Centre Releases Rs. 113 Crore To Six Border States

The Centre has released more than Rs. 113 crore to six border states as part of its plan to ameliorate the problems of people living in isolated locations, officials said today.

The Home Ministry recently released Rs. 113.36 crore to Assam, Nagaland, Sikkim, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP).

The home ministry, till now, has released a total of Rs. 637.98 crore during the 2018-19 period to states having an International Border. The funds released are in addition to the Rs. 1,100-crore released in 2017-18 for the all-round development of villages located along the International Border in 17 states.

The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) has been implemented through 17 States (viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal) which constitute the International Land Borders.

The main objective of the BADP is to meet the special developmental needs and well being of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border and to saturate the border areas with the entire essential infrastructure through the convergence of Central/ State/ BADP/ Local schemes and participatory approach.

The funds under BADP are provided to the States as a 100% non-lapsable Special Central Assistance. The programme is supplemental in nature and the budget allocation for the financial year 2015-16 is Rs.990 crore.

The BADP schemes include construction of primary health centres, schools, the supply of drinking water, community centres, connectivity, drainage to enable sustainable living in border areas.

It also covers schemes or activities relating to Swachhta Abhiyan, skill development programmes, promotion of sports activities in border areas, promotion of rural tourism, border tourism, protection of heritage sites, construction of helipads in remote and inaccessible hilly areas, which do not have road connectivity.

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Quad countries to focus on maritime security

The “Quad” countries, namely India, US, Japan and Australia, will hold their next meeting on the sidelines of the 13 th East Asia Summit at Singapore in mid-November, with the grouping keen to step-up maritime security and disaster relief initiatives as well as economic development projects in the critical Indo-Pacific region.

The regional coalition known as the ‘Quad’, the quadrilateral formation includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.

The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it.

The US believes the Quad, as one of the elements of its larger Indo-Pacific strategy for “a free, open and rules-based order” in face of an aggressive and expansionist China in the region, should eventually evolve into a ministerial-level dialogue imbued with a strong military dimension.

But Washington also recognizes that New Delhi, for now, remains opposed to any militarization of the Quad, which was revived after a decade as a joint secretary-level dialogue in November 2017, with its second meeting being held in June this year. India has also made it clear that the US should not “conflate” the Indo-Pacific with the Quad, stressing the centrality of Asean in the former.

Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest. All four countries share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in the development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.

The Quad grouping is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context. Quad should not be seen in any comparative or in an exclusive context.

With a vast coastline of about 7600 kilometres, island territories on both sides of the peninsula are sizeable Exclusive Economic Zone and seaborne trade, the greater part of which moves by ship; there are many strands to India’s composite maritime security including the safety of major ports plus aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines at strategic levels.

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India gets US waiver for development of strategic Chabahar Port in Iran

In a relief for India, the United States has exempted New Delhi from the imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the strategically-located Chabahar Port in Iran as well as the construction of the railway line connecting it with Afghanistan.

The decision by the Trump administration is a seen as a recognition by Washington of India’s role in the development of the port on the Gulf of Oman, which is of immense strategic importance for the development of war-torn Afghanistan.

The US has imposed “the toughest ever” sanctions on a defiant Iran aimed at altering the Iranian regime’s “behaviour”. The sanctions cover Iran’s banking and energy sectors and reinstate penalties for countries and companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere that do not halt Iranian oil imports.

Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country. The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast and India can bypass Pakistan with the Chabahar port becoming functional.

Why Chabahar port is crucial for India?

The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.

Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.

With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed the ban on Iran was lifted.

Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This is will, in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.

From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.

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Wonderful! First passenger train service between India-Nepal to run on broad gauge from December

The first passenger train between India and Nepal is likely to run on the broad gauge from December this year. The passenger train will run from Jayanagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Dhanusa district, which falls in Janakpur zone of south-eastern Nepal, covering a 34 km long corridor stretch. A source was recently quoted in a PTI report saying that an immigration check-post is likely to be set up at Jayanagar railway station, manned by either the Bureau of Immigration or by the state government. Moreover, for Indian and Nepalese nationals crossing the border through this stretch, the visa will not be required.

The train will run from Jayanagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Dhanusa district in Janakpur Zone of south-eastern Nepal, which is a 34 km stretch.

No visa will be required for Indian and Nepalese nationals crossing the border through this stretch.

Significance:

After Beijing decided to extend its railway network up to Kathmandu, New Delhi proposed the construction of new railway links during Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s recent visit to India. The move is being seen as part of efforts to counter China’s plans to forge rail links with Nepal.

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Tigress Avni killing: National Tiger Conservation Authority forms new probe team

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has constituted a three-member team of independent wildlife experts to probe how the man-eating tiger Avni (T1) was killed.

Maharashtra government had permitted a hunter to kill the tigress- Avni. This move was widely criticised by the activists. The tigress, which is said to have killed 13 people, was shot dead in Yavatmal on November 2 by civilian hunter Asgar Ali, who was with a team of Forest Department officials.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it under the said Act.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority has been fulfilling its mandate within the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation in the country by retaining an oversight through advisories/normative guidelines, based on an appraisal of tiger status, ongoing conservation initiatives and recommendations of specially constituted Committees.

The functions of NTCA are as follows:

  • Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management
  • Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan
  • Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament
  • Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and the establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.
  • According to approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.
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ADB, Government of India signed a $150 million Loan Agreement to establish a Global Skills Park in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $150 million Loan Agreement to establish a Global Skills Park (GSP) in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

This is going to be the first Multi-Skills Park in India which will enhance the quality of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system in the state and create a more skilled workforce.

About the Global Skills Park (GSP):

It will be the First Multi-Skills Park in India, to enhance the quality of Technical and Vocational Education And Training (TVET) System in the State and create a more skilled workforce.

The Project will engage international TVET partners to support advanced training at the GSP who will bring global best practices in TVET management, training infrastructure, industry cooperation, and quality assurance.

The GSP campus will consist of core Advanced Training Institutes including the Center for Occupational Skills Acquisition and the Center for Advanced Agricultural Training as well as other support services focusing on entrepreneurship, training of trainers, and skill-related research.

The campus will have training facilities focusing on skills for manufacturing, service, and advanced agricultural jobs, benefitting about 20,000 trainees and trainers.

The Project will help improve the quality and relevance of the State’s TVET programs and will help impart advanced job-ready skills training of international standards that can meet the employment needs of the State’s emerging sectors.

The Project will also help in modernizing 10 industrial training institutes across the state by renovating training infrastructure and upgrading skills courses to align with industry and market needs.

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ISRO conducts first escape test for India’s manned mission to space

On Thursday morning, ISRO took the first, small but significant step towards realizing human space flight by successfully conducting a test of the Crew Escape System that provides an escape mechanism for astronauts if the launch operation is aborted.

PAT (pad abort test) is the first in a series of tests to qualify a crew escape system technology of a manned mission in the future.

It is an emergency escape measure to quickly pull the astronaut cabin along with crew out to a safe distance from launch vehicle during a launch abort.

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