Current Affairs 5th May 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of Western Naval Command, has been appointed as the new Chief of Naval Staff and will assume charge on May 31. 58-year-old Lanba, a specialist in Navigation and Direction, will have the full three-year tenure as the Navy Chief. He will succeed Admiral RK Dhowan who is retiring. An alumnus of Defence Services Staff College, he will be the 21st Indian to be the Navy Chief. The first two were British.He will take over from Admiral Dhowan on the afternoon of May 31 and will be in office till May 31, 2019.The government has appointed Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba, at present FOC-in-C Western Naval Command, as the next Chief of Naval Staff with effect from the afternoon of May 31 Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba : He has commanded four frontline warships -- INS Kakinada (minesweeper), INS Himgiri (frigate) and INS Ranvijay and INS Mumbai, both destroyers.He is also an alumnus of the College of Defence Management, Secunderabad, where he has served as a faculty.Lanba has also held key staff assignments such as Fleet Operations Officer of the Western Fleet and the Chief of Staff, Southern and Eastern Naval Commands. He was also the Flag Officer Sea Training, Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra and Gujarat Naval Area and Commandant, National Defence College.He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command at Kochi, prior to being appointed to head the Western Naval Command. He took over as the Vice Chief on June 2, 2014.Vice Admiral Lanba is a recipient of the Param Vishist Seva Medal and the Athi Vishist Seva Medal for distinguished service of an exceptionally high order.

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the renewed Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation with European Union (EU) for another period of 5 years. Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The agreement will be retrospectively effective from 17 May 2015 until 2020. The agreement will reaffirm India-EU’s shared commitment to research and innovation as drivers of social and economic development. The Agreement’s purpose is to strengthen the co-operation in R&D activities in science & technology fields of common interest between the research institutions of the EU Member States and India. The cooperation activities include supporting joint R&D projects, sharing of advanced research facilities, exchange of scientists and experts joint seminars. It will also include symposia and workshops, sharing of relevant information on science, technology and innovation policy, program and R&D projects. The Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation was initially signed in November, 2001 was in force till May 2015.

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Central Bank of United Arab Emirates (UAE) on co-operation concerning currency swap agreement. Decision in this regard was taken at the Union Cabinet Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The Agreement was signed in February, 2016 during the official state visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to India. The MoU commits that RBI and Central Bank of UAE will consider signing a bilateral Currency Swap Agreement on mutually agreed terms and conditions. The agreement will be signed after undertaking technical deliberations, subject to the concurrence of respective Governments. The MoU will help to further strengthen the close economic cooperation and relationship between India and UAE. The swap agreement is also expected to facilitate invoicing of bilateral trade in local currencies. Currency Swap :  A currency swap involves exchange of principal and interest in one currency for the same in another currency. It is considered to be a foreign exchange transaction. For example: Suppose a US based company needs to acquire Indian Rupees and India-based company needs to acquire US dollars. Then these two companies could arrange to swap currencies by establishing an interest rate, agreed upon amount along with a common maturity date for the exchange.

The Union Cabinet has apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of Information Communication Technology (ICT). Decision in this regard was taken by the Union Cabinet Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The MoU was signed between both countries in March, 2015 and was ratified by both India and Qatar on 1st January, 2016 and 12th January, 2016 respectively. It seeks to boost active cooperation and exchanges between the private entities, capacity building institutions, Governments and other public organisations in the field of ICT.

Ghar Sodhon, a room disinfectant for silkworm rearing houses and appliances, was in news on 3 May 2016.It came in news after the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), under the Union Ministry of Science & Technology inked licence agreements with M/s Nabagram Resham Shilpa Unnayan Cooperative Society Ltd and M/s Dariapur Rural Development Society, Kalia Chak of West Bengal for the commercialization of Ghar Sodhon. Ghar Sodhon : It is a user friendly and non-corrosive room disinfectant, devoid of the requirement of labour, water, electricity and spraying machines. It has been developed at the Central Silk Research & Training Institute (CSRTI), Berhampore, West Bengal, a constituent Research Institute under Central Silk Board, Bengaluru, under the Union Ministry of Textiles. It is gaining popularity among the silk farmers of the States of West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand.Besides, NRDC also signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Satyabhama University, Chennai represented by its Vice Chancellor, Dr. B. Sheela Rani for IP Protection and technology commercialization of their scientific and technological developments.With this agreement both organizations will put efforts to bring the fruits of research for awareness and betterment of the society.

The agriculture project Harita-Priya of Andhra Pradesh on 3 May 2016 won the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2016 prize in e-Agriculture category.The prize was announced in Geneva by International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. Features of Harita-Priya Project : Harita-Priya stands for Harmonized Information of Agriculture, Revenue and Irrigation for a Transformation Agenda - Precision Technology for Agriculture.It meant to collect very specific climate data from farms and give farmers personalised information through SMS It uses wireless sensor networks to collect micro-climatic information from farms.The data is used to create advisories and alerts on irrigation schedules and pests and plant diseases.Based on this state agriculture officers disseminate personalised crop advisories in Telugu language to farmers by way of SMS.The project was developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) in Hyderabad, which is having a pilot run in Anantpur district.The project was partnered by the Andhra Pradesh government, the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) station and the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University in Anantapur. WSIS Prizes : The WSIS Prizes recognize all players in the effort to improve global connectivity, from governments and global ICT (information communication technology) companies to grassroots NGOs leading innovative ICT-oriented projects at the local level.A total of 18 prizes were awarded in categories ranging from international cooperation to information ethics.

Indian Railways (IR) on 4 May 2016 announced the creation of Non-Fare Revenue Directorate to carry out advertisements in rail coaches, along the track and near stations.The decision to create a directorate was taken to increase the revenue substantially from non-tariff sources. Highlights of Non-Fare Revenue Directorate : It will explore getting advertisements on coaches, wagons, locomotives and at stations and commercial exploitation of vacant rail land among others. It will be headed by a senior-level railway official.It will focus on various ways to enhance revenues by 10 per cent to 20 per cent from the current 5 per cent from the non-tariff sources. It will enter into new areas like commercial farming alongside railway tracks, sponsorship of uniforms for railway personnel and also sponsorship of activities and events at stations to enhance non-tariff revenue. Indian Railways : Railways were first introduced to India in the year 1853 from Mumbai to Thane.Indian Railways is an Indian state-owned enterprise, owned and operated by the Government of India through the Ministry of Railways. It is one of the world's largest railway networks comprising 115000 km of track over a route of 65808 km and 7112 stations.In 2014-15, IR carried 8.397 billion passengers annually or more than 23 million passengers a day. It also carried 1058.81 million tons of freight in the year. In 2014–2015, Indian Railways had revenues of 1634.50 billion rupees. Indian Railways is the world's seventh largest commercial or utility employer, by number of employees, with over 1.376 million employees as of last published figures in 2013.

CAPEEX: Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment CAIPEEX, a technique to understand the rain formation in clouds and the impact of Randomized Cloud Seeding, was in news in May 2016. The term CAIPEEX was used in Parliament by Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, YS Chowdary.In Lok Sabha on 4 May 2016, the minister informed that the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) is putting its effort in understanding the rain formation in clouds through this research program. CAIPEEX : Under this experiment, air borne observations are taken through randomized cloud seeding and the impact is recorded.The program uses a combination of radar, other ground based instruments and airborne platforms along with high resolution numerical modeling to plan and conduct the seeding experiment.The area for cloud seeding is determined based on convective potential.Aircraft observations have to be conducted before and after the seeding to determine the environmental conditions and the quantum of seeding material.These operations include detailed measurements of aerosols, cloud droplets, raindrops and ice particles, registering the growth of clouds before and after the seeding.The research data has been used to formulate ice nucleation scheme for inclusion of such processes in the forecast models. He informed that artificial rain making techniques involving cloud seeding cannot be used for bringing rain clouds to rainfall deficit/drought areas. These techniques can only induce potential pre-existing clouds with adequate cloud droplets, to produce enhanced quantum of rain.  

Renowned statistician Dr Radha Binod Barman on 4 May 2016 took over as the part-time Chairperson in the National Statistical Commission.On the other hand, Professor S. Mahendra Dev, Professor Rahul Mukherjee, Dr Rajiv Mehta and Dr Manoj Panda took over as other part-time members in the commission. National Statistical Commission : The Government of India ordered setting up National Statistical Commission of India on 1 June 2005 on the recommendation of C. Rangarajan Commission. It is an autonomous body, which was formed in July 2006.The objective of its constitution is to reduce the problems faced by statistical agencies in the country in relation to collection of data.The Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog is the ex-officio Member in the Commission.The Commission is an advisory body on all statistical matters, set up to enhance public trust in official statistics.

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 4 May 2016 approved to adopt the United Nations fundamental principles of official statistics.The adoption will bring professional independence, impartiality, accountability and transparency of official statistics, besides adopting international standards.It will also pave way for devising a National Policy on Official Statistics for improving systems, procedures and institutions consistent with these principles. The ten Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics those are endorsed by the UN General Assembly as follows: Principle 1 : Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the Government and economy among others. Principle 2 : To retain trust in official statistics, the statistical agencies need to decide according to strictly professional considerations, including scientific principles and professional ethics, on the methods and procedures for the collection, processing, storage and presentation of statistical data. Principle 3 : To facilitate a correct interpretation of the data, the statistical agencies are to present information according to scientific standards on the sources, methods and procedures of the statistics. Principle 4 : The statistical agencies are entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics. Principle 5 : Data for statistical purposes may be drawn from all types of sources, be they statistical surveys or administrative records. Statistical agencies are to choose the source with regard to quality, timeliness, costs and the burden on Respondents. Principle 6 : Individual data collected by statistical agencies for statistical compilation, whether they refer to natural or legal persons, are to be strictly confidential and used exclusively for statistical purposes. Principle 7 : The laws, regulations and measures under which the statistical systems operate are to be made public. Principle 8 : Coordination among statistical agencies within countries is essential to achieve consistency and efficiency in the statistical system. Principle 9 : The use by statistical agencies in each country of international concepts, classifications and methods promotes the consistency and efficiency of statistical systems at all official levels. Principle 10 : Bilateral and multilateral cooperation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries. The UN General Assembly endorsed the Principles in its Resolution in January 2014.Even though most of the ingredients in these principles are already being adhered to by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI). On a reference from the Union Ministry of External Affairs on the draft UN General Assembly Resolution, MoSPI supported it.UN reviewed the matter in in the 46th session of the United Nations Statistics Commission held in New York in March 2015 in which MoSPI represented India.The progress of work in implementation of the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics is required to be reported by India to the UN Statistics Division for deliberation in the 48th session of the United Nations Statistics Commission to be held in 2017.

State-run Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) might be converted into a Green Bank to enable it to access funding from overseas banks . IREDA might be converted in to Green Bank without under going any altercation in its basic structure to enable it access funding from overseas banks that are currently not supporting the solar and wind funding, barring well-known KFW, IREDA With IREDA conversion into Green Bank, it would be entitled to avail of certain benefits, which the agency is currently deprived of and the proposal is being well supported by the Union Power Ministry . Large banks in India are perhaps reluctant to fund the solar and wind projects though no developer in these two segments have defaulted on re-payment though might have delayed the pay off schedule .Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), and Natural Resources Defense Council said that India's goal to ramp up solar and wind energy capacity could get a major boost through two fast-growing financing innovations green banks and green bonds.  The clean energy target is the centrepiece of India's climate pledge announced in the international Paris climate agreement recently signed by more than 170 countries at the United Nations.  IREDA, an arm of the Indian government, currently appears to be the closest institutionally to a green bank, the report notes. Yet, opportunities for state level banks also appear promising.  Green banks are public entities created to work with the private sector to increase investment in clean energy and bring clean energy financing into the mainstream. They are innovative and new tools that have been successful in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and several US. states. 

A Mumbai teenager, Nihal Bitla, who had been suffering from a rare genetic disease that causes the body to age eight times faster than normal has passed away. He was the face of India’s awareness campaign against progeria. The fifteen year old Nihal also ran an active social media campaign to raise awareness about the disease. Most recently he fronted an awareness campaign called 'HatsOnForProgeria', where he appeared with a group of supporters at Mumbai’s iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station.   

Reliance Power has won an in-principle approval of the Bangladesh government for the first phase of the 3,000 megawatt LNG-based power plant. Under the approval, first phase of 750 MW power plant will be set up at Meghnaghat (Narayanganj district), around 40 km South-East of Dhaka along with the FSRU terminal at Maheshkhali Island in Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh . Reliance Power will set up a 2 million tonnes a year floating LNG import terminal with a floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) to bring the fuel in ships for firing the power plant. Power plant land at Meghnaghat will be provided by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). FSRU-based LNG terminal will supply re-gasified LNG for the power project and additional RLNG to PetroBangla . The first phase will be commissioned in 24 months from the zero date, in 2018-19 and help meet Bangladesh's rising demand for electricity. This will be the largest foreign direct investment in Bangladesh with a potential investment of over USD 1.3 billion . Total investment in the 3,000 MW power plant together with LNG terminal would be close to USD 3 billion. The company will use the equipment it had contracted for its Samalkot project in Andhra Pradesh for setting up the power plant in Bangladesh.  Reliance Power was implementing a 2,400 MW gas-based power project at Samalkot in Andhra Pradesh. The project was to be allocated gas from Reliance Industries' KG-D6 block but due to the drastic decline in production, the project has not got any gas so far. The equipment for the project has been procured and is ready with the company. Use of these brand new equipment will put the implementation of Bangladesh project on fast track.  Reliance Power is proposing to install the world-class equipment procured from internationally reputed equipment suppliers for combined cycle power project at Samalkot in Andhra Pradesh, including advanced class 9FA machines supplied by GE, in the proposed project at Bangladesh. This will help set up the project on a fast-track basis 

The Union ministry of water resources has agreed to take up 132 irrigation projects in 14 suicide-prone districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada at an estimated cost of Rs 7,188 crore. The development comes in the backdrop of a meeting between Union water resources minister Uma Bharti and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai.  According to the state government, out of the 132 projects, 98 are in Vidarbha and 34 in Marathwada. Also agreed to take up irrigation projects in 67 drought-prone areas and the Tapi mega recharge project. The Tapi recharge project will also help in raising water levels in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.  The water resources ministry has also given an `in principle' nod to complete 26 irrigation projects in the state under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana ( PMKSY). The Centre and the state will share the cost of these projects in 60:40 ratio. The Cent re and the state have agreed to form a joint team to prepare plans to finish the long-delayed Gosikhurd project in Vidarbha. The project, which began 33-years back at an estimated cost of Rs 380 crore, was supposed to irrigate 250,800 hectares. It has now seen a major cost escalation and the state is now seeking Rs 8,167 crore to finish the project. The joint team has been asked to submit a report within 15 days to find a way to complete the project.   

Kotak Mahindra Bank has surpassed ICICI Bank to emerge as the third most valued lender in the country as its market valuation soared to over Rs.1.29 lakh crore. At close of trade on Tuesday, Kotak Mahindra’s market capitalisation stood at Rs.1,29,963.14 crore, which is about Rs.1,244.92 crore more than ICICI’s m-cap of Rs.1,28,718.22 crore.Shares of ICICI fell by 2.47%, while Kotak ended the day with a loss of 1.39% on BSE.ICICI Bank’s shares have witnessed selling pressure since the company reported quarterly numbers, falling nearly 8% in three straight trading sessions. ICICI Bank on Friday reported its worst numbers in over a decade with consolidated net profit plunging 87% in the March quarter to Rs.406.71 crore due to a spike in provisioning for bad loans. Kotak Mahindra Bank had overtaken ICICI Bank in market valuation in February this year also. HDFC Bank remains the biggest lender in terms of valuation as its m-cap stood at Rs.2,82,629.26 crore followed by SBI (Rs.1,42,990.35 crore).Till last year, ICICI Bank’s market cap was more than double of Kotak’s. The m-cap figure changes daily with the change in the stock price.

An unprecedented seven Indian shuttlers are set to qualify for the Olympics Games at Rio de Janeiro when the official BWF rankings are released.The cut-off date for BWF rankings is May 5, the day will be used to allocate 34 individual quota places for men and 34 individual quota places for women to the highest ranked athletes in singles event. London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, who is currently at the 7th place in the race to Rio qualification, will play her third Olympic Games, while P V Sindhu, who is at 9th position, will be the second Indian player in women's singles competition at Rio. In men's singles, 2014 China Open winner Kidambi Srikanth, who is at 10th place in Race to Rio qualification, will carry the Indian flag, while Manu Attri and B Summeth Reddy will become the first Indian men's doubles pair to qualify for the Games. The World No. 19 pair are ranked 11th in Race to Rio qualification. Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who had represented India at the London Games, will play their second Olympics in women's doubles competition. They are 9th in the Race to Rio qualification. However, no Indian pair was good enough to qualify in the mixed doubles event, while Parupalli Kashyap was all set to qualify before a series of injuries robbed him off a chance to play in Olympics for the second time.Five Indians had qualified for the London Olympics in 2012.

The Supreme Court (SC) Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, on 4 May 2016 recommended transfer of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph to Andhra Pradesh High Court. Joseph, 57, was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court by President in July 2014. He was elevated to the post of Chief Justice on recommendation of then CJI Rajendra Mal Lodha.In April 2016, a bench of Uttarakhand High Court, presided over by him quashed the Union Government’s decision to impose President's rule in the state. However, the ruling was stayed by the Supreme Court. Justice KM Joseph : He passed out of the Government Law College in Ernakulam. He enrolled himself as an advocate in Delhi in 1982. In 1983, he shifted his practice to High Court of Kerala, Ernakulam.He had served as a Judge of Kerala High Court for more than 9 years.His father KK Mathew was a judge of the Supreme Court of India.This is the first set of recommendations made by the SC Collegium for appointment as judges of the apex court after the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act was struck down by a Supreme Court bench on 16 October 2015.

The European Central Bank (ECB) on 4 May 2016 announced that it will permanently stop producing the 500 euro banknote by the end of 2018. The ECB will also exclude it from the Europa series, taking into account concerns that this banknote could facilitate illicit activities.The issuance of the 500 euro note will be stopped around the end of 2018, when the 100 euro and 200 euro banknotes of the Europa series are planned to be introduced. However, 500 euro banknote, like the other denominations of euro banknotes, will always retain its value and can be exchanged at the national central banks of the Eurosystem for an unlimited period of time. Link between crime and 500 euro banknote : Also nicknamed as the Bin Laden note, the value of the 500 euro banknote is several times greater than many of the largest circulating notes of other major currencies, such as the United States 100 dollar bill. Therefore, a large monetary value can be concentrated into a small volume of notes. This opens the door for crimes that deal in cash, including money laundering, drug dealing and tax evasion.As of 20 April 2010, money exchange offices in the United Kingdom stopped selling 500 euro notes due to their use in money laundering.The Serious Organised Crime Agency claimed that 90% of all 500 euro notes sold in the UK are in the hands of organised crime. 500 euro banknote : The five hundred euro note is the highest-value euro banknote and has been used since the introduction of the euro (in its cash form) in 2002.It is one of the highest value circulating banknotes in the world, worth around 558 USD, 3634 Chinese Yuan, 62700 Japanese Yen, 544 Swiss Franc or 395 Pound sterling.The note is used in the 23 countries, which have the euro as their sole currency. It is the largest note measuring 160 × 82 mm and has a purple colour scheme.The five hundred euro banknotes depict bridges and arches/doorways in modern architecture (around the late 20th century).The five hundred euro note contains several complex security features such as watermarks, invisible ink, holograms and microprinting that make counterfeiting very difficult.

US jury of St Louise on 2 May 2016 ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay 55 million US dollars to a woman, Gloria Ristesund, who claimed that company’s talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer. It is the second such judgment against J&J in three months. The verdict came after a three-week trial in Missouri state court. The Judges in their verdict awarded 5 million US dollars in compensatory damages and 50 million US dollars in punitive damages.Ristesund, in her suit claimed that she used J&J's talc-based powder products which include the Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder on her genitals for decades. And, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to undergo a hysterectomy and related surgeries. The verdict followed a 72 million US dollar jury award to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died from ovarian cancer after years of using talc powder for feminine hygiene from the same court in February 2016.The only other case to be tried involving talc powder and ovarian cancer resulted in a mixed verdict in South Dakota federal court in 2013. While those jurors found J&J was negligent, they awarded no damages to the plaintiff, whose cancer was in remission at the time of the trial.

The Supreme Court (SC) Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, on 4 May 2016 recommended elevation of three High Court Chief Justices and a senior lawyer to the apex court.This is the first set of recommendations made by the SC Collegium for appointment as judges of the apex court after the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act was struck down by a Supreme Court bench on 16 October 2015.NJAC wanted to replace the 22-year-old collegium system and provided equal say to politicians in appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The three Justices include :  Justice AM Khanwilkar of the Madhya Pradesh High Court Justice DY Chandrachud of the Allahabad High Court Justice Ashok Bhushan of the Kerala High Court to the Supreme Court L Nageshwar Rao: Fourth appointment : He is senior lawyer.He was counsel for Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in a disproportionate assets case in the Supreme Court.He also served as Additional Solicitor General in the Supreme Court for the UPA-II government and the present NDA government before he resigned from the post. If Rao’s appointment is finalised than he will be the seventh person in India’s legal history to be directly appointed to the Supreme Court. Previous direct appointments to Supreme Court : The previous six such appointments directly from the Bar to Supreme Court judge include Justice SM Sikri (1964): He became the first person to be directly appointed from Bar. He became the Chief Justice of India in January 1971 and retired in April 1973. Justice SC Roy (1971): He died after holding the post for four months. Justice Kuldip Singh (1988): He retired in December 1996. Justice Santosh Hegde (1999): He retired in June 2005. Justice Rohinton F Nariman (2014): He will retire after attaining the age of 65 years on 12 August 2021. UU Lalit (August 2014) : He became the sixth Supreme Court judge to be elevated directly from the Bar. He shall serve on this post till his retirement on 8 November 2022.Besides, acting Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh/Telangana High Court Justice DB Bhonsle has been recommended for the post of Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in place of Justice Chandrachud. Strength of Supreme Court’s : If these recommendations are finalised than the Supreme Courts judicial strength will go up to 28 from 25. Failing which the Supreme Court judge strength will come down to 20 in 2016 as five judges are set to retire by the end of this year. These five judges are: Justice FMI Kalifulla in July Justice V Gopala Gowda in October Justice C Nagappan in October Justice Anil R Dave in November Justice Shiva Kirti Singh in November Who can be appointed as Judge to Supreme Court : Usually, a former Chief Justice of a High Court is elevated to the position of a SC judge, though lawyers from the bar are sometimes elevated to the position of judges in High Court.According to Article 124 (3) of the Constitution of India provides forthree categories of persons to be appointed to the Supreme Court bench, that is, high court judges, advocates and a distinguished jurist.  

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 4 May 2016 gave its approval for development of two laning with formation of four lane of Shimla Bypass (Kaithlighat to Shimla section) on National Highway-22 in Himachal Pradesh. Objective : The main objective of the project is to expedite the improvement of infrastructure in Himachal Pradesh and also in reducing the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying on the Kaithlighat to Shimla section on National Highway-22. However, the approval for the project is in Hybrid Annuity Mode.The work will be completed under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-III. The total length of the road will be approximately 28 kilometres. The cost for the project is estimated to be 1583.18 crore rupees. The cost includes cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities.It has been estimated that a total number of 4076 mandays are required for construction of one kilometre of highway. As such, employment potential of approximately 111914 mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of this stretch. The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of the concerned regions of the State and would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities.

The Selection Committee of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics chaired by Edward Witten announced a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics on 3 May 2016.The prize recognizes the scientists and engineers who contributed to the momentous detection of gravitational waves. The detection was announced on 11 February 2016. It is a 3 million dollar award which will be shared between two groups of laureates: the three founders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) will each equally share 1 million dollar and 1012 contributors to the experiment will each equally share the remaining 2 million dollars. The three founders of LIGO are Ronald WP Drever, Caltech, professor of physics, emeritus; Kip S Thorne, Caltech, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus; and Rainer Weiss, MIT, professor of physics, emeritus.The contributors sharing the prize include 1005 authors of the paper describing the discovery of gravitational waves from the numerous institutions involved in LIGO and its sister experiment, the Virgo Collaboration.Also sharing the prize are seven scientists who made important contributions to the success of LIGO. The laureates will be recognized at the 2017 Breakthrough Prize ceremony in the fall of 2016, where the annual Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (distinct from the special prize) will also be presented along with the Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences and Mathematics.Earlier, Stephen Hawking won the Special Breakthrough Prize in 2013. Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) : LIGO's gravitational wave detectors were conceived and Research and development was initiated in the 1960s. LIGO was built between 1994 and 2002 by Caltech and MIT in partnership with the National Science Foundation of the United States.It was with the aim of observing the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity.After a major upgrade from 2010–2015, it almost immediately observed a gravitational wave distorting the structure of spacetime as it passed through the Earth.The detected distortion was less than a billionth of a billionth of a meter in size at LIGO's two 4KM observatories in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana.The wave emanated from two black holes with masses about 30 times that of the sun, spiraling into each other 1.3 billion light years away.The discovery inaugurates a new era of gravitational wave astronomy which will open a window onto some of the most dramatic and violent phenomena in nature as well as the mysteries of the early universe. Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics : The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists which are theoretical, mathematical and experimental who are working on the deepest mysteries of the Universe. The prize can be shared among any number of scientists.The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics are funded by a grant from the Milner Global Foundation.

United States of America (US) Navy on 2 May 2016 tested the world's largest unmanned surface vessel named Sea Hunter in San Diego.It is a self-driving 132-foot ship able to travel up to 10000 nautical miles on its own to hunt for stealthy submarines and underwater mines.It is designed to travel thousands of miles out at sea without a single crew member on board. The Pentagon's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) developed the ship along with Virginia-based Leidos and it will conduct the test in conjunction with US Navy.Tests will be conducted for the next two years along California's coast to check its ability to react on its own to avoid collisions with seafaring traffic. Sea Hunter Warship : The ship is powered by two diesel engines and can reach speeds of 27 knots per hour.It is a 132ft-long (40-metre) unarmed prototype ship which is designed to cruise on the ocean's surface without a crew.The ship underwent two years of testing which includes verifying that it can safely follow international norms for operating at sea. More importantly, it can use radar and cameras to avoid other vessels. It is the naval equivalent of Google's self-driving car.  

The Lok Sabha passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 for the establishment of funds under the public accounts of Centre and each State towards compensatory afforestation. It also provides for additional afforestation and penal compensatory afforestation to regulate collected funds. Features of the bill  : It seeks to establish the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state. The payments into the funds include compensatory afforestation, net present value of forest (NPV), and any project specific payments. The National Fund will get 10% of funds collected and the remaining 90% will go to respective State Fund. The collected funds will be utilised for afforestation, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wild life protection and forest related infrastructure development. The bill also seeks to establish National and State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authorities to manage the funds. The determination of NPV will be delegated to an expert committee constituted by the central government The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (FCA) governs diversion or use of forest land for non-forest purposes such as industrial or infrastructure projects. A company diverting forest land must provide alternative land for taking up compensatory afforestation. For the afforestation purpose, the company should pay for planting new trees in the alternative land provided to the state. The loss of forest ecosystem must also be compensated by paying for (NPV). In 2002, the Supreme Court of India observed that collected funds for afforestation were underutilised by the states and it ordered for centrally pooling of funds under ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund. The court had set up the ad hoc National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (National CAMPA) to manage the Fund. In 2009, states also had set up State CAMPAs that receive 10% of funds form National CAMPA to use for afforestation and forest conservation. However, in 2013, a CAG report identified that the funds continued to be underutilised.

The Union Cabinet has  approved the signing of Memorandum of Co-operation (MoC) between Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)  on 4 May 2016 .The MoC will be signed for the cooperation in Information and Communication Technology Enabled Real Time Monitoring (ICT-RTM) of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and other related technical matters.The MoC will facilitate the development of CAS for ICT-RTM, training of trainers and other technical matters. ICT-RTM and other components will be rolled out in phased manner.The MoC will cover 162 high malnutrition burden districts of eight states. These states are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Highlights of the MoC : Implementation of ICT-RTM of ICDS, which will enable the authorities for timely intervention for ensuring proper service delivery.Putting up in place a shared national communication campaign, communications strategy and guidelines, customizing communications, products and material to local contexts along with developing plans for large scale dissemination.Technical support through high quality technical teams of nutrition experts.The phase-I of ISSNIP will roll out ICT-RTM through one Lakh Anganwadi Centers (AWCs) in 162 high burden districts of eight participating States. Children of 0-6 years age, pregnant women and lactating mothers will be the ultimate beneficiaries.  BMGF will provide for What : Technical support at the national and state level for strengthening their capacities to deliver nutrition especially during pre-conception, pregnancy and first two years of life.Funding to applicable organisation that meets eligibility criteria as will be mutually agreed upon by the Foundation and MWCD from time to time.Support to MWCD in developing a shared national communication campaign for maternal and child nutrition for roll out among target population. The Common Application Software (CAS) will be developed by the BMGF with support of their partners. It will be made available to the Ministry free of cost along with its Source Code for hosting by MWCD with NIC. CAS will drive the ICT-RTM of ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) and Support System.

Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy on 4 May 2016 launched ‘Contract Labour Payment Management System’- a portal of Coal India Limited (CIL).This web portal will help the government to curb problems like corruption and exploitation of contractual workers by contractors. It will also help in providing proper and timely wages to contractual workers.It has been planned to make payment to the contractors only after submitting a system generated declaration of compliance. Features of Web Portal : The web portal is created for monitoring compliance of labour payment and other benefits to the contract workers under the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970.It is an integrated system for all subsidiaries of CIL.The in-house developed application will maintain a comprehensive database of all contract workers engaged by different contractors in CIL and all its subsidiaries.The portal will be managed by the Central Mine Planning and Development Institute (CMPDI), Ranchi. It is a consultancy subsidiary of Coal India Limited.The system has in-built mechanism to validate minimum wages paid, generate wage slips and employment card and others of contract workers as required under the Act.The portal provides access to all contract workers, through a Workers Identification Number (WIN), to view their personal details and payment status. The portal will allow contract workers to register their grievance.The system extends facility to all citizens of the country to view a snapshot of contract works in CIL and subsidiaries, number of contract workers engaged, payment status, minimum wages paid etc.The Nodal Officer at different locations in the company will monitor the process and ensure compliance by all contractors. Apart from this, the minister also urged all other PSUs and private sector organisations to replicate this portal and assured free of cost technical support. This portal will be made fully functional within 45 to 60 days. This will enhance proper monitoring of legal compliances under Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, especially the payment of correct wages to the contract workers and PF deductions and deposit and other statutory obligations. Besides, Goyal also felicitated employees of his Ministries, Public Sector Undertakings and organization/Statutory bodies for their path breaking work towards lighting up India in last two years.The felicitated ones include 4 employees from 34 organisations of 3 ministries from 26 states.  

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