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Current Affairs for 22 March 2016
March 22, 2016
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NAVY’S AIRCRAFT ON MISSION IN SEYCHELLES

The deployment signals India’s deepening naval engagement in the Indian Ocean.

Signalling India’s deepening naval engagement in the Indian Ocean, the Indian navy has for the first time deployed one of its advanced maritime reconnaissance aircraft to Seychelles for surveillance of the island nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

It is the first such deployment of the Boeing P 8I to a foreign country. The aircraft has been in Seychelles since March 20, according to the Navy. The move is “in accordance with the MoU between the Governments of India and Seychelles,” it said in a statement

India has been reaching out to the smaller Indian Ocean island nations through various Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) exercises that include Search and Rescue (SAR) support, oil pollution response exercises, and assistance in legal matters. Besides supplying naval vessels and aircraft, the Indian navy has supported countries such as Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Maldives and Seychelles with training, hydrographic surveys, surveillance operations and counter-terror patrols.


 

APPLE STARTS BUSY WEEK WITH NEW IPHONE OFFERING

Apple is kicking off a busy week — Monday the giant tech company will host reporters and analysts at its Silicon Valley headquarters for a product launch event. On Tuesday, its lawyers will square off with authorities in federal court over the FBI’s demand for help unlocking a San Bernardino killer’s encrypted iPhone.

The tech giant’s dispute with the government has commanded headlines for weeks, but it may get scant mention at the company’s product event. Instead, CEO Tim Cook is expected to show off some new additions to the current family of iPhone and iPad devices at Monday’s gathering.

Apple could use a lift. iPhone sales are levelling off, after surging last year to record levels. And many are wondering if Cook can come up with another big hit. So far, however, there have been no hints of any dramatic announcements, such as last year’s highly anticipated Apple Watch debut, or major initiatives like the company’s long-rumoured but yet-to-materialise streaming TV service.


 

NEPAL SEALS AGREEMENT ON TRANSIT RIGHTS THROUGH CHINA

This will reduce the land-locked country’s total dependence on India.

Underlining the growing role of China in South Asia, Nepal on Monday secured transit rights through China following an agreement in Beijing between Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

Earlier, China extended a ceremonial welcome to Mr. Oli who held official talks with the Chinese leadership. News reports said Mr. Oli would also conclude agreements on building of multiple train routes connecting Nepal with China’s key production centres.

However, playing down the impact of the agreements between Nepal and China, official sources told The Hindu that the future of the agreements depended on the issue of “economic viability” of the transit facilities and train connectivity projects.

The Ministry of External Affairs, however, refused to issue an official statement immediately, considering that the agreements were between two sovereign countries.

However, officials pointed out that India-Nepal ties could not be compared or curtailed by Nepal’s agreements with China.


 

CHENNAI GIRL WINS AT STREET CHILD GAMES IN RIO

The team spent one and a half weeks there, interacting with other street children from all over the world.

When Hepsiba runs, it is as if she can fly with the wind and skip through the air. Some say she picked up the skill on the streets where she lived. But her coach believes she is a natural sprinter.

On Sunday, she sprinted to victory in the 100-metre dash at the Street Child Games held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. She also won two more medals at the games. Nature or nurture, things worked fine for her. But that was not how it was in the beginning.

Hepsiba, now 16, earlier lived with her widowed mother on Sydenhams Road in Chennai, the same stretch on which, co-incidentally, Nehru Indoor Stadium is located. When they were evicted from the street, they moved into a shelter for the homeless run by the Chennai Corporation. An unexpected opportunity that came Hepsibah’s way finally took her to the global competition in Rio.

After that, with no sponsorship whatsoever, but with the international NGO Street Child United pitching in to some extent, Mr. Singh took a loan for the team to make the trip.

Having trained with coach Prabhakar Suresh for about two weeks, Hepsiba boarded her very first flight, one that would take her across the seas to Rio. The team spent one and a half weeks there, interacting with street children from all over the world.


 

NO MOVE TO REVIEW QUOTA POLICY: MODI

“Nothing has ever happened to reservation for Dalits and tribals when we are in power, but still lies are being spread to mislead people.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear on Monday that his government had no plans to revisit the reservation policy for Dalits and other communities, and accused his opponents of spreading “untruths” over the issue, not just during his tenure, but even when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM.

Mr. Modi was speaking after laying the foundation stone for a memorial for B.R. Ambedkar in New Delhi.

Last year, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, in an interview to Organiser, underscored the need to review the reservation policy. Early this month, RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said during the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha meet in Nagaur, Rajasthan, that reservation should not be available to affluent sections.

Mr. Modi said no one in his government had suggested that such a review would be considered, an enterprise that would be impossible, he said, “even if Ambedkarji were to appear today”.


ANAND VIHAR STATION CLEANEST, GHAZIABAD STATION DIRTIEST

It came up less than seven years ago to de-congest the more important and busier railway stations in Delhi, but Anand Vihar railway station has left the much older stations far behind when it comes to cleanliness.

The Railway Ministry has announced the results of a cleanliness survey of railway stations it had commissioned and Anand Vihar has come out with flying colours.

It is the only railway station in the Delhi-NCR that is among the top 20 in the country among A1 category stations. With a rank of 17, it is far ahead of New Delhi railway station (55), Delhi Junction (64) and Hazrat Nizamuddin (72).

The survey, conducted by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), divided railway stations across the country into A1 (annual revenue of over Rs.50 crore) and A (annual revenue between Rs. 6 crore and Rs.50 crore) categories.

While the first category has 75 stations, 323 stations are part of the second category. The survey is based largely on passenger feedback, where they were asked to rate various cleanliness parameters.

Originally just a small halt station, Anand Vihar became a terminal in December 2009 and over the years many east-bound trains have started operating from here.

Spread over 42 acres, the station has seven platforms and caters to nearly one lakh passengers daily. The station will go through another major revamp and modernisation as part of its phase II development.


RAJASTHAN CELEBRATES FIRST IT DAY, LAUNCHES CONNECTIVITY NETWORK

RajNET to connect Jaipur with 9,894 gram panchayats, 183 municipal areas in the State

On the occasion of Rajasthan’s first IT Day on Monday, the State government launched RajNET — a wide area network connecting the State capital with all 9,894 gram panchayats and 183 municipal areas — to strengthen connectivity and allow the inclusion of remote areas through Information Technology.

The first IT Day was based on the theme ‘Promotion of IT Start-ups’, in line with the State’s focus on empowering start-ups.

Rajasthan’s first start-up policy was launched last October and, on Monday, investors and start-up aspirants deliberated on the opportunities available in the country.


 

COAST GUARD PATROL SHIP COMMISSIONED

Arnvesh, the 50-metre long, 300-tonne vessel is the 16{+t}{+h}vessel among the 20 in this category built by Cochin Shipyard Limited

The fast patrol vessel (FPV) of the Indian Coast Guard ICGS Arnvesh was commissioned at Visakhapatnam by Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command Vice-Admiral H.C.S. Bisht on Monday.

The 50-metre long, 300-tonne vessel is the 16{+t}{+h}vessel among the 20 in this category built by Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). The vessel, which is propelled by triple Rolls Royce Kamewa water jets, can achieve a maximum speed of 33 knots and carries a crew of five officers and 34 men on board.

Fitted with the state-of-the-art navigational and communication equipment, including night vision capabilities, its main armament comprise 40/60 Bofors guns.

Commissioning the FPV, Admiral Bisht said that the role of Coast Guard has now become 24/7, and it plays a very active role in coastal security, especially when it comes to terrorism from the sea. “Today, the coast is secured by the tri-forces of the navy, coast guard and the marine police,” he said.

Admiral Bisht also highlighted the role of Cochin Shipyard and the indigenous capability that the country has achieved in ship building. “Today, CSL is not only building FPVs and other class of vessels, but is also on the verge of delivering to the nation, the first indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant,” he pointed out.