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1. India erecting new ‘steel fence’ along Pakistan, Bangladesh borders
India is erecting a new non-cut ‘steel fence’ to plug vulnerable and infiltration-prone patches along its sensitive border with Pakistan and Bangladesh. The single-row fence, with loops of concertina wires on top, is being erected at a 60-km border stretch in near Amritsar in Punjab.
A ‘pilot project’ of this new fence is also being tested at a 7-km stretch in Assam’s Silchar along India’s border with Bangladesh and is being analysed by the BSF. This fence will cost about ₹2 crore for a kilometer.
Union home ministry has also advanced a technology-based project of deploying ‘laser fences’ along these two borders, to five years as compared to the earlier 10-year deadline.
The Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) that entails deployment of smart fences, advanced surveillance gadgets and anti-infiltration alarms have been speeded up by the border management division under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Border Security Force along these two borders.
2. Government releases State Energy Efficiency Index 2019
Union Government released the State Energy Efficiency Index 2019 on 10th January 2020, which tracks the progress of Energy Efficiency Initiatives in 36 States and Union Territories. Power Minister R K Singh released the index in New Delhi.
The index is developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in association with Alliance for an Energy-Efficient Economy. It will help states to contribute towards national goals on energy security and climate action by helping drive Energy Efficiency policies and programmme implementation at the state and local level.
The first such Index was launched on August, 2018. The index this year incorporates qualitative, quantitative and outcome-based indicators to assess energy efficiency initiatives, programs, and outcomes in five distinct sectors. These are buildings, industry, municipalities, transport, agriculture, and DISCOMs. The required data was collected from the concerned state departments such as DISCOMs, Urban Development and other departments with the help of State Designated Agencies.
3. Gujarat to import water-soluble fertilizers from China
Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation (GAIC) has launched imported water-soluble fertilizers in Ahmedabad. The state agency, which promotes agro-based industries in Gujarat, has already imported 300 tonnes of water-soluble fertilizers from China.
GAIC’s role will be to import, package and sell the imported water-soluble fertilizers to the farmers through its network of dealers across the State. The new-generation fertilizers will be sold in the market under its brand – ‘AGRO’. It also plans to launch customised grades of stage-specific and crop-specific fertilizers.
The water-soluble fertilizers that were launched include, AGRO MKP, AGRO NOP, AGRO MAP, AGRO NPK, AGRO CN, AGRO SOP.
4. India deploys INS Vikramaditya in Arabian Sea amid China-Pak naval drill
India has deployed its aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in the Arabian Sea at a time China and Pakistan are holding a nine-day mega naval exercise in the region, a move seen as New Delhi sending a signal to its two neighbours.
Pakistan and China on 6th January launched a major drill in the North Arabian Sea with an aim to increase inter-operability and strategic cooperation between their two navies.
The exercise ‘Sea Guardians’ is taking place in the midst of heightened tension between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. Key platforms of both China and Pakistan, including submarines, destroyers and frigates are part of the exercise.
Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, with MiG29K fighters on board, has been sent with a strategic objective.
China is developing Pakistan’s deep water Gwadar port in North Arabian Sea and has ramped up its military presence in the region, triggering concerns in India.
Gwadar is being connected through the over USD 60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to China’s Xinjiang province, providing a key land route to China to access the warm waters of Arabian Sea.
The Arabian Sea provides entry to the Indian Ocean where China has built a logistics base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
5. 10th January: Vishv Hindi Divas
Vishv Hindi Divas or World Hindi day is celebrated every year on January 10. The day commemorates the anniversary of the first World Hindi Conference held in 1975. The first conference was held from 10 to 12 January 1975 in Nagpur and was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Since then, the Conference was organised in various countries including India, the United States, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Mauritius, and Trinidad and Tobago.
World Hindi Day was first observed on January 10, 2006. It intends to promote the Hindi language around the world.
World Hindi Day is different from National Hindi day, which is celebrated every year on September 14. National Hindi divas mark the day in 1949 when the constituent assembly adopted Hindi as the official language of the Union.
The word Hindi originated from the Persian word Hind, meaning the land of Indus river. The language, spoken by about 43 crore people in the world, is derived from Sanskrit and written in Devanagari script.
6. Internet access a fundamental right, Supreme Court makes it official: Article 19 explained
Supreme Court has declared access to internet a fundamental right. A government cannot deprive the citizens of fundamental rights except under certain conditions explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. The ruling came on hearing of a plea in connection with Internet blockade in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5 – in the view of revoking of Article 370 in the Union Territory.
Indian constitution makes the right to freedom of speech and expression a fundamental right for all citizens. It has been listed in Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has on many occasions expanded the scope of the right to freedom of speech and expression.
Article 19 of the Constitution lists the following as fundamental rights under “Protection of certain rights”. It says:
All citizens shall have the right
- to freedom of speech and expression;
- to assemble peaceably and without arms;
- to form associations or unions;
- to move freely throughout the territory of India;
- to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
- omitted (the right to property)
- to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
The Supreme Court on previous instances had deduced freedom of the press from freedom of speech and expression and asserted that it is a guarantee. In the landmark Sakal Papers judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that freedom of the press cannot be curtailed, unlike the freedom to carry on business, in the interest of the general public.
The only restrictions which may be imposed are those mentioned in clause (2) of Article 19. These are:
- the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India,
- the security of the State,
- friendly relations with foreign States,
- public order, decency or morality
- in relation to contempt of court, defamation or
- incitement to an offense
7. Railways to install video surveillance, facial recognition systems to improve security at stations by the Nirbhaya Fund
Indian Railways (IR) will be installing a Video Surveillance System (VSS) across 983 stations, with video analytics and facial recognition software.
The Ministry has upped the ante when it comes to security at stations by investing in artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled, Internet Protocol (IP)-based CCTV systems complete with facial recognition software.
The provision of the IP-based VSS will be financed by the Nirbhaya Fund, with a budget allocation of ₹250 crores. The Railway Board has entrusted the task of developing and deploying the system to RailTel, a Miniratna PSU.