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Evening News Digest: 10 Nov 2018

International Peace talks on Afghanistan held in Moscow

Russia has hosted a landmark international meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow on Nov 9.

It is for the first time a Taliban delegation attended an international discussion forum.

Russia invited representatives from the USA, India China, Iran and Pakistan. However, USA didn’t attend the meeting.

India also send its delegation but it was non-official level.

The talks didn’t result in any announcement as Taliban doesn’t consider Afghan government as legitimate.

US envoy to peace Zalmay Khalilzad, held talks with the Taliban group in Qatar in the month of Oct 2018. So US attended the event as an observer.

Who are Taliban?

The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, shortly before the demise of the Soviet Union.

The militants went on to rule Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, until they were driven from power by US-led troops following the 9/11 attacks, which the US blamed on al-Qaeda militants who were hosted by the Taliban.

The Taliban's power and reach have surged since foreign combat troops left Afghanistan in 2014.

It is a spill over of cold war which continued to haunt the Afghanistan region.

Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities 2018 begins

“Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC), 2018” was held in New Delhi during 8th to 11th November, 2018.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed between Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Rehabilitation International Korea in the month of April 2018.

Both parties have agreed to cooperate in making all arrangements for the successful events in providing all necessary financial, logistics, manpower and other facilities.

The objective of the event is to leverage IT skills among youth with disabilities and also to spread awareness about the application of Information and Computer Technology (ICT) in enhancing the quality of life of persons with disabilities especially in Asia-Pacific region.

This year around 100 youth with disabilities (visual disability, hearing disability, locomotor disability and intellectual disability/developmental disorder) from 18 countries namely, India, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Korea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, UK and UAE are participating in this event. India has nominated twelve youth with disabilities to participate in the event. These youth with disabilities have been selected on the basis of the National IT Challenge conducted by the Ministry through NIT Kurukshetra in June, 2018.

India has been participating in the event since 2013 and has been winning awards ever since. Last year the event was held in Vietnam.

SIMBEX 18: 25 years of India-Singapore Bilateral Exercise

The 25th edition of SIMBEX, “Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise” is scheduled to be held from November 10- 21, 2018 in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. 

The 2018 edition marks the silver jubilee of SIMBEX.  To mark the historical occasion, the navies of both nations are undertaking exercises over an extended geography. 

The Indian Navy is being represented this year by the Ranvir class destroyer – INS Ranvijay, two Project 17 multirole stealth frigates – INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri and the Project 28 ASW corvette.

Highlights

The 2018 edition of the bilateral maritime exercise will be the largest edition since 1994 in terms of scale and complexity. 

The initial harbour phase will be held at Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands from November 10-12, which will be followed by sea phase from November 12-16 in the Andaman Sea.  

The second harbour phase will be held from November 16- 19 at Visakhapatnam – ‘the City of Destiny’.  

The number of missiles and torpedo firings being undertaken in this year's edition will be the largest the Indian Navy has undertaken with any foreign Navy till date, which indicates the growing trust and operational comfort between the two navies.

Global Cooling Innovation Summit to be held in New Delhi

Two-day Global Cooling Innovation Summit will be inaugurated by Union Science & Technology Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi on 12th November 2018.

The Summit is a first-of-its-kind solutions-focused event that will bring together leaders from around the world to explore concrete means and pathways to address the climate threat that comes from the growing demand from room air conditioners.

The event is jointly organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, along with Rocky Mountain Institute, Alliance for An Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), Conservation X Labs and CEPT University.

Global Cooling Prize

The summit will also see the launching of Global Cooling Prize— Mission Innovation challenge that aims to spur development of a residential cooling solution that has at least five times (5x) less climate impact than today’s standard. 

Global Cooling Prize is a competition with global reach and participation to achieve dramatic breakthroughs in cooling technologies.

The objective of this competition would be to develop a cooling technology that requires radically less energy to operate, utilizes refrigerants with no ozone depletion potential and with low global warming potential, and has the potential to be cost-effective at scale.

Army inducts K9 Vajra and M777 howitzer guns

The Army on 09 Nov inducted new artillery guns and equipment, including K9 Vajra and M777 howitzers in Indian Army at Deolali artillery centre in Nashik district of Maharashtra.

K9 Vajra and M777 Howitzers

This is the first major induction since the Bofors were inducted in the 1980s. While M777 howitzers are US-made light weight guns, the K9 Vajras are South Korea-made self-propelled artillery guns.

The entire process of inducting 100 K9 Vajra at a cost of Rs 4,366 crore will be completed by November 2020.

The first regiment of K9 Vajra, first-ever artillery gun manufactured by the Indian private sector, is expected to be completed by July 2019.

The gun has a maximum range of 28-38 km. It is capable of burst firing three rounds in 30 seconds, intense firing of 15 rounds in three minutes and sustained firing of 60 rounds in 60 minutes.

The Army is also going to raise seven regiments of 145 M777 howitzers.

The gun, having a range of 30 km, can be moved to a desired location using helicopters and service aircraft.

Manu-Saurabh win mixed event gold with junior world record

Indian pair of Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary have won Gold medal creating a world record in the 10 meter air pistol mixed team junior event at 11th Asian Airgun Championships in Kuwait. 

Youth Olympic Games Champions Manu and Saurabh created a junior world record score of 485.4 in the finals. Indian junior teams score was well ahead of Chinese pair of Wang Xiaoyu and Hong Shuqi who scored 477.9 winning Silver medal. 

Indian's junior shooting squad ended the championships with a tally of 11 medals, including four Gold.

Manu Bhaker also won the gold medal in women's 10 m air pistol event at 2018 Commonwealth Games just at the age of 16 in her maiden Commonwealth Games appearance.

Sri Lanka President dissolves Parliament, polls on January 5

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena has dissolved the country's parliament and declared a snap election on January 5.

This comes as the latest move in the political crisis that Sri Lanka has slipped into ever since Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked and replaced by Mahinda Rajapaksa last month.

Hours earlier Sirisena’s party admitted it did not have enough votes to support former president Mahinda Rajapakse against rival claimant and ousted PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has refused to leave his post.

Political System

The President, directly elected for a six-year term, is head of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces.

The President appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers responsible to Parliament. The President's deputy is the prime minister, who leads the ruling party in Parliament. A parliamentary no-confidence vote requires dissolution of the cabinet and the appointment of a new one by the President.

The Economic Intelligence Unit has rated Sri Lanka as flawed democracy in 2016.

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