According to the latest data from the ministry of drinking water and sanitation, 62.5% or 400 of India’s 640 districts are yet to be declared open-defecation free (ODF). The report comes with less than two years remaining until the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) deadline.
Among the larger states, Jammu & Kashmir has shown the slowest progress towards eliminating open defecation, only 5.6% of the state’s villages are reported to be open-defecation free. India’s most populous states have also been slow to change–Bihar reported 7.74% of its villages to be open-defecation free and Uttar Pradesh(14.96%).
Funds are allocated under SBM as per states’ demands. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh had received the most funds–Rs 2,477 crore, Rs 2,287 crore, Rs 2,287 crore and Rs 1,990 crore, respectively.
Updated list of National Register of Citizens which was mandated by the Supreme Court will help identification of Bangladeshi migrants who are staying illegally in Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971, and help in their expulsion in accordance with the Assam Accord. Assam Public Works (APW) petitioned the Supreme Court for identification of Bangladeshi foreigners in the State and deletion of their names from the voters’ list.
The NRC list will be used in the verification of application from the people who have submitted certificates issued by gram panchayat secretaries to support their claim of residency after migration post-marriage. The authenticity of the certificate and the authenticity of the contents will be verified thoroughly before granting citizenship.
However, Centre is pushing for passage of the Citizenship Bill 2016 that seeks to grant citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis, who have entered Assam illegally post-1971. The question of identification of foreigners in accordance with the Assam Accord may not be answered if it happens.
India on Monday said that it is still waiting for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav and other Indian nationals in Pakistan’s custody, as it exchanged with Islamabad the list of civilian prisoners and fishermen lodged in each other’s jails.
The government has repeatedly emphasised the need for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats. The government also reasserted that it remains committed to addressing humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country.
The ministry said the list was exchanged between the two countries through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad. It was done as part of the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access between India and Pakistan.
China has developed a new underwater surveillance network to help its submarines get a stronger lock on targets while protecting the nation’s interests along the maritime Silk Road. The system has already been launched and it works by gathering information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity, which the Navy can then use to more accurately track target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning.
The project is led by the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and is part of an unprecedented military expansion fuelled by Beijing’s desire to challenge the US in the world’s oceans. The Chinese system is based on a network of platforms like buoys, surface vessels, satellites and underwater gliders that gather data from the South China Sea, and the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.
China is also seeking to establish logistic bases in the Indian Ocean, much to the dislike of India. The first such base was opened by China in Djibouti last year and it acquired the Hambantota port of Sri Lanka on 99 years lease for debt swap and currently developing the Gwadar port in Pakistan as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
2017 endured a fresh struggle for the farmers in India. The reason wasn’t monsoon failure as in 2014 and 2015 or unseasonal rain and hail as in March 2015. The year was, in fact, largely free of extreme weather events, resulting in a record output of wheat, pulses, cotton, potato and a host of other crops. The reason for their discontent was poor price realisation for farmers.
Agricultural prices crashed in April-June, just when a bumper rabi crop had been harvested after two years of drought. Rates were lower than not only official minimum support prices but also the levels of November 2016 that is the month of demonetisation.
The government was slow to respond to the crisis from depressed producer realisations and it tried to talk up prices from the second half of 2017 which is a shift away from the hawkish policy on food inflation that marked its first three years. Stockholding limits on pulses were lifted in May followed by the imposition of quantitative caps on imports 200,000 tonnes for arhar and 300,000 tonnes for urad (black gram) and moong (green gram) per year in August.