Current Affair Today

Women in Saudi Arabia can now open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative, as the kingdom pushes to expand a fast-growing private sector.

The policy change, announced by the Saudi government on Thursday (Feb 15), also marks a major step away from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades.Women can now launch their own businesses and benefit from (governmental) e-services without having to prove consent from a guardian.

Under Saudi Arabia's guardianship system, women are required to present proof of permission from a male "guardian" - normally the husband, father or brother - to do any government paperwork, travel or enrol in classes.Long dependent on crude production for economic revenue, Saudi Arabia is pushing to expand the country's private sector, including an expansion of female employment under a reform plan for a post-oil era.

While women still face a host of restrictions in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom, Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor's office this month said it would begin recruiting women investigators for the first time. The kingdom has also opened 140 positions for women at airports and border crossings, a historic first that the government said drew 107,000 female applicants.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne, has been leading the drive to expand the role of women in the workforce in recent months.Prince Mohammed is widely seen as the chief architect behind Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" reform programme, which seeks to elevate the percentage of women in the work force from 22 per cent to nearly one-third.

The Centre has formulated an ambitious water conservation scheme to tackle ever-deepening crisis of depleting groundwater level. Rs 6,000-crore Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY), which is piloted under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, is awaiting cabinet’s clearance. 

The objective of this scheme is to recharge ground water and create sufficient water storage for agricultural purposes. This scheme also focuses on revival of surface water bodies so that ground water level can be increased, especially in the rural areas.The current status of groundwater is alarming, primarily due to non-uniform ground water development and its over-exploitation. According to a report published by the Central Ground Water Board (Ground Water Assessment, 2011), out of 6,607 assessed administrative units (Blocks/ Taluks/ Mandals/ Districts), 1,071 units are over-exploited, 217 units are critical, 697 units are semi-critical, and 4,530 units are safe.

Apart from these, there are 92 assessment units which are completely saline.

Number of over-exploited and critical administrative units is significantly higher in Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh and also in the Union Territories of Daman and Diu and Puducherry. The declining water levels have resulted in failure of wells or deepening of extraction structures, leading to additional burden on the farmers.

The scheme, after Cabinet’s clearance, will soon be launched in water-stressed states: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The focus is to cover 78 districts, 193 blocks and more than 8,300 gram panchayats across these states. The emphasis will be on recharging the ground water sources and ensuring efficient use of water by involving people at local level. The government is urging the Finance Ministry to approve the funds for the scheme. Once funds are approved, the Centre will support half of the total project cost. Rest of the budgetary cost will be shared by the World Bank.

According to Uma Kapoor, Regional Director, Central Ground Water Board, this scheme will surely help those who are in the need for constant ground water supply. The focus is primarily on involvement of communities and convergence with different water schemes. The major component of this project, according to Kapoor, is making society responsible and bringing about behaviour change to manage groundwater resource.

More than 200 youths and children, who were hit by militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, are on a country-wide tour to familiarise with India's rich cultural and historical heritage. The Home Ministry sponsored programme, Watan Ko Jano, is being organised to give exposure to the youth and children of Jammu and Kashmir about the cultural and socio-economic development taking place in other parts of the country.

The youths and children hit by militancy and from weaker sections of the society were identified for the purpose and taken on a visit to different places of the country from 11 to 20 February. Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed happiness that the youths could visit various parts of the country.Unity in diversity is the unique value of the country and these children are also a reflection of it. With this tour, the youths will be able to see the development of modern India.

Unity in diversity is the unique value of the country and these children are also a reflection of it. With this tour, the youths will be able to see the development of modern India.The children have visited Ajmer, Jaipur and Agra and will now visit the historical places in Delhi. The youths have certain responsibilities towards the nation and they should take interest in education, respect elders and do something that will make their parents and country proud.Every citizen has equal opportunities of development irrespective of caste, language and religion.The minister urged the youths to share their experiences with their friends and relatives when they come back home and they should spread the message of unity.

The Virgin Group signed an "intent agreement" with Maharashtra to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune, which aims to reduce the travel time between the two mega cities to 20 minutes from the three hours at present.

The first hyperloop route will link central Pune with the megapolis as well as the Navi Mumbai international airport, the foundation stone for which was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

With easier access to airport gates, the loop will be able to ferry 150 million passengers every year.The proposed hyperlook transportation system will transform the transportation system and make Maharashtra a global pioneer in the space. The socioeconomic benefits of the project is USD 55 billion and the project will create thousands of jobs.

Details such as the project cost and a time-line are yet to be announced.The hyperloop route will be a fully electric system and will have the capability travel up to 1,000 km per hour.

The proposed project will begin after a six-month in-depth feasibility study which will analyse and define the route alignment, including environmental impact, economic and commercial viability, the regulatory framework, and cost and funding model suggestions.

The 8th edition of the Theatre Olympics was inaugurated by Vice president Venkaih Naidu in New Delhi .

The event has been organised by National School of Drama under the aegis of Ministry of Culture.The theme of the festival is - "Flag of Friendship". 51-day long nationwide theatre extravaganza will feature Indian and international theatre groups, eminent theatre personalities along with their performances. 30 countries are participating from across the globe.

It will include 60 'living legends' series conversing with theatre enthusiasts and 50 'master classes' on various art forms. The 51-day long nationwide theatre extravaganza will be held in various cities. The event will continue till 8th of April. There will be exhibitions, seminars, symposia, interactive discussions and workshops with well-known authors, actors, designers and directors.

More than 40 languages or dialects in India are considered to be endangered and are believed to be heading towards extinction as only a few thousand people speak them.

According to a report of the Census Directorate, there are 22 scheduled languages and 100 non-scheduled languages in the country, which are spoken by a large number of people — one lakh or more.

However, there are 42 languages which are spoken by less than 10,000 people. According to Home Ministry ,these are considered endangered and may be heading towards extinction.  A list prepared by UNESCO has also mentioned about the 42 languages or dialects in India that are endangered and they may be heading towards extinction, the official said. The languages or dialects which are considered endangered, include 11 from Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Lamongse, Luro, Muot, Onge, Pu, Sanenyo, Sentilese, Shompen and Takahanyilang), seven from Manipur (Aimol, Aka, Koiren, Lamgang, Langrong, Purum and Tarao) and four from Himachal Pradesh (Baghati, Handuri, Pangvali and Sirmaudi).

The other languages in the endangered category are Manda, Parji and Pengo (Odisha), Koraga and Kuruba (Karnataka), Gadaba and Naiki (AP), Kota and Toda (Tamil Nadu), Mra and Na (Arunachal Pradesh), Tai Nora and Tai Rong (Assam), Bangani (Uttarakhand), Birhor (Jharkhand), Nihali (Maharashtra), Ruga (Meghalaya) and Toto (West Bengal).

Modi was inaugurating the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2018 by addressing the delegates through video conference from New Delhi. 

India was best placed to leverage the power of technology and leapfrog into the future.With over one lakh villages linked with optical fibre, 121 crore mobile phones, 120 crore Aadhaar and 50 crore internet users, India is best placed to leverage the power of technology and leap-frog into the future while ensuring empowerment of every citizen.Digital IndiaBSE -3.09 % was a journey bringing about digital inclusion for digital empowerment aided by digital infrastructure for digital delivery of services. 

JAM trinity of combining 320 million Jan Dhan bank accounts of the poor with Aadhaar and Mobile, with direct benefits of welfare measures, has saved Rs 57,000 crore. Umang app launched only three months back is already offering 185 government services. the nation has come a long way with the convergence of Make In India and Digital India. 

Digital literacy reaches each household, the government initiative, Pradhan Mantri Rural Digital Literacy Mission, will make 60 million adults digitally literate in rural India. Under this, 10 million people have already been trained.The concept of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" (the world is one family) was deeply imbibed in Indian philosophy and reflects our inclusive traditions. In the 21st century, technology is becoming an enabler for this concept. It helps us create a seamless, integrated world. A world where geographical distance no longer remains a barrier in collaborating for a better future 

The three-day WCIT is being held along with the Nasscom India Leadership Forum.Business delegations from 25 countries are attending the event themed 'Amplify digital-Disrupt the core'.Being held in India for the first time, it has been organised in partnership with Nasscom, WITSA and the Telangana government.