometre of the Line of Control and fixed-wing aircraft within 10 km.

    In a video, apparently shot by a witness, the white Pakistani helicopter was seen flying high near the side of a hill in Poonch a little after 12 pm.

    It is not clear whether the helicopter came into Indian airspace by mistake or deliberately.

Business Affairs

IL&FS board sacked; govt takes charge, Uday Kotak named chairman
  • The Mumbai bench of  National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on Monday found favour with government's arguments to oust the current board of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) and to appoint Kotak Mahindra Bank managing director Uday Kotak as non-executive chairman of the debt-ridden infrastructure development and finance company.

    A Mumbai bench of judges M K Shrawat and Ravikumar Duraisamy approved the takeover of IL&FS board by government nominees, saying the mismanagement at the crisis-ridden IL&FS made the present case a fit one for invoking Article 241 (2) of the Companies Act-2013, that provides for the suppression of the existing board.

    The bench said going by the Centre's petition, it was apparent that the "affairs of IL&FS were being conducted in a manner prejudicial to public interest".

    It, thus, approved the Centre's proposal to let a six-member team take over the IL&FS board. These six members are - Uday Kotak of the Kotak Mahindra Bank, retired IAS officer Vineet Nayyar, former Sebi chairperson G N Bajpai, ICICI's non-executive chairperson G C Chaturvedi, IAS officer Malini Shankar and senior bureaucrat from CAG Nand Kishore.

    The new board has been directed to hold its first meeting on October 8 this year, and to submit a report on its finding and a roadmap before the bench by October 31, the next date of hearing. The bench also issued a notice to IL&FS, directing it to respond to all points raised by the Union government in its plea by October 15 this year.

    "IL&FS has assets, so it's a liquidity and ALM mismatch issue. This is not India's Lehman moment. It's critical to note that there is no leverage on the book, unlike Lehman. There is an underlying value in the balance sheet and business," said Sunil Sharma, Chief Investment Officer, Sanctum Wealth Management.

    The government claimed that the directors have failed to discharge their duties, adding that the company has been showing a 'rosy' picture of its balance sheet. The government application to the tribunal had named Ravi Parthasarathy, SB Mathur, RC Bhargava, Arun Saha, Michel Pinto, J Rao, Rina Karmath, Varsha Sawant, Manohar Waghle, among others, as parties in the IL&FS case.

    The government counsel reportedly expressed concerns over the cascading impact of the IL&FS crisis on the overall economy. "Many mutual funds will collapse if IL&FS collapses," the counsel said, adding that besides AMCs, government securities would face selling pressure.

    "The reason why the government is intervening in this matter is that the IL&FS case will have bearing on the entire economy," the counsel added.

    The move to change the management of IL&FS comes after foreign shareholders were hesitant in putting more money unless there was a shake-up of the board. Domestic shareholders like LIC and SBI have also expressed their concerns in lending more money to the debt-ridden IL&FS with existing management at the helm.

    LIC is its largest shareholder of IL&FS with a 25 per cent equity stake. Its second largest shareholder is Japan's Orix Corporation, which owns 23.5 per cent of the company. India's largest lender SBI holds the smallest stake in IL&FS at 6.42 per cent.

    On Saturday, the two biggest shareholders of IL&FS - Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and Japan's Orix Corporation - as well as State Bank of India agreed to subscribe to the rights issue by the company. In its annual general meeting, the IL&FS Board of Directors approved a rights issue of 30 crore equity shares worth Rs 4,500 crore at 150 per share. The rights issue will be completed by October 30, 2018.

    Among other shareholders, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which controls 12.56 per cent stake in IL&FS reportedly will not participate in the rights issue. As for remaining stakeholders, IL&FS Employees Welfare Trust with 12 per cent, HDFC Bank with 9.02 per cent and Central Bank with 7.67 per cent, there position with respect to the rights issue is not clear yet.

    IL&FS has an aggregate debt pile of Rs 91,000 crore which has been downgraded by ratings agencies to junk following repeated defaults. Out of this, the company owes Rs 57,000 crore to banks only, most of which are from the public sector. The company needs an immediate capital infusion of Rs 3,000 crore.

    The IL&FS Board also approved company's specific asset divestment plan based on which IL&FS expects to reduce its overall debt by Rs 30,000 crores. Out of a portfolio of 25 projects identified for sale, firm offers have already been received for 14 projects, a statement by IL&FS said.

    Debt defaults by certain group entities of diversified IL&FS have triggered fears of liquidity crisis in the financial markets and the RBI has been taking steps to improve the overall cash situation.

Arun Jaitley blames aggressive lending by public sector banks under UPA for rise in bad loans
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday blamed the aggressive lending by public sector banks (PSBs) under UPA rule for rise in NPAs. He added that loan write-offs by public sector banks do not lead to loan waivers and the exercise helps lenders clean up their balance sheets and achieve taxation efficiency.

    "Technical write-offs are resorted by banks as per Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines. However, this does not lead to any loan waiver. Recovery of loans continues rigorously by Banks. In fact the defaulting management of most Insolvent companies has been removed under the IBC," the Finance Minister said in a blog post.

    Jaitley said the total loan outstanding of state-run banks which was about Rs 18 lakh crore till March 2008, increased to about Rs 52 lakh crore till March 2014.

    "Asset Quality Review initiated by RBI in 2015, and subsequent transparent recognition by banks revealed high NPAs. NPAs of PSBs increased from Rs 2.26 lakh crore in March 2014 to Rs 8.96 lakh crore in March 2018," the Finance Minister said.

    Jaitley also blamed the laxity in credit risk appraisal and loan monitoring for spurt in stressed assets. "Stressed account was treated as non-NPA through flexibility in loan classification, evergreening and often repeated restructuring," the minister added.

    "Borrowers of such written off loans continue to be liable for repayment. Recovery of dues takes place on ongoing basis under legal mechanisms, which include, inter-alia, the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI Act), and Debts Recovery Tribunals (DRTs)," Jaitley said.

    He said public sector banks have recovered Rs 36,551 crore of bad loans or NPAs during April-June quarter of the current financial year as compared to Rs 74,562 crore recoveries made in the full 2017-18 fiscal.

    Jaitley was commenting on reports that the country's 21 state-owned banks wrote-off Rs 3.16 lakh crore of loans in four years of the BJP government and made recoveries of Rs 44,900 crore of written off loans, Jaitley in a Facebook blog said "technical write-offs" are resorted to by banks as per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines.

    Congress President Rahul Gandhi used the report to attack the government, saying demonetisation converted black money into white and Rs 3.16 lakh crore of loans were written off.

    "Modi's India - For Common Man: Notebandi-line up and put your money in banks. All your details into Aadhar. You can't use your own money. For Crony capitalists: Notebandi-convert all your black money to white. Let's write off 3.16 lakh crore using common man's money," Gandhi said in a tweet.

Ola, Uber surge pricing to be capped; ride cancellation by driver to attract fine up to Rs 25,000
  • Ola and Uber have become the preferred mode of transport in cities like Delhi. However, the experience may not be pleasant all the time. Delhi government has realised the impact these cab aggregators have on daily commuters. To make things easy, a new proposal has been introduced which will install checkpoints and new rules for cab aggregators as well as Kaali-Peeli taxis.

    According to a report by TOI, the Delhi government is working on a regulatory policy that will not only cap surge pricing but also setup various safety and security guidelines that will be made mandatory.

    According to the new draft, the aggregators will have to adhere to the maximum and minimum fares. Failing to do so can attract fines up to Rs 25,000 for every violation. However, if this new policy is approved, share rides may also come to an end. Though the draft does not mention shared rides specifically, it does prohibit the driver from picking and dropping different passengers from multiple points. The final decision about pool rides will be taken by a highpowered committee.

    Another big issue that troubles cab riders is abrupt cancellations from the driver or outright refusal to go to a certain location. The new draft will end this practice. Every cancellation will be treated as a violation and could attract a fine of up to Rs 25,000 on the cab aggregators.

    To take matters more seriously, the aggregators will also have to file a police complaint if there's a case of molestation or misconduct reported by any passenger. If they fail to do so, a fine of Rs 1 lakh will be charged from the aggregators.

    Other safety checkpoints include, a live GPS signal shared by transport department's control center. The aggregators will also have to operate separate 24x7 call centres to address grievances of their customers. The cabs will have to include a panic button within the reach of a passenger and display the driver's identity at all times. This panic button will broadcast a distress signal to local police.

    On the app, the aggregators will have to update them with the necessary features to make them compliant with the new policy. The app should feature a firewall to protect the rider's personal data.

    Kaali-peeli taxis will also have a new set of rules to follow. All taxis will need to have functional air conditioning. The taxis will be broadly divided into two categories, luxury, and economy. Luxury taxis will be cars that are longer than 4 meters and economy will be shorter than 4 meters. Economy taxis will come with canary yellow colour scheme whereas the luxury taxis will have a green theme.

    The Kaali peeli taxis will have to run on clean fuel which includes LPG, CNG or electric and should also feature a GPS service that will continuously share location data with the transport department. The taxis will have to feature an LCD panel on top which will notify the availability status; red would mean occupied and green would signify that the taxi is available.

Sensex closes 299 points higher, Nifty reclaims 11,000 mark; YES Bank, TCS, SBI top gainers
  • The Sensex and Nifty snapped their three-day losing streak today as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced measures to shore up liquidity amid the government pressing for a change of management at the crisis-hit IL&FS.

    In see-saw trade, the Sensex soared 299 points to close at 36,526.14, while the NSE Nifty jumped 77.85 points to reclaim the 11,000-mark.

    Positive manufacturing PMI data for September and healthy auto sales numbers also reassured investors, brokers said.

    YES Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising 9.86 per cent, after the mid-sized lender said it was fully geared up to find a successor for its MD and CEO Rana Kapoor, whose tenure was curtailed by the RBI last month.

    Shares of IL&FS group companies surged up to 20 per cent after the government moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for change of management at the crisis-hit firm.

    The NCLT allowed the government's plea to reconstitute the board of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) after market hours today.

    Debt defaults by certain group entities of diversified IL&FS have triggered fears of liquidity crisis in the financial markets and the RBI has been taking steps to improve the overall cash situation.

    The Reserve Bank on Monday announced that it would inject Rs 36,000 crore liquidity into the system through purchase of government bonds in October to meet the festival season demand for funds.

    The Sensex opened on a strong note at 36,274.25 but soon fell on concerns surrounding the NBFC space and the commercial paper market.

    However, it recovered in afternoon trade to touch a high of 36,616.64, before finally closing higher by 299.00 points, or 0.83 per cent, at 36,526.14.

    The NSE Nifty gained 77.85 points, or 0.71 per cent, to finish at 11,008.30. Intra-day, it shuttled between 10,821.55 and 11,035.65.

    Meanwhile, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) net sold shares worth Rs 1,699.94 crore on Friday, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought equities to the tune of Rs 3,256.34 crore, as per provisional data.

    "Market rebounded after a weak start with short covering in banking stocks after recent correction and a positive global market. The new trade deal between US and Canada eased trade war concerns and will stimulate sentiment," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services Ltd.

    Top Sensex gainers were YES Bank (9.68%), TCS (3.26%)  and SBI (3.04%).

    Of 30 Sensex stocks, 22 closed higher.

    Bharti Airtel (3.67%), Axis Bank (3%) , IndusInd Bank (2.58%) and Reliance Industries 2.12% were the top Sensex losers.

    Meanwhile, the BSE small-cap index fell 0.25 per cent while the mid-cap gauge gained 0.53 per cent.

    However, market breadth remained negative with 1005 stocks closing higher compared to 1664 stocks ending in the red on BSE.

    In other Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei gained 0.52 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.26 per cent and Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.06 per cent.

    In Europe, Frankfurt's DAX rose 0.60 per cent and Paris CAC 40 was up 0.33 per cent in early deals. London's FTSE 100 too inched up 0.01 per cent.

Arunachal Pradesh's upcoming Hollongi airport to have better facilities than Sikkim's Pakyong Airport
  • After the recently unveiled Pakyong Airport in Sikkim, the North-Eastern part of the country is set to get another state-of-the-art and stunning airport in Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, Union Minister Jayant Sinha said that when completed, the greenfield airport at Hollongi would have better facilities than the Pakyong Airport. While addressing the valedictory function of the 3-day ATAL (Arunachal Transformational and Aspirational Leaders) in Itanagar on Sunday, the minister said that the benefits to come would be beyond anyone's imagination.

    The proposed airport at Hollongi has better topography and a larger runway, which are great advantages. "The proposed 2,200 metre runway at the greenfield airport can handle jet aircraft that can provide direct flight service to metro cities. On demand, flight services can also be extended to international destinations," Sinha said.

    A greenfield airport is an aviation facility that is planned, commissioned and built from scratch without destroying an existing structure. The cost of this greenfield project is estimated to be around Rs 1,200 crore. The 'bhoomi pujan' will be held in December.

    Talking about air connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh, Jayant Sinha said that the entire state would be linked with aviation services in the next 10 years. The minister said that under the UDAN scheme, small and big towns in Arunachal would be connected with helicopter, seaplanes and passenger drone services. He also informed that government is providing subsidy on helicopter services with Rs 2,500 for half an hour air travel.

    Chief Minister Pema Khandu said that under the Chief Minister's Air Connectivity Scheme all Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) in the state will be made operational for air services connecting it with Itanagar, Tezu and Pasighat airport. The Chief Minister said that tender for operating of air services in the state has been completed and will be finalized soon. The DoNER Ministry would spend about Rs 350 crore for the initial phase of work in the Hollongi airport.

General Awareness

    Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: International Sanitation Convention, SBM.
      For Mains: Manual scavenging- concerns and issues to be addressed, performance of SBM.

      Context: Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention is being held in New Delhi.

      Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention:

      The Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention is being organised by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, also coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.

      Ministers from over 70 countries will be invited and taken on a ‘Gandhi Trail’ in Gujarat.
      The government will use the occasion to “showcase its performance” and “success story” in the Swachh Bharat programme in the past four years, which was launched on October 2, 2014, and have a face-to-face dialogue with the world leaders to share their experiences on sanitation programmes.


      By 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG #6, aim to reach everyone with sanitation, and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse.

      The global sanitation crisis is reflected in the following facts, according to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF):

      Around 60% of the global population – 4.5 billion people – either have no toilet at home or one that doesn’t safely manage excreta.
      862 million people worldwide still practise open defecation.
      Billions of people use an unimproved source of drinking water with no protection against contamination from faeces.
      Globally, 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.
      Only 39% of the global population (2.9 billion people) use a safely-managed sanitation service, that is, excreta safely disposed of in situ or treated off-site.
      Combined with safe water and good hygiene, improved sanitation could prevent around 842,000 deaths each year.

      Swachh Bharat Mission:

      The Government of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) on 2nd October 2014, with an aim to build a Clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2nd October 2019, as a befitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

      Since the inception of the program, the rural sanitation coverage of India has increased significantly, from 39% in October 2014 to over 90% as of September 2018. Over 78 million household toilets have been constructed under the Mission. As a result, 25 States/Union Territories, over 513 districts, and 5,04,316 villages have declared themselves as free from open defecation.

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