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Last Modified:31-03-2016

March 2016 – Current Affairs and Quiz

31 March 2016 Current Affairs

QUIZ
  • Rakesh Mohan joins Nestle India Board

    Nestle India today said Rakesh Mohan, former RBI Deputy Governor, will join its board as an independent director. Mohans would come on Nestle Indias board from May 1, 2016, as an Independent Non-Executive Director, the company said in a statement.  Prior to it, he was on Nestle Indias board from April 2010 to October 2012 and had to relinquish it following his appointment as executive director at the International Monetary Fund. Mohan completed his three-year term at IMF in November, 2015. He had earlier held the position of Deputy Governor of RBI from September 2002 to October 2004, and July 2005 to June 2009. Mohan was also Secretary in Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance from October 2004 to July 2005.

    Supreme Court approved guidelines of Union Government to protect Good Samaritans

    The Supreme Court has approved the Centres guidelines to protect Good Samaritans, who help road accident victims, from being unnecessarily harassed by police or any other authority.A bench comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra asked the central government to give wide publicity to these guidelines so that people who help others in the time of distress are not victimised by any authority.Earlier this month, the apex court had said it will pass an order on the recommendations of a committee headed by its former judge on road safety which advocated that people saving lives of road accident victims need not fear harassment by police or other authorities.

    Indian Affairs Bihar passes bill to ban liquor in the state

    The Bihar Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Bill 2016 to enforce the ban on countrymade liquor from April 1. The 1915 liquor Bill was amended to incorporate stricter penal provisions, including death sentence, for manufacturers and distributors of illicit liquor in the event of a hooch tragedy.In a rare show of solidarity, all MLAs including Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar rose from their seats and resolved that they wont drink and would discourage others from doing so. Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav were not present in the House.The CM said: “Our experts decided to make the provisions stricter… But we have also taken a humanitarian view with the compensation provision for a victim of hooch tragedy”.

    Skype to get HoloLens, Cortana support

    Microsoft isnt just content to work on a universal Skype app -- it has much bigger plans in store. Its developing a version of Skype for HoloLens that, as youd expect, lets you chat and collaborate with friends using the augmented reality headset. Its exact functionality isnt clear yet, but the allure is clear: you can hold a hands-free video chat while youre walking around the room. Needless to say, thats helpful if youre working on a group project or have your hands full with other tasks. Dont worry if you cant drop $3,000 on a HoloLens unit to try it out, though, as theres plenty coming for regular users.The team is bringing artificial intelligence to Skype in a big way. Youll have access to the Cortana personal assistant on Android, iOS and Windows, to begin with. Its much like Facebooks M and other conversational helpers: you can ask her to send directions, order food, or even connect to other bots (such as, say, customer service). Support for chat bots is being woven into Skype itself, on that note, so companies can serve you through AI messaging when its convenient. You should have access to bots in Skype today, and theres a bot developer kit to help programmers get started.

    Hindustan Zinc announces ₹10k crore dividend

    New Delhi, Mar 30 (PTI) Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) today announced that it will pay Rs 10,141 crore as dividend, which includes Rs 3,000 crore to the government, to its shareholders for the 2015-16 fiscal, the highest by any private company. In 2002-03, the government sold its 64.92 per cent stake in HZL to mining baron Anil Agarwal-led Vednata Resources, while retaining 29.54 per cent."The actual dividend is Rs 10,141 crore and when dividend tax is included it will go to Rs 12,205 crore. This is the highest ever dividend announced by a private company. From the dividend announced today, Rs 3,000 crore would be paid to the government," HZL CEO Sunil Duggal told PTI.He informed that the firms Board has declared a special golden jubilee dividend at the rate of 1200 per cent -- Rs 24 per equity share of Rs 2 each -- for 2015-16 fiscal."Since 2002 (disinvestment of HZL), the firm has paid Rs 32,500 crore to the government in terms of royalties, direct and indirect taxes, dividend distribution tax, etc. And if the dividend tax on dividend announced today is included, this contribution would go up to Rs 34,500 crore," Duggal added.

    IIT-Patna organised First International Symposium on 5G

    The Indian Institute of Technology Patna (IIT-P) organised the First International Symposium on Fifth Generation (5G) technology. The symposium commenced on 29 March 2016 and will conclude on 31 March 2016 in Patna.The Patna 5G Summit is co-sponsored by IEEE Communications Society, Center for TeleInfrastruktur, Aalborg University (CTIF), Global ICT Standardization Forum for India (GISFI) and IEEE Kolkata Section.The aim of the symposium is to bring academia, industry, government organizations etc. to participate and share their research intuition and views over the possible 5G technologies, standardization aspects, heterogeneous networks, architectural designs, wireless techniques and new hardware designs.During the symposium, Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that IIT-P along with IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore will be a part of innovation and research for 5G technology in India.

    LIC increases stake in Dena Bank, Andhra Bank

    Public sector lender Dena Bank has raised Rs 65 crore by issuing over 2 crore shares to LIC  on preferential basis. Andhra Bank also said it has sold over 4.23 per cent stake to LIC on a preferential allotment, without disclosing the amount. Post the acquisition of additional shares in Dena Bank, LICs stake in the lender has gone up to 14.5 per cent from 11.63 per cent earlier, Dena Bank said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday."Upon receipt of funds from LIC, the Issue Committee of the Board of Bank at its meeting held on March 30, has allotted 2,16,76,267 equity shares of Rs 10 each at a premium of Rs 19.92 per share amounting to Rs 64.86 crore to LIC of India, on preferential basis", the bank said.Post the allotment, governments shareholding has decreased to 62.89 per cent from existing 65 per cent, it said. The banks scrip was trading at Rs 29.05, up 2.47 per cent, on BSE.Meanwhile, Andhra Bank said it has sold over 4.23 per cent stake equivalent to 28,853,210 shares to LIC on a preferential allotment. The price per unit at which Andhra Bank sold shares to LIC was not provided. After the additional stake buy in Andhra Bank, LIC holds more than 14.39 per cent in the lender, from earlier over 10.15 per cent. Shares of the Andhra Bank were trading at Rs 51.70, up 3.50 per cent, on BSE. 

    Modi, Belgian PM launch Asias biggest telescope

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel on Wednesday remotely launched Asias biggest optical telescope, the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (Aries) thats located in India and built with Belgian assistance."Prime Minister Michel and I have just activated, remotely, Indias largest optical telescope," Prime Minister Modi said after launching the telescope with a 3.6-metre-wide primary mirror located at Devasthal near Nainital in Uttarakhand."Even sky is not the limit," the Prime Minister said, referring to the cooperation between the two countries on various projects.Aries, the largest optical telescope of its kind in Asia, is a product of Indo-Belgian collaboration. It will be used to study star structures and magnetic field structures of stars."This product of Indo-Belgian collaboration is an inspiring example of what our partnership can achieve," said Prime Minister Modi, who was flanked by Belgian Prime Minister Michel."The work is also afoot on other agreements in the areas of Information and Communication Technology, audio-visual production Tourism biotechnology and shipping and ports," said PM Modi, who arrived here today on a hectic day-long visit."Aries project is not just a government-to-government initiative," the Prime Minister said after the activation.

    Patrick Dupuis appointed to Wipros Board of Directors

    Wipro Limited announced the appointment of Patrick Dupuis, an experienced financial and business strategist, recognized for driving cultural and operational transformation at scale, to its Board of Directors as an Independent Director, effective April 1, 2016. He is currently Senior Vice President for Simplicity, Quality and Productivity at Global technology platform and payments leader, PayPal Holdings, Inc. where his role is to continuously identify and pursue opportunities to simplify and optimize processes across the business. Welcoming Dupuis to the Board, Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro Limited said, "He brings with him a combination of financial acumen and a deep understanding of driving cultural and operational transformation. I am confident Wipro will immensely benefit from his experience." Commenting on his appointment, Dupuis, who will also be a member of the Strategy Committee of the Board, said, "I am delighted and privileged to be invited to join the Board of Wipro Ltd., a company widely respected, as much for its business excellence as for its unflinching commitment to values. I look forward to contributing to the Company as it prepares for its next phase of growth."

    India, WI have 2-2 head-to-head record in T20Is

    Coming into the World T20 semi-final today, India and West indies have a 2-2 head-to-head record in T20Is, while the record in World T20s is 2-1 in favour of the Windies. In the four matches, Rohit Sharma was the highest scorer for India with 98 runs (combined) and Chris Gayle was the highest run-getter for the Caribbeans with 154 (combined).

    China launched 22nd BeiDou navigation satellite

    China has successfully launched 22nd new generation satellite into space as part of its domestic BeiDou Navigation System (BDS). It was launched using Long March-3A carrier rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center located in the south-western province of Sichuan. It was the 225th launch of the Long March carrier rocket. About BeiDou Navigation System (BNS) BNS is 2nd generation of the Chinese navigational system seen as rival to the USs Global Positioning System (GPS). BeiDou is Mandarin means magnetic Compass which was one of the Chinese major invention in the history which had revolutionized the sea voyages.

30 March 2016 Current Affairs

  • Former USC President Steven Sample dies at 75

    on after Steven B. Sample became president of USC, the L.A. riots erupted. Administrators and staff were told to leave as smoke billowed on the horizon during those tense days in 1992. But Sample stayed, sleeping on his office floor and keeping company with fearful students in the dining hall.The South Los Angeles campus escaped damage, but the nearby violence generated cries to move USC to a less-troubled neighborhood — perhaps somewhere in Orange County. Instead Sample doubled-down on his university as an “anchor institution” in the city, launching a massive civic engagement effort and proving himself a master salesman who boosted the schools prestige and coffers.During 19 years as president, Sample catapulted USC from being a school often mocked as the University of Second Choice or the University of Spoiled Children into a top educational institution and fundraising powerhouse.He died Tuesday at the age of 75. No cause of death was released.

    Modi reaches Brussels for India-EU Summit

    New Delhi, Mar 28: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to begin his first major foreign tour for the year 2016. Brussels would be the first stop in Modis itinerary followed by Washington and Saudi Arabia. Modi would reach the European shores on March 30, kicking off his yet another high-stake global tour, which would also allow him to grab headlines for the forthcoming days.Modis visit to Brussels comes at a time when Indias trade relation with the European Union is taking a bump. Ever since the regime altered in mid-2014, the stalwarts of EU have shown lack of trust in India. The FDI equity inflow has been constantly dropping ever since Modi came to power. While the foreign investment roughly stood at $24,913 million between 2012-14, it dropped to $8,207 million in 2014-15. In the same period, trade in goods dropped by 4 per cent $98 billion, whereas, the bilateral trade in services also shrunk by 2.5 per cent, bringing it down to %26 billion.

    Prime Minister To Launch "Stand Up India" Scheme On 5th Of April

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on April 5 inaugurate Stand Up India initiative which is aimed at creating jobs and promoting entreprenuers among SC, ST and women by extending loans at cheaper rates.The programme will be launched by Modi at a function to be held at Noida.The Cabinet, headed by Modi, had in January approved Stand up India scheme for providing credit to SC, ST and women entrepreneurs at lower rates.Under the scheme, which will be implemented  .. 

    Uber launches pilot bike-sharing service in Gurgaon

    Uber launched its pilot bike-sharing service, uberMOTO, in Gurgaon on Tuesday, which is a car-free day in the city. Customers can call for a motorcycle or scooter on the Uber app.The base fare for the ride is Rs15, with Rs3 for every kilometre and Rs1 per minute. Earlier this month, Uber and its Indian rival Ola had launched a similar service in Bengaluru. But road transport authorities cracked down on the services, claiming that neither of the companies had got approvals. uberMOTO services will be available in Gurgaon between 7.30am and 9.30pm. The customer has to wear a helmet before sitting pillion. The American taxi-hailing service provides GPS tracking of the bikes and customers can share the trip with others. 

    USAID, ADB sign Develop Solar Parks MoU

    New Delhi, Mar 28 (ANI): The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate USD 848 million (Rs. 5,681 crore) in funding to develop solar parks across India.The agreement was signed by Jonathan Addleton, Mission Director, USAID/India and M. Teresa Kho, Country Director, India Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank.Through the agreement, USAID will align the technical resources of two of its programs to support ADBs investments in the development of solar parks and renewable energy transmission infrastructure in states at the forefront of Indias efforts to promote clean energy. The collaboration will initially focus on the state of Rajasthan.The cooperation will design and develop public-private partnership models as well as study options for managing grid reliability. In particular, USAID technical activities will help place investments of USD 348 million (Rs. 2,331 crore) by ADB for transmission infrastructure for renewable energy deployment in western Rajasthan.USAID will also work with ADB across India with an additional USD 500 million (Rs. 3,350 crore) of investment in the design and development of solar parks.

    Sergey Karjakin won 2016 World Chess Candidates Tournament

    Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin on 28 March 2016 won the FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament held in Moscow. In the final Round 14, the Russian grandmaster defeated American grandmaster Fabiano Caruana. Karjakin will now play with the incumbent world champion, Norwegian Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, in a match for the world chess crown in the United States in November 2016.

    ISRO set to launch record 22 satellites in single mission

    The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to script history by launching a record number of 22 satellites in a single mission in May 2016. These satellites (micro and nano) will be launched using ISROs workhorse Polar rocket PSLV C34. It will be carrying Indias Cartosat 2C along with 21 other satellites from other countries, including US, Canada, Indonesia and Germany as co-passengers. This launch would be made from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. Earlier in 2008, ISRO had sent ten satellites into orbit in a single mission. The US space agency NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) holds current world record for sending highest number of satellites in single launch. It had sent 29 satellites to the orbit in a single launch in 2013.

    India ranks third in financial Trojan infections

    New Delhi, Mar 29 (PTI) India ranks third among countries with high number of financial Trojan infections, where cyber criminals defraud customers of online banking services, security solutions firm Symantec said today.India has moved up from 5th position in 2014 to rank 3 in 2015, although global detections have dropped, Symantec said in a report."Although global detections dropped, financial Trojans are becoming far more capable and criminals are increasingly targeting institutions directly... India was preceded by the US and Germany," the report added.The report said India has consistently moved up the rankings for countries with the most number of financial Trojan infections over the last three years (No 7 in 2013; No 5 in 2014; and No 3 in 2015).Using financial Trojans to defraud customers of online banking services is still a popular method among cybercriminals looking to make a profit, it added."For our research, we extracted configuration files from 656 active malware samples. Within those files, we found 2,048 URL patterns that show that the Trojans are targeting customers of 547 organisations in 49 countries," it said.

    Renowned Author Jim Harrison Has Passed Away

    Jim Harrison, the great writers in contemporary American fiction has passed away at his home in Patagonia, Arizona. He was the prolific author and poet. He was 78 year old.He was a versatile writer who authored almost 40 books, including novels, collections of poems and eloquent essays about his passion for food. He was considered a master of the novella, a short novel or long short story, although he didnt find mainstream success until later in his career.Mr. Harrison was born in 1937 in Grayling, Michigan. He was blinded in his left eye by an accident when he was 7 year old. A restless adventurer as a young man, he once hitchhiked from Michigan to California to gaze at the Pacific Ocean.Although Harrison never wrote big best-sellers, his work was deeply admired in literary circles. Among his most beloved novels and novellas are “Dalva,” “Julip,” “The Woman Lit by Fireflies” and “True North.”

    Islam as state religion of Bangladesh

    Bangladeshs top court has rejected a 28-year-old petition to remove Islam as official religion of the country. While the South Asian nations Islamists rejoice, analysts say the move is a setback for secular forces. Islam was introduced as state religion in the Bangladeshi constitution in 1988, almost two decades after the South Asian nation got independence from Pakistan following a liberation war. The inclusion of Islam was against the core principles of the countrys independence fighters. The move prompted a group of 15 prominent citizens to file a petition in the courts.

    RBI cancelled Certificate of Registration of 22 NBFCs

    Reserve Bank today said it has canceled registration of 22 non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) including that of Amazan Capital and Mascot Commerce.The RBI said it canceled the certificate of registration of the NBFCs in exercise of the powers conferred on it under Section 45-IA (6) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934."Following the cancellation of registration certificate, these companies cannot transact the business of a non-banking financial institution," it said in a statement. NBFCs whose registration have been canceled include Kundan Leasing and Finvest, Raseera Investments, Limtex Impex, Dignity Motors Finance, Akansha Consultancy Services, Bini Commercial Enterprises, Nirankar Investments, and Surin Investments.

    P Susheela entered Guinness World Records for recording highest number of songs in several languages

    Renowned playback singer P. Susheela Mohan in the last week of March 2016 entered the Guinness Book of Records for singing 17695 songs in 12 Indian languages. On the other hand, Asia Book of Records also officially recognised Susheela for singing most number of songs in Indian languages.While the Guinness Book of Records officially credited her for singing 17695 songs (solo, duet and chorus backed songs) in twelve Indian languages, Asia Book of Records recognised her for singing 17330 songs.

    Oscar winning actress Patty Duke dies at 69

    Patty Duke, the teen who won an Oscar for The Miracle Worker and later played "identical cousins" in her own TV sitcom, has died. She was 69.The news was confirmed Tuesday by one of her representatives, Mitchell Stubbs."Anna Patty Duke Pearce passed away this morning March 29, 2016 at 1:20 am," his statement read. "Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be missed."Duke died at a hospital in Coeur DAlene, Idaho, where she had lived for the last 25 years with fourth husband Michael Pearce.

25 March 2016 Current Affairs

QUIZ
  • Malayalam actor Jishnu Raghavan dies of cancer

    Malayalam film actor Jishnu Raghavan, son of veteran actor Raghavan, passed away due to cancer at a private hospital. He was 35.Jishnu was battling throat and lung cancer for quite some time and was undergoing treatment at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS). Jishnu, who appeared as a child artist in the movie “Kilipatt” in the year 1987, made his film debut in a major role in the blockbuster “Nammal”, directed by Kamal in 2002.His performance in it earned him Mathrubhumi Award and Kerala Film Critics Award for the best male debut.He essayed major roles in “Choonda”, “Freedom”, “Parayam” and supporting part in “Nerariyan CBI”, “Pauran” and “Chakkara Muthu.”

    Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ties Up With NBHC For Collateral Management & Warehousing

    Private lender Lakshmi Vilas Bank has tied up with National Bulk Handling Corporation (NBHC) for collateral management and warehousing services. "Lakshmi Vilas Bank announces its alliance with National Bulk Handling Corporation Private Limited (NBHC), a major agri-infrastructure player, established in 2005 for collateral management and warehousing services," Lakshmi Vilas Bank said in a statement on March 23,2016. The objective of these services will enable industry traders and farmers in financing their capital requirements at all stages of supply chain, ranging from pre-harvesting to the marketing and export stages, it added. This would allow the bank to provide financial flexibility to farmers, minimising the seasonal price fluctuations and distress sales during crop harvest season, the statement said. NBHC caters to the needs of the members of the commodities future exchange for strong commodities and delivery through designated warehouses. It also assures on the quality and quantity by maintaining the inherent quality during the period of storage and up to the time of delivery of the traded commodities.

    Union Government releases self-regulation Code of ethical business conduct for industry

    The Union Consumer Affairs Ministry has released a self-regulation Code of ethical business conduct to be adopted by the Industry on providing best products and services. In this regard, Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) was inked between Department of Consumer Affairs and the industry bodies related to self-regulated code of fair business. The code contains provision of trustworthy products and services for the consumers, comply with the competition and anti-trust laws and respond to consumer complaints promptly. It covers six broad principles to be adopted by the industry viz (i) safety of products and services, (ii) building sustainable supply chains, (iii) marketing products ethically, (iv) non-indulgence in unfair trade practices, (v) complying with competition and anti-trust laws, (vi) prompt response to consumer complaints.

    Mint plant can help fight cancer: CIMAP Researchers

    Scientists at Lucknow​ based CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP​) have found that mint plant has medicinal values that can cure cancer. They have identified that a medicinal compound called ‘L-Menthol’ derived from Mentha plant popularly known as mint.​ ​ Key findings L-Menthol compound can kill the colon cancer cell line without affecting the normal cell line. The compound inhibits the division of cancer cell and prevents its growth and spread to other organs of the body. Its production is cost-effective, non-destructive and easily available in comparison to anti-cancer compound used at present obtained from the bark of European Yew tree. The Mentha is available in abundance across the world compared to the European Yew tree which is found only in Europe and some parts of Africa and Asia.​ ​Menthol can be derived easily without damaging the plant, whereas the European Yew tree has to be cut down for using bark for deriving anti-cancer compound. The discovery can be very useful for farmers in ​India where Mentha is grown in large quantity.

    March 25: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

    Every year 25th March is being observed as International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Significance of the day: It honours and remembers those who suffered and died as a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade. It also aims at raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice Transatlantic slave trade which had taken place over the span 400 years is considered as the worst violation of human rights in history in which more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims. 2016 Theme: “Remember Slavery: Celebrating the Heritage and Culture of the African Diaspora and its Roots”. It draws attention to the rich African traditions and culture that have impacted life in countries which were involved in the slave trade. It also marks the major contributions African diaspora in all aspects of life in these countries. It also highlights the cultural linkages that exist among people of African descent throughout the world.The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had declared 25 March as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade by adopting a resolution in 2007. It was first observed in 2008 with the theme “Breaking the Silence, Lest We Forget”. Since then it is observed every year.

    AROGYA fair to be commence in Goa on March 26

    The four-day national AROGYA fair will be held in Goa from March 26-29, Union AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik said. AROGYA, organised by AYUSH Ministry and Confederation of Indian Industry, will promote and popularise Indian medicinal system, Naik told PTI. The national level AROGYA fair in Goa this year is being organised with the objective of promoting and popularising Indian Medicine Systems to the general public and update industry of the latest developments in the sector, to promote and propagate the Indian Medicine systems namely Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and HomeopathyFree medical check-ups, distribution of medicines and technical sessions will be organised during the fair. Approximately, 15,000-20,000 people are expected to attend the four-day event.The minister said the fair would be an excellent platform to promote Indian medicine systems and healthy living to the general public as well as sharing the latest research work in sector and showcase the true potential of state in the sector. "Technical sessions would be held on all days on emerging trends in industry and live Yoga demonstration, demonstration of home remedies for treatment of common ailments and display of medicinal plants, Ayurvedic, Unani medicines for common ailments would be some of the attractions for all the visitors.

    RTI bill presented in Sri Lankan Parliament

    Sri Lanka's much-awaited Right to Information (RTI) Bill was tabled in Parliament on 23 March ,2016 fulfilling an election promise of the Sirisena government.The bill's presentation had been delayed as the Northern Provincial Council had failed to pass the proposed draft in the Council on time.While presenting the draft bill to the Parliament, Minister of Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms Gayantha Karunathilake said that he was pleased to present the draft bill in Parliament today, the birthday of the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Party leaders are to decide on its debating day later. The RTI was a key election pledge made by the Opposition coalition now in power when they challenged the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election held in January 2015.Rajpaksa was defeated by Maithripala Sirisena in general elections last year.The Cabinet had approved it in December and thereafter was referred to the nine provincial councils for approval.Rejection by the provincial councils would have meant the requirement for it to be passed by two thirds majority in Parliament.Three of nine councils have approved the draft subject to amendments, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said on Wednesday.The Bill provides for the establishment of a Right to Information Commission and the appointment of information officers among other things to uphold the people's right to know.The civil society activists who were responsible for drafting the legislation said they would ensure an Act of the highest quality to guarantee the RTI.

    Mizoram, JICA sign pact for promoting sustainable agriculture

    The Mizoram government and Japanese International Cooperative Agency (JICA) today signed an agreement on 'Capacity Enhancement for Sustainable Agriculture and Irrigation Development.' The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by top officials of Agriculture, Minor Irrigation, Horticulture and Soil and Water Conservation departments in the presence of state chief secretary Lalmalsawma, an official statement said. JICA was represented by its team leader Satoru Fujita and four other officials both from Tokyo and Delhi, it added. Experts of the Japanese company would, on the company's own expense, undertake technical cooperation project in four rural development blocks in Aizawl, Kolasib, Serchhip and Champhai districts. The JICA had conducted development study during 2013 and 2015 and had formulated a master plan covering 20 years and the technical cooperation project would commence from October this year and continue till September 2021. Training programmes would be conducted in Japan both for officials and farmers from Mizoram for three times during the period and the expenses would be borne by the Japanese government .

    RuPay to launch credit cards in September

    After increasing its market share to 38 per cent in the debit card segment, RuPay, domestic card payment service provider, will be venturing into the credit card space this September.It plans to issue 100,000 such cards in the first year of its launch. It will initially focus on two variants of a credit card  Regular and Platinum  and gradually extend its portfolio to offer co-branded cards.“We have a significant opportunity to scale up and grab a significant share in the overall cards business, post the launch of the credit card and enhancing the Platinum debit card portfolio,” Dilip Asbe, chief operating officer at National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), told Business Standard.RuPay is a brand owned and developed by NPCI (from 2012) to compete against global payment schemes of the likes of Visa and MasterCard. NPCI was promoted by 10 Indian banks. “We are targeting to capture 10 per cent of the entire credit cards market in India in a two to three-year timeframe,” said Asbe. From 2017, the target is to issue 500,000 to a million such credit cards every year. The market size of credit cards is presently 22.75 million users and the average value of spending a year is about Rs 2.5 lakh crore.The brand, according to a joint study by JM Financial Securities and RuPay, has gained more than a third of market share in total cards and 18 per cent in volume of debit card transactions. “We have gained over 20 per cent market share in debit card-based ATM transactions and four per cent in debit card-based Point of Sale (PoS) transactions,” said Asbe.NPCI is also optimistic about the 11 payments banks and eight small finance banks commencing operations over the next two years, helping it further its market share.Asbe cited its cost competitiveness by nearly 50 per cent against the Visa network, a push from state-owned banks and growing acceptance across merchant platforms to drive RuPay's growth this year.

    Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic sentenced to 40-year imprisonment

    The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 24 March 2016 sentenced former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to 40-year imprisonment for his involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.The ruling was pronounced by the Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber III of the Tribunal O-Gon Kwon of South Korea.As per the ruling, Karadzic was found guilty of 10 out 11 charges related to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes charges. However, he was acquitted of a second count of genocide in Bosnian towns.So far, Karadzic is the most senior political figure to be convicted by the ICTY for involvement in the Bosnia’s 1992-95 war that left 100000 people dead.Apart from Radovan Karadzic, late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic, the General who commanded Bosnian Serb forces, were tried by the Tribunal so far.While Milosevic died in custody in 2006 before a verdict was reached, Mladic is in a UN cell awaiting judgment.International Court of Justice ruled Neither Croatia nor Serbia committed genocide during Balkan War. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a significant split developed on the issue of whether to stay with the Yugoslav federation (overwhelmingly favored among Serbs) or seek independence (overwhelmingly favored among Bosniaks and Croats) that culminated in the Bosnian war (1992-95). During the course of war, Serbs, Bosniaks (mostly Muslims) and Croats fought among themselves that led to Europe’s worst war scenario since the World War II.Among the perpetrators of these heinous crimes on humanity, Radovan Karadzic is considered as one of the key personnel. He is the former President of Republika Srpska (RS).Opponents of the ICTY say its prosecutors have disproportionately targeted Serbs as 94 of 161 suspects charged were from the Serbian side, while 29 were Croat and 9 Bosnian Muslim.They further argue that it is a pro-Western instrument which is evident from the fact that the Tribunal failed to bring charges against two other leaders of that era who have since died -- Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic.The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), situated in The Hague,  is a United Nations court of law dealing with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s.In May 1993, The Tribunal was established in May 1993 by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter.It was the first war crimes court created by the UN and the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals.By bringing perpetrators to trial, the ICTY aims to deter future crimes and render justice to thousands of victims and their families, thus contributing to a lasting peace in the former Yugoslavia.

    Hollywood Comedian Garry Shandling died

    Renowned Comedian, actor, writer and producer Garry Shandling was died on 24 March 2016 in Santa Monica. He was 66.He was best known for the shows, It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show.He was born in Chicago and raised in Tucson, Arizona.He started out majoring in electrical engineering before completing a marketing degree at the University of Arizona.He guest-hosted on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and created his own sitcom It's Garry Shandling's Show in 1986.The show, also co-created by Alan Zweibel, was nominated for four Emmys, and ran until 1990.He starred and co-created Larry Sanders Show for HBO and was nominated for 18 Emmys for it and, along with Peter Tolan, won an Emmy for the series finale.He also acted in films like Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dr Dolittle, Zoolander and Over the Hedge.He also served as a popular awards show host for emceeing the Grammys in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994, and the Emmys in 2000 and 2004.

    US Navy Tug USS Conestoga wreck discovered after 95 Years

    US Navy tug USS Conestoga was in news on 23 March 2016 as its wreck was discovered near one of the Farallones Islands about 30 miles (50 km) west of San Francisco. It was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Navy of United States.The World War I era tug was missing since 1921 and the discovery of the wreck solved a 95 year-old mystery of its disappearance.The wreck of the U.S. Navy tugboat USS Conestoga is seen on sonar in at a depth of 185 feet in the waters of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in California. The wood deck and other upper features have collapsed into the hull due to corrosion and age.Marine growth covers the exterior. No human remains have been found.Conestoga was an US Navy tug, bound for American Samoa via Hawaii had departed from San Francisco Bay on 25 March 1921 and vanished with 56 men.The Navy declared Conestoga and its crew lost in June 1921. It was the last Navy ship to be lost without a trace in peacetime.Unraveling the mystery began in 2009, when NOAA found an uncharted likely shipwreck in 189 feet (57.6 meters) of water about three miles (five km) off Southeast Farallon Island, in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.The agency began an investigation in September 2014 and the ship was identified in October 2015.Investigators believe that the Conestoga sank as it tried to reach a protected cove on Southeast Farallon Island.

    ISRO established GIRI Radar System at Tirupati

    The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 21 March 2016 established the Gadanki Ionospheric Radar Interferometer (GIRI) near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.It was set up at the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL) which is an autonomous research institute of the Department of Space.GIRI System is a 30 MHz radar system that will be engaged in meteor and space weather research in a comprehensive way.It consists of a rectangular antenna array of 160 two-element Yagi-antenna, arranged in a 20x8 matrix, 20 transmitter units, 6 digital receivers including data processing systems, a radar controller, and a host computer.Its primary objective is to carry out unattended observations towardsstudying the forcing from the sun like variation in solar flux, solar flare and magnetic storm on the ionospheric irregularities.It also seeks to study unattended observations from the underneath atmosphere (e.g., waves generated by weather phenomena) on the ionospheric irregularities. It will provide important information on the angular location of plasma irregularities during the onset phase and its relationship to background ionospheric state parameters and sunset terminator. Investigations made using this facility are expected to improve the skill in Equatorial Plasma Bubble (EPB) forecasting which is detrimental for satellite based navigation/communication applications.National Atmospheric Research Laboratory is an autonomous society supported by Department of Space and is located at Gadanki near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the specialized atmospheric research in the country to conduct basic atmospheric research, indigenous technology development for atmospheric probing and weather and climate modeling. It regularly operates state-of-the-art MST radar, Rayleigh / Mie Lidar, Boundary Layer Lidar, Sodium Lidar, Lower Atmospheric Wind Profiler, Sodar and Dual frequency GPS receiver.Its facilities are available for national and international scientists to conduct atmospheric research.The proposed up-gradation of the upcoming active array MST radar into Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) will provide a unique opportunity for scientists from both home and abroad to conduct frontline atmospheric and ionospheric research.

    Asia most exposed to disasters, Africa most vulnerable: Study

    Countries and mega-cities across Asia are highly exposed to natural hazards ranging from cyclones to earthquakes, but people in sub-Saharan Africa are more vulnerable, according to a report.Nearly 1.4 billion people in South Asia -- India, Bangladesh, Pakistan -- face at least one major threat from nature, especially flooding, severe storms boosted by rising seas, and quakes.In the case of Bangladesh, 100% of its population is exposed, compared to 82% for India and 70% in Pakistan.China, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines are also among the nations with the largest numbers of people in harm's way.The United States, Mexico and Brazil round out the top ten.When it comes to vulnerability, however, Africa is the continent where people are most likely to suffer injury, disease and death as a result of natural disasters, according to the Natural Hazards Vulnerability Index from risk analysts Verisk Maplecroft.The capacity to cope with disaster can determine whether a high-magnitude earthquake, for example, will cause hundreds of deaths, as happened in Chile in 2010, or hundreds of thousands, as befell Haiti in the same year.Nine out of ten countries ranked as most vulnerable to natural hazards in the index are in sub-Saharan Africa, and 23 of 25 are on the continent.South Sudan -- plagued by drought and war -- heads the list of the countries most defenceless against disaster, followed by Burundi, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Chad, Niger, Sudan, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.The frequency and magnitude of natural hazard events cannot be controlled," the report noted."But the development and implementation of disaster risk reduction strategies can help minimise the humanitarian and economic impacts," said the report released.Among mega cities, Manila -- facing a triple threat from cyclones, superstorms and earthquakes  tops the list of urban areas with the highest number of people exposed.Tokyo and Jakarta and in second and third place, with Dongguan in southern China, Dhaka and Kolkata following close behind.Mexico City, Delhi and Sao Paulo all have huge populations exposed to major storms."This analysis shows that governance is key to lower vulnerability," the report said.Without major reforms and political stability, "countries such as India and the Philippines are unlikely to see improvements in the near term.

    Union Cabinet approved Implementation of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana — Gramin

    Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23 March 2016 approved the implementation of rural housing scheme of thePradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G). This will help achieve the goal of Housing for All by 2022.The total expenditure that will be incurred on implementing the project in a span of 3 years from 2016-17 to 2018-19 stands at 81975 crore rupees.Providing financial assistance for construction of 1 crore pucca houses to all houseless and households living in dilapidated houses in rural areas from 2016-17 to 2018-19The scheme would be implemented in rural areas throughout India except Delhi and Chandigarh.The cost of houses would be shared between Centre and States in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.Enhancing the unit assistance to 120000 rupees in plain areas and to 130000 rupees in hilly states/difficult areas /IAP districts Using Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 data for identification of beneficiaries.Setting up of National Technical Support Agency at national level to provide technical support in achieving the target set under the project.The beneficiary is entitled to 90 days of unskilled labour from MGNREGA. This will be ensured through a server linkage between PMAY and MGNREGA.Funds will be transferred electronically directly to the account of the beneficiarThe beneficiary would be facilitated to avail loan of up to 70000 rupees for construction of the house which is optional. The unit size will be enhanced from the existing 20 square meter to up to 25 square meter including a dedicated area for hygienic cooking.The President Pranab Mukherjee’s in May 2014 while addressing the Joint Session of Parliament announced that "By the time the nation completes 75 years of its Independence (by 2022), every family will have a pucca house with water connection, toilet facilities, 24x7 electricity supply and access". This was reflected in the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presentation of Budget 2015-16 wherein he announced to achieve 'Housing for All' by 2022.Subsequently, the Government approved the urban component on 25 June 2015 which is under implementation.

    Resolution introduced in US House to bring India on par with NATO allies

    A Congressional resolution aiming to bring India on a par with America’s NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) allies in terms of Defence trade and technology transfer was introduced recently. The US-India Defense Technology and Partnership Act (HR 4825) proposes to amends the Arms Export Control Action. It was introduced by Congressman George Holding, Co-Chair of the House India Caucus. The resolution seeks to formalise (i) India’s status as a major partner of equal status as US’s NATO allies and closest partners and (ii) also elevate India’s status in export of defence articles from the US.Benefits to India :  Cement the India-US relations and lay a foundation for future cooperation and growth. Shorten the time required for the notification of sale or export of defence articles from the United States to India. Encourage more joint contingency planning and require the US government review and assess India’s ability to execute military operations of mutual interest.US-India Defence : Relations Defence trade between the US and India is one of the strongest areas of the bilateral economic relationship. Over the past 10 years it has risen from $300 million to over $14 billion.

    DIPP notifies 49% FDI under automatic route in Insurance and Pension sector

    The Union Commerce and Industry Ministry has notified foreign direct investment (FDI) upto 49% in insurance and pension sector will be under automatic route. In this regard, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has issued official notification to liberalise its FDI policy in insurance and pension sector. However, FDI above 49% will be subject to approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Prior to this, only up to 26% FDI was permitted through the automatic approval route in insurance and pension sector. Union Government in 2015 had increased the FDI cap in insurance and pension sector to 49% from 26%, respectively. But it was subject to the condition that ownership and control remains with the Indian promoter at all times. Thus, existing guidelines on Indian management and control will have to be verified by the respective regulators, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). Presently there are 52 insurance companies operating in India, of which 28 are in general insurance and 24 are in life insurance business. FDI into the country has grown by record 40% to $29.44 billion during April-December 2015.

    US lawmakers introduce legislation in Congress to help India join APEC

    A group of influential American lawmakers have introduced a legislation asking the Obama administration to help India join the APEC forum, saying an economically prosperous India benefits the US' strategic goals in Asia. Membership in APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) would provide India a constructive forum to glean insight from other Asian countries that have already taken significant steps to advance their economies," Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Matt Salmon, who introduced the legislation in the US Congress .Indian Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi is striving for major economic reforms to open India's markets, improve trade volume, and facilitate his growing population's need for continued job growth.Salmon is joined by Congressman Ami Bera, the only Indian- American lawmaker in the current Congress, Co-Chair Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans; Ed Royce, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee; Elliot Engel, Brad Sherman, George Holding, Derek Kilmer, Dana Rohrabacher and Scott DesJarlais. An economically prosperous and regionally engaged India benefits the US' strategic goals on Asia .The legislation notes that the US-India partnership is vital to the US strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe, and is an integral aspect to the Administration's Rebalance to Asia. Observing that India enjoys a location within the Asia- Pacific region which provides an avenue for continued trade and investment partnerships with APEC member states, the legislation asks Secretary of State John Kerry to develop a strategy to obtain membership status for India in APEC, including participation in related meetings, working groups, activities and mechanisms. It directs the Secretary of State to actively ask APEC member states to support such membership status for India and submit a report to the Congress within two months of the passage of this legislation. Singapore-headquartered Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 economies to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The members are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.

    Dutch soccer legend Johan Cruyff passes away

    The Dutch football legend and coach Johan Cruyff passed away after a long battle with lung cancer in Barcelona, Italy. He was 68. Cruyff was one of the most famous exponents of the football philosophy known as Total Football. He is widely regarded to be one of the greatest players in football history.Johan Cruyff Born as Hendrik Johannes Cruijff on 25 April 1947 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Club Career: He has started his career at Ajax FC where he won eight Eredivisie titles and three European Cups in a row from 1971-73. In 1973, he had moved to Barcelona FC for a then-world record transfer fee of $2 million. With Barcelona FC, he had won La Liga in his first season and was named European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d’Ors) 1971, 1973 and 1974. Coaching Career: After retiring from football in 1984, he became highly successful as manager (coach) of Ajax FC and later Barcelona FC. He remained an influential advisor to both clubs and his coaching philosophy and style of play influenced countless generations.

    Australian all-rounder Shane Watson retires from International Cricket

    Australian all-rounder Shane Watson (34) has declared his retirement from all forms of International Cricket after the end of his team’s campaign in the ongoing ICC World Twenty20. He made this announcement at I S Bindra Stadium in Mohali, Punjab. Earlier in 2015, he had announced his retirement from Test cricket at the end of 2015 Ashes tour of England.Born on 17 June 1981 at Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. His cricket career spanned 14-years and his debut was in 2002 after he had played his first One Day International (ODI) against South Africa. Test Career: He had played total 59 test matches and had scored 3731 runs at an average of 35.19. His highest test score was 176 and total test score comprises of 4 centuries. In the test bowling, he had taken 75 wickets at an average of 33.68 and the best bowling is 6-33. ODI career: He had played total 190 ODI matches and had scored 5757 runs at an average of 40.54. His highest ODI score was 185 (not out) and the total score comprises of 9 centuries. In the ODI bowling, he had taken 168 wickets at an average of 31.79 and the best bowling is 4-36. His last ODI appearance was in September 2015 against England at the Lord’s. He is a World Cup wining member of Australian team which had triumphed in 2007 and 2015. T20I’s career: He had played total 56 T20I matches and had scored 1400 runs at an average of 28.00. His highest ODI score was 124 (not out) and the total score comprises of 1 century. In the T20Is bowling, he had taken 46 wickets at an average of 24.71 and the best bowling is 4-1. He was named the player of the tournament in the 2012 edition. IPL: In 2016 auction, he was bought for a whopping Rs 9.5 crore by the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

    Kerala’s popular Kadhaprasangam artistes and comedian V D Rajappan passes away

    Kerala’s popular Kadhaprasangam (story telling) artiste and Malayalam film actor V D Rajappan passed away in Kottayam. He was 70. He was best known for his comic roles and for his unique style of stand-up comedy. He was known for his unique style of presenting Kadhaprasangam in a satirical manner.He had started his film career in 1982 with the 1982 film Kakka and since then has acted in more than 81 films, 32 parody kathaprasangam pieces and in more than 6000 stage performances. He acted in movies like Kakka, Kattupothu, Kuyilinethedi, Kusruthikkattu and Engane Nee Marakkum. His last movie was Ok Chacko Cochin Mumbai. His memorable comedy roles as Kadhaprasangams were seen in Kumari Eruma, Priye Ninte Kura, Mak Mak, Pothu Puthri, Amittu and Ennennum Kurangettandeh. He was best known for composing comic pieces with animals as characters. Priye Ninte Kora, Pothuputhri, Chikayunna Sundari were some among them. He is considered as the God father of Parody songs in Malayalam.Kadhaprasangam: It was a hugely popular performing art in Kerala. It is performed by just one person who tells the story by acting, speaking and singing and at times playing musical instruments as well.

24 March 2016 Current Affairs

QUIZ

  • Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra sets up venture fund for startups

    Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra has floated a venture fund that will invest in startups. The Olympic champion has set up an incubation fund, called Shooting Star LLP, in equal partnership with consulting firm Franchise India and an initial investment of $2 million. This is my first widespread and extensive business venture. A startup is very much like an athlete's life .Gaurav Marya, president of franchising and consulting firm Franchise India Holding, said the fund will invest in scalable formats with specialised domain expertise in areas such as emerging sports academies, sports injury, rehab, tech, equipment and training, health apps, child development, holistic wellness, organic foods and dairy. The focus of the fund will be services. 

    South Indian Bank gets ISO 9001:2008 certification

    South Indian Bank has announced that its personnel department has achieved the ISO 9001:2008 certification.It is a remarkable achievement for the bank as only very few personnel departments have won this certification in the industry, said V G Mathew, MD & CEO of South Indian Bank, while receiving the certificate from Shashi Nath Mishra, Global Head, Indian Register Quality Systems, at a function held at the bank's headquarters in Thrissur.The ISO 9001:2008 certification acknowledges that the policies, practices and methods adopted by the department are system oriented and in tandem with international standards.

    Union Cabinet approved rupees 9000 crore for SBM

    The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to the US $ 1,500 million project of World Bank Support to Swachh Bharat Mission. The Project basically provides for incentivising States on the basis of their performance in the existing SBM-G. Incentivisation of States was approved by the Cabinet while approving the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) on 24th September, 2014. The current approval provides for the mechanism of such incentivisation through World Bank credit. Under the approved project, the performance of the States will be gauged through certain performance indicators, called the Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLIs). Following are three DLIs. Reduction in the prevalence of open defecation: The funds under this result area shall be released to the States on the basis of reduction in prevalence of open defecation amongst rural households in the State, compared to the previous year, Sustaining Open Defecation Free (ODF) status in Villages: The funds under this result area, shall be released on the basis of estimated population residing in ODF villages, Increase in percentage of rural population served by improved Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM): The funds under this DL1 will be based on the population served with acceptable level of SLWM services. The States will pass on a substantial portion (more than 95 percent) of the Performance Incentive Grant Funds received from the MOWS, to the appropriate implementing levels of districts, Blocks, GPs etc. The end-use of the incentive grants will be limited to activities pertaining to the sanitation sector. The project will accelerate efforts to achieve sustained outcomes in sanitation by 2019. The incentive framework introduced through the project will reorient efforts of States towards the SBM(G) 'outcomes' such as reduction in open defecation, sustainable achievement of open defecation - free (ODF) villages and improvement in solid and liquid waste management (SLWM). The project will also put in place a robust and credible independent verification system for annual measurement of improvement in rural sanitation. The project will support the SBM(G) programme in achievement of its objectives of attaining open defecation- free and clean environment. Since poor sanitation is related to ill-health, malnutrition, poor education and poverty; achievement of SBM(G) objectives will have a beneficial effect on all of these. It will therefore ensure a better quality of life for the rural population. The total World Bank credit being obtained for the Project is US $ 1500 million (Rs. 9000 crore @ US $ l=Rs. 60), of which US $ 1475 million (Rs 8850 crore) is for providing incentive grant to the States and US$ 25 million (Rs 150 crore) is for providing programme management and capacity support to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS). The proposed Project is, therefore, not a new scheme, but part of the existing SBM (G) and provides part-funding to SBM (G) as Externally Aided Project (EAP) credit to support incentivisation of States. In other words, a Performance- based Incentive Grant Scheme, as part of SBM (G), is proposed to be launched through World Bank support credit funds. The project comes in the background of acceleration of efforts under Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) which has a goal to accelerate efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage, improve cleanliness and eliminate open defecation in rural India by 2019. The program is considered India's biggest drive to improve sanitation and cleanliness in the country. Under the new SBM (G), the focus is on behaviour change and creation of complete open defecation free (ODF) villages. The objective of the proposed programme is to reduce open defecation in rural areas and strengthen the capacity of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to manage the SBM(G) programme. The project will therefore, support the SBM(G) programme in achievement of its objectives of attaining an open defecation free and clean environment.

    Himachal, Mumbai to have electric buses

    The department of heavy industry has granted in-principle approval to Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to introduce zero-emission retrofitted electric buses under its flagship scheme FAME India (faster adoption and manufacturing of hybrid & electric vehicles in India).According to sources in the know, HRTC and MMRDA will roll out 25 electric buses each. Under FAME India, the department will fund up to 75 per cent cost of the buses.A senior official in the department said pilot projects worth Rs 100 crore were in–principle approval and Rs 75 crore would be disbursed soon under the scheme.Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, had mentioned in his Budget speech that Himachal Pradesh would be the first state in India to introduce zero-emission electric buses. The chief minister also announced exemption from token tax, registration charges and value-added tax on all electric vehicles for five years to promote eco-friendly transport services in the state.The flagship scheme was announced in April 2015 with a total capital outlay of Rs 795 crore in the first two financial years starting with the current year. With this, the government hopes to save Rs 60,000 crore annually on the country’s oil import bill by 2020.According to Geete, business interest is on the rise with Rs 15 crore worth of proposals pouring into the ministry every month.Critics, however, say that in the major metros where the scheme has already been launched  Delhi National Capital Region, Greater Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad  here is no infrastructure for smooth adoption of such vehicles.  

    NGT fined Uttarakhand-based developer DHDPL 20 lakh rupees for construction on Ganga floodplain

    National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 22 March 2016 fined 20 lakh rupees on Uttarakhand-based Darrameks Hotels and Developers Pvt Ltd (DHDPL) for construction on Ganga floodplains.It was fined for constructing a hotel within 200 meters from the Ganga river bank.It slapped the environmental compensation on the developer for violating the order passed by Uttarakhand High Court. In the said order, the HC had prohibited construction of any commercial unit within 200 meter of the river bank.DHDPL also violated the conditions set in the Consent to Establish issued by the Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB).The developer through the use of JCBs (mechanical excavators) for levelling the area has disturbed the immediate/direct catchment of the River Ganga by changing the drainage pattern.It also pulled up Uttarakhand government for issuing No Objection Certificate (NoC) to the hotel, located adjacent to the river, without inspecting the site in question.It constituted a committee headed by Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board to inspect the site in district Tehri Garhwal of Uttarakhand and give its recommendations with respect to the hotel project and its impact on Ganga.It directed the committee to submit its report within four weeks and prohibited DHDPL from further construction on the area till the time the panel submits its report.The judgement came on a petition filed by Rajiv Savara, a chartered accountant. In the petition he had alleged that illegal commercial construction on the river bank was posing a serious threat to the ecology and causing irreparable damage to the river.

March Current Affairs 2016 Fresherslive

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