India-Bangladesh rail link
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu laid the foundation stone for a 15.06km railway track that will connect Agartala and Akhaura, a city in south-east Bangladesh. Of the 15 km strategic railway track, 10 km falls in the Bangladesh side and the rest 5 km falls in India.
Indian government will bear the entire expenditure of Rs.968 crore for this project.
Significance of the rail link:
- Tripura being a land locked state, the new link would help connect Agartala with Kolkata through Bangladesh. It will reduce the current 1700 km road distance between Kolkata to Agartala(via narrow Chicken Neck Siliguri corridor) to just 350 km by railway.
Also, the track assumes significance since the British-era rail link between Agartala and Dhaka is not in service since 1947.
- The rail link will be beneficial not only to Tripura, but also to the entire north-eastern states as it willconnect them with the Chittagong ports and large markets in Sylhet and Dhaka.
- This project will play an important role in India’s ‘Act East’ Policy and is expected to improve connectivity and boost trade between India and Bangladesh.
Census 2011 data on Other Religions and Persuasion
Recently, the Census 2011 data on different faiths under the head “Other Religions and Persuasion (ORP)” has been released. The released data provides information on 82 faiths under ORP.
ORP are those religions that do not fall under the six dominant faiths of India: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain. These are essentially minor local religious faiths. Examples are Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and the Baha’i faith.
Some of the significant features from the released data are summarized below:
- The adherents to the six dominant faiths constitute 99.4% of the total population while the followers of ORP increased nearly 20% from 66.39 lakh in 2001 to 79.38 lakh in 2011.
- The Census 2011 has recorded the existence of only 82 faiths while the Census 2001 had recorded the existence of 108 faiths.
- 45 faiths which were part of 2001 Census seems to have disappeared in the gap of 10 years. They are Ausho Commune International and several other tribal religions. However, 19 new faiths have entered into the ORP list in Census 2011. These include DeraSarsa and Atheism.
- Among the ORP faiths, six are dominant and account for 90% of all ORP followers. They are Sarna (Jharkhand and Odisha), Gond (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra), Sari (West Bengal), Doni Polo (Arunachal Pradesh), Sanamahi (Manipur) and the Khasi (Meghalaya).
Railway Ministry launches maiden Agartala to Delhi broad gauge train service
The Union Railway Ministry has flagged off the maiden broad gage train service dubbed as ‘Tripura Sundari Express’ from Agartala (Tripura) to Delhi. It was flagged off by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. With this, the landlocked north eastern state of Tripura entered the broad gauge railway map of the country. The train service will cover distance of 2461 kms in 46 hours and 50 minutes.
CAG report blames Indian Railways for track deaths
A recent report of the CAG has put the blame squarely on the Indian Railways for inadequate train services, leading to overcrowding and subsequent death of passengers in suburban trains. As per the report, 33,445 deaths have been recorded between January 2010 and December 2014, which translates into more than 18 deaths a day in suburban trains.
Norms for foreign tourists eased for visiting Ladakh
The Ministry of Home Affairs is set to relax the requirement of a Protected Area Permit for foreigners visiting Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. This was taken by the government at the intervention of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to boost tourism in the state.
Union Government constitutes DISHA for timely implementation of Central Schemes
The Union Government has constituted the District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDCMC) for effective development and coordination of Central Government’s programme. It will be known as DISHA and will monitor the implementation of 28 schemes and programmes of Union Ministry of Rural Development and other Ministries to promote synergy and convergence for greater impact. The main purpose of the DISHA is to ensure the participation of people’s representative at all levels and successful implementation of flagship programmes of central government.