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Evening news Digest 19 July 2018

Cabinet approves MoU amongst BRICS Nations on Regional Aviation Partnership

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) amongst BRICS Nations on the Regional Aviation Partnership Cooperation viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Salient features:

  • The objective is that BRICS countries would benefit from the establishing of an institutional framework to cooperate in the field of civil aviation. Among the areas of cooperation, following areas have been identified:
  • Public Policies and best practices in regional services;
  • Regional Airports;
  • Airport infrastructure management and air navigation services;
  • Technical cooperation between regulatory agencies;
  • Innovation;
  • Environment Sustainability; including deliberation of global initiatives;
  • Qualification and Training;
  • Other fields as mutually determined


  • The MoU signifies an important landmark in the civil aviation relations between India and other BRICS Member States and has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges amongst the BRICS Nations.


Special Remission to Prisoners on eve of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave its approval to grant Special Remission to Prisoners as part of Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • As part of commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the following categories of prisoners will be considered for special remission and released in three phases.
  • In Phase-l, the prisoners will be released on 2nd October, 2018 (Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi),
  • in Phase-ll prisoners will be released on 10th April, 2019 (Anniversary of Champaran Satyagrah) and
  • Phase-Ill, prisoners will be released on 2nd October 2019 (Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi):-

o   Women convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed  50% of their actual sentence period.

o   Transgender convicts of 55 years of age and above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.

o   Male convicts of 60 years of age and above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.

o   Physically challenged/disabled convicts with 70% disability and more  who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.

o   Terminally ill convicts.

o   Convicted prisoners who have completed two-third (66%) of their actual sentence period.

  • Special remission will not be given to prisoners who have been convicted for an offence for which the sentence is of death or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment;
  • Cases of convicts involved in serious and heinous crimes like Dowry death, Rape, Human Trafficking and convicted under POTA, UAPA, TADA, FICN, POCSO Act, Money Laundering, FEMA, NDPS, Prevention of Corruption Act, etc.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs will issue advice to all States and UTs asking them to process the cases of eligible prisoners.
  • State Governments and UT Administrations will be advised to constitute a Committee to examine the cases. State Governments will place the recommendations of the Committee before Governor for consideration and approval under Article 161 of the Constitution. After the approval, the prisoners will be released on 2nd October 2018, 10f/l April, 2019 and 2nd October, 2019.
  • Background:
  • The 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is a significant occasion and giving special remission to prisoners on this important occasion is considered desirable and befitting the commemoration and would be a homage to the Father of Nation and the humanitarian values Mahatma Gandhi stood for.


Expert group formed to develop monitoring and prediction tools for thunderstorms

  • Ministry of Earth Sciences has formed an expert group consisting of scientists from India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) as members of the working group.
  • The expert group is mandated to development of different monitoring and prediction (based on different techniques) tools for thunderstorms.
  • The group is expected to come out with a better strategy for monitoring and predicting thunderstorms by March 2019.
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences has already advertised the call for proposal on “Thunderstorm and Meso-scale Processes Prediction (THUMP) to receive research proposals from universities and academic institutions in the country specifically in this focussed area.
  • The ongoing augmentation of the IMD’s observational network would help in improving the mesoscale prediction system.
  • The proposed augmentation of radar Network of IMD, especially over northwest Himalayas, will also enable wider coverage under Thunderstorm Nowcasting.
  • The Thunderstorm expert group is mandated to develop high resolution operational prediction system by March 2019. Ministry has also invited specific project proposals from universities on thunderstorm studies for research funding.
  • Thunderstorms are a regular feature, especially during the pre-monsoon season (March to June) in India.
  • Thunderstorms are small scale (10-50 km) weather systems with a life span of couple of hours.  Thunderstorms are often accompanied by rain, violent winds, lightning, and hail, thereby posing serious hazardous problems to the general public and various socio-economic sectors like aviation, agriculture, transport, power supply etc.
  • For many years, India Meteorological Department (IMD), and other institutes of the Ministry of Earth Sciences and universities in India are involved in basic research on thunderstorms.


Cabinet approves establishment of Medical College, Salempur at Deoria


  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the State Government of Uttar Pradesh for establishment of new medical college at Deoria at a cost of Rs.250 crore under Phase-II of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • Under Phase-II of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for establishment of new medical colleges attached with existing District/Referral hospitals, the criteria for one medical in every three Parliamentary Constituencies and one Government medical college in each State was adopted.
  • Accordingly, a requirement of 24 additional medical colleges including eight medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh has been approved.
  • The State Government has informed that Salempur is part of District Deoria and Salempur Parliamentary Constituency is partly covered under District Deoria.
  • The District Hospital, Deoria is also suitable as it has sufficient number of beds and other facilities including availability of land as per MCI norms for the establishment of medical college of all possible locations in the identified Block.


Viresh Kunda bags bronze in Asian Junior Wrestling C’ships


  • Viresh Kunda bags bronze in Greco Roman category
  • Greco Roman wrestler Viresh Kundu bagged a Bronze medal on Day 2 of the Asian Junior Championships in New Delhi.
  • The 20-year old, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, defeated South Korea's Jeongyul Kwon, 14-5 in the 97 kg Bronze medal play-off to win his first international medal.
  • Apart from Kundu, none of the Indian grapplers managed to win a medal, as the Greco-Roman competitions came to a close.
  • On the opening day of the Championships, India had clinched 4 medals - 1 Gold, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze.

10th edition of Delhi Dialogue begins in New Delhi


  • India is set to hold the tenth edition of Delhi Dialogue, the premier annual event to discuss politico-security, economic and socio-cultural engagement between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on 19-20 July.
  • External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will chair the ministerial session on 19 July.Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Vietnam deputy foreign minister Vu Hong Nam have confirmed their presence as of now.
  • The Delhi Dialogue has been held annually since 2009 and political leaders, policy makers, senior officials, diplomats, think tanks and academicians from both sides participate in the discussions pertaining to ASEAN-India relations.
  • The meet is aimed at finding a common ground and expanding the scope of cooperation between India and ASEAN nations.
  • This year, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) might feature in talks at the dialogue with Singapore's finance minister Heng Swee Keat calling for a conclusion by the end of the year.
  • The RCEP is a free trade area (FTA) consisting of 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners: India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
  • 2017 marked 50 years of ASEAN. The ninth edition of the Delhi Dialogue also coincided with the 25 years of ASEAN-India ties.


Women have fundamental right to enter Sabrimala temple, says SC


  • Banning women aged between 10 and 50 from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala runs afoul of their constitutional rights, the Supreme Court observed
  • Hearing a batch of petitions challenging the age-old prohibition on women in the menstruating age group in the famed hill shrine, the apex court said women’s right to worship is a constitutional one and it does not depend on laws.
  • If there is a temple, then it is a public place and everyone is allowed to go there. If men can go there, women can also go.
  • Following attempts by some women’s groups to enter the temple disregarding the restrictions early this year, the authorities made age proof mandatory for women to enter the temple.
  • According to court - Every woman is also the creation of God and why should there be discrimination against them in employment or worship? All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion. This means your right as a woman to pray is not dependent on a legislation. It is your constitutional right.
  • CJI also opposed the stand of the Kerala government that ceremonial rules pertaining to temples and method of worship are set by the temple and are protected under the right to worship.
  • Kerala government in 2015 had supported entry of women but made a U-turn in 2017.
  • Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for one of the intervenors, assailed the practice and said ban on women  entry of certain age groups was violative of various fundamental rights including Art 17 which deals with untouchability.




IAF to participate in multinational exercise in Australia for 1st time

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) is participating in the multinational "Pitch Black" warfare exercise in Australia.
  • The IAF contingent for the July 24-August 18 biennial multi-national large force employment warfare exercise will consist of 145 air-warriors including Garud team, four Su-30MKI fighters, one C-130 special operations aircraft and one C-17 transporter.
  • Pitch Black is hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and will see eight other nations participating with over 100 aircraft.
  • The IAF contingent led by Group Captain CUV Rao is expected to assemble at Air Force Station Kalaikunda and depart for the exercise on July 19 from India to Australia via Indonesia.
  • The IAF men and machines will undertake simulated air combat exercises in a controlled environment and mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing its operational capability.
  • During the flight from India to Australia and back, Su-30MKI fighters will carry out air-to-air refuelling with IL-78 tankers.



Israel passes law to declare that only Jews have right of self-determination


  • Israel has passed a law to declare that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country, something members of the Arab minority called racist and verging on apartheid.
  • The nation-state law, backed by the right-wing government, was passed by a vote of 62 for and 55 against and two abstentions in the 120-member parliament after months of political argument.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset after the vote that this is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel.
  • The law was enacted just after the 70th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel. It stipulates that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.
  • The bill also strips Arabic of its designation as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to a special status that enables its continued use within Israeli institutions.




ONGC board approves exiting Pawan Hans, to sell 49% stake


  • ONGC board approves exiting Pawan Hans, to sell 49% stake
  • Oil and Natural Gas Corporation- ONGC- the premier Public Sector Natural gas company has approved exiting its helicopter service provider Pawan Hans by selling its entire 49 per cent stake.
  • The Board of Directors of ONGC took this decision. The move is expected to cut debt and consolidate resources in this core oil and gas business. ONGC wants its interest to be clubbed with the 51 per cent government stake that is already on offer for sale. 
  • The offer for sale for government's 51 per cent stake in Pawan Hans which has been floated twice in the last 10 months, is likely to be reissued with an amended expression of interest.
  • Pawan Hans Limited is a helicopter service company based in New Delhi, India. Pawan Hans is a Mini Ratna-I category PSU. It has cumulatively flown more than 1 million hours and has had 2.5 million landings on its fleet since its formation. The operations are based at the Juhu Aerodrome in Vile Parle (West), Mumbai.



Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra bags Gold at Sotteville Athletics meet


  • India's star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra won a gold medal in Sottevile Athletics meet.
  • The 20-year-old covered a distance of 85.17 meters to finish on top of the podium.
  • Earlier, the Commonwealth Games gold-medalist had given a dazzling performance and finished at the fourth spot in the first edition of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League 2018 in Doha breaking the national record with a throw of 87.43 meters.
  • The gold at Sottevile Athletics meet will surely give a boost to Chopra for the challenge in 2018 Asian Games as he is the top medal prospect from Indian athletics team.
  • On a related note, Asian Games are slated to be held from August 18 to September 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
  • Sotteville refer to one of several municipalities in the Normandy region of France: Sotteville,


 Audio Notes: 19 July 2018

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