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- Conducive weather conditions in the country’s key wheat-producing state of Punjab are likely to boost wheat output, easing concerns about the adverse impact of unusual warm weather that were raised earlier. Wheat is a Rabi crop grown in the winter, and will be harvested in April.
- The mountainous regions of Arunachal Pradesh are set to acquire all-weather connectivity. The new bridges across the Lohit river and the new commercial airport in Tezu will smoothen transport to several high-altitude districts near the India-China border. these measures will help firm up India’s presence in this strategic zone. The improvements in connectivity is significant in view of the statements by Beijing’s officials asserting China’s territorial claims over Arunachal Pradesh.
- Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir have agreed to resume work on the Shahpur Kandi Dam across the Ravi, which had been stalled by the latter since 2014. The proposed 55.5-metre-high dam in Gurdaspur district will potentially irrigate 5,000 hectares of land in Punjab and 32,173 hectares in J&K, besides generating 206 MW of power.
- The Right to Food (RTF) Campaign plans to challenge the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for children to avail themselves of the mid-day meal schemes in schools across the country. The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry’s notification is likely to affect nearly 120 million schoolchildren across the country. While the government’s rationale is that the decision will improve efficiency and transparency, Right to Food activists maintain that the notification is in violation of a Supreme Court order. India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of stunted children in the world at 72 million.
- Haiti’s former President Rene Preval, an agronomist and champion of the poor who served two terms as the country’s leader, died at the age of 74. Since the end of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Preval was the only Haitian leader to have completed two terms as president, the constitutional limit, without suffering a coup or having to flee in exile.
- The European Union’s foreign policy chief has urged Kosovo to ratify a border-demarcation agreement with Montenegro, the last remaining condition, before its citizens enjoy visa-free travel with Europe’s Schengen member countries. Kosovo declared independence in 2008. This was recognized by 114 countries but not by Serbia.
- China will raise defence spending around 7% this year as it guards against “outside meddling” in its disputed regional territorial claims. The planned spending increase is in line with last year, when the government said 2016 outlays would increase by 6.5-7.0%.