Current Affairs – August, 2019

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Bharat Ratna 2019 Awards presented by President of India

President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, presented Bharat Ratna Awards to Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika (posthumously) and Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Bharat Ratna 2019 Award Winners

Pranab Mukherjee: His life-long political career spanned about five decades. He was 13th President of India (from 2012 until 2017). He has also served as the Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012 under prime ministership of Manmohan Singh.

Bhupen Hazarika: He was a legendary Assamese singer-composer who died in 2011. He was most popular in Bengal and Bangladesh and was responsible for introducing culture and folk music of Assam and northeast India to Hindi cinema. He is popularly known as Sudhakantha, meaning the nightingale.

Nanaji Deshmukh: He had been a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He is credited with bolstering Jana Sangh in Uttar Pradesh (UP). As a social activist, he laid emphasis on education. He established 1st Saraswati Shishu Mandir at Gorakhpur in 1950. He has been honoured with Padma Vibhushan earlier.

NOTE: Other Presidents, who had been conferred Bharat Ratna earlier are- Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Rajendra Prasad, Zakir Hussain, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Dr. V V Giri.

About Bharat Ratna

It is highest civilian award of Republic of India. It was instituted in 2 January 1954.

First recipients of Bharat Ratna award (1954)- C. Rajagopalachari, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and C. V. Raman.

Bharat Ratna recipients rank 7th in order of precedence of Republic of India.

Criteria: Bharat Ratna award is conferred in recognition of exceptional service/performance of highest order in any field of human endeavor. Till 2011 the award was originally limited to achievements in fields of arts, literature, science, and public services which was then changed. Also, original statutes did not provide for posthumous awards but were amended in 1955 to permit them.

Eligibility: It is conferred without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex. Although usually Bharat Ratna is conferred on India-born citizens, but it has been awarded to one naturalised citizen (Mother Teresa) and to 2 non-Indians (former South African President Nelson Mandela and Pakistan national Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan).

Award Process: There is no formal nomination process. The recommendations for award can only be made by the Prime Minister to President.

Limits: Maximum of 3 nominees can be awarded per year.

Medal: Bharat Ratna recipients receive a certificate signed by President and a medal. Medal is in shape of a peepal leaf rimmed in platinum. The sun burst design with rays spreading out, made of platinum, is embossed on obverse side of medal. The words ‘Bharat Ratna’, in Devanagari Script, is inscribed on obverse side. In centre of reverse side of me A State Emblem of India is placed in centre of reverse side with national motto, ‘Satyamev Jayate’ (Truth alone triumphs) in Devanagari Script. There is no monetary grant associated with award.

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ADB to provide $200 Million loan for improving road infrastructure in Maharashtra

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved US $200 million loan for Road Infrastructure Improving project in Maharashtra’s 34 districts for better connecting rural areas with markets and services.  The proceeds of loan from ADB will be used for upgrading roads in rural areas of these districts to all-weather standards for boosting links between local residents and economic centres across the state.

ADB Project for improving road infrastructure

Its total cost is US $296 million, of which State Government will provide US $96 million. It will be implemented by ADB and Maharashtra Rural Road Development Association (MRRDA). It will be completed by end of September 2024. Its major components are developing road safety, road asset management, contract management, and climate resilient design.

Benefits of project: It will help to boost links between local residents, productive agricultural land and economic centers across the state. It will also help in improving farmers’ access to markets, which in turn will help to boost agricultural productivity and incomes of farmers as well as promote investment in agribusiness and agriculture value chain infrastructure.

About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

It is multilateral lending agency and regional development bank. It was established in December 1966 and is headquartered in Manila, Philippines. It envisions inclusive, resilient, prosperous, and sustainable Asia and Pacific and aims towards sustaining efforts to eradicate extreme poverty in region. At present there are 68 member nation of ADB (including India) which includes 49 from Asia-Pacific region and 19 from outside. It is collectively owned by its member and is closely modeled on World Bank (WB). It member countries have similar weighted voting system and votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions to bank.

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