Current Affairs, News & Facts of 17 Oct 2015

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  • Pakistan, Russia Sign 1,100 km Gas Pipeline Agreement

     

    Pakistan, Russia Sign 1,100 km Gas Pipeline Agreement

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    • Pakistan and Russia have signed a major agreement to build a 1,100-km gas pipeline stretching from Karachi on the Arabian Sea to the eastern city of Lahore.
    • The agreement was jointly signed by Pakistan Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in a  ceremony that was attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

    Facts about the Project :-

    • The 1,100 km pipeline will have a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic metre per annum and will connect Karachi’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals with those in Lahore.
    • Russia will invest 2 billion USD in the project which would be built by Russian company RT Global Resources which is a subsidiary Russian state corporation Rostec.

    Model of the Project :-

    • The project will be implemented in compliance with BOOT model (Build Own Operate Transfer). The pipeline will be owned and operated by the manufacturer for 25 years. After that the pipeline will be handed over to the Pakistan government.

    Pakistan and Russia are deepening cooperation in various sectors, recently in August, Pakistan and Russia signed a landmark defence deal for the sale of four Mi-35 ‘Hind E’ attack helicopters to Pakistan and are currently in talks for the delivery of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets.

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  • World Food Day 2015 observed with the theme "Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty" 

     

    World Food Day 2015 observed with the theme "Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty"

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    • World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16 October to mark the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.
    • World Food Day is  celebrated widely by many other organisations concerned with food security, including the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
    • With nearly 800 million people hungry in the world, combatting hunger and malnutrition is emerging as a global focal point, not just at World Food Day but also at the U.N. General Assembly and this is the reason that  U.N.'s 17 sustainable goals include eliminating poverty and hunger in 15 years.

    Theme for 2015 World Food Day :-

    • The theme for this year’s World Food Day is "Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty" The theme aims to underline the role of social protection in reducing chronic food insecurity and poverty. It also seeks to ensure direct access to food or the means to buy food.  Social protection is, moreover, a viable alternative for stimulating agricultural production and local economic activity.

    Background

    • Most of the themes for World Food Day revolve around agriculture because only investment in agriculture together with support for education and health can change the situation. In spite of the importance of agriculture as the driving force in the economies of many developing countries, this vital sector is frequently starved of investment

     

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  • US to extend military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016

     

    US to extend military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016

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    • US President Barack Obama has made a major shift in policy and confirmed his plan to extend the US military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016.
    • The president had originally planned to withdraw all but a small embassy-based force from Afghanistan in late 2016, but Military commanders have argued for months that Afghans needed additional assistance and support from the U.S. to beat back a resurgent Taliban and keep the Islamic State from using the country as a haven.
    • Initially when the operation was started there were 100,000 US trrops but now there are currently 9,800 US troops stationed in Afghanistan which will be maintained till through most of 2016, and after that there will be around 5,500 troops by 2017. The US forces will be stationed in four locations - Kabul, Bagram, Jalalabad and Kandahar.

    Background :-

    • Joint US-NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission in Afghanistan was replaced by NATO Training and Support mission by early 2015.
    • The objective of NATO Training and Support mission was to assist and train Afghan army and police forces in their battle against the Taliban rather than being directly involving in any combat mission which has created vacuum in the internal Security of  Afghanistan and there was a surge in Taliban attacks.
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  • Myanmar Government inks peace pact with 8 ethnic rebels groups

     

    Myanmar Government inks peace pact with 8 ethnic rebels groups

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    • The Myanmar government has signed a peace accord with eight of the 15 ethnic armed groups in a ceremony which was attended by India along with other five “international witnesses“. The eight groups that signed the peace accord were mainly from Kayin and the Chin groups.
    • National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, represented India while other international representation was from China, Japan, Thailand, the United Nations and the European Union.
    • The ceasefire pact with eight ethnic minority armies is seen as a step towards ending decades of civil war though the move has weakened by the refusal of several other rebel groups to join the agreement.
    • The truce is the fruit of more than two years of negotiations between Myanmar’s junta government and rebels and was a key goal of reformist President Thein Sein.
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  • Rs 2,000-crore fund to boost financial inclusion, says RBI

     

    Rs 2,000-crore fund to boost financial inclusion, says RBI

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    • RBI  has announced merger of two funds to create a new Financial Inclusion Fund with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore to support “developmental and promotional activities”  for expanding reach of banking services.
    • After completion of initial five years, the RBI has decided to merge the Financial Inclusion Fund and the Financial Inclusion Technology Fund into a single Fund — Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF).

    Key Facts :-

    • The overall corpus of the new FIF will be Rs 2,000 crore.  Contribution to Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF) would be from the ‘interest differential’ in excess of 0.5 per cent on Rural Infrastructure Development Fund  (RIDF)  and Short-Term Cooperative Rural Credit (STCRC) deposits on account of a shortfall in the priority sector lending kept with NABARD by banks.
    • Keeping in view the various developments over the years, the government has merged the FIF and FITF to form a single FIF and the RBI has finalised the new scope of activities and guidelines for utilisation of the new FIF.
    • The new FIF will be administered by the reconstituted Advisory Board constituted by the government and will be maintained by NABARD
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  • M K Surana appointed new Chairman and Managing Director of HPCL 

     

    M K Surana appointed new Chairman and Managing Director of HPCL

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    • M.K.Surana has been appointed as the new chairman and managing director of state-run oil marketer Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL)  on retirement of the current incumbent Nishi Vasudeva.
    • The Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) announced the selection of Surana who is currently the chief executive of Prize Petroleum Co, the oil exploration arm of HPCL.
    • The PESB has interviewed 12 candidates including HPCL director P.K.Joshi and STC chairman Khaleel Rahim, as well as four HPCL executive directors - S.P.Gupta, G.S.Ganesh, S.Jeyakrishnan and Ajit Singh for the post after that M.K.Surana has been selected.
    • Surana, 53, has been executive director with HPCL since September 2012 and will get a five year term that can be extended up to his retirement age of 60 years in April 2022.
    • Surana is a qualified mechanical engineer with certifications in project management and a Masters degree in Finance Management.
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