1. Rezang La Memorial
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is in Ladakh, where he will visit Rezang La to pay tributes to the Indian soldiers who fought a heroic battle there in 1962, and to dedicate to them a revamped War Memorial.
- It is also called Rechin La.
- It is a mountain pass on the Line of Actual Control between Indian-administered Ladakh and the Chinese-administered Spanggur Lake basin that is also claimed by India.
- The pass is located on the eastern watershed ridge of the Chushul Valley that China claims as its boundary.
- It is at the head of the Rezang Lungpa valley, which houses a stream draining into the Spanggur Lake.
- It is dedicated to those who laid down their lives in the Battle of Rezang La during the 1962 war.
- It will now include the names of Army personnel who lost their lives in the violent clash at Galwan last year.
- 18th November marks the 59th anniversary of the Battle of Rezang La in which
- Troops from the 13 Kumaon Regiment defeated several waves of the Chinese Army at a height of over 16,000 feet.
- In October 2020, the Army had built a memorial at Post 120 in Eastern Ladakh for the 20 personnel killed in the violent clash at Galwan Valley on June 15 that year.
- Post 120 lies along the Darbuk Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) road.
2. PMGSY and RCPLWE Approved to Continue
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval to the proposals of the Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development for the continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-I and II up to September 2022 for completion of balance road and bridge works. The CCEA also approved the continuation of the Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA) up to March 2023.
- PMGSY-I was launched in the year 2000 to provide connectivity to eligible unconnected habitations of 500+ in plain areas and 250+ in North-East and Himalayan states as per census, 2001.
- The Scheme also included the component of up-gradation of existing rural roads for those districts where all the eligible habitations had been saturated.
- In the year 2013, it was decided to also cover habitations of population size 100-249 as per census, 2001 in the Left-wing Extremism Affected blocks identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Out of 1,78,184 habitations of 250+ and 500+ population size identified for coverage under the scheme, 1,71,494 habitations have already been connected and 1,968 habitations are balanced as of 15th November 2021.
- The remaining 4,722 habitations have either been dropped or are not feasible. In 100-249 categories, out of the total sanctioned 6,260 habitations, only 464 habitations are balanced as of 15th November 2021.
- A total of 6,45,627 Km road length and 7,523 bridges have been sanctioned under PMGSY-I, of which only 20,950 Km road length and 1,974 bridges are balanced as of 15th November 2021.
- The majority of the pending projects are in North-East & Himalayan states/UTs.
- CCEA approved extension up to March 2019, on 9th August 2018.
- All the balance habitations are targeted for connectivity within the proposed extended period, i.e. up to September 2022 by constructing 20,950 Km road length and 1,974 bridges.
- PMGSY-II, which was approved by the Cabinet in May 2013, envisaged the consolidation of 50,000 Km of the existing rural road network.
- All the proposals of states/UTs have been sanctioned.
- Out of a total of 49,885 Km and 765 bridges sanctioned under the scheme, only 4,240 Km road length and 254 bridges are balanced.
- The majority of the pending projects are in North-East & Himalayan states/UTs as also in the State of Bihar.
- CCEA approved extension up to March 2020, on 9th August 2018.
- All pending projects are targeted for completion within the proposed extended period, i.e. up to September 2022.
Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas
- Launched in 2016 for construction/up-gradation of 5,412 Km road length and 126 bridges of strategic importance in 44 districts in 9 states, viz. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, with an outlay of Rs. 11,725 crore.
- Implementation period: 2016-17 to 2019-20
- Road and bridgework to be taken up under the scheme have been identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with states and security forces.
- 10,231 Km road length and bridges sanctioned under the scheme so far with an outlay of Rs. 9,822 crore, including the additional proposals recommended by MHA subsequently.
- 4,490 Km road length and 105 bridges have already been completed.
- Balance projects and additional projects of around 1,887 Km, which are yet to be sanctioned, are targeted for completion within the proposed extended period, i.e. up to March 2023.
3. India becomes the largest recipient
- India, the world’s largest recipient of remittances, received $87 billion in 2021 with the United States being the biggest source, accounting for over 20 percent of these funds, according to the World Bank.
- India is followed by China, Mexico, the Philippines, and Egypt, the Washington-based global lender
- In India, remittances are projected to grow three percent in 2022 to $ 89.6 billion, reflecting a drop in overall migrant stock, as a large proportion of returnees from the Arab countries await the return.
- Flows to India are expected to reach $ 87 billion, a gain of 4.6 percent — with the severity of COVID-19 caseloads and deaths during the second quarter playing a prominent role in drawing altruistic flows to the country.
- Remittances to low- and middle-income countries are projected to have grown a strong 7.3 percent to reach $589 billion in 2021.
- This return to growth is more robust than earlier estimates and follows the resilience of flows in 2020 when remittances declined by only 1.7 percent despite a severe global recession due to COVID-19.
- Remittance flows from migrants have greatly complemented government cash transfer programs to support families suffering economic hardships during the COVID-19 crisis.
4. RBI on Digital Lending
A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Working Group (WG) on digital lending, including lending through online platforms and mobile apps has submitted its recommendations.
- Separate legislation should be enacted to oversee such lending.
- Setup a nodal agency to vet the Digital Lending Apps.
- A Self-Regulatory Organisation should be set up for participants in the digital lending ecosystem.
- Develop certain baseline technology standards and compliance with those standards as a pre-condition for offering digital lending solutions.
- Disbursement of loans should be made directly into the bank accounts of borrowers and servicing of loans should be done only through the bank accounts of the digital lenders.
- All data collection must require the prior consent of borrowers and come ‘with verifiable audit trails and the data itself ought to be stored locally.
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5. Shale Oil Exploration
Cairn Oil & Gas has announced that it is partnering with US-based Halliburton to start shale exploration in the Lower Barmer Hill formation, Western Rajasthan.
The company is also looking to increase the recoverable reserves at its offshore assets by 10 times via enhanced use of technology, in partnership with Halliburton.
Shale oil Vs Conventional crude oil
- The key difference between shale oil and conventional crude is that the former, also called ‘tight oil’, is found in smaller batches, and deeper than conventional crude deposits.
- Its extraction requires the creation of fractures in oil and gas-rich shale to release hydrocarbons through a process called hydraulic fracking.
- Russia and the US are among the largest shale oil producers in the world, with a surge in shale oil production in the US has played a key role in turning the country from an importer of crude to a net exporter in 2019.
- A number of US shale exploration firms, including Halliburton, have faced litigation from citizens living in areas adjacent to shale production sites who have claimed that hydraulic fracking has contributed to groundwater contamination.
Shale oil exploration in India
- Currently, there is no large-scale commercial production of shale oil and gas in India.
- State-owned ONGC had, in 2013, started exploration and, by the end of FY21, assessed shale oil and gas potential in 25 nomination blocks, but has reduced investments over the past few years after only getting limited success in shale exploration efforts.
- While ONGC’s assessment found prospects of shale oil at the Cambay basin in Gujarat and the Krishna Godavari basin in Andhra Pradesh, the company concluded that “ the quantity of oil flow observed in these basins” did not indicate “commerciality” and that the general characteristics of Indian shales are quite different from North American ones.