Today Current Affairs 2nd March 2017

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Former Chief Secretary of Maharashtra Swadheen Kshatriya was on 1 March 2017 sworn-in as the Chief Commissioner of Right to Services (RTS) of Maharashtra. Kshatriya’s tenure will be of five years.Prior to this appointment, Kshatriya retired as Chief Secretary of Maharashtra. Senior IAS officer Sumit Mullick took over as the new Chief Secretary of Maharashtra in his place. His oath of office was administered by Lokayukta Justice (retd) M L Tahiliani at Sahyadri state guest house in Mumbai. State Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad, former CIC Suresh Joshi and some of the state’s top bureaucrats were present on the occasion.  RTS, formed through a Maharashtra state legislation, is entrusted with the task of overseeing delivery of various government services to the people.  Swadheen Kshatriya During his tenure as Chief Secretary of Maharashtra of two years and seven months, Maharashtra witnessed the Assembly elections which led to a change in the government after 15 years. He had served as the Principal Secretary in Chief Minister's office during late Vilasrao Deshmukh's tenure.  He had also served as the Commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Principal Secretary of Maharashtra Revenue department.  Kshatriya is a 1980 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer

The Indian Navy on 2 March 2017 successfully conducted the maiden firing of an anti-ship missile from an INS Kalvari class submarine. The test firing was conducted in the Arabian Sea and the missile successfully hit a surface target at extended ranges during the trial firing. Features of INS Kalvari : INS Kalvari is a class of diesel-electric attack submarine. These submarines are based on the Scorpene-class submarine being built for the Indian Navy. While INS Kalvari is designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS, they are being manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai. All six Kalvari class submarines being built in India will be equipped with anti-ship missiles. These missiles will provide the submarines the ability to neutralise surface threats at extended ranges and boost India’s maritime security.The following are some of the recent measures undertaken by the Indian Navy and the Government to boost coastal security. On 21 February 2017, the Ministry of Defence gave its in-principle approval to set up 38 radar stations to boost surveillance of the country’s 7,517 km long coastline. On 3 February 2017, the Vice Admiral and Western Naval Command Chief Girish Luthra inaugurated an Integrated Under Water Harbour Defence and Surveillance System (IUHDSS) for the Indian Navy in Mumbai. Indian Coast Guard Ship ICGS AYUSH was commissioned on 18 February 2017 in Kochi, Kerala.  The fast patrol vessel (FPV) is fitted with state-of- the-art navigational and communication equipment including Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Machinery Control System (MCS).The Indian Navy’s second ocean going sailboat Tarini was inducted on 18 February 2017. INSV Tarini is a sloop built by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd at Divar, Goa.

Jayant Malaiyya, the finance minister of Madhya Pradesh, on 1 March 2017 presented the annual state budget of the financial year 2017-18 in the legislative assembly. The size of the budget 2017-18 is Rs 185564.27 crore, with a revenue surplus of Rs 4596.40 crore.  While presenting the budget, Malaiyya announced that the recommendations of Seventh Pay Commission will be implemented from 1 January 2016. The hiked salaries will be paid from July 2017; however, arrears of 18 months will be paid in instalments. As per a report, the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission will benefit about eight lakh government employees including four lakh regular employees. Fiscal Indicators • Fiscal Deficit: Estimated at 3.49 per cent of GSDP. • Revenue Surplus: Estimated at 0.63 per cent of GSDP. • Interest payments: Estimated at 8.30 per cent of Revenue Receipts. Highlights of allocations in the 2017-18 Madhya Pradesh Budget Agriculture: Allocations in the agriculture section were made under different heads and they are • Rs 33564 crore was allocated for the year 2017-18 for 'Krishi' Budget. • Rs 2000 crore was allocated for "Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme" • Rs 400 crore was allocated for Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. • Rs 305 crore was allocated for National Food Security Mission. • Rs 40 crore was allocated for agricultural mechanisation • Rs 46 crore was allocated subsidy for Tractor and agricultural equipment. • Rs 14 crore was allocated grant for the establishment of Custom Hiring Centre. Horticulture • Rs 140 crore was allocated for micro-irrigation. • Rs 92 crore was allocated for Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna. • Rs 62 crore was allocated for National Horticulture Mission. • Rs 50 crore was allocated for Crop Insurance Scheme. • Rs 50 crore was allocated to enhance the storage capacity for onion. Veterinary and Fisheries • Rs 91 crore was allocated for fisheries. • Rs 1001 crore was allocated for various departmental schemes. Forestry • Rs 2704 crore was allocated for various schemes of Forest Department. • Rs 102 crore was allocated for plantation of fruit and non-fruit trees on Narmada river bank. Rural Development • Rs 3500 crore was allocated for Housing for All scheme in rural areas under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana. • Rs 2642 crore was allocated under the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission. • Rs 2000 crore was allocated under Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. • Rs 1750 crore was allocated for the disposal/management of liquid and solid waste in 3000 Gram Panchayats under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. • Rs 1127 crore was allocated for providing basic amenities to Panchayats. • Rs 633 crore was allocated for National Rural Livelihood Mission. Urban Development • Rs 1000 crore was allocated for 'Housing for All' scheme in urban areas. • Rs 700 crore was allocated for 'AMRUT Yojana' • Rs 700 crore was allocated under SMART City Scheme. It proposes to include Sagar and Satna City in the second phase. • Rs 600 crore was allocated for Swacch Bharat Abhiyan'. • Rs 190 crore was allocated for 'Mukhyamantri Shahari Peyajal Yojna'. • Rs 170 crore was allocated for UIDSSMT • Rs 105 crore was allocated under National Urban Livelihood Mission. • Rs 10 crore was allocated for developing infrastructure under 'Deendayal Rasoi Yojana'. Women and Child Development • Rs 972 crore was allocated under 'Ladli Laxmi Yojana'. • Rs 90 crore was allocated for construction of Anganwadi buildings. • Establishment of 6 new rehabilitation centres. • The increase in the number of beds in 24 rehabilitation centres. Roads and Bridges • Rs 5966 crore was allocated for Roads and Bridges. • Rs 2850 crore was allocated for PMGSY in the year 2017-18. • Rs 1418 crore was allocated for maintenance of roads. • Rs 400 crore was allocated for 'Mukhyamantri Gram Sadak evam Adhosanrachana Yojana'. • Rs 186 crore was allocated for State Rural Road connectivity scheme. Irrigation facilities • Rs 9850 crore was allocated under the capital head for irrigation schemes. • Development of irrigation capacity of 33 lac hectares of agricultural land during the 12th Five Year period in irrigation schemes. Drinking Water • Program to facilitate water supply through pipelines in habitations with population of more than 1000. • Rs 552 crore was allocated for 'Samooh Nal Jal Yojna'. • Rs 900 crore was allocated for State rural drinking water program. • 90 per cent increase in the budget of PHE department for the year 2017-18 as compared to 2016-17(RE). School Education • Recruitment of 36000 teachers. • Provision for scholarship/Stipend - Rs 703 crore for ST students Rs 740 crore for SC students and Rs 850 crore for OBC students was made. • Rs 214 crore and Rs 189 crore were allocated in School Education and Tribal Department respectively for construction of buildings. • Rs 101 crore was allocated for hostel, Ashrams and Buildings for SC Students. • Rs 92 crore was allocated for the purchase of NCERT books. • Rs 90 crore was allocated for construction of 30 new hostels. • Rs 52 crore was allocated for the hostel in district level Excellence Schools. • Rs 50 crore was allocated for the strengthening of ashram and hostels of Scheduled Tribes. • Rs 48 crore was allocated for establishment, management and security of girls' hostels • Rs 45 crores was allocated for maintenance of school buildings • Rs 35 crores was allocated for electricity connections in schools • Rs 30 crore was allocated for furniture in schools • Rs 27 crore was allocated for laboratory equipment • Upgradation of 520 High Schools and 240 Higher Secondary Schools • Establishment of 2 New residential 'Gurukulam' in Tribal Areas. • To encourage girls’ education, bicycles will be provided to girl students who take admission in class 11. • Construction of Girls Hostels.  Higher Education • Rs 215 crore was allocated for Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan. • Rs 200 crore was allocated for construction of college buildings and hostels under World Bank Project. Technical Education • Rs 100 crore was allocated for development of 10 Excellence ITIs. • Rs 100 crore was allocated for 2.5 lakh youngsters and 2 lakh women to train them under 'Mukhyamantri Kaushal Samwardhan and Kaushlya Scheme. • Provision of Rs 1000 crore was made for creation of fund for meritorious students under 'Mukhyamantri Medhavi Vidyarthi Yojana'. • Reimbursement of tuition fees as a grant to students who score more than 85per cent in 12th and join prestigious National level institutions. Backward Classes Welfare • Rs 823 crore was allocated for the scholarship to backward blasses students. • Rs 50 crore was allocated for Vimukt, Ghumakkad evam ardh-ghumakkad. • Rs 30 crore was allocated for modernisation of Madarsas. • Provision of Rs 19 crore was made for the construction of hostels for Backward Classes students. • Rs 20 crore was allocated for self-employment training to backward classes category. Minorities Welfare • Rs 4.5 crore was allocated under other grants. • Rs 4 crore was allocated for training. • Rs 48 crore was allocated under various schemes. Medical Education and Public Health • Rs 590 crore was allocated for construction of 7 new Medical College buildings. • Infrastructure development in Medical Colleges already existing. • Increasing the capacity of district hospital Indore, Morena and Sheopur. • MRI and CT scan facility in all District Hospitals. • Upgradation of Primary Health Center Devsar, Satwar and Hastinapur into Community Health  Center • Providing "Vyavsayik Dakshatavarodh' compensation allowance @ 20 per cent to doctors posted in PHC of rural areas and @25 per cent to doctors in notified rural areas. • Compensation allowance @ 25 per cent to Specialist Doctors posted in notified areas and 20 per cent to doctors posted in Community Health Centres. • Proposal to make available the Infrastructure facilities for surgery in Government Hospital to Private Doctors. Energy

Malaysia has decided to cancel the visa-free travel permit to the North Koreans, following the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Kuala Lumpur airport. The announcement was made by the country’s deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid. The visa-free entry for North Koreans will be cancelled from 6 March 2017.  Highlights : Zahid announced that after 6 March, North Koreans would be required to obtain a visa before entering Malaysia due to national security reasons. Kim Jong Nam was murdered at the Kuala Lumpur airport with a toxic nerve agent.  Two women, one from Vietnam and other from Indonesia were charged with his murder. The incident led to the souring of diplomatic ties between the two nations. Not only did North Korea deny the allegations set on it by the US and South Korea for the murder of Kim, but it also attempted to convince Malaysia to not perform an autopsy on Kim’s body and to release the North Korean suspect detained in connection with the murder.  A high-level delegation arrived in Kuala Lumpur from North Korea to discuss the same with the Malaysian cabinet on 28 February 2017. Malaysia has however insisted on following its own laws and refused to release the body to the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, opting to wait for a family member to come forward. The country is also investigating the involvement of seven others in the case including a senior official from the North Korean embassy. Prior to this, both the countries shared a friendly relation. Their cordial ties go way back to 1970s when former Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, embraced the isolated state to snub the United States of America. In fact, Malaysia is one of the few countries that offered North Koreans visa-free travel and in reciprocation North Korea too allowed Malaysians to enter their super secretive region without a visa, making them the only foreigners to be able to do so in the world.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on 1 March 2017 appointed Portugal’s Luis Norton de Matos as the Head Coach of the India U-17 team for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The World Cup is scheduled to be held in October 2017. De Matos replaces Nicolai Adam, who was resigned under controversial circumstances after a revolt from the players. Luis Norton de Matos : Born on 14 December 1953, Luis Norton de Matos is a former Portuguese footballer. He played as a forward.  He amassed Primeira Liga totals of 210 games and 36 goals over the course of nine seasons.  In 1989, he became a manager and worked with several clubs. 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup : The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be the 17th edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The FIFA U-17 World Cup is the biennial international men's youth football championship contested by the U17 national teams of the member associations of FIFA. The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be hosted by India between 6 and 28 October 2017. It will be the first FIFA tournament hosted by India.

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudanese President appointed Vice President Hassan Saleh as the new Prime Minister of Sudan on 1 March 2017. Saleh’s nomination was approved by President Bashir himself at a party leadership meeting chaired by him. This appointment makes Saleh Sudan’s first Prime Minister ever since Bashir took over in 1989 following an Islamist and military-backed coup. Highlights : Saleh was sworn in on 2 March 2017. He is now faced with the task of forming his new cabinet. He will continue to hold his position of the country’s Vice President. The position of Prime Minister was created, following an amendment in Sudan’s constitution in December 2016 on the demand of the opposition parties. The opposition parties of Sudan during a national dialogue with the government demanded for the creation of the new post with the aim of distributing some of the President’s powers. Though Bashir agreed to the proposal and introduced the new post, he reserved most executive authority for himself. Hassan Saleh : Saleh is a retired army general. He took part in the June 1989 military coup that brought Bashir to power. In fact, he is the last member from the group of officers in the coup to remain on Bashir’s side. He has previously held several prominent positions in the Sudanese security agencies including that of the Director of the National Security Service, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Presidential Affairs and the Minister of Defense. He was appointed as the Deputy Secretary-General of the Islamic Movement in 2012 and as the First Vice President of Sudan in December 2013. He is now being seen as a possible successor to Omar al-Bashir, especially if the president sticks to his promise of not contesting in the 2020 elections.

Telecom Secretary J S Deepak on 1 March 2017 was named India's next Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The appointment will be effective from 1 June 2017. The World Trade Organization is a global international organisation dealing with the rules of trade between nations. As per the order of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet, Deepak is appointed as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Department of Commerce. He will be functioning as OSD till 31 May 2017. The order also named Deepak as India's Ambassador/Permanent Representative of India to the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation from 1 June 2017 till the date of his superannuation, which is 31 July 2018.  J S Deepak : J S Deepak is a 1982 batch IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh. During his stint in the Union Commerce Ministry, he served as India's chief negotiator at the WTO and for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.  He is credited with successfully conducting the first ever e-auction of spectrum in 2010.  He holds an MBA degree from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad. Previously, he also worked as consultant with The Policy Project, Washington DC, a consortium of US-based Research Triangle Institute and Johns Hopkins University.

Ajay Tyagi on 1 March 2017 took charge as the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Tyagi succeeds UK Sinha, who served for six years, the second-longest term by any SEBI Chairman. Sinha is a 1976 batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre. In this new role, he will be responsible for developing the country's commodity and corporate bond markets and shoring up corporate governance. He will be required to balance multiple constituencies such as traders, fund managers and the Reserve Bank of India. Ajay Tyagi : Tyagi was already involved with SEBI as he has been serving as Additional Secretary at the Finance Ministry's Economic Affairs Department since 2014, the unit that oversees SEBI. This was his only experience in capital markets. He was instrumental in merging the then standalone regulator Forward Market Commission (FMC) with the Securities Exchange Board of India that came into effect in late 2015, making it a composite regulator for the entire capital market space. Under his stewardship, SEBI has been fighting a prolonged battle with the Sahara Group over illegal money pooling activities. Tyagi is a 1984 batch IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre.  

Zero Discrimination Day was observed across the world on 1 March 2017. The day was observed with the theme Make Some Noise for Zero Discrimination. Zero Discrimination Day calls for fair and just societies and urges people to value, embrace diversity and recognize the diverse set of talents and skills that each person brings. The day urges people to join together against discrimination and celebrate everyone’s right to live a full and productive life with dignity. For the year 2017, UNAIDS calls for zero discrimination in health-care settings. The right to health is a fundamental human right that includes access to timely, affordable and quality health-care services for all.  Zero Discrimination Day : The UN first celebrated Zero Discrimination Day on 1 March 2014. It was observed after UNAIDS launched its Zero Discrimination Campaign on World AIDS Day in December 2013. The UNAIDS is a UN program on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Organizations like the United Nations actively promote the day with various activities to celebrate everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity regardless of age, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, skin colour, height, weight, profession, education, and beliefs.

Senior diplomat Ruchi Ghanashyam was on 28 February 2017 appointed as the Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). She succeeds Sujata Mehta, who recently took over as a Member in Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).Her appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC). As the Secretary (West), Ghanashyam will be responsible for looking after the country's diplomatic affairs with the United Kingdom and other European nations.  Ruchi Ghanashyam :  Presently, she is serving as the High Commissioner of India to South Africa.  Prior to this, she worked as the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs where she was heading the Europe West Division.  She served as the High Commissioner of India in Ghana with concurrent accreditation to Burkina Faso, Togo and Sierra Leone from March 2008 to October 2011.  She served as the Minister in the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York from May 2004 to March 2008.  She served as the Director for Pakistan at headquarters in Delhi from August 2000 to March 2004. She joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1982 after obtaining a Masters in Psychology from the Bhopal University.

Pistol shooter Jitu Rai on 1 March 2017 clinched the top position in the 50m men’s air pistol event. With this, India won their first gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. It was Rai’s second medal in two days after he won the bronze medal in the 10m pistol event on 28 February 2017. The silver medal in the 50m men’s air pistol event went to India as Amanpreet Singh took the second position after shooting a total of 226.9. It was Singh’s first World Cup final appearance. The bronze medal went to Vahid Golkhandan of Iran who shot a total score of 208 points. It was his first World Cup medal in international competition. Jitu Rai :  Born on 26 August 1987, Jitu Rai is an Indian shooter of Indian Gorkha ethnic group. He competes in the 10 metre air pistol and 50 metre pistol events. At the ISSF World Cup in Munich in 2014, he won the silver medal in the 10 metre air pistol event. He is the first person to have won two medals at a single world cup for India. In July 2014, he was ranked number 1 in the world in 10 metre air pistol, and number 4 in 50 metre pistol. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, he created the Games record in the qualification round of the 50 metre pistol event, having scored 562 points. He went on to win the gold medal in the event, scoring 194.1 points in the final, thus creating another Games record. In 2016, he was honoured with the Khel Ratna Award.

Odisha Government and Invest India on 1 March 2017 signed an agreement to promote start-ups and MSME sector of the state. The agreement was signed with an aim to help the start-ups and MSME sector to gain access to best practices of the world.As per reports, Odisha became the first state to sign MoU with Invest India for working on startups. Invest India is a National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of the Union ministry of commerce and industries. On behalf of the Odisha government, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) secretary LN Gupta and managing director of Invest India Deepak Bagla signed the deal to take forward the Odisha Startup and MSME initiatives. Speaking on the occasion, Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Odisha, said Startup Odisha Initiative and Startup India Hub run by the Invest India will help in achieving the Mission-1000 startups by the year 2020. The mission will help the youth in realising their dreams. On this occasion of the signing of the agreement, a toll-free start-up helpline, 1800-345-7100, was also launched. Notably, Prime Minister’s initiative Start-up India has the objective of making India a country of job creators. The vision is to make India the No. 1 start-up nation in the world.

Restricted for release by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Indian movie, Lipstick Under My Burkha was awarded the third annual Audience Award at the Glasgow Film Festival 2017 on March 1, 2017. Indian filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava directed Lipstick Under My Burkha was denied arelease certificate by the censor board on February 23, 2017 for its too bold references and use of abusive words among other reasons. The award was presented by Scottish actor David Tennant to Shrivastava. The movie was voted for by the festival’s audience. The Prakash Jha production starring Konkona Sen Sharma and Ratna Pathak Shah, revolves around the secret lives of four women of different ages in a small town in India as they search for different kinds of freedom. 

According to data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry on February 28, 2017, the growth of eight core sectors slowed down to a five-month low of 3.4% in January 2017 due to contraction in output of refinery products, fertiliser and cement. The eight core sectors which contribute 38% to the total industrial production includes coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity. As per the ministry, the growth rate of the core sector was 5.7% in January 2016. Besides, it expanded to 4.8 percent in April-January of 2016-17, compared to 2.9% growth in the same period of 2015-16. The Refinery Product faced a contraction of 1.5%, Fertilizer of 1.6% and Cement  of 13.3% in January 2017. Similarly, Coal and Electricity both expanded at 4.8% in January 2017 against 7.9% and 11.6% expansion respectively in January 2016. Crude Oil output grew by 1.3% in January 2017, against 4.7% contraction in January 2016. Natural Gas and Steel Output rose by 11.9% and 11.4% respectively.

 Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution on February 28, 2017 to impose sanctions on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons during the six-year war. The UN Security Council resolution drafted by Britain, France and the United States won nine votes in favor while three countries comprising China, Russia and Bolivia opposed it. Kazakhstan, Ethiopia and Egypt did not vote. The resolution required nine votes in favour and no vetoes by any of the five permanent members in order to be adopted. iv. This was the Russia’s seventh veto to protect the Syrian government from UN Security Council action. Russian president Vladimir Putin described the draft resolution as totally inappropriate which would ultimately harm UN-led peace talks between the warring Syrian parties. UNSC stated that Syrian air force helicopters had dropped chlorine gas on rebel-held areas, twice in March 2015 and once in April 2014. The use of chlorine as a weapon is prohibited under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar launched the week long Swachh Shakti Saptah at national level on March 1, 2017 in Gurugram, Haryana to highlight the role of women in Swachh Bharat Mission and to recognize their leadership. The week-long programme would be held from March 1-March 8, 2017. Over 1,000 women sarpanches of Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and all womensarpanches of Gurugram division participated in the event. iv. The inauguration was marked by launch of a sanitation related exhibition and a series of folk cultural presentation relating to women and Swachhta. Besides, an exhibition was also organised at the venue to educate women participants about benefits of cashless transactions. An Aadhaar Enrolment machine was placed in one of the stalls for women who were still not enrolled. The programmme would have nationwide events including honouring women champions, women sarpanches, ASHA workers, school teachers, young students and senior citizens. PM Narendra Modi will take part in closing ceremony of the week long programme on 8th of March at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.  

The fourth edition of India – CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam) Business Conclave was held in Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan. The two-day conference organised by Department of Commerce and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) held deliberations on manufacturing, renewable energy, agriculture and skilling among others sectors in the region. The conference was aimed at identifying specific project opportunities and seeks business partnerships in the region. It consisted of business to business meetings and sectorial sessions. The conclave focused on sectors such as Pharma, Healthcare, manufacturing, Agri Business, Food processing, Gems and Jewellery, Textiles, Leather, Renewable Energy and education. The CLMV conclave is an annual event which provides an opportunity for Indian business leaders to interact with government and business stakeholders representing these four Southeast Asian countries. It facilitates to create and provide a platform for the decision makers from CLMV countries to interact with a range of Indian business companies involved in manufacturing, processing, trading, engineering, consultancy, construction etc. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam collectively are the third largest economy in ASEAN, followed by Indonesia and Thailand.  Due to close proximity, India is looking to boost trade and investment with the CLMV countries and South east region as part of the ‘Act East’ policy announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 12th India – ASEAN Summit in 2014 held in Myannmar. In the last 10 years, India’s trade with the CLMV countries has grown from $1.5 billion to more than $10 billion.

The Union Government has shifted the responsibility of promoting digital transactions in the country to the Union Ministry of IT and Electronics (MEITY) from NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog. In this regard, Government already has changed the business transaction rules to enable MEITY to promote digital transactions, including digital payments. This decision was taken in view of the core competence of MEITY to promote digital means for various transactions. NITI Aayog which is a think-tank is more focused on monitoring and suggesting ways to improve various government schemes rather than getting involved with implementation. MEITY is responsible for promotion of e-governance schemes for empowering citizens as well as promoting inclusive and also sustainable growth of electronics and IT sector and IT-enabled services industries. Earlier, the Central Government had set up a committee under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant to push adoption of e-transactions amid the cash crunch faced by citizens due demonetisation. NITI Aayog also implemented two programmes Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana to promote e-payments. Transfer of the business to Ministry will help Government to effectively promote digital transactions to achieve its target of reducing cash to GDP ratio to around 8%, which is at present hovering over 13% in the country.

Three institutes of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun have developed 20 high-yielding varieties of plant species. These three institutes are Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun Tropical Forest Research Institute (TFRI), Jabalpur and Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB), Coimbatore. ICFRE’s Variety Releasing Committee (VRC) has granted approval for the release of these varieties of plant species. These developed varieties had gone through stringent long field trials and testing before release. FRI, Dehradun: It has developed 10 improved varieties of Melia dubia (popularly known as Dreake or Malabar Neem) and 3 clones of Eucalyptus tereticornis, the timber of which is in high demand in the industry. The HYV cultivars of Melia have high productivity per unit area, with an average of 34.57 cubic metre per hectare per annum (cm/h/a). It is a desirable characteristic for plywood industry. The HYV varieties of Eucalyptus have average recorded productivity as 19.44 (cm/h/a), against the present productivity 5-7 (cm/h/a). They are also resistant to wall gasp and pink disease. IFGTB, Coimbatore: It has developed five inter-specific hybrids of Casuarina equisetifolia X Casuarina junghuhniana for timber use. TFRI, Jabalpur: It has developed two varieties of medicinal plant Rauvolfia serpentina. Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)  : Dehradun based ICFRE was established as an autonomous organisation under Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). It carries out the holistic research on forestry species, transfer technologies developed to the states and other user agencies and imparts forestry education. There are 9 research institutes and 4 advanced centres under ICFRE to cater to the research needs of different bio-geographical regions. They actively engaged in improvement of plantation tree species to improve, quality, yield and productivity to meet the demand for domestic consumption by industries.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecasted above normal temperature in most parts of the country during 2017 summer season. The predictions were given by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune. The maximum temperatures in March to May 2017 are likely to be warmer by more than 1°C in north, northwest and parts of central India. In other parts, maximum temperature will be between 0.5 to 1°C more than the normal. Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Telangana will see warmer temperatures along with hill states J&K and Himachal Pradesh.  The warmer summer forecast is in line with a generally warmer trend over previous months as the year 2016 was the warmest year in a century. The forecast shows a 47% probability of summer temperatures being above normal.  It also mentions that there will increase in the frequency and duration of heat waves across the country. Minimum temperature in the season will also be higher by over a degree celcius in northern plains along with northwest India. Peninsular, northeastern and west central parts of the country will also experience minimum temperatures higher by 0.5°C to 1°C than normal.  The rise in temperature can be attributed to increasing trends in the greenhouse gases and the warming of the sea surface temperatures over the equatorial Indian and Pacific Oceans.  El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to be in a neutral condition during summer months, thus unlikely to influence the temperatures in India.

The BCCI Awards are a set of annual cricket awards given by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). These awards in various categories recognise and honour the best Indian international and domestic cricketers of the past year. The awards were first given in 2006–07. CK. Nayudu Lifetime achievement award: Padmakar Shivalkar, Rajinder Goel.  BCCI Lifetime achievement award: Shantha Rangaswamy.  BCCI special award: Late Ramakant Desai, VV Kumar.  Polly Umrigar Award: Virat Kohli. For third time, he was conferred with this award after 2011-12 and 2014-15 season.  Lala Amarnath Award for the best all-rounder in the Ranji Trophy: Jalaj Saxena (Madhya Pradesh).  Lala Amarnath Award for the best all-rounder in domestic limited-overs competitions: Axar Patel of (Gujarat).  Madavrao Scindin Award Highest scorer in the Ranji Trophy: Shreyas Iyer (Mumbai).  Madavrao Scindin Award Highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy: Shahbaz Nadeem (Jharkhand). A. Chidambaram Trophy Highest scorer in (U-23): Jay. G. Bosta (Mumbai). A. Chidambaram Trophy Highest wicket-taker in (U-23): Satyajeet Bachhav (Maharashtra).  NKP Salve Award Highest scorer in (U-19): Arman Jaffer (Mumbai).  NKP Salve Award Highest wicket-taker in (U-19): Ninad Rathva (Baroda).  Raj Singh Dungarpur Award Highest scorer in (U-16): Abhishek Sharma (Punjab).  Raj Singh Dungarpur Award Highest wicket-taker in (U-16): Abhishek Sharma (Punjab).  Jagmohan Dalmiyra Award (Best Woman cricketer (Sr.): Mithali Raj (Railways).  Jagmohan Dalmiyra Award (Best Woman cricketer (Jr.): Deepti Sharma (Uttar Pradesh).  Best Umpire in Domestic cricket: Nitin Menon.  Best performance in BCCI Domestic tournaments: Mumbai Cricket Association.

Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala has topped in city governance ranking of the Annual Survey of India’s City Systems (ASICS) 2016 conducted by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy. This year it was the fourth edition the annual survey which had evaluated 21 major cities from the 18 states. It highlighted inadequacies in urban governance that could affect public service delivery and quality of life. The ASICS is designed to help city leaders pin point issues in urban governance in their cities and help them chalk out a reform roadmap to make them more livable. It ranks citites in the scale of 0 to 10 scale. The better scores of city in the survey, indicates it will be able to deliver better quality of life to citizens over the medium and long-term. The major parameters of the survey included urban capacities and resources, urban planning and design, empowered and legitimate political representation, and transparency, accountability and participation. Highlights : Thiruvananthapuram topped in 2016 Survey. Pune is ranked second, up two ranks from 2015. Kolkata retained its third slot. National capital Delhi slipped to ninth rank from seventh. Bhubaneswar was the biggest gainer in the 2016 survey as it jumped eight places from 2015 to the 10th spot. Bengaluru dropped four places to 16th rank. Ludhiana, Jaipur and Chandigarh retain their previous last three positions of 19th, 20th and 21st respectively. Cities in India continue to score poorly across their city-systems framework with their average scores of between 2.1 and 4.4 on 10 scale. London and New York score 9.3 and 9.8 on the same parameters. Changes in planning laws are needed to address the issues challenging the efficient planning of the cities to deliver a high quality of life to citizens.  

Government appointed ‘Working Group on Migration’ headed by Partha Mukhopadhay has recommended necessary legal and policy framework to protect the interests of the migrants in the country. The panel in its report stated that the migrant population makes substantial contribution to economic growth and so it is necessary to secure their Constitutional rights. The 18-member Working Group was constituted by Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) in 2015.  Protocols of the Registrar General of India (RGI) should be amended to enable caste based enumeration of migrants so that they can avail the attendant benefits in the States to which migration takes place. Migrants should be enabled to avail Public Distribution System (PDS) benefits in the destination state by providing for inter-State operability of PDS.  States should be encouraged to proactively eliminate the requirement of domicile status to prevent any discrimination in work and employment. Domicile status goes against constitutional fundamental right of Freedom of Movement and residence in any part of the territory of the country. States should include migrant children in the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan’s (SSA) Annual Work Plans to uphold their Right to Education.  Vast network of post offices should be made effective by reducing the cost of transfer of money to avoid informal remittences transfers by migrants. Migrants should be enabled to open bank accounts and banks should adhere to RBI guidelines regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and not insist on documents that were not required Hugely underutilized Construction Workers Welfare Cess Fund (CWWF) should be used to promote rental housing, working Women Hostels etc. for the benefit of migrants. According to census 2011 and National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), migrants constitute about 30% of the country’s population and also of the total working force. 2016-17 Economic Survey also noted that annual migration in the country increased to 9.00 million in 2016 from 3.30 million in 2011.  

The first meeting of the Committee on Cultural Harmony Conclave under the HamariDharohar Scheme was held on 25 February 2017 in New Delhi. The meeting was chaired by the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. The meeting was attended by several renowned artists, musicians, writers. They discussed strategies to promote India’s rich cultural diversity of minorities. HamariDharohar Scheme Ministry of Minority Affairs launched the HamariDharohar Scheme to preserve the rich culture and heritage of the minority communities of India. The scheme has five objectives. They are – To curate rich heritage of minorities under overall concept of Indian Culture Curating iconic exhibitions  Preservation of literature and documents. Support and promotion of calligraphy. Research and Development. Activities to be covered under the scheme are – • Curating exhibitions including iconic exhibitions • Support and promotion of calligraphy • Preservation of literature, documents and manuscripts • Documentation of oral traditions and art forms • Support to ethnic museums • Support for organizing heritage related seminars and workshops • Fellowship for research in preservation of heritage and development The Knowledge Partners of the scheme are • Archeological Survey of India • National Museum, Delhi • National Archives of India, New Delhi • National Gallery of Modern Arts (NGMA) • Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts (IGNCA) • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) • Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural heritage (INTACH) • World Monument Fund

Assam will host its first river festival-‘Namami Brahmaputra’ at the riverfront of Brahmaputra in Guwahati from 31 March to 4 April 2017. The decision was announced by Assam’s Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal himself. The state’s government has invited India’s President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ambassadors of all the countries and all Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries to participate in the mega event. The five-day festival aims to promote the state’s economy, culture, art, tourism, skill industry, investment option, trade, commerce and heritage.  Highlights : Namami Brahmaputra, which means “Obeisance to the Brahmaputra”, will showcase the grandeur of the river and the land it flows through.  It will be spread across 21 districts of Assam. The international event would feature traditional Assamese sports, cultural performances, business meets, exhibitions, seminars and symposiums, river ecosystem and interpretation zones. It would also feature a film festival, comprising the screening of some of the best Assamese films. Other events include tea festival, river cruises, rafting, visits to tea gardens and programmes related to history, tradition and legends of Assam. A group of government officials will be visiting all the state capitals and major cities as a part of the festival to create a positive image of the state beforehand: The officials would be coordinating with local tour operators, industry bodies and the tourism departments of the respective states. They will also be organising road shows with students to generate awareness about Assam’s culture and its immense potential. They will also hold media briefings in other state capitals. Through the festival, the state government basically aims to expose the tourists from both India and abroad to Assam’s rich legacy and splendour and represent it as a viable tourist destination on the world map. Besides this, the government also hopes to create an environment that would reconnect the people with their roots and rejuvenate the Brahmaputra civilisation.

Union Health Ministry on 28 February 2017 unveiled the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) in New Delhi. The survey conducted for the year 2015-16 says that India's health index has made a notable improvement over the last decade. The survey is based on information collected from 6 lakh households, 1.3 lakh men and 7 lakh women. This is the first time that the data is providing district level estimates. The report suggests that there has been a decline in the infant mortality and improvement was visible in the sex ratio with more institutional deliveries and wider vaccine coverage. The survey also says Children within the age of 12-23 months have been fully immunised (BCG, measles and 3 doses each of polio). This immunisation coverage has increased by 29 percentage points in Bihar, Punjab and Meghalaya, while it saw an increase by 28 percentage points in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The DPT has increased by 18 percentage points from 44 per cent in NFHS-3 to 62 per cent in NFHS-4. Highlights of the National Family Health Survey-4 : Sex Ratio at birth: It improved from 912 to 919 females per 1000 males at the national level over the last decade. Kerala that has the highest sex ratio of at 1047 is followed by Meghalaya at 1009. Haryana also witnessed a significant increase from 762 to 836. Infant Mortality Rate (IMR): It declined to 41 per 1000 from 51 per 1000 live births between NFHS-3 which was conducted in 2005-06. The report says that the IMR declined by more than 20 percentage points in West Bengal, Tripura, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan and Arunachal Pradesh. IMR during the NFHS-1 (1992-93) was recorded as 79 per 1000 live births. Institutional Births: It increased by 40 percentage points from 38.7 per cent in NFHS-3 to 78.9 per cent in NFHS-4. It seems that the institutional births have dramatically increased due to the targeted approach through Janani Suraksha Yojana. Total Fertility Rate: Total Fertility Rate also declined to 2.2 children per woman from 2.7 in NFHS-3 with considerable decline in the TFR in each of the 30 states with the maximum decline observed in Uttar Pradesh at 1.1 child followed by Nagaland at 1.0 child, Bihar, however, failed to register substantial decline. Bihar, however, failed to register substantial decline. Underweight children: It saw a decline in percentage by 7 percentage points. Anemia: It saw a substantial decline among children aged 6 to 59 months as it declined to 58 per cent in NFHS-4 from 69 per cent of NFHS-3. Maximum decrease was seen in Assam (34 percentage points), Chhattisgarh (30 percentage points), Mizoram (26 percentage points) and Odisha (20 percentage points).  

Popular Gujarati writer and noted play writer Tarak Mehta passed away on 1 March 2017 at his Ahmedabad residence. Mehta passed away at 87. Tarak Mehta suffered from age related illness for a long time. Tarak Mehta : Tarak Mehta was an Indian columnist, humorist, writer and playwright. He was best known for his column “Duniya Ne Undha Chasma” in Mumbai-based Gujarati news weekly “Chitralekha”. His weekly column first featured in Chitralekha news weekly in March 1971. He wrote around 80 books on various pressing issues. Three books are based on the columns he wrote in Gujarati newspaper Divya Bhaskar. The remaining books were compiled from the stories in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah. The popular comic television serial ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah' is a television adaptation of Taarak Mehta's column 'Duniya Ne Undha Chasma'. He had translated and adapted several comedies into Gujarati. Tarak Mehta had also served in Films Division-Mumbai as a script  writer.Gujarat Sahitya Akademi awarded him Sahitya Gaurav Puraskar in 2011 and Ramanlal Nilkanth Hasya Paritoshik in 2017. For his contribution to the literature, he was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2015. Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian honour of the Union Government.