Today Current Affairs 2nd April 2016

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HCL Technologies, the country's fourth largest information technology services and solutions company, will acquire Mumbai-headquartered Geometric, an engineering solutions and services entity.The entire business of Geometric will be transferred to HCL Tech by way of demerger, except for its 58 per cent share in a joint venture with Dassault Systemes, 3DPLM Software Solutions. The total value for the transaction will be $260-270 million, said a source.In return, shareholders of Geometric will receive shares in HCL Tech in a swap ratio of 10 equity shares of the latter for every 43 of the former. More important, shareholders of Geometric shall receive one listed redeemable preference share of Rs 68 each, carrying annual dividend of seven per cent, in 3DPLM against every one share of Geometric.Geometric will be merged into 3DPLM, thereby giving 100 per cent ownership of the latter to Dassault Systemes (3DS).HCL will inherit several Geometric processes, methodologies and intellectual properties in PLM (product lifecycle management)and digital manufacturing, along with specialised professionals in PLM consulting and the mechanical and manufacturing engineering space. The transaction thus creates end–to–end engineering and research capabilities across the full product lifecycle  hardware, software, mechanical & manufacturing engineering and PLM consulting.JM Financial Singapore acted as the exclusive corporate finance advisor to Geometric and JSA as the exclusive legal advisor to Geometric and 3DS.Founded in 1984, Geometric’s revenue for 2014-15 was Rs 1,105 crore.

Kallol Roy, an expert in nuclear reactor, appointed as the new chairman and managing director (CMD) of Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI), which is building 500 Mw prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam near Chennai.Roy assumed the position on March 31 on the superannuation of P Chellapandi.According to BHAVINI's statement Roy specialises in the field of total maintenance management of reactors.Prior to his current posting, Roy was heading the research reactor maintenance division, reactor group at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai.A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes. The PFBR will be fuelled by a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide, called MOX fuel.The Rs 5,400 crore PFBR is presently under advanced stage of commissioning achieving a physical progress of around 98 percent.

Maharashtra tied up with the Tata Trusts to link all government colleges and medical colleges to the national cancer grid for uniform cancer profiling and quality treatment. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for this collaboration at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai. On the lines of a similar grid developed in the United States, the Tata Trusts has established a national cancer grid that links all existing and proposed cancer care centres to create a uniform line of treatment for cancer patients across the country. Maharashtra is the country’s first state to join the initiative.The organisation has also agreed to work with the government to curb incidences of malnutrition. The state’s planning department will work with it to develop for ‘model data platform’ for reviewing progress of various flagship schemes. The home department executed another MoU with Tata Trusts for a pilot project involving provision of legal aid, health, and mental health services, training, and skill upgrade within prisons. It has also been decided to reform services at the Nagpur Mental Hospital, which will then serve as a prototype for other similar centres. A joint initiative aimed to bridge the technology-gender divide by improving ‘internet literacy’ in rural Maharashtra has been undertaken too. The ‘Internet Saathi’ initiative will cover women in 1,200 villages in the first phase. “The second phase is aimed at promoting internet literacy among women in another 15,000 villages. The state will be the first to take up a plan to spread internet literacy across its villages,” the CM informed the House.Another MoU was signed to upgrade the skill set of language teachers in rural schools. There shall also be a collaboration for developing ‘model development plans’ for Nagpur and Chandrapur.

Former Jharkhand Chief Secretary Rajiv Gauba took charge as the Secretary of Urban Development Ministry. A Jharkhand-cadre IAS officer of 1982 batch, Gauba joins the Ministry on superannuation of Madhusudhan Prasad announced on April 1,2016.Gauba, who is a Physics graduate from Patna University, has wide-ranging experience in senior positions in policy-making and programme implementation in central and state governments and in international organisations, it added. Prior to his current assignment, he was the Chief Secretary of Jharkhand for 15 months. Gauba has also served in International Monetary Fund Board for four representing the country, besides serving as Collector and District Magistrate for seven years in districts of Gaya, Nalanda and Muzaffarpur in Bihar. After assuming charge, he said, With the launch of urban development initiatives like Smart City Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Heritage City Development Mission and Swachh Bharat Mission, the focus of the Ministry now shifts to effective and timely implementation of the schemes by the states and urban local bodies through effective coordination with them.The government is attaching priority to urban agenda and best efforts need to be made for successful implementation of the new initiatives.

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) on April 1,2016, added a new index to its broad market indices  Nifty Mid Smallcap 400  to represent the mid and small market capitalisation segments.The new index will comprise of 400 companies which are the constituents of Nifty Midcap 150 and Nifty Smallcap 250 indices, said a statement issued by NSE group company India Index Services and Products Ltd. (IISL).The Nifty MidSmallcap 400 is a well-representative index consisting of 150 midcap and 250 smallcap stocks across 18 sectors, the statement said, quoting Mukesh Agarwal, chief executive of IISL.The new index joins the family of restructured broad-based Nifty indices, which will facilitate introduction of investment products.IISL will initially publish value of the Nifty MidSmallcap 400 at end of the day's trade and subsequently disseminate it online along with existing indices.Nifty MidSmallcap 400 index would be an appropriate benchmark for mutual fund schemes which predominantly invests in small-cap and mid-cap companies equity stocks," the statement said, quoting Navneet Munot, the Chief Information Officer of SBI Asset Management Company.

Mehbooba Mufti will be sworn in as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on April 4 .Mattoo, who worked as an advisor to former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, expressed the hope that 56-year-old Mehbooba would usher in a new era of peace and prosperity in the region. The date for the oath ceremony of the new cabinet was decided after deliberations between the leadership of both the parties .Asked whether there were any differences between the coalition partners which led to delay in the swearing-in ceremony, the sources said there were no differences but deliberations between alliance partners happen and they take time. PDP and BJP had staked claim for government formation on March 26, two days after Mehbooba was elected as PDP's legislature party leader. After the death of her father, who headed PDP-BJP coalition government for 10 months from March 1, last year until his death on January 7, this year, Mehbooba had been reluctant to take over as CM of the PDP-BJP coalition government. She had been seeking assurances from the central government on implementation of Agenda of Alliance, Common Minimum Programme (CMP) framed by the two parties last year. Mehbooba also sought some J-K-specific confidence building measures. However, her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 22 ended the over two-months-long deadlock on government formation in the state. 

President Pranab Mukherjee has promulgated the Uttarakhand Appropriation (Vote on Account) Ordinance, 2016 which authorizes expenditure in the hill state that has come under direct federal rule because of a political crisis.The ordinance allows for the withdrawal of about Rs.13,642.43 crore to meet the state’s expenditure during the ongoing fiscal year. The decision to issue the ordinance was taken at a Union cabinet meeting on Wednesday which in the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a foreign trip, was chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh.The centre imposed President’s rule in Uttarakhand this month on grounds of “breakdown of governance” after a political crisis was triggered by a rebellion in the state’s ruling Congress party.The president signed the ordinance on March 31,2016.The budget session of Parliament was prorogued on 29 March to enable the government to promulgate the ordinance.The Uttarakhand high court asked the Centre to respond to the Congress writ petition challenging the ordinance. It asked the centre to file its response by 5 April after the Union government’s counsel Rakesh Thapaliyal sought more time from the court to furnish a reply.The Uttarakhand assembly had constitutionally passed the Appropriation Bill reflecting people’s aspirations. This ordinance is nothing but Modi government’s sinister conspiracy to obstruct and annul implementation of public welfare schemes and programmes, funds for which were allotted in the budget.The government said on Wednesday that the Appropriation Bill had not been passed in the assembly. According to Union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in the absence of lawful passage of the bill, no funds can be withdrawn by the Uttarakhand government from the consolidated fund of the state.

Countries in Asia, including India, may face severe water shortage by 2050 due to rising economic activity, growing populations and climate change, MIT scientists have warned. There is a "high risk of severe water stress" in much of an area that is home to roughly half the world's population, scientists said. Having run a large number of simulations of future scenarios, the researchers found that the median amounts of projected growth and climate change in the next 35 years in Asia would lead to about 1 billion more people becoming "water-stressed" compared to today. While climate change is expected to have serious effects on the water supply in many parts of the world, the study underscores the extent to which industrial expansion and population growth may by themselves exacerbate water-access problems. To conduct the study, the scientists built upon an existing model developed previously at MIT, the Integrated Global Systems Model (IGSM), which contains probabilistic projections of population growth, economic expansion, climate, and carbon emissions from human activity. They then linked the IGSM model to detailed models of water use for a large portion of Asia encompassing China, India, and many smaller nations. The scientists then ran an extensive series of repeated projections using varying conditions. In what they call the "Just Growth" scenario, they held climate conditions constant and evaluated the effects of economic and population growth on the water supply. In an alternate "Just Climate" scenario, scientists held growth constant and evaluated climate-change effects alone. And in a "Climate and Growth" scenario, they studied the impact of rising economic activity, growing populations, and climate change. Approaching it this way gave the researchers a "unique ability to tease out the human (economic) and environmental" factors leading to water shortages and to assess their relative significance .For China, it looks like industrial growth (has the greatest impact) as people get wealthier. In India, population growth has a huge effect. It varies by region," said lead author Charles Fant. The study was published in the journal PLOS One. 

German government's development bank, will provide a loan assistance of EUR 500 million (around Rs 3,750 crore) for the new sustainable metro system for the city of Nagpur city that is being executed by the Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Limited (NMRCL). An agreement to this effect was signed on Friday in New Delhi by the department of economic affairs and KfW. The loan period is 20 years with a moratorium of five years and disbursal will be based on the progress of the project over the next three years. The Nagpur Metro with a total cost of Rs 8,680 crore is the first metro to be financed under the Indo-German partnership for clean, socially inclusive and climate friendly mobility for people in cities. The Nagpur Metro was sanctioned by the government of India in August 2014. It will have two corridors the 19.70 km North-South section from Automotive Square to Khapri and the 18.60 km long line between Prajapati Nagar and Lokmanya Nagar. Physical work on the two lines commenced in May 2015 and the entire Metro would be operational by March 2019.

The US and Saudi Arabia on March 31,2016 imposed sanctions jointly on four individuals and two organisations, aiming to disrupt terrorism fundraising operations in South Asia and the Middle East, according to the US Treasury Department.The joint action targeted James Alexander McLintock and his Pakistan-based Al-Rahmah Welfare Organisation, Abdul Aziz Nuristani and his Pakistan-based Jamia Asariya Madrassa, Treasury said in a press release, adding that the other two people sanctioned are Naveed Qamar and Muhammad Ijaz Safarash, according to Xinhua.The Treasury said these organisations and individuals provide money for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and other Afghan extremist groups, and the sanctioned have ties across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.It also said that McLintock and his organisation have provided funding to extremists under the false guise of helping orphans.The sanctions freezes any property they have within US jurisdiction and bans Americans from doing business with them."From terrorising local populations to exploiting charities and religious institutions, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba have a long history of inflicting violence on Americans and our allies throughout South Asia and the Middle East," said Adam J. Szubin, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

In a bid further strengthen and promote business ties with Australia, FICCI has announced inking an MoU with Australia India Business Council (AIBC). The agreement was signed in the presence of the visiting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during the 'Invest in India Round Table Conference .According to National Chairman of AIBC Dipen Rughani: "The signing of the MoU is a great milestone in the bilateral relations between the two organisations and will certainly have a positive impact and add tremendous value to the business relations between the two countries .The agreement reinvigorates the ongoing relationship between the two organisations to further promote, facilitate and grow the trade and investment relationship between Australia and India. The MoU also solidifies the partnership for the upcoming "Engaging with India" conference being held on 16 and 17 May, for which AFR is also a partner, AIBC said.The pact is a move to further increase work in and with the Australian side, Ficci President Harshavardhan Neotia said. Acknowledging the huge potential that exists between the businesses of the two sides, Neotia announced of launch Ficci office in Australia to be represented by the CEO of Rio Tinto India, Nik Senapati. 

The International Theatre Institute (ITI) Centres and the international theatre community across the world celebrated the World Theatre Day (WTD) on 27 March 2016.The Russian Dramatist Anatoly Vasiliev was the World Theatre Day International Message Author 2016. Vasiliev is a noted Russian theatre director and one of the leading European contemporary stage directors.World Theatre Day was initiated in 1961 by the ITI. Various national and international theatre events are also organized to mark the occasion. One of the most important of these is the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message through which, at the invitation of ITI, a figure of world stature shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace. The first World Theatre Day International Message was written by Jean Cocteau (France) in 1962.At the 9th World Congress of the ITI in June 1961, President Arvi Kivimaa, on behalf of the Finnish Centre of the ATI, proposed that a World Theatre Day be instituted. The proposal, backed by the Scandinavian centres, was carried with acclamation.Krzysztof Warlikowski was the International Message Author of the World Theatre Day 2015.The International Theatre Institute was created by theatre and dance experts, with the assistance of UNESCO, in 1948. It has developed into the largest organization for the performing arts with over 100 Centres and Cooperating all over the world. ITI organizes the International Dance Day and World Theatre Day every year at the UNESCO, Paris.

The department of space has said it will sign an MoU with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to provide scientific parameters for construction of airports.Under the agreement, DoS will provide data on the landscape around the airports. The DoS will also sign an MoU with postal department to provide space technology helpful in tracking the parcel movements.The space technology will help make flight operations safer and provide optimum utilisation of land.In the aviation sector, the minister said, use of space technology is being roped in on pilot basis at Hyderabad and Port Blair airports. Based on experience of these pilot projects, the space technology will be utilised across 42 airports in future.The DoS has already signed an MoU with Ministry of Urban Development where the space technology will be used in projects like smart cities and housing.The MoU signed with Ministry of Railways will help in construction of railway tracks and managing the railway crossings. Space technology will also be helpful in agriculture sector in the areas of crop damage assessment, soil health, blue revolution and irrigation etc. He said space technology is also useful in disaster management.Isro informed the last satellite of the IRNSS series will be launched on April 28, 2016 which will complete the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, that will provide navigation facility in and around India.

The World Autism Awareness Day 2016 was celebrated across the world on 2 April 2016. The 2016 theme for the day is Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity.World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognised day, encouraging Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about children with autism throughout the world.It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 62/139. World Autism Awareness Day, passed in council on 1 November 2007 and adopted on 18 December 2007.This resolution was passed and adopted without a vote in the UN General Assembly, mainly as a supplement to previous UN initiatives to improve human rights.World Autism Day is also one of only four official health-specific UN Days.This year’s observance will look ahead to 2030 and reflect on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their implications for improving the lives of people with autism.2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Persons with Disabilities In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the ambitious new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 SDGs and 169 targets that promise to leave no one behind.While all SDGs are universally applicable, disability and persons with disabilities are explicitly referenced in the following goals:  4) Quality Education; 8) Decent Work and Economic Growth; 10) Reduced Inequalities; 11) Sustainable Cities and Communities; and 17) Partnerships for the Goals.Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life.It results from a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, mostly affecting children and adults in many countries irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status.Autism is characterized by impairments in social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted, repetitive behaviour, interests and activities.

Veteran journalist and writer Babu Bharadwaj died of cardiac arrest on 30 March 2016 in Kozhikode. He was 68.Bharadwaj had been a part of prominent print and television media in Kerala. Kalapangalkkoru Grihapadam, a novel penned by him, won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award in 2006.Bharadwaj's other famous works include Pravasiyude Kurippukal,Shavaghoshayathra (novelettes), Puppet Theatre (short story collection), Pravasiyude Vazhiyambalangal and Adrushya Nagarangal.The writer had also produced a Malayalam movie named Iniyum Marichittillatha Nammal in 1980. It was directed by Chintha Ravi.Bharadwaj was born at Chemmenchery in Kozhikode in 1948. He studied at Poyilkavu High School, Malabar Christian College, Thrissur Engineering College.

Ace Indian boxer Shiva Thapa has won the silver medal at the Asian/Oceania Qualifying Tournament held in Qian’an, China in the 56 Kilogram category final In the final match, he lost to Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee by 0-3 score who won the gold medal. By entering in the final match of this event, he had booked his ticket to 2015 Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games after beating Kazakhstan’s Kairat Yeraliyev in the semifinals. Shiva is a World Championship bronze-medallist in the Bantamweight category held in Doha in 2015. He also had participated in the 2012 London Olympics and was the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics.

Indian-origin law professor, Surya Deva was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as an Adviser on human rights and multinationals and businesses.Deva’s appointment to the position was approved on 24 March 2016 in Geneva by the UNHRC.After the appointment, Deva will serve as a member of the four-member Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.Surya Deva is an Associate Professor at the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong.His research interests lie in Business and Human Rights, Corporate Social Responsibility, India-China Constitutional Law and Sustainable Development.He recently wrote a background paper for India's National Framework on Business and Human Rights.

Sixth Economic Census of Himachal Pradesh was released on 27 March 2016 by Pradeep Chauhan, the Economic Advisor of Himachal Government.Despite the difficult geographical conditions, Himachal Pradesh became the first state in the country to complete this process of economic census.Growth rate in number of establishments has been recorded nearly 60 percent more in comparison to fifth census held in 2005.The unemployed youth of the state are adopting retail trade, construction, tourism and transport related activities for employment.The numbers of female workers have been increased almost three times during past seven years and more than 49 thousand units are being run by female, out of four lakh twelve thousand units.The handicraft and handloom units were included first time in the census and total 12172 such units were recorded.The census was conducted in all the 12 districts of the state. More than 12 thousand trained employees completed this economic census operation.

Zaheer Khan was on 28 March 2016 appointed as captain of the Delhi Daredevils team for 2016 Indian Premier League season.He would replace South African all-rounder JP Duminy who was captain in the last season.Zaheer Khan joined Delhi Daredevils franchise in 2015.He played seven of the team's 14 matches and took seven wickets at an average of 22.28 and an economy-rate of 6.45. He retired from international cricket in October 2015, having played 92 Tests with 311 wickets. He took 282 ODI wickets in 200 matches. He also played 17 Twenty20 Internationals for India.He also played for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians before joining Delhi Dare Devils in 2015.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by 25 Union Ministries of the Government of India under the IMPRINT (IMPacting Research INnovation and Technology) programme of the Union Government to promote research in premiere technical institutions on March 31, 2016. The MoU signed included the Union Ministry of HRD, Union Ministry of Finance, Union Ministry of Rural development, Union Ministry of Power, Coal, New and Renewable energy, Union ministry of communication and IT. The Union Human Resource and Development Minister presided over the function to sign the MoU. The Minister announced that there was no sustainability in the technology related work as it was totally dependent on the funds released by Ministry of HRD.As per the programme IMPRINT the research institutes will be able to take the technology developed and the research to the public through various ministries of the Union Government. All the Ministers assured their full cooperation and support in taking forward the research work under 10 technology domains as envisaged under IMPRINT to achieve overall development of the country .

India will establish the first Indian chair in the Arab world at Egypt’s prestigious Ain Shams University (ASU) .An MoU in this regard was signed on Wednesday between India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya on behalf of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and and Prof. Abdel Wahab Ezzat, Acting President of ASU.The MoU represents a historic moment in academic exchanges between the two civilizational partners as the ICCR Chair will be the first, not only in Egypt but, in the Arab world,” Mr. Bhattacharyya said after the signing event.Under the terms of agreement, ICCR, in consultation with ASU, will appoint an Indian academician to hold the Chair.The agreement also provides flexibility to appoint professors in other disciplines, as per the requirements of the university.“Establishment of the first ICCR Indian Chair in Egypt is an epochal step. It is a huge leap in building bridges between the youth. The Chair will enhance awareness about technological advancements in India, foster educational exchanges and promote enduring cultural bonds.Founded in 1950, ASU is the third largest Egyptian university.The prestigious university has 15 faculties in arts, sciences, management and technology, has two high institutes in Nursing and Medicine and hosts the Ain Shams Specialised Hospital.Recently, ASU also commenced the teaching of Hindi and use of Devanagari script in its Faculty of Languages.

The Reserve Bank of India said on March 29,2016,it would allow its Sri Lankan counterpart to draw up to $700 million over a maximum period of three months under a new special currency swap agreement signed by the two central banks. The Reserve Bank of India ( RBI) has previously provided currency swaps to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, including plans to extend a $1.5 billion agreement by one year. Sri Lanka is seeking a loan of $1.5 billion from the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) to boost foreign exchange reserves and help avert a balance of payments crisis.The country has seen its foreign exchange reserves depleted by the central bank's defence of its rupee currency, as it struggles with heavy debt piled up under the previous government. 

India is hopeful of receiving the first loan issued by the newly formed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the second half of the year, Reuters reported, citing Indian officials. The country is looking for funds on lower interest rates for its ambitious solar power project that intends to scale the capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2022.The loan amount is expected to be approximately $500 million. According to the report, interest on the loan would likely be around 2-2.5 percent, linked to LIBOR, for a term of 15 years. LIBOR is a floating benchmark based on the rate at which commercial banks lend each other. The AIIB, headquartered in Beijing, without specifically commenting on Indian loan, reiterated its president Jin Liqun statement that the lender bank was developing a project pipeline in a number of countries.Another official at the finance ministry, who liaisons with the AIIB, said more proposals could be submitted on other priority areas, but current talks were limited to clean energy projects, reported Reuters.India needs $100 billion for its ambitious solar power projects over next six to seven years. The country hopes to increase its solar power capacity 100 gigawatts, roughly 17 times higher than the existing 5,800 megawatts capacity.With an authorised capital of $100 billion, the AIIB is expected to start its operation in the second quarter of 2016 and lend up to $15 billion a year for the next half a decade.India is the second biggest shareholder in the investment bank after China.

The European Investment Bank will give 450 million euros ($512 million) in loan to India to finance the construction of Lucknow's first 23 km-long metro rail line and purchase a fleet of new trains. An agreement on the first tranche of the credit was signed in Brussels on March 31,2016 during the 13th EU-India summit attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The loan represented the largest project financing by European Union's official bank, also the world's largest international public bank, in India since its engagement in the country began more than 20 years ago and the most significant investment in sustainable public transport outside Europe, Luxembourgbased European Investment Bank (EIB). The 450 million euro ($512 million) long-term loan - expected to cover half of the total project cost for the Lucknow Metro - will be used to finance the first metro line in Lucknow, including both construction of the 23 km-long new metro line and a fleet of metro trains. The line is the first part of a broader metro network planned for Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. When it becomes operational, the new metro is expected to increase the use of public transport from 10 per cent to an estimated 27 per cent in the city of three million people, the bank said in a statement. EIB president Werner Hoyer said the bank would expand its support for long-term investments in India and unveiled plans to open a regional representation for South Asia in New Delhi by the end of this year. The bank recognises that the time is right to increase its engagement in India .The first metro line in Lucknow is a flagship project not only for Uttar Pradesh and India, but also for the bank's strengthened global commitment to support transformational investment .The loan agreement was signed by India's Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU Manjeev Singh Puri and EIB Vice President for Asia Jonathan Taylor in the presence of Modi, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk. The EIB had committed loans totalling more than 1.34 billion euros for longterm investment in India since the cooperation began in 1993. 

The Centre has launched two digital initiatives, including an e-health card, aimed at benefiting pensioners who find it difficult to visit Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) centres for its renewal.Union Health Minister J P Nadda while launching the initiatives said, these are steps towards the Digital India vision and his ministry is committed to strengthening public health systems and provide user-friendly health services in the country.The other digital initiative is the GIS-enabled Health Management Information System (HMIS) application.The initiative will not only monitor the performance and quality of the health services being provided under the NHM (National Health Mission) but will also provide effective healthcare to the rural population throughout the country," Nadda said.Nadda said the self-printing e-CGHS card facility will provide "ease and access" to all those beneficiaries such as pensioners who may find it difficult to go to CGHS centres for renewal in case they lose or misplace the card.The GIS-enabled HMIS services will provide comprehensive data on a GIS (geographic information system) platform on 1.6 lakh government health facilities spread across the country.A Health Ministry statement said the HMIS application also has scope of incorporating map layers of roads and water bodies which will provide comprehensive information regarding health facilities and disease vulnerable areas of the country.At present, the application is available in login domain of HMIS portal. It is planned to put it in public domain in the near future.The mapping provides data only on public health facilities presently, which shall soon be expanded to cover private facilities as well," Nadda said.Health Management Information System (HMIS) is a web-based monitoring system that has been put in place by the Union Health Ministry to monitor its health programmes and provide key inputs for policy formulation and interventions.It was launched in October 2008 with uploading of district consolidated figures. To make HMIS more robust and effective and facilitate local-level monitoring, "facility-based reporting" has been initiated since April 2011.At present, 1.94 lakh health facilities (across all states/UTs) are uploading facility-wise data on monthly basis on the HMIS web portal.A Health Ministry statement said the HMIS application also has scope of incorporating map layers of roads and water bodies which will provide comprehensive information regarding health facilities and disease vulnerable areas of the country.

PEN America on 31 March 2016 announced that it will confer the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award upon imprisoned Egyptian novelist and journalist Ahmed Naji.The award will be presented to Naji at Pen America's annual Literary Gala on 16 May 2016 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.PEN America’s 16 May 2016 Literary Gala will also salute Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling with the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award for engendering a love of literature among children worldwide.Naji is the author of three books and a journalist at the state-fundedAkhbar al-Adab literary magazine.He has been a vocal critic of official corruption under the rule of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.In 2015, he was charged with violating public modesty after a private citizen complained that an excerpt from Naji’s novel The Use of Lifepublished in the state-run literary journal Akhbar al-Adab had given the reader heart palpitations due to its sexual content.State prosecutors then brought a case against Naji despite the Egyptian censorship board’s previous approval of the literary text. When a trial court found him not guilty, prosecutors appealed to a higher court that in February 2016 delivered a guilty verdict and imposed the maximum sentence of two years in prison.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change on 28 March 2016 notified the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016.The new set of Rules will replace the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998.Biomedical waste was defined as human and animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus like needles, syringes and other materials used in health care facilities in the process of treatment and research.This waste is generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunisation in hospitals, nursing homes, pathological laboratories, blood bank, etc.The objective of the new set of rules is to properly manage the 484 tons per day bio-medical waste from 168869 healthcare facilities (HCFs) across the country.The ambit of the rules has been expanded to include vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity.Use of chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags will be phased out within two years.Pre-treatment of the laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples and blood bags through disinfection or sterilisation on-site in the manner as prescribed by World Health Organization (WHO) or The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).All health care workers will be provided training and immunization regularly.A Bar-Code System for bags or containers containing bio-medical waste for disposal will be established.Existing incinerators to achieve the standards for retention time in secondary chamber and Dioxin and Furans within two yearsBio-medical waste has been classified in to 4 categories instead of the existing 10 categories to improve the segregation of waste at source.Procedure to get authorisation simplified. Automatic authorisation for bedded hospitals will be allowed.  The validity of authorization synchronised with validity of consent orders for bedded healthcare facilities.The new rules prescribe more stringent standards for incinerator to reduce the emission of pollutants in environment. Emissions limits for Dioxin and furans were prescribed.State Government will provide land for setting up common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility.No occupier shall establish on-site treatment and disposal facility, if a service of `common bio-medical waste treatment facility is available at a distance of seventy-five kilometer.Operator of a common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility has to ensure the timely collection of bio-medical waste from the HCFs and assist the HCFs in conduct of training.These rules were in addition to the other waste management rulesthat were notified in March 2016. They are as follows –Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016,E-Waste Management Rules, 2016,Construction & Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016