Ease of doing agri business index
The low levels of productivity, growth and incomes ailing the farm sector in India and causing immense agrarian distress is well known. Without undertaking radical reform it is impossible to transform agriculture and double farmers’ income. However, state governments have been extremely lax in implementing much needed reforms to modernize agriculture and create a favourable policy and market environment for farmers. Addressing the issue, NITI Aayog has identified three key areas for reform and is now persuading states to undertake the reforms.
As per index
1. The state of Maharashtra achieved first rank in implementation of various reforms.
2. The state has implemented most of the marketing reforms and it offers best environment for doing agribusiness among all the states and UTs.
3. Gujarat ranks second with a score of 71.5 out of 100, closely followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
4. Almost two third states could not reach even halfway mark of reforms score. Major states like U.P., Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and J&K are in this group.
5. Some of the states and UTs like Bihar, Kerala and Manipur are not included in the ranking because they either did not adopt APMC or revoked it.
6. Detailed study of the reforms in various states and UTs show that reforms have remained patchy, partial, sporadic and implemented in very diluted form," the statement added.
7. The index is based on implementation of seven provisions proposed under the model APMC Act, joining eNam (National Agriculture Market) initiative, special treatment to fruits and vegetables for marketing and level of taxes in mandis.
New urban agenda unveiled
The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, also known as Habitat III, takes place in Quito, Ecuador. Habitat III is aimed at steering the course of global urbanization towards environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development pathways.
1. Habitat III is the adoption of the New Urban Agenda, which is a policy document that will set global standards for the way cities are built, managed and inhabited. Even though the New Urban Agenda is not a legally binding document, it seeks to lay down a shared vision that will inform how urban development takes place across the world.
2. Habitat III takes place at a time when the global urban population has been pegged at 54.5%.
3. By 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to double. Urbanization has been termed one of the most transformative trends of the 21st century, thereby underscoring the need to plan and monitor the course of urban development.
4. Habitat III stresses the need for a multidisciplinary approach to sustainable urbanization, and therefore will be attended by officials across various tiers of governments, policymakers, scientists, architects, planners, private sector actors, civil society groups from across the globe.
5. The New Urban Agenda, which will be taken up in Habitat III, aims at implementing the targets of Goal 11 in the Sustainable Development Goals, which specifically deals with making human cities and towns inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. One of the key issues that will be taken up will be climate change, as cities are responsible for 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
6. The other issues that will be debated include housing, migration, poverty, and inclusion.
Centre launches UDAN
The Centre unveiled the final regional connectivity scheme known as UDAN (Ude desh ke aam nagrik). Airfares will be capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour’s journey on a flight operating to and from a regional airport, under the scheme. The government will provide subsidies to regional airlines to offer half the seats on a discounted rate.
1. The subsidies will mainly be provided by taxing the air passengers on other domestic routes in the form of a “small” levy. The Union civil aviation ministry hasn’t yet disclosed the levy it will charge per departure to big airlines flying on all domestic routes, except remote and north-eastern States.
2. Leading domestic airlines have termed “illegal” the government’s move to charge a levy on them to fund the regional connectivity scheme.
3. Regional airlines can avail subsidies for flying a distance of at least 150 km. In a bid to woo the regional carriers, the subsidy amount has been increased from the draft scheme released earlier this year. Airlines will now get subsidy in the range of Rs 2,350-Rs 5,100 per seat for three years.
4. The subsidy to airlines will be provided through a reverse bidding process, which means if there is a demand from multiple airlines to fly on regional routes the ones asking for the least financial support will get the subsidy. On routes where a proposal comes from only one airline, the government will give the subsidy based on normative pricing, meaning it will calculate the subsidy amount based on various parameters.
5. Although the window for submission of initial proposal by airlines has been opened up, the reverse bidding process will start in November this year and will take place twice a year.
Panel appointed against outdated water-sharing ways
The Supreme Court-appointed panel in its report submitted to the court on 17 October 2016 recommended doing away with “outdated and unscientific water application techniques” in a bid to resolve the longstanding Cauvery water-sharing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The technical committee, appointed by a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit on 4 October to access the ground realities in the Cauvery basin, agreed that both the states have been facing water shortage. This year is the consecutive low-flow year. During the last five years it has been witnessed that three years are low-flow years,” the committee said in its 40-page report. Mint has reviewed a copy of the report.
1. The report also stated that the inflows in Karnataka’s reservoirs are 49.76 % of the normal flows and 40.75% at Biligundulu, the point of measurement of releases of water to Tamil Nadu as on 13 October. This could mean that Karnataka might have to release 40.75% of water allocated to Tamil Nadu by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 2007, as the allocated shares will be proportional to inflow.
2. Karnataka has declared 42 out of 48 talukas under the Cauvery basin as drought affected. The state has also been at the receiving end of at least six interim rulings by the apex court to release water to Tamil Nadu, which it has unwillingly complied with.
3. The nine-member committee is headed by G.S. Jha, chairperson of the Central Water Commission (CWC), and also comprises members nominated by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala.
4. The court formed the panel after the central government opposed its proposal to form the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) to resolve the Cauvery river water dispute.
5. The CMB was conceived by the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 2007 in which it determined the utilisable quantum of water of the Cauvery at 740 tmcft.
6. Of this, Karnataka is entitled to 270 tmcft, Tamil Nadu (419 tmcft), Kerala (30 tmcft), Puducherry (7 tmcft) and around 14 tmcft is meant for environmental purposes. The Centre notified the award in 2013, but did not constitute a CMB.
INS Tihayu commissioned
A Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC), INS Tihayu, was commissioned into the Navy. The 315-tonne INS Tihayu is the sixth of the WJFAC ‘Car Nicobar Class’ vessel to be commissioned and allotted to the Eastern Fleet.
1. Four of the vessels are based in Chennai and two, including Tihayu, will be stationed in Visakhapatnam.
2. Built by Kolkata-based shipyard Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), INS Tihayu is the 20th vessel in this class to be built by the shipyard.
3. It is an improved version of the earlier vessels and can achieve a top operating speed of 35 knots per hour, said Chairman and Managing Director of GRSE Rear Admiral (retd) A.K. Verma.
4. The ship is fitted with three water jet propulsion systems, powered by marine diesel engines generating 2,720 KW of power.
5. The ship also carries a shoulder-launched IGLA surface-to-air missile to neutralise threat from the air. The ship will be commanded by Commander Ajay Kashov and will have four officers and 41 crew members.
World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index
India ranked 66th among 113 countries in the sixth World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index—better than its BRICS peers China (80) and Russia (92), but below Brazil (52) and South Africa (43). The country improved its ranking by three positions, according to the report released on 20 October 2016. It stood 59 out of 102 countries last year. The report calculated the change in rankings by comparing the positions of the 102 countries analysed in 2015 with the rankings of the same 102 countries in 2016, excluding the 11 new indexed in 2016.
As per report
1. Rule of law in a country affects business environments, public works, public participation and conflict resolution.
2. It is the foundation for a system of rules to keep us safe, resolve disputes, and enable us to prosper.
3. The rule of law index relies on eight factors—constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice—to come to a finding. Informal justice is another criterion the report looks at.
4. India ranked 77 out of 113 countries for regulatory enforcement and 93 out of 113 for civil justice.
5. To assess civil justice, the report relies on parameters like effectiveness of enforcement, presence of alternate dispute resolution mechanisms, absence of government influence, and no corruption.
6. Ranking on regulatory enforcement, similarly, relies on effectiveness of enforcement, no unreasonable delay, respect for due process and no expropriation without adequate compensation.
7. India ranked high on open government (28/113) and constraints on government (35/113).
8. Denmark was ranked No. 1, followed by Norway and Finland, meaning they had the greatest adherence to rule of law.
9. The US stood 18th and the UK was placed at No. 10, while Afghanistan (111th), Cambodia (112th) and Venezuela (113th) were at the bottom of the rung.
SC refuses to entertain PIL on ‘living will’
The Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL seeking right to make ‘living will’ to regulate treatment and even refuse life-sustaining artificial treatment when a patient enters a stage of brain death. Living Will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding future medical treatment in circumstances in which he or she is no longer able to express informed consent or an advance directive.
1. A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur noted that the Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill on passive euthanasia was already pending in Parliament and no “interference” was required at this stage.
2. The reason to interfere in the matter at this stage with the on-going process when Parliament is seized of the bill on the subject sought to be agitated in this petition. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed.
3. The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by Mumbai resident Girish Trimbak Gokhale and others who contended that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution also incorporated the right to decide one’s future medical care in the case of terminal illness.
4. Issue an appropriate writ, order or direction under Article 32 of the Constitution declaring that any person, in a mental capacity to make decisions, has the right to choose or even refuse any kind of medical treatment, which right cannot be curtailed by any health care provider,” the PIL, filed through advocate Nitin Mishra, said.
5. It had also sought framing of guidelines “for exercising of the patient’s rights to autonomy under Article 32 read with Article 142 of the Constitution and issue a Writ of Mandamus directing such guidelines shall be enforced by all health care providers until such time appropriate legislation covering this field is put in place.
Exercise Mitra Shakti 2016
The fourth edition of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Military Exercise ‘MITRA SHAKTI 2016’ is being conducted at Sinha Regimental Centre in Ambepussa, Sri Lanka from 24 October to 06 November 2016. The main focus of this edition of the joint exercise is to enhance inter-operability while carrying out Counter Insurgency (CI)/Counter Terrorism (CT) operations under the United Nations Mandate. A comprehensive training programme spanning fourteen days has been drawn up for the purpose.
1. The Indian Contingent is represented by a platoon from the RAJPUTANA RIFLES Regiment and the Sri Lankan Army represented by a platoon from the Sinha Regiment.
2. In the initial two stages, both armies would get familiar with the respective methodology of such operations, each other’s arms and equipment and the command and control systems.
3. It will then graduate towards tactical understanding to enhance inter operability while carrying out Counter Insurgency (CI)/Counter Terrorism (CT) operations.
4. “Mitra Shakti” series of bilateral exercises is one of the major bilateral defence cooperation initiatives between India and Sri Lanka since 2013.
WEF gender gap report 2016
India has climbed 21 spots to rank 87th on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2016. In 2015, it was ranked 108th. The improvement in ranking, the report says, is driven largely by major improvements in education, where it has managed to close its gap entirely in primary and secondary education. India has now overtaken China which is ranked 99th out of 144 countries. Iceland tops the latest rankings followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.
India ranks 13th in protection of minority investors
India's global ranking in terms of protection of minority investors has slipped three notches to 13th, but remains much higher than the country's overall 130th rank for ease of doing business. The sub-ranking for protection of minority investors is topped jointly by New Zealand and Singapore. Others that ranked higher than India are Hong Kong, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, the UK, Georgia, Canada, Norway, the UAE, Slovenia and Israel.
1. In the World Bank's latest 'Doing Business' report, India's place remained unchanged from last year's original ranking of 130 among the 190 economies that were assessed on various parameters. However, the last year's ranking has been now revised to 131 from which the country has improved its place by one spot.
2. The list of countries in the Doing Business 2017 is topped by New Zealand while Singapore is ranked second.
3. According to the report, India carried out an ambitious, multi-year overhaul of its Companies Act, bringing Indian firms in line with global standards, particularly in respect of accountability and corporate governance practices while ensuring businesses contribute more to shared prosperity through a quantified and legislated corporate social responsibility requirement.
4. Company regulation is an ongoing process. Since the enactment of the Companies Act, 2013, the corporate affairs ministry issued notifications on a regular basis to address ambiguities in the law.
5. To bring Indian firms in line with global standards, the Act added requirements to disclose managerial compensation and have one-third independent directors and at least one woman on the board.
6. Besides, India became the first economy in the world with a quantified and legislated corporate social responsibility (CSR) requirement.
National Ayurveda Day
On the occasion of National Ayurveda Day, the Ministry of AYUSH is organized a one day National Seminar on ‘’Prevention and Control of Diabetes through Ayurveda’’ on 28th October 2016 at New Delhi. The Minister of State (IC) PMO, DoNER, DOPT, Dr. Jitender Singh will inaugurate the seminar and Minister of AYUSH (IC) Shri Shripad Yesso Naik will preside over the programme.
1. The Ministry of AYUSH is also going to launch “Mission Madhumeha through Ayurveda” on the occasion.
2. The Mission Madhumeha will be implemented throughout the country through a specially designed National Treatment Protocol for effective management of Diabetes through Ayurveda. The national treatment Protocol will be also released on the occasion of National Seminar.
3. In this regard , Ministry of AYUSH has communicated to various State Governments (Department of AYUSH/Department of Health/Department of Medical Education), State AYUSH Directorates, All Ayurveda Educational Institutes, Ayurveda Pharma to celebrate the National Ayurveda Day in a befitting manner by organizing Public lectures/Seminars/Exhibitions on the theme of Prevention and Control of Diabetes through Ayurveda.
4. Several State Government AYUSH departments have taken proactive steps in this regard and have planned for various activities on this day by providing free Ayurvedic health care services for the patients of Diabetes by organizing health check-up camps, public lectures for creating awareness in public regarding Diabetes etc.
5. Government of India has decided to celebrate National Ayurveda Day every year on the occasion of Dhanwantari Jayanti.
EPFO joins network of CSC
Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has joined the network of Common Services Centers (CSC). A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between EPFO and CSC e-Governance Services India Limited (CSC SPV). The MoU is initially for a period of five years.
1. To start with, the pensioners of Employees Pension Scheme of EPFO can submit their digital life certificates via Jeevan Pramaan Patra programme through a large number of points of Presence (PoP) of CSC networking in addition to those available at EPFO offices.
2. The pensioners living in remote areas can avoid cost and inconvenience of travelling down to the EPF offices or their banks for filing paper based life certificate.
India’s Second Open Defecation Free State
The State of Himachal Pradesh was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF), making it the second State in the country (after Sikkim) to achieve the feat. With this, Himachal Pradesh has successfully achieved total rural sanitation coverage of 100% in the State, with all 12 out of 12 districts in the State being both, declared as well as verified, as ODF.
India ranks poorly in GYD Index
India has ranked very poorly at 133 in a new Global Youth Development Index compiled by the Commonwealth Secretariat on the countries’ prospects for young people in employment, education and health, civic and political spheres. India ranked 133rd in the index covering 183 nations, below neighbouring countries like Nepal (77), Bhutan (69) and Sri Lanka (31) and trailing behind the South Asian average.
1. One in five young people in the world live in India, which makes it one of the most youthful countries on the planet,” said Abhik Sen, the lead author of the ‘2016 Global Youth Development Index’ report. While India’s overall rank is relatively low, it has registered an impressive improvement of nearly 11 per cent in its youth development scores in the period between 2010 and 2015. The research for this report also shows that youth development levels in India lag particularly in the domains of health, education and employment.
2. This makes India one of the countries currently experiencing the most significant “youth bulge” – with nearly 27 per cent of its total population made up of young people. The areas where improvements are called for include education, employment opportunity and health and wellbeing. In India, one in every three children (31 per cent) is not enrolled in secondary schools, against a global score for the same indicator of 19 per cent. In the field of employment opportunities, India trails behind the rest of the world significantly, ranking 152nd.
3. The top 10 countries on the index are largely from Europe – Germany (1), Denmark (2), Switzerland (4), United Kingdom (5), Netherlands (6), Austria (7), Luxembourg (8) and Portugal (9) – with Australia (3) and Japan (10) as the two exceptions.
Centre unveils new arhar type
The Central government unveiled a new early-maturing arhar variety which would give a per hectare yield of 20 quintals and mature in around 120 days as against 170-180 days. The new variety, called the PUSA Arhar-16, could be released for commercial use in January itself so that farmers can plant it by the next kharif season.
1. The new variety gives an average yield of 20 quintals, which though is same as many existing varieties, but more crucially take lesser time to mature making it suitable for northern plains.
2. It would give farmers ample time to grow potato, mustard or wheat in the rabi season thereby making this arhar variety suitable for northern plains.
3. Name: Pusa Arhar-16
4. Yield per hectare: 20 quintals
5. Maturity: 120 days
6. Plant size: Semi-dwarf (95-120 cm)
7. Suitable regions: Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh
8. Other specialities: High density, synchronised maturity, facilitates use of combined harvesters, allows effective spraying of pesticide, requires less manpower, allows cultivation of other crops such as wheat etc because of short-duration
9. The new variety meant to replace the water-guzzling paddy in northern plains of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh could be a real game-changer if pursued effectively.
BRICS investment project
SUN Gold Limited (“SUN Gold”), China National Gold Group Corporation (“China National Gold” or “CG”), the Russian Sovereign Investment Fund, “Far East and Baikal Region Development Fund (FEDF), and partners from Brazil and South Africa Sunday announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“BRICS Gold MOU”) on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit to develop the Kluchevskoyegold deposit located in the Chita region of Russia in Eastern Siberia. The project, in the mining sector, is the first BRICS investment project.
1. Representatives of all five BRICS countries are parties to this BRICS Gold MOU -- Nand Khemka, Chairman of the Indian Khemka family owned SUN Group, Tong Junhu representing China National Gold, Alexey Chekunkov representing the Russian Far East and Baikal Region Development Fund (FEDF), Ivor Ichikowitz from South Africa’s Trans AFRICA Capital, and investor Antonio de Moraes from Brazil.
2. According to the feasibility study completed by Changchun Gold Design Institute, the proposed joint venture aims to develop the Kluchevskoye gold deposit into a significant open pit mine and heap leach operation with an expected production rate of 12 million tonnes of ore per year and gold doré production of over 6.5 tonnes per annum. The pre-production investment is expected to be $ 400-500 million.
3. SUN Group has considerable long-term expertise working in Russia, while the FEDF will be an important shareholder in the joint venture company, acting within its mandate, to help support the project’s growth, with a particular focus on gold and copper mining opportunities in the Russian Far East.
4. The project will provide material benefit to the local and national economies over its lifetime in terms of industrial development, development of the supply chain, employment and payment of taxes and royalties.
5. This historic first mining project involving participants from all five BRICS countries can act as a roadmap for future cooperation within BRICS, drawing on the strengths of all members to execute challenging and mutually beneficial projects in each other’s countries and around the world.
India, Myanmar sign three agreements
India and Myanmar signed three agreements following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Southeast Asian nation's state counsellor and foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi.
1. One memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on cooperation in the power sector.
2. A second MoU was signed on banking supervision between the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Myanmar.
3. The third MoU was inked for designing an academic and professional building programme for the insurance industry of Myanmar.
BRICS agree to set up credit rating agency
Five-nation group BRICS agreed to set up an independent rating agency based on market-oriented principles saying it would further strengthen global governance architecture. We welcome experts exploring the possibility of setting up an independent BRICS Rating Agency based on market-oriented principles, in order to further strengthen the global governance architecture," stated the joint declaration issued after the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa.
1. The BRICS countries have already set up New Development Bank, which became operational last year, to meet funding requirements of the members.
2. Batting for a new credit rating agency backed by BRICS group, New Development Bank president K V Kamath had expressed concerns over methodologies of the big three global agencies saying that these are constraining growth in emerging nations.
3. Kamath had said despite having deep capital buffers, the ratings of multilateral banks like the BRICS-promoted NDB are affected due to the parent countries' sovereign ratings.
4. Citing the case of NDB itself, which is planning to get itself rated for bond-raising in many countries, he had said its rating will be affected because the promoter countries are not AAA-rated.
5. Earlier, the Exim Bank of India too had made a strong pitch for independent rating agency for the BRICS nations, saying the way the present big three are going about their job reeks of conflict of interest.
UNICEF clinches vaccine deal
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it had reached an agreement with six vaccine suppliers to provide a combined vaccine against five deadly childhood diseases for half the price it currently pays. An estimated 5.7 million deaths a year could be averted under the deal to send 450 million doses to 80 countries between 2017 and 2020.
1. The vaccine, a cornerstone of routine immunisation programmes, will protect children from five major infections in one shot: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenza type b known as Hib – a bacterium that causes meningitis, pneumonia and otitis.
2. The six suppliers were named as: Biology E, Jenssen, LG Life Sciences, Panacea Biotec Ltd, Serum Institute of India, andShantha Biotechs.
3. The deal, which took 16 years to reach, will bring down the average price to 85 cents a dose, half the amount that UNICEF currently pays, generating savings for donors and governments.
India, China hold joint army exercise
In a first, India and China carried out a joint army exercise in eastern Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, a move that comes amid hectic diplomatic manoeuvring between the two countries over a host of issues like Nuclear Suppliers Group and designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist by the UN.
1. During the day long exercise on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) a fictitious situation of earthquake striking an Indian Border village was painted. Thereafter joint teams carried out rescue operations, evacuation and rendering of medical assistance.
2. This was done as a sequel to the first Joint Exercise held on February 6 in the area of Border Personnel Meeting Hut at Chushul Garrison of Eastern Ladakh, along with Chinese troops of Moldo Garrison.
3. The exercise was a great success and has not only refined the drills to provide succour to the border population in case of natural calamity but has also increased the level of trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
4. The joint exercise, compliments the Hand in Hand series of the India-China joint exercises and the effort of both the nations to enhance cooperation and maintain peace and tranquillity along the border areas of India and China.
5. This year's edition of 'Hand in Hand' will be held at Aundh, near Pune in Maharashtra, from November 15 to 27.
WB appoints first adviser on LGBTI
The World Bank has appointed its first adviser tasked with promoting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues in its development work. The newly created senior position is part of the bank's efforts to solidify its commitment to researching and curbing discrimination against LGBTI persons across the 136 countries where it has offices.
1. The initiative by the poverty-fighting institution comes at a time when discrimination against LGBTI people is facing increased scrutiny globally.
2. The bank, which makes loans in developing countries and conducts research, named Clifton Cortez to fill the position. With two decades of experience in development, Cortez most recently managed partnerships for the United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS.
3. In recent years, the bank's research has increasingly turned to the economic impact of discrimination on LGBTI persons, the bank said.
4. This year, the Washington-D.C.-based organization has been collecting data on the socioeconomic status of LGBTI persons worldwide and launched several research projects on LGBTI discrimination.
5. Discrimination against any group is not only morally wrong, it stands in the way of sustained, balanced, and inclusive economic growth.
6. The World Bank's announcement comes a day after the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) publicized a new rule barring its foreign aid contractors from discriminating against LGBTI persons in the services it funds.
7. Last month, the United Nations appointed its first independent investigator to help protect the community worldwide from violence and discrimination.
8. A U.N. report last year said hundreds of LGBTI people have been killed and thousands injured in recent years, in violence that included knife attacks, anal rape and genital mutilation.
9. OutRight Action International, a New York City-based group that advocates for LGBTI rights globally, said the new World Bank position was encouraging.
UN votes to launch talks on nuclear weapons ban
A UN General Assembly committee voted to launch negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons despite fierce opposition from the world's nuclear powers. A resolution presented by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Brazil was adopted by a vote of 123 to 38, with 16 abstentions, following weeks of lobbying by the nuclear powers for 'no' votes.
1. The non-binding resolution provides for negotiations to begin in March next year on the new treaty, citing deep concern over the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons."
2. Four of the five UN Security Council nuclear powers -- Britain, France, Russia and the United States -- voted against the resolution while China abstained, as did India and Pakistan.
3. Japan, which has long campaigned against the use of nuclear weapons, voted against it, as did South Korea, which is facing a nuclear threat from North Korea.
4. Opponents argued that nuclear disarmament should be addressed within negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
US, UK, and China re-elected to UNHRC
The United Nation (UN) General Assembly elected China, the United States, and the United Kingdom among other countries to the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year term of office starting from January 1, 2017. The other elected members are Tunisia, South Africa, Rwanda, Japan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Croatia, Cuba and Brazil.
1. The Human Rights Council is the main UN intergovernmental body responsible for promoting and protecting all human rights and fundamental freedom.
2. It was established by the General Assembly in 2006 to replace the 60-year-old UN Commission on Human Rights.
3. The UN council addresses human rights violations and makes corresponding recommendations. It responds to human rights emergencies, works to prevent abuses.
4. The council's 47 members are elected individually through secret ballot, by the majority of the 193 members of the General Assembly. They serve for a three-year renewable term and cannot seek immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.
5. The council membership is based on equitable geographical distribution.
6. Thirteen seats each are devoted to the Group of African States and the Group of Asia-Pacific States, eight to the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, seven to the Group of Western European and other States and six to the Group of Eastern European States.
India, Palestine ink pact for Techno Park
India and Palestine signed an agreement for setting up of a techno park in Ramallah with an Indian grant of $12 million. The decision to set up 'Palestine-India Techno Park' was taken during the visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to that country last October.
1. India has announced grant of $12 million for setting up the park with payment of $3 million each on half-yearly basis for 2 years and the Palestinian side has made the land available for the project.
2. Once completed, the Technopark will serve as an IT hub in Palestine with complete IT facilities offering a one-stop solution to all IT-related service requirements, providing state-of-the-art technology, hosting IT companies and foreign companies benefiting local business, universities and other institutions.
3. The assistance is part of government of India's strong commitment to support Palestinian cause.
4. The project will help job creation, business and other opportunities for young Palestinians.
Exercise Surya Kiran Commences
Indo-Nepal Joint Military Exercise Surya Kiran-X commenced at Army Battle School, Saljhandi, Nepal. It is the tenth in the series of such exercise between the two nations and is scheduled from 31 October to 13 November 16.
1. The Surya Kiran series of Exercises are being conducted annually, alternatively in Nepal and India. Notably in the series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, Surya Kiran series with Nepal is the largest in terms of troop’s participation.
2. Indian Army is represented by the elite Kumaon Regt, while Jabar Jung Battalion of Nepal Army is participating in this edition of the joint exercise on behalf of Nepal Army.
3. The aim of this exercise is to conduct battalion level joint training with emphasis on Counter Terrorism in mountainous terrain. Aspects of Disaster Management have also been included in the exercise.
4. The Joint Battalion Level Exercise will enhance defence co-operation and relations between the two nations. It is an ideal platform for the contingent of both nations to share their experience and gain mutually.
5. The Exercise will be yet another step towards taking traditional friendship between the two nations to greater heights.
No mid-year economic review from this year
The decision to bring forward the Union Budget to late January or early February has eliminated the need for the government to release a mid-year economic analysis in December. Hence, from this year onwards, there might be no mid-year economic review, Business Standard has learnt.
1. The proposal has been discussed by top policymakers in the finance ministry and approved by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, according to a senior government official. The previous review was presented on December 18, 2015.
2. The government is bringing forward the Budget to pass the Finance Bill before April 1 and implement a nationwide goods and services tax from that date.
3. The aim is that there will be two surveys as it were. One, on the eve of the Budget. Then, somewhere around July we will have an Economic Survey to review the economic developments of the past year.
4. The official added that quarterly statements on trends in central revenue and expenditure will continue to be presented according to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act.
Financial Access Survey for 2016
Financial inclusion may have become a buzzword among India’s econocrats and central bankers but India continues to lag behind most major economies when it comes to access to banking, the results of the Financial Access Survey for 2016 released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows. Consider this: as of 2015, India had over 1.2 lakh branches of commercial banks across the country. This is higher than the number in the US, China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa. However, this translates to just over 13 commercial bank branches for every 100,000 adults—much lower than in the case of Brazil, Russia, the UK and the US. In this respect, China is no better than India with 8 branches for every 100,000 adults.
1. India remains an under-banked country compared to most peers, its banking network is less concentrated in the top cities compared to several of its peers.
2. Of the total number of bank branches in the country, close to 6% of them were located in the three largest cities in India in 2015.
3. In comparison, over 46% of branches of commercial banks were located in three largest cities in South Korea.
4. The corresponding figure for Australia was 39.2%, Brazil (16.4%), China (8.3%) and the US (2.5%).
5. Outstanding deposits as percentage of GDP in India stood at 65.8% for India in 2015, while the same for households stood at 37.3%.
6. Outstanding deposits as proportion of GDP for India is lower compared to Asian peers such as Japan and South Korea, which have high savings rates. However, the ratio of deposits-to-GDP in India is higher than that of Russia, South Africa, and the US.
7. Although the Indian banking network is not as concentrated in the top cities as some of its peers, state-wise data show that access to banking is very uneven across Indian states even today, with several poor states in the northern and eastern parts of the country lagging behind others, as the chart below shows. Goa has the greatest bank-to-population ratio followed by Punjab, while states such as Assam and Bihar are among the laggards.
8. The ranking of states based on number of bank accounts (per 100 persons) follows a similar pattern as the ranking based on density of bank branches.
6th gold bond tranche
The sixth tranche of the sovereign gold bond scheme open from on 24 October 2016, at yearly interest of 2.5 per cent, less than the 2.75 per cent of previous tranches. However, the bonds have been offered at a discount. “The issue price will be Rs 50 a gramme less than the nominal value.
1. The government said the Reserve Bank of India would issue the sixth tranche, the third this financial year, on November 17. Applications will be accepted from October 24 to November 2.
2. The tenor will be for eight years, with exit option from the fifth year to be exercised on the interest payment dates,” it stated. All other conditions remain the same.
3. The minimum permissible investment will be a gramme of gold, while the maximum subscribed by an entity cannot exceed 500g per person in a financial year. In the case of a joint holding, the latter limit will apply to only the first applicant.
World Bank's 'ease of doing business' index
After pinning its hopes on a significant improvement in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, India has managed to move up by only one rank in the Doing Business Report 2017. India’s position on seven out of 10 parameters also went down, compared to the previous year's rankings. The government said the ranking failed to take into account the various reform initiatives undertaken by it.
1. India remains at the 130th position out of 190 countries globally, it was revealed on Tuesday. This is the same as last year, but it qualifies for a single upward movement in rank as India’s position in 2016 has been revised to 131 by the World Bank.
2. There were a total of 189 countries in the 2016 report when India’s position was only four places higher than 134 in the 2015 report.
3. The rankings come in the backdrop of senior government officials repeatedly saying India’s ranking would be impressive in the 2017 report.
4. It also makes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim of pushing India among the top 50 nations by the time the 2018 report comes, a bit doubtful.
5. The World Bank ranks countries on 10 parameters – starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority shareholders, paying taxes, enforcing contracts, trading across borders, and resolving insolvency.
6. India’s ranking continued to weaken in areas of strength such as protecting minority investors (from 10th position to 13th position) and getting credit (from 42nd position to 44th).
7. New Zealand bagged the top spot in the rankings followed by Singapore, Denmark, Hong Kong and South Korea.
8. In terms of starting a business, India’s ranking went down to 155th position from 151st last year.
9. The establishment of commercial divisions in the high courts of Delhi and Mumbai to deal with commercial cases above Rs 1 crore has helped raise the rank in ‘enforcing contracts’.
10. It has become faster and cheaper to obtain electricity connection in these two cities, which have contributed to a jump in the rank on ‘getting electricity’ by as much as 111 positions in two years.
RIL gets world's 1st ethane-carrying ships
Reliance Industries Ltd has received the delivery of world's first very large ethane carrying ships that will be used for ferrying the fuel from the US. Reliance had in 2014 ordered building of six Very Large Ethane Carriers (VLECs) at Samsung Heavy Industries' shipyards in Korea.
1. The vessels are the first to feature new membrane technology from French specialist GTT, considered key to the execution of the project. With a capacity of 87,000 cubic meters, the two vessels are the largest ethane carriers built to date.
2. The two vessels, named Ethane Crystal and Ethane Emerald, are the first in a series of six VLECs ordered by RIL in 2014.
3. Japan's biggest shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines will manage and operate the ships for RIL.
4. Ethane, a natural gas component, is expected to be produced in large volumes in North America due to the shale gas revolution, which has generated an abundance of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and cooking gas LPG.
5. Ethane is primarily used as a petrochemical feedstock to produce ethylene by steam cracking.
6. RIL plans to ship 1.5 million tonnes a year of ethane from its US shale joint ventures to its chemical complex in Gujarat.
7. The firm has two joint ventures in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale - one with Chevron, in which it has invested USD 1.7 billion, and another with Houston-based Carrizo Oil & Gas, in which it has invested USD 392 million.
8. It has a third JV, in which it invested $1.5 billion, in Texas' Eagle Ford Shale with Dallas-based Pioneer Natural Resources.
All-India Ease of Doing Business rankings
Andhra Pradesh and Telengana have jointly topped the 2016 all-India State/Union Territory-wise Ease of Doing Business rankings, while last-year's topper Gujarat slipped to the third spot. The rankings, announced by Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, are on the basis of a 340-point business reform action plan and their implementation by the States. This covers the period from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.
1. The World Bank said what was interesting this year was that four of the seven states with the lowest income levels in India have found a place in the top ten ranks, while all the seven such states had an implementation rate of over 75 per cent.
2. These low-income states included Chhattisgarh (97.32 per cent implementation rate regarding the 340 reform measures, and fourth rank), Madhya Pradesh (97.01 per cent and fifth), Jharkhand (96.57 per cent and seventh), Rajasthan (96.43 per cent and eighth), Odisha (92.73 and 11th), Uttar Pradesh (84.52 per cent and 14th), Bihar (75.82 per cent and 16th rank).
3. The Bank, along with the Centre's Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) was involved in the process of reviewing the evidence submitted by states/UTs regarding implementation of reforms for the rankings.
4. The World Bank said it was looking into India's suggestion that the World Bank Group's global Doing Business rankings need to consider reforms undertaken across the country and not just in Mumbai and Delhi as is being done currently.
5. India's rank in the recently released global Doing Business rankings was a lowly 130th, just one rank up from the previous year's 'revised' ranking of 131st. Prime Minister Modi is keen to ensure that India finds a place in the top 50 countries within a year or two.
6. The World Bank is learning that one size does not fit big and diverse countries like India, said the World Bank's new Country Director for India, Junaid Ahmad, speaking on the occasion. Ahmad said other large nations like Brazil and Russia have also moved from a focus at the Central level to a sub-national level, like India. Brazil and Russia have requested more exchanges with India to learn about the best practices, he added.
7. The national implementation average stands at 48.93 per cent, significantly higher than last year's national average of 32 per cent, according to a DIPP statement. This demonstrates the great progress made by States this year, said the statement.
8. The 340 reform areas are broadly under categories including construction permit, environmental and labour registration, obtaining electricity connection, online tax-return filing, inspection reform, access to information and transparency, single window, land availability and commercial dispute resolution.
9. The Centre plans to soon hold meetings with states soon to make changes in the reform areas through addition and deletion of certain reform areas.
10. The top ten ranks in 2016 included Andhra Pradesh & Telengana (98.78 per cent each implementation rate), followed by Gujarat (98.21 per cent), Chhattisgarh (97.32 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (97.01 per cent), Haryana (96.95 per cent), Jharkhand (96.57 per cent), Rajasthan (96.43 per cent), Uttarakhand (96.13 per cent) and Maharashtra (92.86 per cent).
11. At least 32 States and Union Territories submitted evidence of implementation of 7,124 reforms, a DIPP statement said. These submissions were reviewed by the World Bank team and validated by the DIPP.
12. The 'leaders' category with an implementation percentage of 90-100 per cent includes the top ten ranked states and Odisha and Punjab (91.07 per cent). The next category of ‘aspiring leaders’ with an implementation rate of 70-90 per cent includes Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar. This is followed by the 'acceleration required' category that includes Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
Science and Technology
Rice fortification technology developed
Scientists of department of biotechnology (DBT) have developed an innovative way to fortify rice with iron which can be mixed with normal rice and consumed without compromising on its flavour. The fortified rice, manufactured using broken rice kernel through the DBT's technology, matches the normal rice kernel in shape, size and sheen. It provides 50% of recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron to children when mixed with normal rice in the ratio of 1:100.
1. Clinical studies have substantiated that the regular feeding for one year increases iron store and decreases anaemia in school going children.
2. It referred to the National Family Health Survey (conducted in 2005-2006) which noted the prevalence of anaemia in 70% of the children of 6-59 months age group. Anaemia - low haemoglobin condition that results in weariness or lack of energy or shortness of breadth - is mainly caused by iron deficiency.
3. Since Indian population is predominantly vegetarian, its dependence on plant-based sources limits iron absorption in the body. It led to iron deficiency in large section of the population. The food fortification can be of help for children in our country, suffering from anaemia and iron deficiency related diseases.
Bridge To India report
India’s rooftop solar market has added capacity at the fastest pace this year and crossed 1 gigawatt (GW) in total installed capacity, according to Bridge To India, a renewable energy-focused consultancy and research firm.
1. India has added 513 megawatt (MW) of rooftop solar capacity over the past 12 months, a growth of 113%, taking total installed capacity to 1,020 MW or 1 GW, Bridge To India said in a report.
2. The rooftop sector is expected to reach a total capacity of 12.7 GW by 2021. The cost of rooftop solar has fallen by 12% per annum for the last four years.
3. India has a target of setting up 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. Of this, 40 GW is to come from rooftop solar and 60 GW from grid connected solar projects.
4. Rooftop solar has been a side-story in the Indian solar sector so far but that is beginning to change now.
5. The sector is growing rapidly and beginning to realise its potential thanks largely to increasing cost competitiveness of rooftop solar power versus grid power.
6. CleanMax Solar, Amplus Solar, Cleantech Solar, Azure Power, Rays Power Experts and Hero Future Energies are some of the leading companies offering rooftop solar projects.
7. Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat are the states leading in total installed capacity of the rooftop sector.
8. India’s total solar capacity has crossed 9 GW, of this rooftop solar is 1 GW.
Scientists create detailed map of the Milky Way
Scientists have created a detailed map of the Milky Way using two large fully steerable radio telescopes in Germany and Australia. The study reveals fine details of structures between stars in the Milky Way for the first time. The research looked at neutral atomic hydrogen– the most abundant element in space and the main component of stars and galaxies – across the whole sky in a survey known as HI4PI.
1. The project required more than a million individual observations and about ten billion individual data points.
2. Although neutral hydrogen is fairly easy to detect with modern radio telescopes, mapping the whole sky is a significant achievement, Juergen Kerp from University of Bonn in Germany.
3. “Radio ‘noise’ caused by mobile phones and broadcast stations pollutes the faint emissions coming from stars and galaxies in the Universe.
4. The survey used Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Parkes Observatory in Australia and the Effelsberg 100m Radio Telescope operated by the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany.
5. It improves the previous neutral hydrogen study, the Leiden-Argentine-Bonn (LAB) survey, by a factor of two in sensitivity and a factor of four in angular resolution.
6. Having a clearer picture of the hydrogen in the Milky Way would also help astronomers to explore galaxies even at cosmological distances, Benjamin Winkel from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy said.
Oldest known planet-forming disk discovered
Scientists have discovered the oldest known planet-forming disk — a 45 million-year-old ring of gas and dust that orbits around a young star, from which planets can form as the material collides and aggregates. Led by Steven Silverberg of University of Oklahoma, the team described a newly identified red dwarf star with a warm circumstellar disk, of the kind associated with young planetary systems.
This one is rare
1. Circumstellar disks around red dwarfs like this one are rare to begin with, but this star, called AWI0005x3s, appears to have sustained its disk for an exceptionally long time.
2. “Most disks of this kind fade away in less than 30 million years.
3. This particular red dwarf is a candidate member of the Carina stellar association, which would make it around 45 million years old. It’s the oldest red dwarf system with a disk we’ve seen in one of these associations.
4. The discovery relied on citizen scientists from Disk Detective, a project designed to find new circumstellar disks.
5. At the project’s website, users make classifications by viewing ten-second videos of data from NASA surveys, including the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission and Two-Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) projects.
6. The WISE mission alone found 747 million [warm infrared] objects, of which we expect a few thousand to be circumstellar disks,” Mr. Kuchner said.
7. The star and its disk may possibly host extrasolar planets, researchers said. Most of the extrasolar planets that have been found by telescopes have been located in disks similar to the one around this unusual red dwarf.
8. Moreover, this particular star is the same spectral type as Proxima Centauri, the Sun’s nearest neighbour, which was shown to host at least one exoplanet — Proxima b.
Now emails in eight major Indian languages
A company has launched the world’s first free “linguistic email service” in eight Indian languages, under the name ‘DataMail’, an official said on 18 October 2016. The ‘DataMail’ will also make available email addresses in Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Marathi. The company is also launching email addresses in three international languages, including Arabic, Russian and Chinese, besides English, said Ajay Data, founder and CEO of Data XGen Technologies Pvt Ltd.
1. The linguistic email service will allow people from across the country to communicate in eight regional languages and in English language to provide ease of connect and bridge the digital divide among Indians.
2. The initiative as “reaching the sizeable population which lies outside the ambit of the digital connect” and transforming digitisation to the non-English speaking Indian population under ‘Make In India’ and ‘Digital India’ mission.
3. Gradually, the email service will be available in 22 Indian languages which can be downloaded on any Android or IOS mobile devices under the name ‘DATAMAIL’.
4. Citing an IAMAI report, Data said 89 per cent of Indian population is a non-English speaking segment and Indian languages account for less than 0.1 per cent content on the worldwide web.
5. As per the global Internet report, India ranks 139th in Internet penetration, but stands as one of the countries having largest language diversity in the world.
6. In Internet penetration, countries like Iceland ranks first; the UAE is 12th, the US 18th, Germany 19th, where language diversity is comparatively very low.
7. As far as affordability of mobile broadband percentage goes, India ranks 101 with 12.39 per cent of average GDP per capita required for mobile broadband access.
8. The Indian population has become digitally equipeed with Internet connectivity, but the issue of language is extremely critical for achieving greater digital and mobile connectivity.
9. According to ‘DataMail’ analysis based on secondary data for this year, the most spoken languages are: Hindi (544.39 million),Bengali (107.60), Telugu (95.40), Marathi (92.74), Tamil (78.41), Urdu (66.47), Gujarati (59.44), Kannada (48.96), Punjabi (37.55) and Assamese (16.98).
10. The total population using these languages is around 1,147.95 million, which account for almost 89 per cent of the Indian population.
Mumbai among 15 global cities
India's financial hub Mumbai has been named among top 15 cities globally in terms of total wealth held, while London topped the list, says a report. According to New World Wealth, the wealthiest cities in the world are London with $2.7 trillion of total wealth, followed byNew York City ($2.6 trillion) and Tokyo ($2.2 trillion) in the second and third place respectively.
As per report
1. Mumbai featured on the 14th place in the list with a total wealth held in the city worth $820 billion.
2. Home to 45,000 millionaires and 28 billionaires, Mumbai is the economic hub of India. It is also home to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
3. Among the 15 cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Sydney were the fastest growing in terms of wealth over the past decade (2006-2016).
4. Going forward, Mumbai is expected to be the fastest growing city (in terms of wealth growth over the next 10 years).
5. Others in the list include San Francisco Bay area at the fourth place with a total wealth of $1.9 trillion; Beijing (5th, $1.8 trillion); Shanghai (6th, $1.6 trillion); Los Angeles (7th, $1.2 trillion); Hong Kong (8th, $1.1 trillion); Singapore (9th, $870 billion) and Chicago (10th, $860 billion).
6. Sydney at 11th place has a total wealth of $850 billion; Toronto (12th, $850 billion); Frankfurt (13th, $830 billion) and Paris (15th, $800 billion).
7. Meanwhile, total wealth held worldwide amounts to $185 trillion (as of June 2016). Globally, there are 13,300,000 millionaires and 1,940 billionaires in total.
8. Total wealth' refers to the private wealth held by all individuals in a country.
9. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities, business interests) less any liabilities. Government funds are from the figures.
SC curbs BCCI's financial powers
The Supreme Court refused to give an inch to the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) "defiance" and ordered that none of the Board's member State associations will get a single rupee from the apex cricket body till they comply in "letter and spirit" with the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee reforms. In a judgment, which was not announced beforehand or notified in the court's cause list, a Bench, led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur stood firm by its October 7 decision to choke the financial jugular of the BCCI's 25 State cricket associations till they fall in line.
1. The judgment asked the Committee to fix a ceiling limit for contracts the BCCI can enter into. Contracts worth beyond this financial limit would require the panel's approval. It also asked the Committee to appoint an independent auditor to scrutinise the BCCI accounts and fix the financial limits for contracts.
2. The court ordered the BCCI secretary and president to file compliance reports before the Committee and the Supreme Court in two weeks.
3. It asked the panel to apprise ICC chairman Shashank Manohar of the court's orders.
India triumphs in Kabaddi World Cup 2016
India fought off a tough challenge from Iran to win their third successive Kabaddi World Cup. India have thus won all the three Kabaddi World Cups held so far. They have beaten Iran in the finals of all the three editions. "Kabaddi is India's sport and we have managed to continue our domination.
“Rule of Law Index" 2016
India is making progress on the openness of its government but it needs to improve security and reduce political violence, a new report on the rule of law says. The latest “Rule of Law Index,” released by World Justice Project, a Washington-based nonprofit, ranks India 66th among 113 countries. The report, based on a survey of 1,000 people and local experts, looked into Indians’ dealings with their government, the police, courts and other state institutions in their day-to-day lives.
1. Compared with the same countries included in the study last year, India’s rank improved three places in 2016. However, once 11 more countries were added for this year’s survey, India slipped seven places to 66th. The 2016 survey compared 113 countries over six subject areas, including “constraints on government power,” “order and security” and “fundamental rights,” among others.
2. India’s average score for “open government” improved from 0.53 in 2014 to 0.66 in 2016.
3. India also scored better than last year in “constraints on government powers”–measuring the effectiveness of institutional checks on government power by the legislature, judiciary, and independent auditing and review agencies.
4. India also did poorly compared with last year in safeguarding fundamental rights, including “effective enforcement of the right to life, rights of the accused and fundamental labor rights.
5. In South Asia, Nepal came 63rd, three places ahead of India.
6. Pakistan was ranked 106th in the bottom eight of the global rankings.
Abhijeet Gupta creates history
Grandmaster and Commonwealth champion Abhijeet Gupta created history at the Hoogeveen International chess tournament by becoming the first player ever to win the title twice in a row in the FIDE Open that concluded at the Dutch hamlet. Defending champion Abhijeet lived up to his top billing, and scored 7.5 points out of a possible nine to win the title solely ahead of second placed Grandmaster Sandipan Chanda.
1. It was an Indian sweep as the third and fourth places were also bagged by GM M.R. Lalith Babu and G.M.M. Shyam Sundar respectively.
2. Abhijeet got off to a roaring start with four victories on the trot and then played out a draw with Lalith Babu, who kept pace with the eventual winner for a long time.
3. In the sixth round, Abhijeet won against Migchiel De Jong while in the seventh another victory against compatriot S Nitin followed with relative ease.
National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) 2016
150 million Indians aged 18 and above and 7.3% of those aged 13 to 17 years of the total population are suffering from various mental disputes and are in need of mental care service, revealed National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) commissioned by Government of India and implemented and coordinated by National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore.
1. Adolescents from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Manipur and Assam revealed that Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Manipur and Assam are the worst hit states in terms of mental health burden.
2. Karnataka stands at a better place with 8% of its population suffering from mental disorder, revealed NMHS, 2016.
3. The study has revealed that greater proportions of those affected are in the productive age group (30 to 49 years) or are elderly (above 60 years).
4. Mental health problems are comparatively more in urban areas and those coming from low income and education groups are more likely to get mental disorders."
5. The report also revealed that one in 10 had a common mental health problem like depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders with depression being the leading condition. Neurosis and stress related disorders like phobias and anxiety affected twice as many as women compared to men.
6. Less than 2% had severe mental illness like psychoses or bipolar disorder out of which 50% had moderate to severe disability.
Women in India work 50 days a year more than men
Women across the world work on average 39 more days a year than men, with females in India working over 50 days extra compared to their male counterparts, a new report has found. On average, women work 50 minutes more a day than men globally, data from the new World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Gender Gap report suggests.
1. The report estimates that it could take 170 years for economic inequalities between the sexes to close, found that the prevalence of unpaid work burdens women.
2. In only six countries do men work more hours than women, but notably three of these are Nordic countries where parental leave can be shared relatively evenly between men and women.
3. Shared parental leave can be good because it allows families to plan their lives, to fit having children in with their careers and to share responsibilities.
4. Although men do 34 per cent more paid work than women, the latter still spend more of their time on unpaid work such as housework, childcare and care for older people.
5. The gap in economic opportunity is now larger than at any point since 2008, even though nearly a quarter of a billion women have entered the global workforce over the past decade, according to the report.
India's Biocon ranks among the top 10 employers
India's bio-pharma major Biocon Ltd has been ranked among the world's top 10 employers in the biotechnology industry by an international science magazine. According to a web-based annual survey by the magazine, the city-based company moved to ninth this year from 13 last year in the 'Science 2016 Top Employer' ranking, which is based on firms that are innovative leaders in the industry, are socially responsible and have a clear vision.
Delhi's air quality plunges to 'severe' category
Delhi's air quality has plunged to 'severe' category, which carries the risk of affecting people's respiratory system, as smoke caused by fireworks, as part of Diwali festivities, blanketed the national capital. The Centre's System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the level of respirable pollutants, PM 2.5 and PM 10, at 283 and 517 micrograms per cubic metre respectively, violating the safe limits by multiple times.
1. The prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 respectively, and anything beyond that can harm the respiratory system as the ultra fine particulates can embed deep into the lungs and also enter the bloodstream.
2. SAFAR's monitoring stations at Pusa Road, Mathura Road, Dhirpur, Delhi University, Pitampura as well as neighbouring Noida had air quality in the 'severe' zone.
3. It had forecast that the city's air will be severely polluted on October 30 and 31.
4. The Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) monitoring stations, in areas like R K Puram, Anand Vihar, Mandir Marg and Shadipur, had similar 'severe' readings as well. People have been advised not to go outdoors when air quality turns 'severe' as it has adverse effect especially on children, elders and those having heart or lung diseases.
5. Delhi Pollution Control Committee's (DPCC) real-time readings were also indicative of the increasing levels of pollution with the rise in the numbers of crackers going off.
UN lights up for Diwali for the 1st time
Diwali was commemorated for the first time at the United Nations, with the world body's imposing headquarters lit up especially on the occasion of the Indian festival of lights. The facade of the UN headquarters was lit in bright hues and the words 'Happy Diwali', along with the image of a traditional 'diya', projected onto the building. The UN Secretariat building will be lit up for Diwali from October 29-31. It is for the first time that the Indian festival of lights is celebrated at the world body after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December, 2014 that acknowledged the "significance of Diwali". Earlier in June, the UN building was lit up on the occasion of the International Yoga Day, with images of Yoga postures projected on the imposing headquarters.
India beat Pakistan in Asian Champions Trophy
India's hockey team gifted the country on Diwali its second Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament title after defeating arch foes Pakistan 3-2 in the final at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium on 30 October 2016.