PM Attends East Asia Summit in Singapore, Gives Vision for Indo-Pacific

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 13th East Asia Summit in Singapore during which the leaders of the grouping discussed global and regional issues, including maritime cooperation.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions. Membership expanded to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011.

EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.

EAS is an initiative of ASEAN and is based on the premise of the centrality of ASEAN.

EAS has evolved as a forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on political, security and economic issues of common regional concern and plays an important role in the regional architecture.

There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. These are – Environment and Energy, Education, Finance, Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases, Natural Disaster Management, and ASEAN Connectivity. India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas.

The concept of an East Asia Grouping was first promoted in 1991 by the then Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad. The final report of the East Asian Study Group in 2002, established by the ASEAN+3 countries (i.e. China, Japan, and ROK), recommended EAS as an ASEAN led development limited to the ASEAN +3 countries.

However, the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) held in Vientiane on July 26, 2005, welcomed the participation of ASEAN, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, India, and New Zealand, in the first EAS. The USA and the Russian Federation were formally included as members of the EAS at the 6th EAS held in Bali, Indonesia on 19 November 2011.

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NITI Aayog organizes South Asian Regional Conference on Urban Infrastructure

NITI Aayog, the premier think tank of the Government of India, partnered with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to host a South Asian regional conference at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in the capital today to discuss the key issues, perspectives and the way forward in the Urban Infrastructure.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs), Shri Hardeep Singh Puri addressed the closing session on Day One of the Conference and received the rapporteurs’ presentations, summarising best practices related to new approaches to PPP & Municipal Financing.

Considering the quantum deficit in infrastructure implementation today vis-à-vis the demand, it is extremely imperative to focus on newer means of implementing and financing urban infrastructure. In India alone, until 2040, estimated investments of around $4.5 trillion are required in the infrastructure space. With respect to urban needs, the population in South Asia is expected to grow by around 250 million till 2030, while that in India is expected to reach around 590 million during the same period.

There are an estimated 98 million people who reside in the slums of Indian cities and are disproportionately deprived of access to basic services and infrastructure. These gaps must be addressed so that the cities grow equitably and in an environmentally responsible way.

The South Asian regional conference is a first of its kind, with participation from across the South Asian region including leaders from the government, industry, research organizations, academia, think tanks and civil society. The Conference aims to review overall issues and assess the sustainability of PPPs and urban finance in South Asia, specifically India, while broadening the knowledge base and engaging on international best practices. Components of the Conference include keynote and breakout sessions, panel discussions, presentation and a variety of stakeholder consultations.

Countries need to explore innovative models to implement infrastructure projects. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been one such option that enables governments to optimally share the risks associated with a project’s lifecycle. However, for making government procurement more dynamic, it is imperative to focus on wider options. Furthermore, to implement urban infrastructure in India, a deeper deliberation is required on the means of democratizing the governance at the city level with a view towards providing greater operational and fiscal autonomy to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). These challenges and the emerging opportunities necessitate focusing on the institutional environment to improve the delivery of sustainable urban infrastructure and services and evaluating alternatives for long-term, predictable financing.

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International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, 16 September

The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.

The phase-out of controlled uses of ozone-depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change; furthermore, it has protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth

2018 Theme: ‘Keep Cool and Carry On: The Montreal Protocol’.

In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

The ozone layer absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet light which is harmful to human life and other life forms. The layer absorbs about 97 to 99% of ultraviolet rays and maintains the ozone-oxygen cycle. Dobson unit is a unit which is used to measure the ozone in the atmosphere at a standard temperature and pressure.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone Layer. The original Montreal Protocol was agreed on 16 September 1987 and entered into force on 1 January 1989.

The Montreal Protocol includes a unique adjustment provision that enables the Parties to the Protocol to respond quickly to new scientific information and agree to accelerate the reductions required on chemicals already covered by the Protocol. These adjustments are then automatically applied to all countries that ratified the Protocol.

Montreal Protocol stipulates that the production and consumption of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere-chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform-are to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform). These compounds significantly deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the planet from damaging UV-B radiation.

The phase-out of controlled uses of ozone-depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change; furthermore, it has protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth.

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Venkaiah Naidu stresses on the need to preserve true values of Hinduism to alter ill-informed opinions

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has stressed on the need of preserving the true values of Hinduism to alter ill-informed opinions and attitudes. In his keynote address to the concluding session of the second World Hindu Congress in the US city of Chicago, Mr. Naidu said India believed in universal tolerance and accepted all religions as true.

Empowerment and respect of women is another key aspect of Hinduism, he said. In a passionate appeal, Mr. Naidu urged the delegates to preserve their mother tongue and culture. In a proclamation, the Governor of Illinois declared September 11, 2018, as Swami Vivekananda Day. The three-day World Hindu Congress coincided with the 125th anniversary of the historic speech of Swami Vivekananda in Chicago in 1893.

The World Hindu Congress (WHC) is a global platform for Hindus to connect, share ideas, inspire one another, and impact the common good. It offers Hindus an opportunity to introspect towards improvement and tap into our collective resources to seek tangible solutions to the most pressing issues of our age.

Held once every four years, WHC’s seven parallel conferences showcase how the values, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit of the global Hindu community find expression in a variety of spheres, including economic, education, media, organizational, and political, as well as the unique leadership and contributions of Hindu women and youth.

WHC also serves as a platform to address critical issues impacting Hindus worldwide, including human rights, discrimination, and cultural assaults.

In the past, Hindus have held a number of forums and conferences intermittently. But the outcomes of resulting resolutions and implementation of action plans have been sporadic at best. Many of these events never covered dimensions critically important to Hindus such as education, media, politics, and economy with regularity. Moreover, not many of these events were cross-dimensional in nature.

Hindus have both spiritual and secular needs. Unfortunately, many of the secular needs and challenges have been left for others to handle. The WHC seeks to fill in this very important gap.

The World Hindu Congress is an informal organization organized by World Hindu Foundation. But it is dependent on the efforts of volunteers representing Hindu organizations from around the world. Each Congress will be held in a different part of the world. All Hindu organizations, associations, and institutions are encouraged to participate and invited to become partners in World Hindu Congress.

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