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October 2017 National Affairs

  • Milk production over takes food grains 
    • According to the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) detailed crop-wise estimates of the value of output from agriculture and allied sectors, the country’s farmers produced milk worth Rs 4,95,841 crore in 2014-15.
    • For the first time, the value of milk produced exceeded the total value of food grains (cereals plus pulses), which stood at Rs 4,86,846 crore, and was way above paddy at Rs 2,26,481 crore or wheat at Rs 1,28,998 crore, according to latest figures released this month.
    • In 1999-2000, the value of milk production, at Rs 88,092 crore, was not even two-thirds of cereals at Rs 1,34,096 crore, although it was more than that of paddy at Rs 70,416 crore and wheat at Rs 46,224 crore.
    • The CSO data reveals the value of fruits and vegetables production, too, crossing that of cereals; this again happened for the first time in 2014-15.
    • Between 1999-2000 and 2014-15, the value of horticultural produce has gone up more than five times.

  • Supreme Court asks govt to take call on playing of national anthem in cinema halls
    The Supreme Court on 23rd October indicated that it may revise its order of December 1 last year making the playing of national anthem in cinema halls mandatory before screening of the movie. The court hinted that it may replace the word "shall" with "may". 

    A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud also said the Centre has to take a call in this matter. 

    The bench said this during the hearing when Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the centre said the national anthem needs to be played in the cinema halls to bring in uniformity in this diverse country. The court's directions came on a PIL filed by Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the national anthem should be played in all the cinema halls before a film begins. 

  • INSV Tarini, with an all-women crew enter Fremantle Port in Australia
    Sailboat INSV Tarini, with an all-women crew, on 23rd October entered Fremantle Port in Australia during its maiden voyage to circumnavigate the globe. The Indian Navy said in a statement in New Delhi that this is the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew. 

    The vessel is skippered by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, and the crew comprises Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal and P Swathi, and Lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta. 

    Flagged off by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on September 10, the vessel has covered 4,800 nautical miles from Goa, crossing the Equator on September 17 and the Tropic of Capricorn on October 6.The vessel would return to Goa in April, 2018. 

  • Bengal Govt to set up testing centres in collaboration with National Institute of Virology
    The West Bengal Government is going to set up centres for testing of viruses in collaboration with the National Institute of Virology, Pune. 

    The decision was taken after it was found that cases of acute encephalitis went down due to effective testing of the blood samples sent to national institutes like National Institute of Virology, Pune, but reports from which places take three to four days to reach hospitals in the state. 

    With the setting up of the centres here, the State Government will get reports of blood samples of affected persons within 24 hours. 

  • Meghalaya Election department enters Limca Book of Records
    The Meghalaya Election department has entered the Limca Book of Records for the formation of a human logo by newly-enrolled young voters of Meghalaya on the 1st of July this year. 

    Limca official Garima Manon conveyed this in a message to the office of Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer on 24th October. It will feature in the forthcoming edition of the Book. 

    A total of 2870 students from 113 schools, 3 colleges in the age group of 18 and 19 enrolled as new voters and formed 75 feet by 120 feet size human logo named You 'N' I. The logo formation was part of the launching of the statewide special drive to enrol left-out voters with a special focus on first-time electors. Election to the 10th Meghalaya Assembly is expected to be held in February-March, 2018. 

  • Gujarat assembly elections on December 9 and 14
    Gujarat will go to polls in two phases on December 9th and 14th for 182 assembly seats. Announcing this Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti said 89 seats will go to polls in the first phase and the rest 93 in the second phase. 

    He said 4.33 crore electorates will exercise their right at 50128 polling stations. Notification for the first phase will be issued on 14th of November while 20th November will be the date of notification for the second phase. 

    Counting will be held on 18th December along with Himachal Pradesh, which goes to poll on 9th of next month. Mr Joti said EVMs with VVPAT will be used at all polling stations. He said 182 polling stations will be managed by women only. 

    Model code of conduct has come into force with immediate effect. The term of the Gujarat Assembly ends on 22nd January next year. 

  • Odisha will be the ‘Focus State’ at World Food India-2017
    Odisha will be the ‘Focus State’ in the World Food India (WFI)-2017, the international food event to be held at New Delhi from 3 to 5 November 2017. More than 200 global companies from 30 countries would participate in the World Food India-2017. Odisha will be the ‘Focus State’ in the event. 

    Odisha would set up its own Pavilion with 12 stalls. It would showcase various processed food items of Odisha like spices, cashew, confectionary items, processed agro-food, and seafood. 

  • President Ram Nath Kovind launches technocity project in Kerala
    Indian President Ram Nath Kovind launched the Technocity project in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on 27th October. President, who is on a 2-day visit to the state, also laid the foundation stone of the first government building in the Technocity in Pallipuram. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that technocity project is expected to be completed by 2019. 

  • Committee of two apex court judges to review orders of additional judges suitability
    The Supreme Court Collegium has decided that a committee of two apex court judges will evaluate the judgments of additional judges of high courts to decide their suitability to be made permanent. 

    The decision by the Collegium, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, assumes significance as the government had recently urged the Collegium to have a relook at its decision to end the practice of evaluating the judicial performance of additional judges. 

    A candidate is first appointed as additional judge of a High Court. He or she serves a probationary period before being appointed a permanent judge. 

    On March 3, 2017, the Supreme Court Collegium had withdrawn a guideline issued in October 2010 by the then Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia for constitution of Judgment Committees by Chief Justices of High Courts for assessment/evaluation of judgments of Additional Judges of high courts for the purpose of determining their suitability for appointment as permanent judges. 

  • Every writer has fundamental right to speak: Supreme Court
    The Supreme Court has refused to ban the controversial book Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu penned by Kancha Ilaiah, saying every author has a fundamental right to voice ideas freely. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud junked a PIL filed by a lawyer seeking direction to the government to ban the book. 

    The apex court said, any request to ban a book has to be strictly scrutinised and curtailment of an individual writer or author's right to freedom of speech and expression should never be viewed lightly. The plea alleged that the writer had made baseless allegations against certain castes in his book and tried to divide the society on caste lines. 

    It said a criminal case had also been registered against him in Andhra Pradesh for hurting sentiments of people belonging to certain castes and urged the court to ban the book. 

  • Centre transferred funds directly into gram panchayats accounts for the first time
    According to Union Minister of State for Panchayati Raj Nihal Chand, it was for the first time that the Centre had transferred funds directly into gram panchayats accounts, and prepared a five-year development plan of villages. 

    Every farmer should obtain "soil health card", which will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilisers required for the individual farms to help farmers to improve productivity through judicious use of inputs, he said. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates All India Institute of Ayurveda Sarita Vihar in New Delhi
    On the occasion of National Ayurveda Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) at Delhi’s Sarita Vihar on 17th October. 

    The first ever AIIA has been set up along the lines of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Build up as an apex institute under the ministry of AYUSH, the institution is expected to bring synergy between the traditional wisdom of Ayurveda and modern diagnostic tools and technology. 

  • Footwear Design and Development Institute Act 2017 comes into force
    Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) declared an ‘Institute of National Importance’ under Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. The FDDI bill was passed by the Parliament in July 2017. The Provisions of FDDI Act 2017 have come into force. 

    Presently FDDI is imparting skill based graduate and postgraduate courses in the fields of footwear, leather goods, retail, and management to around 2,500 students across eight campuses spread over India. 

  • PM Narendra Modi asks bureaucrats to speed up processes of governance
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 17th October said silos are a "big bottleneck" in the functioning of the union government and asked bureaucrats to adopt innovative ways to break these to speed up various processes of governance. 

    He has asked the bureaucrats to work with dedication towards creation of New India by 2022. He conveyed the message during interactions with around 380 Directors and Deputy Secretaries working in various departments and ministries in the government of India. In the same vein, the prime minister said officers at the level of Director and Deputy Secretary must create teams, to achieve better results. 

  • India among 5 nations that account for 50% of newborn deaths globally
    India is among the five countries – Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo and Ethiopia – that account for half of all newborn deaths in the world, according to a UN report. 

    The report, Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017, revealed that 5.6 million children died before reaching the age of five in 2016. 

    However, this is a marked decrease compared to 2000 when nearly 9.9 million children had died before turning five. 

    Despite the progress, neonatal deaths – defined as deaths during the first 28 days of life – accounted for 46 per cent or 7,000 every day. 

    Another 2.6 million babies were stillborn in 2016, the report said. 

    While India was accountable for 24 per cent of these newborn deaths, Pakistan accounted for 10 per cent, Nigeria 9 per cent, the Democratic Republic of Congo 4 per cent, and 3 per cent of the deaths occurred in Ethiopia. 

  • Sushma Swaraj asks Indian mission to grant medical visa to Pakistan boy
    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has directed the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to issue a visa to a Pakistani child for medical treatment in India. 

    The child's father had requested Mrs Swaraj to grant medical visa for treatment of Abdullah, saying he needed post-liver transplant evaluation in India. 

    The minister said that the treatment of the child must not suffer for want of medicine. 

    Ms Swaraj said, a medical visa has also been approved for a Pakistani woman, who wants to undergo liver surgery in India. 

  • PM Modi lays foundation stone for slew of reconstruction projects in Kedarpuri
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 20th October visited the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath in Uttarakhand ahead of its closure for the next six months. Mr Modi laid the foundation stone for a slew of reconstruction projects in Kedarpuri, including renovation of Adi Guru Shankaracharya's tomb which was devastated in the flash floods. 

    The area surrounding the Kedarnath temple was destroyed in June 2013 after the Chorabari Glacier lake breached its embankment following heavy rain that caused flash floods in Mandakini river. 

  • Union Government to organise Global Ayurveda meet in Kochi
    The State government will organize a four days International seminar and Global Ayurveda meet in Kochi on February 2018. 

    The main focus of this seminar will be showcasing Kerala’s achievements in health tourism, healthcare, and Ayurveda, she said after inaugurating the Ayurveda Day celebrations the other day. 

    The festival is being organised by the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action in association with the State government. 

  • Indian Railways to end VIP Culture
    The railway ministry has asked its senior staff to slug it out -- at home and at work -- as part of steps to end the VIP culture in India's national transporter. 

    The ministry has brought to an end a 36-year-old protocol where it was mandatory for general managers to be present on arrival and departure of the Railway Board chairman and other board members during zonal visits. 

    In an order on September 28, the ministry said that the guidelines regarding the protocol to be observed at airports and railway stations stand withdrawn with immediate effect. 

    Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani said no official will offer or receive bouquets and gifts at any time. Senior officials will also have to exercise restraint at home, he said. They will have to relieve the railway staff engaged as the domestic help at their homes. 

    Officials say that around 30,000 trackmen work at the homes of senior officials. They have been asked to resume duties. 

    Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has also asked senior officials to give up travelling in cosy saloons and executive class travel privileges and start travelling in Sleeper and AC Three-tier classes and mingle with passengers. These include members of the Railway Board, general managers of railway zones and divisional railway managers in each of the 50 divisions. 

  • Remove ‘M’ from Aligarh Muslim University, ‘H’ from Banaras Hindu University, says UGC panel
    A Government audit of central universities has suggested that the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘Hindu’ be dropped from the names of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Banaras Hindu University (BHU), respectively, to reflect their secular character. 

    The suggestion is contained in an audit of AMU by one of five committees set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on April 25 at the behest of the HRD Ministry to probe complaints of irregularities against 10 central universities. The AMU audit did not cover BHU but referred to the institution’s name in its report. 

    Apart from AMU, the institutions that were subjected to an “academic, research, financial and infrastructure audit” by the committees include: Pondicherry University, Allahabad University, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand, Central University of Jharkhand, Central University of Rajasthan, Central University of Jammu, Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Wardha, University of Tripura and Hari Singh Gour University in Madhya Pradesh. 

    AMU and Pondicherry University were inspected by a committee comprising IIT-Madras professor Shripad Karmalkar, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University V-C Kailash Sodani, Guwahati University professor Mazhar Asif and IIM-Bangalore professor Sankarshan Basu. 

    The panel’s mandate was limited to infrastructure and its academic, research and financial operations in these universities. 

    In its audit of AMU, the committee suggested that the institution should either be called just ‘Aligarh University’ or be named after its founder, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. It cited the same reason to recommend that BHU’s name be amended, too. 

    According to panel members, who did not wish to be identified, the suggestion stems from the logic that AMU, being a centrally-funded university, is a secular institution. 

    The report has also flagged the culture of “inbreeding” in the university, in which a majority of faculty appointments are of its former students. The panel recommended a five-year gap for all ex-students before they can be recruited as teachers in AMU. 

    The audit said that the university’s tuition fee be increased to help raise more resources internally and the alumni representation on different AMU bodies, such as the university court, should be reduced. The report has raised concerns over complaints regarding teachers being promoted even when there are no vacant posts and asked UGC to look into such cases. 

  • BJP wins 50 per cent gram panchayats in Maharashtra
    The Bharatiya Janata Party BJP on 9th October won around 50 per cent of the gram panchayats across Vidarbha, Marathwada, north Maharashtra and western Maharashtra. Results of 2,974 panchayats were declared on 9th October. While the BJP won 1,457 rural bodies, the Shiv Sena won 222, the Congress got 301 and the NCP won 194. The remaining sarpanch posts went to Independents and other outfits. 

    Elections for 3,131 gram panchayats across 16 districts were held on October 7 and 79 per cent votes were polled.

  • Bihar cabinet approves reservation for Divyangs in govt jobs, educational institutions
    Bihar Government has approved reservations for persons with disabilities in government jobs and educational institutions. According to Special Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat Department Upendra Nath Pandey the State Cabinet gave its approval during a meeting presided by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Mr Pandey said the provision has been brought in accordance with the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. 

    The cabinet also approved establishment of a state advisory board for the empowerment of 'Divyangjan' as envisaged in the Act. Secretaries of various departments will serve as members of the board and it will also comprise representatives from districts. 

  • Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister launches Indraprastha Gas Limited prepaid smart card
    Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on 11th October launched Indraprastha Gas Limited prepaid smart card in New Delhi for CNG consumers. 
    According to Mr Pradhan: 
    • The initiative is part of Digital India Campaign to take country forward with the help of technology.
    • Ministry is making every effort to use technology and methods to provide time saving and easily accessible customer service to consumers.
    • Distributed smart cards to some of the fleet as well as retail customers of IGL

  • General Electric's first diesel loco arrives in India
    The first diesel-electric locomotive built by US conglomerate General Electric as part of a 2.5 billion US Dollars deal to supply 1,000 such engines to the Indian Railways has arrived in India. 

    The project, a joint venture between the Indian Railways and GE to supply and maintain modern diesel-electric locomotives of 4,500 Horse Power and 6,000 Horse Power to the public transporter, was announced in November 2015. GE clarified that the work on a diesel locomotive factory in Bihar's Marhowrah is on track. 

  • Supreme Court asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue
    The Supreme Court on 13th October came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya. It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests. 

    The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons belonging to the community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. 

    A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications.” With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community the liberty to approach it in case of “any contingency.” 

    The court deferred the case to November 21 for detailed hearing. 

  • Rajasthan Assembly to now get different motions from legislators online
    • Rajasthan Assembly will now get different motions from legislators online. Assembly Speaker Kailash Meghwal inaugurated the system in Vidhan Sabha Bhavan on 14th October.
    • Rajasthan Assembly has initiated a good practice to boost Digital India.
    • According to the Secretary of Rajasthan Assembly, Prithviraj from the upcoming session of the Assembly, the motion of attention, adjournment motion and other motions under different sections will be taken online.
    • The next session of assembly is beginning from 23 of this month.
    • Rajasthan Assembly is first assembly which has started getting and replying of the questions online.
    • It has saved time of legislators and government employees.

  • President Ram Nath Kovind declares Urban Maharashtra as Open Defecation Free
    President, Ram Nath Kovind on 1st October said that a healthy and prosperous India will be built only on the foundations of a clean India. Mr Kovind said declaration of 'ODF' Urban Maharashtra is particularly relevant for the state as 49 per cent of Maharashtra’s people live in urban areas. 

  • Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi inaugurates 3rd organic festival in Delhi
    Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on 1st October inaugurated the 3rd annual Women of India Organic Festival at Dilli Haat in South Delhi. 

    The festival will be held till 15th of this month and it has on display India's most varied offerings of organic products ranging from food, personal care, home improvement, kitchen composters and solar products. 

    Mrs Gandhi emphasized the importance of going the organic way and organic food has been proven to contain far more vitamins, minerals and nutrients than similar foods produced with chemical fertilizers, pesticides and preservatives. 

    She said, now with the affordability factor coming into organic produce, concerted efforts should be made to promote this sustainable alternative and boosting the financial well-being of farmers as well as health of consumers. 

  • Justice Rohini to head commission of sub categorization of OBCs
    Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice G. Rohini has been appointed by President of India as the head of Commission to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes in exercise of the powers conferred by article 340 of the Constitution of India. 

    The composition of the Commission is: 
    • Chairperson -Justice (Retd.) G. Rohini
    • Member -Dr. J.K. Bajaj (iii) Member(Ex-officio)-Director, Anthropological Survey of India,
    • Member (Ex-officio)-Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India
    • Secretary of the Commission-Joint Secretary, Department of SJ&E, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

  • President Ramnath Kovind declares Rural Gujarat as Open Defecation Free
    Indian President Ramnath Kovind has also declared the Rural Gujarat as ODF -Open Defecation Free- at a function held at Kirti Mandir in Porbandar. He has felicitated rural women for achieving ODF status for rural Gujarat. 

  • Uttar Pradesh comes first in active gun licenses
    Uttar Pradesh is first on the list of States in the number of active gun licenses, with 12.77 lakh people authorised to carry weapons. Jammu and Kashmir comes second with 3.69 lakh people possessing arms licenses, show statistics released by the Home Ministry. 

    The country has 33,69,444 active gun licenses as on December 31, 2016. 

    Punjab, which witnessed terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s, has 3,59,349 active gun licences, most of which were issued during the two decades when militancy engulfed the State. 

    There are 2,47,130 active gun licenses in Madhya Pradesh, followed by Haryana where 1,41,926 people are authorized to carry weapons, it said. 

    Other States with a large number of licensed gun holders are Rajasthan (1,33,968 licenses), Karnataka (1,13,631), Maharashtra (84,050), Bihar (82,585), Himachal Pradesh (77,069), Uttarakhand (64,770), Gujarat (60,784) and West Bengal (60,525). 

    Delhi has 38,754 licensed gun holders, Nagaland 36,606, Arunachal Pradesh 34,394, Manipur 26,836, Tamil Nadu 22,532 and Odisha 20,588. 

    Assam has 19,283 active gun license holders, Meghalaya 18,688, Jharkhand 17,654, Mizoram 15,895 and Kerala 9,459, the figures show. 

    The lowest number of gun licenses is in small Union Territories such as Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, where 125 gun licenses each were issued

  • Election Commission not fully ready yet for simultaneous polls 
    Simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies may not be possible in the near future even if legal requirements are met as the Election Commission of India will not be equipped with enough EVMs and VVPAT machines for the exercise anytime soon. The Election Commission had on 4th October said that it was “logistically equipped” by September 2018 to hold simultaneous polls. 

    The Election Commission had sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice on May 5, 2016, where it said that the commission would need at least 25 lakh VVPAT units for simultaneous polls. As per a procurement order placed this April, Election Commission will take possession of only 16 lakh such units by September 2018. “Even if the polls were to be conducted in 2019, the deficit cannot be met with in a few months as the manufacturers are working in full capacity now. 

  • Centre sets study group to examine problems of people along IB, LOC
    The Centre has set up a study group to examine the problems being faced the people living near the International Border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir due to ever-present threat of cross-border firing from Pakistan. 

    The group will meet people living in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, security forces deployed there, district administration officials and local public representatives and submit its report within two months. Special secretary in the home ministry Rina Mitra will head the team. 

    According to the home ministry, the competent authority has approved the constitution of a study group for considering various problems being faced by the people residing near IB and LoC in the wake of regular threats of cross-border firing. 

    Pakistan has violated the ceasefire more than 600 times so far this year, the highest in a decade, in which eight civilians and 16 security personnel were killed. 

    The study group would look into broadly three issues: demand for land for relocation in case of shelling, construction of more bunkers and compensation issues related to shelling. 

    The panel will prepare a detailed report on the issues being faced by the people living near the IB and the LoC and submit recommendations. 

    India shares a 3,323-km long border with Pakistan of which 221 km IB and 740 km LoC fall in Jammu and Kashmir. 

  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao led to improvement in sex ratio at birth
    The government said, there has been an improvement in sex ratio at birth in 104 districts selected for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme, which aims at checking female infanticide and educating the girl child. 

    According to the Secretary, Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, RK Shrivastava, out of the total 161 districts where the programme is being implemented, an increasing trend in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) is visible in 104 districts. 

    The WCD ministry now plans to extend this programme to all the districts of the country with the focus on the 56 of the total 161 districts that have shown a decline in SRB. 

    The BBBP scheme is one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet projects and was launched by him in January, 2015 in Haryana's Panipat. It focuses on districts with the worst child sex ratio (CSR) as per the 2011 Census. 

  • Draft Haj Policy proposes abolishing Haj Subsidy
    Abolishing subsidy for Haj pilgrims and allowing women above 45 to travel in a group of at least four without a male member are some of the key highlights of a proposed Haj policy drafted by a committee appointed by the Centre. 

    The proposed Haj Policy 2018-22 by the panel headed by former secretary Afzal Amanullah also recommends bringing down the number of Embarkation Points (EPs) from which pilgrims can take flights to Saudi Arabia from the present 21 to nine. The draft was submitted to Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on 7th October

    The Minority Affairs ministry said the policy has been drafted in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order asking the Centre to abolish the Haj subsidy gradually by 2022. 

    Till now, women pilgrims could not travel without a male Mehram. The term Mehram refers to a male a woman cannot marry at any time in her life (i.e. father, brother or son etc) Women aged below 45, however, will have to be accompanied by male Mehrams, according to the policy. 

    It proposes to increase the quota for Mehrams from 200 to 500. The cut in funds meant for subsidy will be used for educational empowerment and welfare of Muslims

    The policy suggests sending pilgrims by ship, relatively less expensive than flights. The policy says the Saudi government will be consulted regarding Haj travel by ship and thereafter floating an EOI (expression of interest) to gauge the market for such travel. 

    The committee also suggested formally ascertaining willingness of Saudi Arabia to the proposal of transportation of pilgrims by ship for the pilgrimage. Also, it said, the security concerns that are present, particularly regarding Somalian piracy and instability in Yemen and adjacent areas need to be factored in. 

    According to the policy, the nine EPs will be Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Cochin. It also proposes to build suitable Haj houses at these EPs "to which states and districts will be tagged properly".

    India has an annual Haj quota of 1.70 lakh devotees. The policy proposes to ensure the stay of all Indian Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia within Mina. 

  • Foundation stone laid for national waterway on Krishna river
    Indian Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on 3rd October laid the foundation stone to develop the stretch on River Krishna from Muktyal to Vijayawada as part of the 4th National Waterway at Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh. The 82-km inland waterway is the Phase-1 of the National Waterway-4 under the Sagar Mala project and will be used mainly for transportation of cement and construction material for the new capital city Amaravati. The project will have four floating terminals and three fixed terminals to handle cargo operations. According to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari currently 28 kilo meters of national highways are being added every day. The Centre sanctioned projects worth over 1 lakh 27 thousand crore rupees to the state under Sagarmala project. Seven National Highway projects in the state have also been dedicated to the nation on the occasion. 

  • Ministry of Health ranks first in Swachh Bharat initiative
    The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been adjudged as the best department for its contribution during ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’, an inter-ministry initiative of the Swachh Bharat Mission. 

    The Ministry observed the Swachhta Pakhwada from February 1-15. The award was presented on the third anniversary of the Mission on October 2. Health Secretary C. K. Mishra received the award on behalf of the Ministry. 

  • India, Djibouti agree to establish regular political consultations
    India and Djibouti have agreed to establish regular political consultations at the level of the Foreign Office. 

    It was decided during the delegation level talks between President Ram Nath Kovind and President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh. An agreement in this regard was signed in the presence of of both Presidents. 

    During wide-ranging talks with his Djiboutian counterpart, President Kovind made specific reference to areas of common concern and interest such as terrorism, renewable energy and particularly Djibouti’s support for membership of the International Solar Alliance, maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region and technical and capacity building assistance by India to enhance employment opportunities for Djibouti’s young people. 

    Mr Kovind has reached Ethiopia on the second leg of his two-country visit to Africa. 

    The President will conclude the day by addressing an Indian community reception in Addis Ababa. 

    President Kovind is the first Indian President to visit Ethiopia in 45 years and the third overall.


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