GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.
India And Pakistan Extend Thar Rail Link For Three More Years.
- India and Pakistan on 30th January, 2018 decided to extend the Thar Link Express/Thar Express that connects Jodhpur in Rajasthan with the provincial Karachi capital of Karachi. The train will now continue to connect both nations till January 31, 2021.
- The rail links in the Indian subcontinent have an undeniable colonial legacy. The British Raj established the Indian Railways not for the convenience of Indians but to ease the transport of raw materials from the hinterlands to ports. It was a matter of time, therefore, that a railroad link was established between the two major port cities of Bombay and Karachi.
- In 1900, the Sind Mail (as the train was known back then) chugged along from Bombay to Karachi via Ahmedabad, Palanpur, Marwar, Pali, Jodhpur, Lun, Barmer, Munabao, Khokhrapar, Mirpur Khas and Hyderabad (Sindh) Railway Stations. The Sind Mail continued to ferry passengers from one country to another for 65 years.
Highlights Of The Development-
- In 1965, India and Pakistan fought their first major war and during the war, Pakistan Air Force bombed the Munabao-Khokkhrapar rail link. After this, the rail link was disrupted and remained shut for 41 years.
- In February 2006, the train once again made its journey from Jodhpur to Munabao. An old British-era rail link was revived and the Sind Mail was rechristened the Thar Link Express in India and Thar Express in Pakistan.
- It leaves from Jodhpur at 1 am every Saturday and chugs into Munabao at 7 am. At Munabao, the passengers are asked to de-board. After hours of immigration formalities, the train moves from Munabao and covers the remaining 500 meters of Indian Territory before entering Pakistan.
- When the Sind Mail ran before 1965, Pakistani custom officials used to conduct formalities at Khokhrapar station. In 2006, ahead of the grand reopening of the rail link, Pakistan constructed the brand new Zero Point Railway Station, which is just 50 meters from the pillars demarcating the International Boundary.
- For six months, the Thar Link Express crosses over to Zero Point Railway Station, where passengers alight and board the Thar Express, run by Pakistan Railways. For the other half of the year, it is the Pakistani train that crosses from Zero Point to Munabao. Passengers are only allowed to board at Jodhpur. Pakistani citizens who travel to India, are not allowed west of National Highway 68.
GS Paper III- Security.
Indian, Vietnamese Armies Hold First Military Exercise.
- For the first time, armies of India and Vietnam, on 30th January, 2018 began a six day-long military exercise in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, reflecting growing defence ties between the two countries.
- It is the first military exercise between the two countries. The exercise, christened ‘VINBAX’ will continue for six days.
- India and Vietnam have been exploring ways to strengthen defence cooperation.
Highlights Of The Development-
- Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was in India on 26th January, 2018 to participate in the India-ASEAN Commemorative summit and attend the Republic Day celebrations.
- The issue of bolstering defence and security cooperation figured prominently during the bilateral talks Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with his Vietnamese counterpart.
- Defence ties between India and Vietnam have been on an upswing with the primary focus being cooperation in the maritime domain.
- India and Vietnam had signed a protocol on defence cooperation in 1994. The partnership was thereafter elevated to strategic level in 2007 and a pact on boosting bilateral defence cooperation was signed in 2009.
- The strategic partnership was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership in September 2016.
GS Paper II- Governance.
Odisha Bags ‘Geospatial World Excellence Award-2018’.
- Odisha has bagged ‘Geospatial World Excellence Award-2018’ for successful IT application for tracking of mineral production, dispatch and value accrued on real-time basis through its i3MS web-based software.
- The award was presented by Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Y. S. Chowdary in the Geospatial World Forum Meeting held at Hyderabad recently.
- The event was attended by more than 3,000 geospatial experts from 90 different countries.
- Dr Pradipta Mishra, Senior Scientist – Odisha Space Application Center (ORSAC), received the award on behalf of the Odisha government.
Highlights Of The Development-
- The GPS-linked web-based software named i3MS has been designed by the scientists of ORSAC, Bhubaneswar, under the guidance of Steel and Mines Secretary Raj Kumar Sharma, ORSAC CEO Sandeep Tripathy and Mines Director Deepak Mohanty.
- Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi has congratulated the ORSAC scientists, along with officers of Steel and Mines Department, for successfully designing, applying and using this IT model.
- Currently, the Steel and Mines Department is watching the live movement of 43,000 vehicles carrying minerals from production point to ports, railway sidings and end-user industrial units.
- The union government also applauded the outcomes of this IT intervention by Odisha and has recommended the model to be followed in other states.
- All the stakeholders like lessees, dealers and government departments have been brought on to this portal.
- It has also been integrated with the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Indian Railways, Commercial Tax Department, ports and treasury. The daily production and dispatch are being recorded on real-time basis through this software.
- All the mineral transporting trucks have been put under GPS surveillance and the roads as well as mines have been geo-referenced.
- Geospatial scientist Mishra said that this is for the first time in India that GPS devices have been fixed on a large number of moving objects in the mining sector.
- Director of Mines Deepak Mohanty said that till now, 392 electronic weighbridges in 136 mines and 699 weighbridges in 325 end-user industries have been integrated with the system. All e-permits and dealer licences are being issued online through this software and issuing of manual licences has been abolished.