India has requested for an early delivery of Meteor air-to-air missiles from France.
These missiles will provide India the power to take on US supplied AMRAAM missiles possessed by the Pakistan Air Force.
The Meteor missile has a delivery range to take over all the other air forces in the region including China. The missiles were to come by late 2020.
However, India is insisting for delivery of at least 10 missiles in advance along with the first set of Rafale fighter jets. The first set of Rafale jets are to arrive in May 2020 after the completion of pilot training in France.
The Meteor missiles are air-to-air missiles with a range of 150 km and no escape zone of 60 km. This no escape zone is the largest in the world according to its manufacturers.
These missiles are to be attached to the Rafale jets. With increasing tensions between India and Pakistan, India is requesting for an early delivery.
The French Government has invited India to visit the Al Dhafra air base in UAE where the Rafale aircrafts are on active operations.
The base is currently executing Operation Chammal.
Operation Chammal is a French Military operation in Syria and Iraq to contain the expansion of Islamic State.
The operation also supports Iraq army.
The name of the operation comes from the north westerly wind that blows over Persian Gulf and Iraq.
December 5: World Soil Day
The World Soil Day was endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2013. It was officially adopted through a resolution at the 68th UN General Assembly.
Since then every year, the World Soil Day is marked on December 5 by the United Nations all over the world.
Theme: Stop Soil Erosion, Save our Future
Sustainable Development Goals:
The day is marked focusing on the Sustainable Development Goal 15 which is “Life on Land”. The goal aims at protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, combat desertification, manage forests, reverse land degradation.
According to the United Nations, Desertification, Land Degradation are the two major issues of soil loss.
According to UNCCD, desertification is defined as degradation of dry land eco systems by human activities due to overgrazing, unsustainable farming, clear cutting of land, mining and climate change.
International Union of Soil Sciences:
The concept of World Soil Day was first introduced by the IUSS in 2002 to celebrate the importance of soil.
The IUSS was founded in 1924.
There are more than 86 national and regional members. It acts as a hub of soil scientists and a platform to promote all branches of soil science and its applications.
The World Soil Day highlights on the problems of population expansion. It aims at reducing soil erosion and maintain soil fertility.
The theme of 2019 focuses on challenges in soil management.
It encourages organizations, communities and governments to work towards improving soil health.
Why was December 5 chosen?
The late king of Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the main proponent of the initiative. Therefore, his birthday December 5 was chosen as World Soil Day.
The day also stresses on the importance of Soil Conservation.
The FAO recommends Terrace farming, Contour ploughing, windbreaks, crop rotation, Agrostological measures, green manures, no-till farming, earthworms to conserve soil and prevent soil erosion.
Fourth Phase of UDAN scheme launched
The Union Government of India has launched the fourth round of UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) to enhance the connectivity to regional areas of the country.
This phase is to focus on Hilly states, North East Region, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir and Islands.
What is new in Phase 4?
The Viability Gap Funding has been revised.
The funding that was provided for Category 2 and 3 aircrafts (> 20 seats) has now been enhanced to all flights in the states of HP, Uttarakhand, J&K, North Eastern states and the islands.
Also, the phase will allow operation of helicopter and sea planes. The phase also plans to promote short-haul routes, meaning no monetary support will be given to operators with stages more than 600 kms.
Previous phases of UDAN:
In phase 1, around 43 airports were constructed under the scheme. It includes water aerodromes and heliports as well.
In phase 2, around 30 airports were constructed and in phase 3, 33 airports were constructed.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation aims to operationalize 1000 routes and more than 100 airports in the next 5 years.
About UDAN Scheme:
It is Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)
UDAN, launched in April 2017, is a flagship scheme of the Union Government to enable air operations on unserved routes, connecting regional areas, to promote balanced regional growth and to make flying affordable for masses.
The UDAN Scheme is a key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was launched in June 2016.
First flight of this Scheme take off in January 2017.
‘Eat right movement’ campaign
Western Railway’s Mumbai Central Terminus has become India’s first Eat Right Station. Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has rated the station with four stars.
The station was graded on the basis of food safety and hygiene, availability of healthy diet, food handling at preparation and food waste management among others.
The food was certified and rated after a thorough inspection. ‘Eat Right Station’ is a part of the ‘Eat Right India’ initiative that was launched by FSSAI in 2018 to help passengers make a healthy choice.
About Eat Right Movement:
It was launched by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
The movement aims to cut down salt/sugar and oil consumption by 30% in three years.
It also aims to engage and enable citizens to improve their health and well-being by making the right food choices.
Measures in place:
FSSAI has put in place robust regulatory measures under three major pillars: Eat Safe, Eat Health and Eat Sustainably for the programme.
FSSAI has prescribed a limit for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) at 25% in cooking oil to avoid the harmful effects of reused cooking oil.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2019
The Union Cabinet has approved The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
It seeks to amend The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2007.
What’s new in the bill:
Definition of ‘children’ and ‘parents’, ‘maintenance’ and ‘welfare’ has been expanded.
Mode of submission of application for maintenance has been enlarged.
Ceiling of Rs 10,000/- as maintenance amount has been removed.
Preference to dispose of applications of senior citizens, above eighty years of age, early has been included.
Registration of Senior Citizens Care Homes/Homecare Service Agencies etc. have been included.
Minimum standards for senior citizen care homes has been included in the Bill.
Appointment of Nodal Police Officers for Senior Citizens in every Police Station and District level Special Police Unit for Senior Citizens has been included.
Maintenance of Helpline for senior citizens has been included.”
Elderly as a resource:
The elderly should be seen as a blessing, not a burden. The elderly are becoming the fastest growing, but underutilized resource available to humanity. Rather than putting them aside, physically (and mentally), to be cared for separately, they should be integrated into the lives of communities where they can make a substantial contribution to improving social conditions. The benefits of turning the ‘problem’ of the elderly into a ‘solution’ for other social problems is being demonstrated in several countries.
Need of the hour:
As a signatory to Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), India has the responsibility to formulate and implement public policy on population ageing.
Issues of poverty, migration, urbanisation, ruralisation and feminisation compound the complexity of this emerging phenomenon. Public policy must respond to this bourgeoning need and mainstream action into developmental planning.
Gender and social concerns of elderly, particularly elderly women, must be integrated at the policy level.
The elderly, especially women, should be represented in decision making.
Increasing social/widow pension and its universalisation is critical for expanding the extent and reach of benefits.
Renewed efforts should be made for raising widespread awareness and access to social security schemes such as National Old Age Pension and Widow Pension Scheme. Provisions in terms of special incentives for elderly women, disabled, widowed should also be considered.
Bharat Bond ETF
The government has approved the launch of Bharat Bond ETF, India’s first corporate bond exchange traded fund, comprising debt of state-run companies.
This move will allow retail investors to buy government debt.
It will provide retail investors easy and low-cost access to bond markets, with smaller amount as low as ₹1,000.
They will provide tax efficiency as compared to bonds, as coupons (interest) from the bonds are taxed depending on the investor’s tax slab.
Key features of Bharat Bond ETF:
It is a basket of bonds issued by central public sector enterprises/undertakings or any other government organization bonds.
It will have a fixed maturity of three and ten years and will trade on the stock exchanges.
It will invest in a portfolio of bonds of state-run companies and other government entities.
It will track an underlying index on risk replication basis, matching credit quality and average maturity of the index.
The index will be constructed by an independent index provider, National Stock Exchange.