Current Affairs Today for UPSC IAS Preparation: 25 October 2017

Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat inaugurates two days olive work shop on “Olive Research and Development in India”

Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat inaugurated two days olive workshop on “Olive Research and Development in India” organized by Oilseeds Division, Department of Agriculture and Corporation  & Farmers Welfare and ICAR-Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture Srinagar from October 24-25, 2017, in Srinagar.

Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, in his inaugural address gave the projections of agriculture production and productivity of the country to meet the demand of the nation. He pointed out that India is importing about 68% of cooking oil and thus there is the challenge for farmers and scientists to decrease the import of cooking oil and make the availability of the cooking oil sufficient to feed the nation. He said that olive oil consumption has increased five times from last ten years and there is large probability for enhancing its acceptability due to high value index. India has a vast potential for olive cultivation which need to be tapered by the joint efforts of scientists and farmers.


IAF Landing Operations on Agra-Lucknow Expressway

Indian Air Force carried out major landing operations on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway, about 60 km west of Lucknow. The series of landings took place close to Bangarmau in Unnao District of Uttar Pradesh, where a 3 km stretch was specially prepared for such operations. A total of sixteen aircraft participated in the operation which comprised IAF’s frontline Air Superiority Fighters including the Sukhoi-30, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighter aircraft. These aircraft took off from Bareilly, Gwalior and Gorakhpur respectively. In addition, the IAF carried out drills in which Garud Commandos were inserted and extricated for ground operations, by the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft which took off from Hindon airbase.

On site arrangements were made for a Mobile Air Traffic Control, Radar Control, Meteorological Facility, Aerospace Safety and Security Control. In addition, to deal with any situation, crash, firefighting, rescue and medical teams were positioned. IAF sought assistance from State Government authorities for temporary closure of the expressway and other matters like crowd control, etc. A large number of police personnel were stationed along the stretch to ensure smooth conduct of operations.

Over the past few years, IAF has been increasing its efforts to utilise certain straight stretches of National Highways for emergency landings. Such highway stretches are planned to be used in emergencies, if an active airport is not available for some reason. These operations increase the flexibility in the use of Air Power. In addition, use of transport aircraft for quick insertion of forces for Human Assistance and Disaster Relief into civil area and Special Forces in case of contingencies has been validated.

IAF had already carried out landings by fighter aircraft for the first time on the Yamuna expressway on 21 May 2015. The stretch of Agra – Lucknow expressway was earlier activated for the first time for IAF operations in November 2016 in which six fighter aircraft of the IAF landed on the expressway. However, in this exercise, IAF included the Jaguar fighter aircraft for the first time. Also for the first time, IAF’s C-130J transport aircraft participated in highway landing operations for insertion and extrication of Garud Special Forces.

Several countries like Germany, Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, Switzerland, Poland, Singapore, Czechoslovakia, Pakistan, etc. have dedicated stretches on their highways and expressways for aircraft to land and take off in emergencies or war like events.

This operation has majorly boosted IAF’s capability to undertake unhindered operations even during non-availability of standard runways. It has demonstrated the expert flying skills of its fighter and transport aircrew, and the capability of its ground crew in activating such expressway airstrips on short notice. Such activations of highway stretches all across India are planned to be practised regularly by the IAF in future.


Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu launches CIPAM’s Website

The Minister for Commerce and Industry, Shri Suresh Prabhu launched the official website for the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).  CIPAM has been set up under the aegis of DIPP with a mandate to effectively implement the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy. Secretary DIPP, Shri  Ramesh Abhishek was also present.

The website is interactive providing regular updates on all upcoming events including awareness and sensitization programs being conducted, as also information on all Intellectual Property Rights. It would make available resource material on IPRs specially curated for various levels: schools, universities, industry and enforcement agencies.


Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Sign $300 Million Loan to Promote Further Fiscal Reforms in West Bengal

The Asian Development Bank and the Government of India signed a $300 million loan to continue a series of fiscal reforms in the State of West Bengal to improve the quality of public service delivery.

The Second West Bengal Development Finance Program targets a further increase in public investment through reduction of unproductive expenditure, and savings from efficiencies in revenue collections. The Program will build on earlier intervention under Phase I of the project through the $400 million Program that targeted a comprehensive fiscal consolidation program in the state.

The Program aims to further deepen the reforms with focus on expenditure rationalization, improvement in revenue administration, and facilitation of more private investment in the state” said Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance who signed the loan on behalf of the Government of India.

The new Program will create the fiscal space necessary to sustain higher public investment in the State which could put the state’s finances on a balanced and sustainable path,” said Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, ADB Country Director for India, who signed for ADB. The program agreement was signed by Mr. Parwez Ahmad Siddiqui, Secretary, Finance Department, Government of West Bengal.

The new Program will not only target public investment but would also support private investments more directly by creating an infrastructure facility to support project preparation, development, and appraisal, with emphasis on public-private partnerships in health and education. It also seeks to simplify the registration and licensing procedure for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Spread over two years, the Program will also carry forward reforms such as linking medium term expenditure plans to actual budgets, supported by strengthening internal audit system, and enhancements in the integrated financial management system (IFMS). Other activities under the program include improved tax monitoring and continued support for information technology systems in strengthening tax and land administration.

Capital outlay as a percentage of gross state domestic product is expected to rise to 2.2% by FY2022 under the second program, with improved budget allocations geared toward development expenditure.

Along with the loan, there is also a technical assistance grant of $500,000 to strengthen key institutions responsible for carrying out fiscal management reforms in the state.


Assam govt to construct 43 highlands at Kaziranga national park

The Assam government will construct 43 highlands at the Kaziranga national park and Pobitara wildlife sanctuary. State Forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma said that initial work is being done for this purpose. If everything goes according to plan then highlands will be constructed within a month. Hundreds of wild animals had drowned to death this year during flood in the Kaziranga national park. Highlands are required to shelter wild animals during flood.


Uttar Pradesh Govt to start 24 hours Chief Minister’s helpline service

In Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath cabinet has decided to set up 24 hours chief minister’s helpline service to redress the problems of the people. The State Cabinet decided it in a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The cabinet has also decided to club all other help Line numbers working with different departments with Chief Minister’s help lime number. As per cabinet decision it will be functional by end of this year. Setting up of 500 seats call centre for the purchase is under process and it will be under direct control of the Chief Minister. All oral and documented complaints will be registered at the call centre and monitored from there.

The UP Cabinet has also given its nod for the constitution of a Prayagraj Mela Authority. Allahabad divisional commissioner will be Chairman of the Authority.