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♦ Bimal Jalan to head expert panel on economic capital framework
- More than a month after its board decided to constitute an expert panel to decide on appropriate size of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) reserves, the central bank on Wednesday constituted a six-member committee headed by former Governor Bimal Jalan with former Secretary Rakesh Mohan as the Vice-Chair.
- The panel will include Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg and RBI Deputy Governor N.S. Vishwanathan, the RBI said in a statement.
- Bharat Doshi and Sudhir Mankad, who are members of the central board of the RBI, will be other two members of the expert committee on economic capital framework.
♦ Govt directs airports to make public announcements in local language first
- The government Wednesday directed all airports to make public announcements in local language first, followed by Hindi and English, officials said.
- The latest move follows a directive from Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.
- Officials said that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued a directive to all aerodromes under its control to start making public announcements in the local language in addition to Hindi and English.
- The Civil Aviation Ministry has also sent out a communication to private airport operators regarding public announcements to be made in the local language.
- Prabhu has directed the AAI to take steps to make that all announcements on public address system at all the airports in the
- country should be in local language followed by Hindi and English, officials said.
- The directions would not be applicable for silent airports, where public announcements are not made, they added.
♦ Japan announces International Whaling Commission withdrawal
- The decision, announced by the government’s top spokesman on Wednesday, is a rare break with a multinational organization by Tokyo.
- Talking to reporters , the spokesperson said that Japan would officially inform the IWC of its decision by the end of the year, which will mean the withdrawal comes into effect by 30 June.
- The country’s fleet will resume commercial operations in July 2019.
- Japan will join Iceland and Norway in openly defying the ban on commercial whale hunting.
- The International Whaling Commission plays a crucial role in international cooperation on whale conservation.
♦ Government approves Rameshwaram-Dhanushkodi project
- The 17-km line will cost around Rs 208 crore and it has been included in the umbrella work for new lines in the current financial year.
- Dhanushkodi railway station was destroyed and abandoned after the 1964 Rameshwaram cyclone and it remains unattended.
- The new railway line will be a boon to pilgrims visiting the place. Hindu pilgrimage at Rameshwaram gets completed only after taking a dip in Dhanushkodi.
- The railways has also approved building a new bridge on Pamban channel, which will replace the 104-year-old structure over the sea.
- The vertical-lift bridge, to be built alongside the existing bridge at Rs 249 crore, will have the first vertical lift span in India. The old bridge was closed for traffic earlier this month.
♦ President nod to Himachal Pradesh Early Childhood Care and Education bill
- President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to two bills, including one from the Himachal Pradesh Early Childhood Care and Education Centers (Registration and Regulation) Bill 2017. The bill aims to ensure quality education to children by providing all basic facilities.
- The Himachal Pradesh legislation will bring early childhood care and education centres in the state under government monitoring. Such childcare centres are controlled by trusts, societies, religious groups or international funding agencies and these channels suffer from issues of equitable access, uneven quality and growing commercialisation.
- The second bill given assent by the President of India was the Tamil Nadu Vanniyakula Kshatriya Public Charitable Trusts and Endowments (Protection and Maintenance) Bill 2018. It aims to prevent misuse, misappropriation of properties and income by people for causes other than those for which these endowments were created, a Home Ministry official said.
♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)♣
- CORNUCOPIA (NOUN): (प्रचुरता)Abundance
Synonyms: bounty, fullness
Antonyms: need, lack
Example: I shall come from London Town with a cornucopia of presents.
- FRET (VERB): (चिड़चिड़ाना)Feel uneasy
Synonyms: be upset, be anxious
Antonyms: please, delight
Example: She was always fretting about something or the other.
- ETHEREAL (ADJECTIVE): (कोमल)Extremely delicate
Synonyms: light, sublime
Antonyms: earthly, indelicate
Example : In this ethereal realm are the currents that make possible wireless telegraphy.
- UNLETTERED (ADJECTIVE): (निरक्षर)Uneducated
Synonyms: ignorant, illiterate
Antonyms: educated, literate
Example: Such misconceptions have not been confined to the unlettered masses.
- SPRIGHTLY (ADJECTIVE): (प्रमुदित)Lively
Synonyms: agile, active
Antonyms: spiritless, lethargic
Example: The sprightly old woman walks two miles every day.
- SANCTIMONIOUS (ADJECTIVE): (पाखंडी)Self-righteous
Synonyms: insincere, hypocritical
Antonyms: honest, sincere
Example: His sanctimonious expressions explained his intentions.
- SULLEN (ADJECTIVE): (उदास)Morose
Synonyms: gloomy, brooding
Antonyms: cheerful, pleasant
Example: The offenders lapsed into a sullen silence.
- CHAOTIC (ADJECTIVE): (अराजकतापूर्ण)Disordered
Synonyms: uncontrolled, lawless s
Antonyms: ordered, organized
Example: My house becomes a chaotic place in the absence of my wife.
- CONTRITE (ADJECTIVE): (पछताया हुआ)Chastened
Synonyms: repentant, sorrowful
Antonyms: indifferent, unapologetic
Example: He was so contrite that he wrote me a letter of apology.
- PRUNE (VERB): (काटना/ छाँटना)Pare down
Synonyms: trim, reduce
Antonyms: include, increase
Example: Economic hard times are forcing the companies to prune their budget.
Chabahar tidings: on Indian taking over port operations in Iran
The opening of the first office of Indian Ports Global Limited at Iran’s Chabahar and the takeover of operations of the Shahid Beheshti port is a milestone in India’s regional connectivity and trade game plan. Chabahar port opens up a permanent alternative route for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, given the hurdles in the direct route through Pakistan. It facilitates India’s role in Afghanistan’s development through infrastructure and education projects. And it gives India’s bilateral ties with Iran, a major oil supplier and potential trade market for India, a big fillip. India has helped develop the Shahid Beheshti port with these outcomes in mind, and has been given the contract to manage it for 18 months. It will be important to operationalise the port quickly and smoothen the route to Afghanistan. The decision by India, Afghanistan and Iran to hold an international event in February 2019 to promote Chabahar and to study ways to make the route more attractive and decrease logistic costs is timely. About 500 companies have registered with the Free Trade Zone authority there. While keeping timelines and delivery of New Delhi’s commitments will be key to the port becoming a regional hub for transit trade, steel and petrochemicals, it will be necessary to encourage Afghan companies to use the route more, in line with President Ashraf Ghani’s desire to have a commercial fleet under the Afghan flag setting sail from Chabahar.
Visions of Chabahar’s immense potential as a game-changer for prosperity and stability in the region must, however, necessarily be tempered by the reality of geopolitical challenges. The Chabahar port has received a waiver from the U.S. sanctions on Iran for the moment, but these concessions could be withdrawn any time, given the constant upheaval in the administration. The possibility of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, after the pullout from Syria, will add to security concerns for Afghanistan and impact on the Chabahar route as well. Meanwhile, the reconciliation process with the Afghan Taliban is likely to see the regional powers, the U.S. and Russia engaging Pakistan more. This could give Islamabad space to play spoiler in Chabahar, which is seen as a rival warm water port to Pakistan’s Gwadar. That the Afghanistan government is hedging its bets on trade via Chabahar too is clear: in recent months, special cargo corridors have been opened with China, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Europe, Russia, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, with more trade diverted through them than with traditional partners Pakistan and India. With Chabahar, India has done well to keep a place in the intricate connectivity network of the region. Given all the competing interests that criss-cross over Chabahar, it will require sustained and nuanced diplomacy to stay ahead in this game.
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