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Evening News Digest: 19 October 2018

DHARMA GUARDIAN-2018: First-ever India-Japan joint military exercise

  • India and Japan will hold first ever joint military exercise Dharma Guardian 2018 in Mizoram from 1 to 14 November.
  • Indian Army and Japan Ground Self Defence Force will jointly conduct this exercise.
  • The Indian contingent will be represented by 6/1 Gorkha Rifles while the Japanese contingent will be represented by 32 Infantry Regiment of the Japanese Ground Self Defence Force.
  • A little International Relations
    • During the Doklam confrontation between China and India in 2017, Japan uniequivocally supported India and Bhutan.
    • Japan is in a dispute with China over the Diaoyu/Senkaku chain of islands.
    • Japan is concerned about Chinese expansionist policy in South China sea as well as East China Sea.
    • Japan and India both have traditionally suspicious about Chinese intentions and thus they have increased their ties not only in infrastructure but also in defence.
  • Japan’s future contribution towards India:
    • Japan has committed to loans amounting to a whopping Rs.7.15 lakh crore and until March 31, 2017 disbursed Rs.1.7 lakh crore.
    • Japan also committed Rs.64,000 crore soft loan for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.
    • The projects Japan support include the Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Chennai metro projects, Dedicated Freight Corridors, Ganga and Yamuna action plans, and development of IIT Hyderabad. 
    • India and Japan have also proposed Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) to counter China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR).
    • The AAGC is an attempt to create a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors that will link the African continent with India and countries in South-Asia and South-East Asia.

Former UP, Uttarakhand CM ND Tiwari passes away

  • Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister N D Tiwari passed away at the age of 93. 
  • He joined the Congress in 1963 and was the only Indian politician to have served as chief minister of two states, Uttar Pradesh and later Uttarakhand.
  • Controversy:
    • Tiwari was also embroiled in a controversy after lawyer Rohit Shekhar filed a paternity suit claiming Tiwari was his biological father.
    • The tests confirmed Rohit was his biological son.

US to merge Jerusalem consulate general with new embassy

  • The United States will merge the U.S. Consulate General, which serves Palestinians, with its new embassy in Israel into a single diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.
  • Jerusalem issue
    • U.S. President Donald Trump outraged the Arab world and stoked international concern by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018.
    • The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest disputes between Israel and the Palestinians.
    • Palestinians, with broad international backing, seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
    • Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed, as its "eternal and indivisible capital," but that is not recognized internationally.

Music composer Khayyam wins Hridaynath Award for Lifetime Achievement

  • National Award winning music director Mohammed Zahur Khayyam Hashmi, famous as 'Khayyam', has been named for this year's Hridaynath Award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • Hridaynath Award
    • Instituted by the Hridayesh Arts, the award carries a cash prize of Rs 100,000 and a memento.
    • The award has been created on the name of Hridaynath Mangeshkar.
    • Hridaynath is the only and youngest brother of the legendary Mangeshkar singer-sisters - Lata, Asha, Usha and Meena, all children of the great composer, Deenanath Mangeshkar.
    • The other past recipients of the awards are Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Amitabh Bachchan, Sulochana Latkar, A.R. Rahman, Pandit Jasraj, and Javed Akhtar, besides chess champ Vishwanathan Anand.

Ask Disha: IRCTC launches AI chatbot to answer user queries

  • The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) recently launched a Chatbot to help its users answer various queries,
  • The AI chatbot-- Ask Disha- is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and it is aimed at facilitating accessibility by answering users' queries pertaining to various services offered by IRCTC.
  • Ask Disha
    • The first-of-its-kind initiative by IRCTC is live and it is already available on the bottom right corner of IRCTC's revamped website and it will soon be available on IRCTC's Android app.
    • AI chatbot will also be voice enabled and it will support several regional languages in the near future.
    • The Ask Disha chatbot has jointly been developed by IRCTC and CoRover Private Limited, which is a Bengaluru-based startup that develops AI and machine learning based chatbots pertaining to travel and tourism.

Kulgod is most developed village in India: Survey

  • Kulgod has got the title of the most developed village in the country under the central government's Antyoday scheme.
  • The Village, which gets 94 points out of 100 in the Village Ranking, is located in Belgaum District of Karnataka.
  • Kulgod
  • It is situated on the perennial Ghataprabha river.
  • It scored high on infrastructure, financial inclusion, women’s empowerment, health and education among 47 parameters.
  • What makes it developed?
    • A well-equipped Gram Panchayat office,
    • Branches of two nationalised banks,
    • A co-op bank,
    • A BSNL service centre,
    • A government primary school,
    • 3 private high schools,
    • An electricity supply customer care centre,
    • A primary health centre,
    • A veterinary hospital,
    • An ATM.
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Scheme
    • It is a scheme for upliftment of urban and rural poor through enhancement of livelihood opportunities through skill development and other means.
    • It is launched under the Ministry of Rural Development

United States withdraws from Universal Postal Union

  • The US on October 17 announced its intent to withdraw from the little-known UN Universal Postal Union (UPU).
  • According to US government; current system that governs international postal rates allows countries like China to provide subsidies to their postal companies to ship products to the US at cheaper rates thus putting American firms at a disadvantage.
  • Why this move?
    • It was then US President Ronald Reagan who had first expressed concern in 1986 where countries like China and Singapore take advantage of shipping their products at cheaper rate.
    • A change could benefit US merchants and shippers, including Inc, which have called on US officials for years to address foreign postal services’ access to low rates. Amazon declined to comment.
    • US and United Nations:
    • US has already withdrawn from UNESCO, UN Human Rights Council and UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees.
    • UN Universal Postal Union will be 4th UN Agency where US is withdrawing.
  • Universal Postal Union
    • The Universal Postal Union, established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874, is a specialized agency of the United Nations that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system.
    • It is headquartered in Bern, Switzerland.
  • Impact on people
    • UPU treaty have allowed developing countries to enjoy international shipping rates that are lower than what people in countries like the United States would pay. 
    • For example, sending a chocolate box from California to Texas is more costly than sending it from China.
    • Many companies like Ali Express and Wish will be affected by this move as exporting goods will be costlier thus the consumers perhaps won’t get goods at cheaper rate.

World population set to grow another 2.2 billion by 2050: UN survey

  • According to United Nations Population Fund’s report, the world’s population is set to grow 2.2 billion by 2050.
  • Highlights of the report
    • More than half of that growth 1.3 billion is likely to be in sub-Saharan Africa, where women’s rights are hampered by limited access to healthcare and education.
    • UN Population Fund is headquartered in New York, USA.
    • According to UNFPA’s State of World Population 2018, there are 43 countries where women have more than four or more children, and 38 of these are in Africa.
    • Conflict prone areas such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen have high fertility rates than the overall average of 2.5 children per women.
    • France and Norway had seen their birth rates pick up after taking such steps in recent decades.
    • According to 2015 report half of the world's population growth between 2015 and 2050 is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States, Indonesia and Uganda.
  • India
    • The pace of India’s population growth, now at 15 million per year, is the world’s largest.
    • If India’s current fertility of 2.3 births per woman remains constant, its population would grow to 1.8 billion by 2050 and 2.5 billion by 2100.
    • Even under the instant-replacement fertility variant, with the country’s fertility assumed to fall immediately to 2.1 births per woman, India’s population would reach 1.9 billion by the century’s close.
    • A relatively young age structure also contributes to India’s population growth.
    • The median age in India is 27 years, compared to 38 years for China.
    • Children under age 18 account for one-third of India’s population as compared with one-fifth of China’s.
    • The government must emphasise family planning while improving public health and the status of girls and women—or be hard-pressed to sustain high rates of economic growth and meet the mounting aspirations of its billion-plus inhabitants.

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