United Nations Current Affairs - 2019

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ADB to finance Railways Track Electrification Project in India

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed an agreement to electrify railway tracks in India under Railways Track Electrification Project. As per agreement ADB will provide $750 million (equivalent in Indian Rupee) long-term financing to Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC).

About ADB Loan Agreement

  • It is the largest single non-sovereign loan ever committed by ADB to a member country.
  • The proceeds of loan amount will be utilized by Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) to fund Railways Track Electrification Project.
  • About Project: It was launched as part of Railways broad modernization program which will help India’s railway sector to shift from dependence on fossil fuels towards electric power.
  • The electrification assets will be leased to Indian Railways (country’s national railway system) under a long-term lease agreement.
  • IRFC will use loaned amount to install electric traction equipment along 3,378 km of existing railway lines, so as to enable migration of passenger and freight traffic from diesel to electric traction.
  • Significance: This is a flagship project to demonstrate ADB’s strategy of supporting the key state-owned enterprises in strategic sectors and also reflects a major push by ADB’s private sector operations into transport infrastructure, and particularly railways.

About Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC)

  • It is financing arm of Indian Railways that was set up in 1986.
  • It works toward mobilizing funds from domestic and international capital markets.
  • It is complete government owned entity and is registered as Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC).

About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • It is regional development bank and multilateral lending agency. It was established on 19 December 1966 and is headquartered in Manila, Philippines.
  • It is an official United Nations (UN) Observer.
  • Objective: It envisions inclusive, resilient, prosperous, and sustainable Asia and Pacific, and aims towards sustaining efforts to eradicate extreme poverty in region.
  • Members: In 1966 ADB was started with 31 member countries. At present there are 68 member nation which includes 49 from Asia-Pacific region (including India) and 19 from outside. It is collectively owned by its members.
  • Members Votes: It is closely modeled on World Bank (WB) and has similar weighted voting system to it, like votes are distributed in proportion with member’s capital subscriptions to bank. As of 2016 United States and Japan hold largest proportion of shares.

Function:

  • To promote social and economic development by financially assisting its members and partners by providing loans, technical assistance, grants and equity investments
  • Finance: It gives finance assistance to both sovereign countries and to private entities. It also provides soft loans to poorer countries and hard loans to middle-income countries.
  • Its lending is mostly concentrated in five operational areas namely finance sector development, environment, climate Change and disaster management, education, regional cooperation integration and private sector lending.

UN Dag Hammarskjöld Medal: awarded to Late Jitender Kumar

Indian peacekeeper, Late Jitender Kumar, an Indian Police Officer, is among the 119 military, police and civilian personnel who will be honoured with this year’s prestigious UN medal called Dag Hammarskjöld Medal for courage and sacrifice in line of duty.

About Dag Hammarskjöld Medal

  • About: It is a posthumous award which is given to members of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations who have lost their life while serving in peacekeeping operations.
  • Background: It was established in 22 July 1997 by UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1121, adopted on occasion of 50th anniversary of peacekeeping.
  • The medal is named after Dag Hammarskjöld, who was the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. He died in a plane crash in 1961 while en route to cease-fire negotiations during Congo Crisis. The first Medal was presented to the family of Dag Hammarskjöld in 1998.

About Jitender Kumar

  • Late Indian Police Officer Jitender Kumar laid down his while serving in the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission (UNOSM) in the Central African country of Congo.
  • He will be honoured posthumously with Dag Hammarskjold Medal on observance of International Day of UN Peacekeepers (29 May).
  • On behalf of the fallen Indian peacekeeper the medal would be collected by Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador at a solemn ceremony which will take place at the UN in New York.
  • India is the 4th largest contributor of uniformed personnel (Blue Helmet) to UNPKF. It is currently contributing more than 6,400 military and police personnel to UN peace operations in West Asia, Western Sahara, Congo, Lebanon, Abyei, Cyprus, Haiti, and South Sudan.