21.12.22 UKPSC Daily Current Affairs

Uttarakhand mulls international airport, ropeways to attract ‘high-end’ & foreign tourists
With more tourists thronging the hill state after dip in numbers during Covid pandemic, tourism authorities are contemplating changes to attract more foreign tourists and high spenders.
The number of tourists, including foreign nationals, witnessed a significant dip but things were back on track this year. In 2019, Uttarakhand attracted 3.9 crore tourists out of which 1.5 lakh were foreigners.
In 2022, the number of visitors in the first 10 months (till October) shot up to 4.7 crore and the number of foreign tourists was 45,163. In 2020, the number of foreign nationals was 38,763 and 15,410 in 2021.
Though the number of foreign nationals visiting Uttarakhand is still below the 1.5 lakh mark of 2019, authorities expect the number to go up significantly in the next few years with improved infrastructure and facilities. With the increase in overall numbers, tourism authorities are contemplating moves to draw the attention of foreign and high-end tourists.
Wellness centres, homestays, better air connectivity, more ropeway projects, upgradation of Chaurasi Kutiya under Rajaji Tiger Reserve as per international standards, winter games and tourism, construction of museum at Rambara, a meditation centre at Chhoti Lincholi, development works around Tehri Lake are among the projects which are either underway or in the pipeline to boost tourism sector.
According to Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board data, the Himalayan state had 3.4 crore tourists (excluding Char Dham), which included 3.3 crore domestic and 1.4 lakh from foreign nations. Due to Covid, the number dipped to 78.7 lakh – 78.3 lakh national and 38,763 international visitors in 2020.
Henley Passport Index 2023, Japan retained its top position
According to the latest Henley Passport Index, Japan has retained its position as the most favourible passport in the world, allowing visa-free entry to 193 global destinations. which the country tops for the fifth consecutive year. Singapore and South Korea came in a joint second on the ranking, followed by Germany and Spain, and then a slew of other European nations.
The Indian passport was ranked 85th, giving visa-free entry to 59 destinations worldwide. In 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, the country ranked at 82nd spot, 84th, 85th and 83rd respectively. Indian passport holders can travel visa-free to 59 destinations like Bhutan, Indonesia, Macao, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Iran and Qatar. However, some countries require visa-on-arrival.
Prajjwala Challenge Launched Ministry of Rural Development in New Delhi
The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) has launched the Prajjwala Challenge. The Prajjwala Challenge has been launched to invite ideas, solutions, and actions that can transform rural development.
It will provide a platform where ideas are invited from individuals, social enterprises, start-ups, the private sector, civil society, community-based organizations, academic institutions, incubation centers, investors, etc having the potential to transform the rural economy.
The mission aims to look forward to ideas and solutions around Innovation technology solutions, inclusive growth, value chain interventions, enhanced women entrepreneurship, and cost-effective solutions.
DRDO Develops Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Operations in Himalayan Frontier
The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to carry out logistic operations in the Himalayan frontier. The DRDO-developed UAV is capable of flying in the Himalayan Environment with 5kg of payload and even dropping bombs in the areas required.
The UAV was displayed at the 108th Indian Science Congress by DRDO.
The organization has carried out successful trials of the multi-copter conducted at Sikkim at an altitude of 14,000 feet.
The UAV will be ready for induction into the Armed forces after two remaining trials.
The UAV developed by DRDO has been developed with a payload capacity of 5 kg to 25 kg and it is working on increasing the capacity up to 30 kg.
The Multi-copter can carry out the autonomous mission with waypoint navigation within up to a 5 km radius.
PM Launches Aspirational Block Programme Aimed at Spurring Development Parameters
Prime Minister has launched the government’s Aspirational Block Programme (ABP), which is aimed at improving the performance of blocks lagging on various development parameters. The Aspirational Blocks Programme is on the lines of the Aspirational District Programme that was launched in 2018 and covers 112 districts across the country.
The Centre had announced its intention to launch this initiative in the Union Budget 2022-23.
The programme will cover 500 districts across 31 states and Union Territories initially.
Over half of these blocks are in 6 states—Uttar Pradesh (68 blocks), Bihar (61), Madhya Pradesh (42), Jharkhand (34), Odisha (29) and West Bengal (29).
However, states can add more blocks to the programme later.
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