Modi’s visit starts a new phase in Indo-Nepal relations
On August 3, Narendra Modi became the first Prime Minister of India to visit Nepal in 17 long years. When one considers the absolute proximity of the two countries this seems like a rather long wait. With Modi’s visit one sees a new chapter being opened in the history of the bilateral relations between the neighbours. One of the major complaints of Nepal in all these years has been that it has never received due attention from big brother India but now it seems that the hatchet may have been buried, at least for the time being.
During his speech in the Nepalese Constituent Assembly, Modi talked about focusing on highways, ways of developing transmission and information in order to improve the existing relations between the two countries. He feels that Nepal needs support in these areas and stated that India will be providing the same. Right from the day of his swearing-in it has been pretty evident that the immediate neighbours form an important part of Modi’s foreign policies and these comments on his part only reinforce the belief.
Government now in a fix over insurance Bill
The insurance amendment Bill was supposed to be the first major legislation to be made by the incumbent government with regard to finance. However, it has now run into trouble with the Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha asking that it be referred to a select committee. This has now meant that the government has had to put on hold its plans of introducing the said Bill in the Parliament and now Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley are supposed to talk to the leaders of the Congress as well as other parties regarding different aspects of the Bill.
The Bill looks to increase the maximum permissible limit of investment by foreign entities in Indian insurance companies to 49% from the current 26%. When it was originally floated the Indian insurance sector had praised it saying it will bring a much needed influx of capital. Now the question is why are the Opposition parties not agreeing to pass it – is there something amiss with the same? The question that comes up almost inevitably is that why were they not taken into consideration when the Bill was being drafted. Perhaps that could have saved much time and ensured the smooth passage of the Bill that has the potential to benefit an important component of India’s business sector.
Indo-French missile development plan runs into problem
A plan for developing missiles, which was supposed to be accomplished by India and France and had been valued in the region of INR 30,000 crore, now finds itself in trouble. The Indian Air Force is of the opinion that the Akash missile weapon, which had been developed in India itself and operates from surface to air, is capable of taking care of its requirements and this is the major reason for the present predicament of the Indo-French project.
The plan was supposed to be jointly developed by MBDA, a manufacturer of missiles from France and DRDO. The main aim of this plan was to produce surface-to-air missiles that could operate in the short range. The system was supposed to be developed for a programme named Maitri by the national air force. One of the major aims of Narendra Modi’s government was to modernise the military and a big part of the same of that was bringing in more foreign expertise. However, now with this decision of the Indian Air Force, that aim may have taken a rude jolt of sorts.
India launches first ever ocean moored observatory based in Arctic
India has started its first ever moored and multi-sensor observatory in the Arctic region. It has been named IndARC and can be viewed as a major achievement for the scientific fraternity of India considering the fact that it will help scientific activities in the North Pole region. With this observatory, which has been created by a group of scientists, it will now be possible to chart the response of the Arctic region to variations in climatic as well as the effect of the same on the monsoon in India.
The scientists responsible for creating the observatory are associated with NIOT (National Institute of Ocean Technology) and NCAOR (National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research) and the observatory has been launched at Kongsfjorden, a fjord in the Arctic region. The fjord is located almost between North Pole and Norway. RV Lance, a research vessel belonging to the Norwegian Polar Institute, was used to deploy the observatory. One hopes that this discovery helps the concerned authorities get a better understanding of the processes of climate change around the world and, thus, perhaps find a way to mitigate the effects of same on India’s monsoon.
Government to focus on Ayurveda
Ayurveda has been an integral part of India’s history and system of treatment since ancient times. It has been accepted as an effective form of treatment within the country and also in certain circles outside the same. It seems that the government has now decided that constructive steps need to be taken so that more people around the world get to know about this ancient form of medicine and wellness. If the union health minister, Harsh Vardhan, is to be believed then this is the first time that the union government’s health policy will focus on ayurveda and that is perhaps more important considering it is an indigenous form and hence intrinsic to the country itself.
Vardhan has also pointed out that the World Health Organization has also accorded a lot of importance to Ayurveda as far as its traditional medicine related activities are concerned. As part of this emphasis it has been learnt that every AIIMS centre will have a department on indigenous medicine and Ayurveda shall take precedence in the same. The AIIMS at Rishikesh is expected to assume a major position in this regard and it may have a hospital with 100 beds where Ayurveda treatment will be provided along with yoga and naturopathy, siddha, unani and homeopathy.