Read about the new deal between US and Russia, the latest state to join UDAY scheme, the new Sports person of the year and more …
1) US and Russia agree to enforce new Syria ceasefire:
- A new deal between the US and Russia to enforce a ceasefire in Syria has been reached, with the cessation of hostilities set to come into force on 27 February.
- The ceasefire, subject to the agreement between the warring parties, would exclude Islamic State, al-Nusra Front and other groups deemed to be terrorist organisations.
- In a change to the previous aborted ceasefire, Russia and America have agreed to act as direct guarantors and monitors of the cessation of hostilities.
- The joint statement also states “All parties further commit to work for the early release of detainees, particularly women and children”.
- The agreement brokered between the two superpowers has been given an added urgency by destructive bombings in Homs and Damascus that killed more than 150 people and wounded more than 200 yesterday.
- Some Syrian opposition forces said the exclusion from the agreement of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front was problematic because it could be used as a pretext for attacks on rebel groups and civilians in opposition-held areas.
- It is thought ISIS, which claimed to have carried out the attacks, intervened decisively in a bid to disrupt peace talks knowing that if the non-extremist Syrian opposition and the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, do achieve a stable ceasefire then the pressure on ISIS in its stronghold of Raqqa will increase.
2) INS Arihant passes deep-sea tests. All set for operations.
- Indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant, which was not featured at the International Fleet Review held recently, is now ready for full-fledged operations.
- INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear-armed submarine has passed a number of deep sea diving drills as well as weapons launch tests over the past five months.
- It was initially expected to go for sea trials by 2012, though this happened only in December 2015.
- At present, work is already in progress on two more Arihant class submarines at the Ship Building Center (SBC) in Vishakhapatnam which will be larger and more advanced than the first boat. The navy is also accelerating work on INS Varsha – a new strategic naval base with underground pens on the Eastern Coast near Kakinada – where the nuclear assets would be based.
More Details about INS Arihant:
- INS Arihant, a 6,000-tonne submarine, is India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine, and the lead ship of Arihant class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines launched in 2009.
- Once inducted, the submarine will complete the country’s nuclear triad, giving it the capability to respond to nuclear strikes from sea, land and air-based systems.
- Arihant has four vertical launch tubes, which can carry 12 (three per launch tube) smaller K-15 missiles or four larger K-4 missiles. The K-4 has a longer range of 3,500 km (2,200 mi) and has commenced trials.
3) Kerala Government to Declare Kasargod ‘Zero Landless District’:
- With Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash distributing 6,500 title deeds to the selected beneficiaries in the district on Tuesday, Kasargod will be declared the second ‘zero landless’ district in the state.
- But, apart from being a trivia for children to remember in quiz competitions, very little will change on the ground, said P K Abdullah, district secretary of the Welfare Party of India, which is spearheading protests for the landless.
- 30,900 plots have been identified for zero landless scheme in Kasargod District.
- However, according to the political leaders and officials, the land is either inaccessible or rocky, or the residents of the area do not want “the poor to form colonies” near their houses, or encroached by private individuals, who slap cases against the beneficiaries.
- The Socio Economic and Caste Census data released in 2015 has pegged Kerala as the state with the third highest number of rural households bereft of any land ownership.
- Despite a long and enviable history of land reforms, with 72 percent of rural households found as landless, Kerala has emerged just behind Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
- The state has two-and-a-half times the population density of the national average.
4) Bihar sixth state to join UDAY, benefit pegged at Rs 117 crore.
- Bihar has joined the Centre’s power distribution sector revival scheme that targets operational and financial turnaround of state discoms, starting with restructuring of their debt.
- Bihar on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Central government under the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), becoming the sixth state to do so.
- Other states that have become a part of the scheme are Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Gujarat.
- Under the scheme, Bihar government would take over 75%, or Rs 2,332 crore, of the state discom’s debt of Rs 3,110 crore as of September 2015. The balance Rs 778-crore outstanding will be re-priced or issued as state guaranteed discom bonds at coupon rates of around 3% less than the average existing interest rate.
- With Bihar joining UDAY, it is estimated that around 33% all discom debt in the country, or Rs 1.40 lakh crore of outstanding, is covered.
- Demand side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient LED bulbs, agricultural pumps, fans and air-conditioners and efficient industrial equipment through PAT (perform, achieve, trade) would help in reducing peak load, flatten load curve and thus help in reducing energy consumption in the State of Bihar. The gain is expected to be around Rs 720 crore.
5) India Sports Awards: Lalita Babar named Sports Person of the Year-
- Long-distance runner Lalita Babar was named as the Sports Person of the Year in the India Sports Awards 2015.
- Babar qualified for Rio Olympics recently in the 3000m steepelchase event and is the current Indian national record holder. She also won a bronze medal in 2014 Incheon Asian Games and is the current Asian champion.
- The Indian Sports Award were were given away at the conclusion of day one of ‘Turf 2015-16’, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) with the support of the Sports Ministry.
- Besides Babar, gymnast Dipa Karmakar was named as the Breakthrough Sports Person of the Year while Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India was conferred with the Best National Sports Federation recognition.
- Hockey legend Balbir Singh has been conferred with the Lifetime Achievement award.