Today Current Affairs 28th May 2016

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An intensive household survey conducted by the Telangana government in August 2014 has entered into the Limca Book of Records. The exercise had involved 4 lakh government employees who covered over 1.09 crore households in a single day, between 7am and 8pm, an official release stated on Thursday. The survey, to gather information on households, educational qualifications of their members, their post office savings, bank account details, mobile phone numbers, Aadhaar card numbers and gas connection details, was ordered immediately after K Chandrasekhar Rao took charge of the youngest state in 2014. The CM had earlier said the data collected in the survey would be used to identify the real beneficiaries of the government welfare schemes. Ahead of the survey, allegations were raised in some quarters that the exercise has been planned with a view to identifying Seemandhra natives, which were rubbished by the CM.

Indian-American scientist Arnab De has received the prestigious Springer Theses Award. He was nominated by New York’s Columbia University for his PhD thesis. He was selected for the award for his outstanding research on developing transgenic mice to study a critical tumor-suppressor A20. Arnab De also has developed peptide-based prodrugs as therapeutics for diabetes. For this he was awarded ‘Young Investigator Award’ at the American Peptide Symposium. Springer Theses Award : Ole John Nielsen (University of Copenhagen), who shared the 2007 Nobel peace Prize as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change along with US vice president Al Gore, had in 2012 described the Springer award as an “insanely great honour. Internationally top-ranked research institutes select their best thesis annually for publication in this series. Nominated and endorsed by two recognized specialists, each thesis is chosen for its scientific excellence and impact on research. For greater accessibility to non-specialists, the published versions include an extended introduction, as well as a foreword by the student’s supervisor explaining the special relevance of the work for the field. As a whole, the series provides a valuable resource both for newcomers to the relevant field, and for other scientists seeking detailed background information on special questions. Finally, it provides an accredited documentation of the valuable contributions made by today’s younger generation of scientists. The content of the series is available to millions of readers worldwide and, in addition to profiting from this broad dissemination, the author of each thesis is rewarded with a cash prize equivalent to € 500.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will embark on a six-day official visit to Tokyo, Japan from May 29 to June 4. He will have meetings with CEOs of Japanese companies including Soft Bank in Tokyo.  There, he will also attend the 22nd International Conference on The Future of Asia and will have bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, METI Ministers (Economy, Trade and Industry) and Health Minister. Than later on the other days, Mr. Jaitley will have several meeting which includes, meeting with Osamu Suzuki, chairman, Suzuki Motor Corporation, meeting with Japan International Cooperation Agency President Shinichi Kitaoka and Hitachi Chairamn Hiroaki Nakanishi, meeting with CEOs organized by JIBCC, and JICA, meeting with Indian organizations at the India Club and will also deliver a lecture on 'India: Political, Social and Economic Change at Osaka University. The Finance Minister will leave for New Delhi on June 4.

Union Power Ministry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched India’s first integrated web portal on 27 May 2016. The portal ( was designed to promote and mainstream Net Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) in India. Features of the Portal : The portal is first of its kind and provides complete information about Net Zero Energy Buildings that generate as much energy as they use. It will help to achieve near-zero energy status through the use of efficient lighting and equipment, integration of renewable energy technologies, and best practice design strategies.The portal also hosts the NZEB Alliance, an industry-wide body setup to drive the Indian markets toward highly energy-efficient buildings.This portal will provide a wealth of information for policymakers, developers, architects, engineers, sustainability consultants, and academia.It will also allow the vibrant Indian building industry to leapfrog towards energy efficiency standards and practices. Net Zero Energy Building : A net-zero energy building (NZEB) also known as a zero-energy building, zero net energy (ZNE) building, or net zero building.It is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site or in other definitions by renewable energy sources elsewhere.Zero-energy buildings can be part of a smart grid. Some advantages of these buildings are as follows: • Integration of renewable energy resources • Integration of plug-in electric vehicles • Implementation of zero-energy concepts

Aditi Krishnakumar, an Indian woman author in Singapore, in fourth week of May 2016 won the 'Scholastic Asian Book Award'. She was awarded for her 32000-word manuscript "Codex: The Lost Treasure of the Indus". She won the 10000 Singapore dollar award for her manuscript that carried contemporary feel and roots deep into history of India. The manuscript will be published by Scholastic Asia. Aditi Krishnakumar :  She has worked in the finance industry in India and Singapore. She has been living in Singapore for the past three year.At present, she is working with Agent Lila Raman to decipher the mysterious script of the Indus Valley civilization.Her first book, A Whole Summer Long, was published in 2012. Additionally, another of her manuscripts was shortlisted for the Scholastic Asian Book Award in 2014. Runner Ups of the award 1st runner up : Tina Cho from South Korea was selected for Chasing Freedom 2nd runner-up : Stephanie Ho Lee-Ling from Singapore for Island Girl Scholastic Asian Book Award : The Scholastic Asian Book Award (SABA) is the joint initiative of the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) and Scholastic Asia. The NBDCS, founded in 1969, promotes reading and literature, and champions’ literary works of Asians.Scholastic, founded in 1920, is the largest children's books publisher and distributor in the world.

RBL Bank Ltd, the first private-sector bank to open a dedicated branch for start-ups in Bengaluru last month, will launch an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) programme for fintech start-ups in the next 9-12 months. The bank has already allocated a 17-seater area within its office in Bengaluru and has forged partnerships with start-up accelerators in and around the city, such as Jaaga, Axilor, Beehive, Headstart and 1 Crowd. Through these partnerships, the bank identifies and evaluates relevant start-ups incubated by the accelerators, especially those whose solutions are synergistic with its products and services. Acquiring customers  : The primary challenges for these start-ups is to acquire their first customer. “With this programme, they can beta test their ideas, products or solutions on our platform, with us as their first customer. Besides providing banking services to these start-ups, the Bank also provides mezzanine funding through partners and accelerator funds, ranging from a few crores up to ₹25 crore; which serves as a bridge round to an equity raise of Series B or C funding. Start-up club : The EIR programme is just one of the many strands of RBL Bank’s engagement with start-ups. Earlier this year, the Bank launched India StartUp Club, a fast-track programme to support early-stage start-ups with a bouquet of basic banking services to jumpstart their operations.The bank already engages with 112 start-ups around the country via this programme. This includes a Green Channel for account setup, payroll services, cash management, trade and foreign exchange service, escrow accounts, transaction banking solutions, customised debit cards and a dedicated hotline.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully test-fired a land-attack version of the supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos at the Pokhran field firing range in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Test: During the flight trial, the missile met its mission goals and destroyed a designated target.  Two squadrons of IAF already have been equipped with the land-attack version of the missile version (One squadron has about 70 to 80 missiles). IAF is deploying this version of the missile in the border areas to take out the enemy’s communication towers, runways, and radar in case of a conflict. Brahmos missile  : BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has been designed and developed by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture of India and Russia. It has derived its name from the names of two rivers, India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moskva River. It operates on fire and forget principal and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets. Features: It is capable of carrying a warhead of 300 kilogram and has top supersonic speed of Mach 3 (that is, three times the speed of sound). It can strike a target at maximum range of 290-km. It is two-stage missile, the first one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant. BrahMos missile already has been inducted into the Indian Army and Navy.

Lakshadweep has  signed 24x7 Power for All document on 27 May 2016. It became the first Union Territory (UT) to sign the document which aims to provide each household access to electricity through 24x7 Power supply by 2019. Features of the Document :  It chalks out a plan to increase solar capacity of the region from 2.15 MW to 8.45 MW.The plan also envisions reduction of AT & C losses from current level of 21 percent to 6.7 percent till 2019 by increasing the collection efficiency up to 99 percent.As a part of energy efficiency measures, 1 lakh LED bulbs will be distributed by UT administration through Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and Incandescent lamps/CFL bulbs will be replaced with LED bulbs under UJALA programme. In addition to that 3000 conventional street lights will be replaced with LED street lights.Union Government is committed to improve the quality of life of its citizens through higher electricity consumption.  24x7 Power for All :  It is a major step in the direction to provide each household access to electricity, 24x7 Power supply by 2019. It is a joint initiative of union Government with respective State Governments for preparation of State specific documents for providing 24x7 power supply to all households /homes, industrial & commercial consumers and adequate supply of power to Agricultural consumers as per state policy.As on 27 May 2016, 22 States have already signed the ‘24x7 Power For All’ Documents. Implementation of the plan envisaged in the document is under progress, which is being jointly monitored by the State and the Union Governments.Successful implementation of these plans will ensure reliable and affordable power round the clock to all the consumers.  

Indian para athlete Amit Kumar Saroha clinched gold medal in men's club throw (F-51) at the 2016 French Open Athletics Championship in Paris. The event was held on 23 May and 24 May 2016. Saroha’s effort of 26.58 meter broke the Asian record which he had himself set at 2015 World Championships in Doha. The French Open Athletics Championship was part of his preparation for Rio 2016. The athlete has already qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Amit Kumar Saroha : Amit Kumar Saroha is a Paralympian who competes in the F51 category in Discus throw and Club throw.He is one of India's top Para athletes and the first quadriplegic to represent India at a Paralympic Games (London 2012).He currently trains at the Sports Authority of India in Sonipat and is being supported by the GoSports Foundation.In 2010, he took part in his first Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, China, where he won a silver medal in Discus throw.In 2012, he won a Gold medal in the Olympic qualifier event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.He has also been conferred the Arjuna Award by the President of India, in recognition of his outstanding sporting achievements. At the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, Korea, he won two medals for India. He grabbed a Gold in Club throw with a distance of 21.31 m and a Silver in Discus throw with a distance of 9.89 m. His club throw distance was another Asian record, and the medal winning performance earned him an automatic qualification for Rio 2016

The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been working on how to reduce cash transactions in the economy. In this regard, they formed a committee last month, of seven members, chaired by a ministry official, Neeraj Kumar Gupta. This group is looking at how to ensure the acceptance of card payments is increased. This will require more of point-of-sales (PoS) machines. RBI data at end-March shows 24.5 million credit cards and 661.8 million debit cards in the country, compared to 1.3 million PoS terminals.  committee was also formed last year on the same issue; the new panel is to also see that the former’s suggestions are implemented. These include reducing the interchange fee charged on credit cards and bringing these at par with debit cards. Currently, 1.98 per cent in the case of credit card spending and 0.5-1 per cent in debit card spending of the total amount is interchange fee by the bank and the card players. This amount is paid by the merchant and is split between the bank that issued the card, the lender whose PoS machine is being used and the payment system RuPay, Visa or MasterCard. As a result, they charge a flat two per cent for both debit and credit cards, which has been proving a bit of a deterrent. Therefore, the charges for credit cards have to be brought at parity to change that impression,” said an official, present at the latest meeting of the committee. The taskforce is also working at ways in which cardpayers needn’t pay a surcharge for fuel, utility bills and railway bookings, a move approved earlier by the government. India’s cash-to-gross domestic product proportion was a little over 12 per cent in 2014, higher than several other economies. According to a 2015 report, RBI and commercial banks annually spend around Rs 21,000 crore in currency operation costs.

Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland has approved the re-appointment of Vinod K Dasari as Managing Director of the company for 5 years from April 1, 2016.  The Board of Directors has approved the re-appointment of Dasari as the company's Managing Director for a term of five years from April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2021, Ashok Leyland said in a regulatory filing.  The re-appointment is subject to the approval of shareholders at the forthcoming annual general meeting (AGM).Ashok Leyland is the second largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in India. Ashok Leyland : Ashok Leyland is an Indian automobile manufacturing company based in Chennai, India. Founded in 1948, it is the 2nd largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in India, 4th largest manufacturer of buses in the world and 16th largest manufacturer of trucks globally. Operating six plants, Ashok Leyland also makes spare parts and engines for industrial and marine applications. It sells about 60,000 vehicles and about 7,000 engines annually. It is the second largest commercial vehicle company in India in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle (M&HCV) segment with a market share of 28% (2007–08). With passenger transportation options ranging from 19 seaters to 80 seaters, Ashok Leyland is a market leader in the bus segment. 

India ranks fifth in the world in renewable energy (RE) job creation, with 416,000 employed in the sector during 2015. In the world, 8.1 million persons are employed in the clean energy space. China tops the list with 3.5 million, followed by Brazil with 918,000. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (Irena) Annual Review 2016, there was a five per cent increase over a year before in the sector, with new jobs being created even as employment in the broader energy sector falls.  “This increase is being driven by declining RE technology costs and enabling policy frameworks. We expect this trend to continue as the business case for renewables strengthens and as countries move to achieve their climate targets agreed in (the) Paris (agreement). In this country, solar and wind energy markets have seen substantial activity, as the government’s ambitious RE targets are translated into concrete policy frameworks,Irena. Central and state auctions for solar photovoltaics (PV), for instance, have resulted in installation of 1.9 gigawatt (Gw) in 2015 and an impressive pipeline of 23 Gw. Solar PV employs an estimated 103,000 people in grid-connected (31,000 jobs) and off-grid applications (72,000 jobs) With increasing domestic demand, local companies are utilising their production capabilities and several foreign companies are interested in investments. Irrespective of further developments in manufacturing, reaching the government’s goal of 100 Gw in PV by 2022 could generate 1.1 million jobs in construction, project commissioning & design, business development and operations & maintenance. The report quoted the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, and National Research Development Corporation to say that 30 per cent of these jobs would be highly skilled ones and this requires stepping up of training and education. Indian wind energy industry had installation of about 2.5 Gw and employment at a steady 48,000. In Japan, despite a 28 per cent increase to 377,000 jobs linked to renewables, there is a likelihood of job losses next year. This is the result of a recent policy reversal on support for solar PV technology, the agency said. Earlier this month, Amin warned that countries eyeing new coal-fired plants, including Japan, must reassess their energy strategy to avoid stranded assets. Japan’s loss in jobs after a period of significant growth could be China’s gain in terms of increasing market share as Japan loses its competitive advantage on solar PV. The report, titled Renewable Energy & Jobs, also provides a global estimate of the number of jobs supported by large hydropower, with a conservative estimate of an additional 1.3 million direct jobs worldwide. RE jobs in America increased six per cent, while employment in oil and gas decreased 18 per cent. RE in China employed 3.5 million people, while oil and gas employed 2.6 million. “As in the previous years, enabling policy frameworks remained a key driver of employment. National and state auctions in India and Brazil, tax credits in the United States and favourable policies in Asia have all contributed to employment increases. Countries with the most RE jobs in 2015 were China, Brazil, America, India, Japan and Germany. The solar PV sector remains the largest RE employer worldwide, with 2.8 million jobs, with jobs in manufacturing, installation and operations & maintenance. Liquid biofuels was the second largest global employer with 1.7 million jobs, followed by wind power, which grew five per cent to reach 1.1 million global jobs. Nearly 90 companies from about 40 countries participated, representing the entire value chain of the sector. Among the companies that responded, women represent an average of 35 per cent of the workforce. This is a significant finding, considering women only account for 20-25 per cent of the workforce in the overall energy industry. This might reflect greater interest among women in sustainability related fields. Yet, the percentage remains lower than women’s economy-wide share in employment, which is 40-50% for most OECD countries, according to the World Bank.

China's capital Beijing is slated to implement new vehicle emissions standard from December 2017. According to the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, the new standards will be the strictest of anywhere in the world, the People's Daily reported on 25 May 2016. In 2007, Beijing took the lead in using unleaded gasoline.In 2004, Beijing worked out and implemented the Beijing II gasoline standard. Later, in 2005, 2008 and 2012, Beijing issued and implemented Beijing III, Beijing IV and Beijing V gasoline standards. Gasoline standards in Beijing were always one or two stages ahead of other Chinese cities, the bureau said.The newest standard, Beijing VI, will reduce vehicle hydrocarbon emissions by 5 percent. Beijing is expected to implement the new standard on December 1, 2017.The new standard will lower emissions by 40 to 50 percent.It is predicted that by 2022, overall vehicle emissions pollution in Beijing will be reduced by 20 to 30 percent.

India and Russia have agreed ‘in principle’ to export the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile, BrahMos, to UAE, Vietnam, South Africa and Chile.The several structural changes were made in the defence exports policy and these were yielding results. As far as the BrahMos missile is concerned, talks with countries like UAE, Chile, South Africa and Vietnam are in advanced stages. Russia is the partner country in the BrahMos joint venture with its consent discussions with several other countries, including Philippines, South Korea, Algeria, Greece, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Singapore, Venezuela and Bulgaria have now been taken to the next level While defence minister Manohar Parrikar will be visiting Vietnam soon, where the talks for closing deal with the ASEAN member country could be discussed, the source revealed that by the year end, the BrahMos Aerospace is expected to ink the deal with UAE by the year end as both India and Russia have good relations with the country and there is conflict of interest there, hence there will no problems in exporting the missile to that country. In the case of Vietnam, China has expressed its reservations against India’s policies to supply weapons. In the South China Sea, China and Vietnam are locked in a conflict over maritime boundaries. The Indo-Russian joint venture will soon be testing it cruise missiles on Russian Su-30 Flanker C multi-role fighter aircraft for which the ground tests are already done. “We expect that those friendly nations with whom neither India nor Russia have any conflict would be keen on buying these missiles. BrahMos is a short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. It is a joint venture between Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia and the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India. They have formed BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited to make the missile. The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia. The Indian government has been receiving proposals for BrahMos from countries as diverse as Vietnam to Chile. The missile system has caught the attention of a number of countries in the Latin America such BRICS member South Africa, and other countries in that region including Venezuela, Chile, as it has been developed at a low budget of $300 million.

The Bihar government, UNICEF and the Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa entered into an agreement to reduce malnourishment among women and children in the state.  As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the three, an Agriculture Nutrition Cell would be set up in the Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa.  The nutritional quality assessment of food would help help quality of food served to students in 7,000 schools of Bihar.  Establishing Food Laboratory to measure quality of food and urged Rajendra Agriculture University to take initiative in this direction.  UNICEF head of Bihar Yamin Mazumdar said malnourishment was not only an health problem but also concerned with social, economic and cultural affairs. Emphasised on coordination among different departments like health, agriculture, social welfare and education among others to improve standard of nutrition among women and children in Bihar.  Nutritional expert of UNICEF Ravi Narayan Padhi emphasised on improving nutritional value in food among children to overcome problem of short height in proportion to their age.

Marking two years of NDA government, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has released a booklet highlighting the efforts made by the Department of Defence Production in these years in pursuance of self- reliance in the sector.  It is a compilation of the achievements of the department in the field of indigenous production of weapon systems, platforms and policy initiatives undertaken in the period. The focus of the government has been to improve the business environment by easing processes to do so, encourage participation of Indian public and private sector in defence production and promote innovation and indigenous development of equipment and weapon platforms.  The booklet mentions a number of policy initiatives like relaxation in FDI Policy, providing Exchange Rate Variation protection to Indian industry, level-playing field to private sector in terms of excise duty/custom duty on par with public sector, liberalising licensing policy and extending the validity of Industrial Licensing to 15 years, streamlining defence offset guidelines and restoring services as an avenue for discharge of offsets. It also talks about ordnance factories and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) working under the administrative control of Department of Defence Production having not only enhancing their production from Rs 43,746 crore to Rs 51,351 crore but also delivering many state-of-the-art platforms to the armed forces. During the last two years, exports have almost doubled and 119 industrial licences have been issued.  Other highlights say that all naval ships and submarines on order are being constructed in Indian shipyards and expenditure on capital procurement from foreign vendors in the last two years has come down from Rs 35,082 crore to Rs 22,422 crore.

Maria Sharapova was suspended in March after she admitted she had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January Russia have included Maria Sharapova in their Olympic tennis team despite the star player being suspended over a positive test for the banned drug meldonium, the country’s tennis federation. Sharapova, who won silver at the 2012 London Olympics, was suspended in March after she admitted she had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January. Since then, a string of high profile Russian athletes—including Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova—also tested positive for meldonium. But the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which had only banned the Latvian-made drug from 1 January, said in April that athletes could escape a ban for taking meldonium because of uncertainty about how long it takes for the substance to leave the body. In April, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said that Sharapova’s case would be heard in accordance with WADA’s recommendations on how to deal with cases involving meldonium. Russia is poised to send its four highest-ranked players to compete in the singles event at the Rio Olympics, which as of Monday were Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ekaterina Makarova. If Sharapova cannot compete, Tarpischev said, the team would select the fifth highest-ranked player in the WTA rankings, 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina.

The Committee for the evolution of a National Education Policy has  submitted the report containing its recommendations to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) on 27 May 2016. Features of the committee : The Committee examined the large body of outcome documents, recommendations and suggestions received from the various consultations.The Committee also had several meetings with various stakeholders and held regional consultations as well as undertaken field visits to educational institutions.Union HRD Ministry had undertaken a consultation process for framing a New Education Policy (NEP). The process included online, grassroots and national level thematic deliberations on 33 themes.The online consultations on portal were held from 26 January 2015 to 31 October 2015 and over 29000 suggestions were received.The bottom-up consultative process across nearly all Gram Panchayats, Blocks, Urban Local Bodies and districts of all 36 States/Union Territories was undertaken between May to October 2015. Thematic consultations were conducted both by the Ministry and also by the institutions like University Grants Commission(UGC), All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE), National Council for Teacher Education, National Council for Educational Research and Training(NCERT) and several centrally funded universities and institutions, autonomous bodies, attached offices. Along with this, all relevant stakeholders including experts, academics, industry representatives, civil society etc. were invited for deliberations on the individual themes during July to October 2015.Six zonal meetings were held by the Minister of Human Resource Development in Eastern, Central, North-Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern Zones covering all States and UTs in September-October 2015. Composition of the Committee : Union Government had constituted a Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy comprising TSR Subramanian as the Chairman and Shailaja Chandra, Sevaram Sharma, Sudhir Mankad and Prof. JS Rajput as members of the Committee.