Current Affairs : 16 Apr 2016 to 05 Apr 2016 - Summary

Current Affairs 16 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • Govt appoints Susmita Pande as NMA chairperson

    Govt appoints Susmita Pande as NMA chairpersonUnion Government has appointed Susmita Pande as the new chairperson of the National Monument Authority (NMA).

    The position was lying vacant since last five months after the term of Himanshu Prabha Ray, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, ended.

    She is professor a professor at Ujjain’s Vikram University and currently heads the School of Studies in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology in Madhya Pradesh's Vikram University. 

    National Monuments Authority (NMA)

    NMA, under the Culture ministry, is responsible for the protection and preservation of centrally protected monuments and sites. It is headquatered in New Delhi.

    It also manages the regulated and prohibited area around the centrally protected monuments. It also makes recommendations to Union Government for grading and classifying centrally protected monuments and protected areas declared as of national importance. 

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  • India, South Korea ink MoU for cooperation and mutual assistance in development of Ports

    India, South Korea ink MoU for cooperation and mutual assistance in development of PortsIndia and South Korea have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation and mutual assistance in development of ports.

    It was signed  by Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road, Transport and Highways and Shipping and Mr. Kim Young Suk, Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Government of the Republic of Korea in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

    Facts about the MoU :

    • The signing of the MoU will  help both countries facilitate the development of ports, port related industry, maritime relationship and cooperate in the tasks of sharing of technology, experiences in the fields of port development and operation, exchange of information on construction, building, engineering and related aspects in the field of port development
    • The MoU will facilitate Joint participation in port-related construction, building and engineering projects that both parties are interested in, exchange of experts including officials from the relevant ministries of each country in the field of port, and related education and training, other types of cooperation that may be mutually agreed upon between the two countries.
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  • Union Government imposes anti-dumping duty on N-Butyl Alcohol

    Union Government imposes anti-dumping duty on N-Butyl AlcoholThe government  has imposed an anti-dumping duty of up to USD 149 on imports of a chemical used in fermentation of sugar from five countries, including the European Union, Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S.

    In this regard, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has issued a notification based on the recommendation of Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD).

    DGAD  in its investigation into the import of N-Butyl Alcohol from the five nations  stated that " N-Butyl Alcohol imported from five countries mentioned above was found to be below normal value compared to domestic value, thus causing material injury to domestic injury".

    The anti-dumping duty imposed under this notification shall be effective for five years. Imports of the chemical from the five countries have risen to 53.195 tonnes in 2013-14 from 19,297 tonnes in 2010-11.

    N-Butyl Alcohol: N-Butanol is a product of the fermentation of sugar and other carbohydrates and is present in many foods and beverages. It is also a permitted artificial flavorant in the United States, used in butter, cream, fruit, rum, whiskey, ice cream and ices, candy, baked goods and cordials. It is also used in a wide range of consumer products.

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  • India, US to collaborate on tackling offshore tax evasion

    India, US to collaborate on tackling offshore tax evasionIndia and the US have agreed to enhance collaboration on tackling offshore tax evasion and increase cooperation in sharing of cross-border tax information.

    A joint statement in this regard was issued after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and U.S Treasury Secretary Mr Jacob J. Lew met for the Sixth Annual US-India Economic and Financial Partnership (EFP) held in Washington D.C. on the sidelines of the annual Spring Meeting of the IMF and the World Bank.

    Key facts

    • Both countries acknowledged progress being made to deepen mutual understanding and to improve cooperation across a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues.
    • They looked into the progress in sharing of financial information between the two countries under the Inter-Governmental Agreement pursuant to Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
    • India and US have enhanced cooperation in tackling money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism through increased information sharing and cooperation.
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  • MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga appointed as member of US cybersecurity body

    MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga appointed as member of US cybersecurity bodyPresident Barack Obama has nominated MasterCard’s Indian-American CEO Ajay Banga as a member of the newly announced commission on enhancing national cybersecurity. 

    Banga is among 10 people named in the White House announcement, along with former boss of the top US spying body National Security Agency (NSA), General Keith Alexander.

    This commission was set up in February 2016 to make detailed recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity in both the public and private sectors while protecting privacy, ensuring public safety and economic and national security.

    About Ajay Banga

    • Banga has been heading MasterCard since 2010, during which period he also took charge of the US-India Business Council, a body to promote business between the two countries.
    • Banga, an alumnus of Delhi’s St Stephen’s College, was with Citigroup in various capacities from 1996 to 2009m with his last assignment there being CEO of the group’s Asia Pacific unit.
    • Before Citi, Banga spend two years at Pepsi as director of marketing and business development at the multinational’s India operations. He started his career in Nestle.
    • Banga has been a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations since 2015, and serves on the boards of the Dow Chemical Company and American Red Cross. He is also co-chair of the American India Foundation.
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  • PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Maritime India Summit 2016

    PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Maritime India Summit 2016Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the three-day Maritime India Summit 2016 in Mumbai, Maharashtra.  It is maiden flagship initiative of Ministry of Shipping, Government of India that will provide a unique global platform for investors to explore potential business opportunities in the Indian Maritime Sector.

    Participants: The event will have participation of delegates, CEOs and speakers from 41 countries in addition to India. A large delegation led by its Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Mr. Kim Young-Suk and comprising of two Deputy Ministers, senior Government officials and representatives of 52 maritime sector companies is participating in the Summit. Ministers from Mauritius, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Sudan and Maldives will also participate in the Summit.

    Objective : The objective of the three-day Maritime India Summit is to attract potential investors to the vast opportunities that the various components of the Maritime Sector have on offer. It will give impetus to Make In India and blue economy under the government’s ambitious Sagarmala Project emphasising on port-led development. The Centre plans to mobilise an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore in the port sector to more than double port capacity to 3,000 million tonnes by 2025. 

    Sagarmala Project : On this  occasion the Union government released a national perspective plan for the Sagarmala Project at the summit . It seeks to boost India’s merchandise exports by enhancing port connectivity through heavy haul rail corridor, freight-friendly expressways, inland waterways, coastal Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and industrial clusters. The project will create 40 lakh direct jobs and indirect employment for 60 lakh people. 

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  • Malian photographer Malick Sidibe dies aged 80

     

    Malian photographer Malick Sidibe dies aged 80Malick Sidibe, the Malian photographer noted for his black-and-white studies of popular culture in the 1960s in Bamako, has died at the age of 80. In 2007, he became the first African winner of the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Biennale.  His work has been the subject of a number of publications and been exhibited throughout Europe, and in the United States.

    He won a Hasselblad Award for photography, a Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at Venice Biennale,  and an International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement.

    Malick Sidibe

    Sidibe was born in Bamako, Mali in 1936.  He was a peasant child who raised animals. From the age of five or six he began herding animals and working the land.

    When the time came he was chosen to be sent to the white school for an education.He became known among his classmates and teachers as an accomplished artist, and in 1952 won a place at the Ecole des Artisans Soudanais in Bamako.

    He got his photographic break working in the studio of Bamako’s leading society ­photo­grapher, Gerard Guillat. Sidibe spent his nights cycling between nightclubs, photographing party-goers into the small hours with his Brownie camera. His portraits proved so popular that he set up his own studio in 1962 and became known as “the Eye of Bamako”.

    His archive from those years totals tens of thousands of negatives, and his photographs are now held in collections across the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Getty Museum in California.

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2nd Aug

Exam Date : 02-08-2016

Exam Time : 07:15:00

Ques/Time : 6/5 min


Sports

Exam Date : 01-08-2016

Exam Time : 06:00:00

Ques/Time : 8/5 min


Todays test

Exam Date : 22-07-2016

Exam Time : 05:10:00

Ques/Time : 3/5 min


Current Affairs 14 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • India ranks 44th in 2016 Global Connectivity Index  

    India ranks 44th in 2016 Global Connectivity Index

    India stood at the 44th position among 50 different countries as per the recent Global Connectivity Index report, 2016 compiled by Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

    The report, measures the progress of 50 nations in investment and deployment of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)  infrastructure including broadband, data centers, cloud services, big data and IoT on a score scale of 0-100. These 50 countries, account for 90 percent of global GDP and and 78% of the global population.

    Top 10 countries in GCI: United States (score-74), Singapore (72), Sweden (70), Switzerland (68), United Kingdom (65), Denmark (64), South Korea (63), Netherlands (63) and Japan (62). 

    BRICS Countries : China (Rank-23, Score-44), Russia (Rank-26, Score-43), Brazil (Rank-30, Score-39), South Africa (Rank-21, Score-39) and India (Rank-44, Score-30). 

    India’s Neighbouring Countries: Pakistan (Rank-50, Score-21), China (Rank-23, Score-44) and Bangladesh (Rank-49, Score-23). 

    Comment : India has a GCI score of 30, this puts the country among ‘Starters’ who are still working on building a reliable connectivity, and on spreading the connection base but with India’s flagship initiatives like ‘Digital India’ the situation might change rapidly next year as such initiative will enable last-mile connectivity.

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  • Nauru becomes 189th member of IMF, World Bank

    Nauru becomes 189th member of IMF, World BankTiny South Pacific island nation Nauru has become the 189th member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, i.e. Bretton-Woods institutions.

    Nauru applied for membership in the Washington-based IMF and World Bank in April 2014, after joining the United Nations in 1996 as the world's smallest independent republic. Before Nauru, the last country to join the IMF and World Bank was South Sudan, in April 2012.

    By joining the World Bank : By joining the World Bank, Nauru gains access to financial support, technical support and special expertise in dealing with Pacific area issues, such as water and sanitation and disaster risk management amid the threat of climate change and rising sea levels.

    By joining the IMF : By joining the IMF Nauru can benefit from the crisis lender’s advice on managing government finances and monetary policy.  Its initial subscription quota for IMF will be of SDR (Special Drawing rights) 2 million or about $2.81 million. It will be the second smallest member of the Fund, after Tuvalu.

    The Republic of Nauru

    Nauru formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia, northeast of Australia. With 9,488 residents in a 21-square-kilometre (8.1 sq mi) area, Nauru is the smallest state in the South Pacific and third smallest state by area in the world, behind only Vatican City and Monaco.  The Australian dollar is the currency of Narau. It had joined United Nations (UN) in 1996 as the world’s smallest independent republic. 

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  • India Successfully Test Fires Surface-To-Air Akash Missile

    India Successfully Test Fires Surface-To-Air Akash MissileIndia's indigenously-developed surface-to-air Akash missile was successfully test fired from complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha.

    Missile Test : Altogether six rounds of the missiles were fired.  The missiles were fired against Pilot less target aircraft (PTA) Lakshya, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Banshee and Para-barrel, two times each. It successfully destroyed the targets coordinated by the user, demonstrating its ‘killing’ efficiency.

    About Akash Missile :

    Akash Missile is a medium-range surface-to-air anti-aircraft defence system developed by DRDO as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

    Range : It can fly at a supersonic speed ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5 and can engage aerial targets upto a range of approximately 25 km.

    Akash has the capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles. The missile was formally inducted into the IAF in July 2015.

    Features: The missile has supersonic speeds ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5. It is multi target, multi directional, all weather air-defence system consisting of surveillance and tracking radars.

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  • India, Germany join hands to clean river Ganga

    India, Germany join hands to clean river GangaIndia has joined hands with Germany to attain "pristine" status of Ganga by adopting river basin management strategies used by Germany for cleansing rivers like Rhine and Danube of pollutants.

    Agreement in this regard was signed between the Union Ministry of Water Resources and German International Cooperation (GIZ) of Germany.

    This approach will be based on Indo-German Knowledge (IGK) exchange and practical experience on strategic river basin management issues, public engagement and effective data management system. 

    Initial actions will focus on Uttarakhand, with scope of expansion to other upstream Ganga States.The duration of the project is three years and the German contribution in the project will be to the tune of 22.5 crore rupees.

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  • South Korea's opposition party wins general election

    South Korea's opposition party wins general electionSouth Korea’s main opposition party "Minjoo Party of Korea" has won 123 seats out of 300 seats while the centre-right Saenuri party has won 122 seats. With this the governing party in South Korea has lost the parliamentary majority it has held for 16 years.

    It was for the first time since 1999 that the conservative party has lost control of parliament, with the three opposition parties garnering a combined 167 seats, well over the majority.

    Elections in South Korea

    The president is directly elected for a single five-year term by plurality vote. The National Assembly has 300 members elected for a four-year term, 253 in single-seat constituencies and 47 proportional representation seats are allocated to parties according to the numbers of votes they receive overall. South Korea has a multi-party system, with two dominant parties and numerous third parties.

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  • India was world's largest remittance recipient in 2015: World Bank 

    India was world's largest remittance recipient in 2015: World Bank India was the world's largest remittance recipient in 2015 attracting about USD 69 billion in remittances, down from USD 70 billion in 2014, the World Bank said in its annual report 'Migration and Development Brief'. 

    Other large remittance recipients in 2015 were China, with USD 64 billion, the Philippines (USD 28 billion), Mexico (USD 25 billion) and Nigeria (USD 21 billion). 

    Global remittances, which include those to high-income countries, contracted by 1.7 per cent to 581 billion US dollar in 2015, from 592 billion in 2014.

    According to the report, the growth of remittances in 2015 slowed from eight per cent in 2014 to 2.5 per cent for Bangladesh, from 16.7 per cent to 12.8 per cent for Pakistan, and from 9.6 per cent to 0.5 per cent for Sri Lanka. 

    Remittances to Nepal rose dramatically in response to the earthquake, by 20.9 per cent in 2015 versus 3.2 per cent in 2014. It should be noted that remittances to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh exceeded six per cent of GDP in 2014.

    Remittances to IndiaRemittances to India are money transfers from Non-resident Indians (NRIs), employed outside the country to family, friends or relatives in India.  India is the world's leading receiver of remittances.

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  • Kyrgyzstan parliament approves Sooronbai Jeenbekov for post of PM

    Kyrgyzstan parliament approves Sooronbai Jeenbekov for post of PMSix years after a violent revolution in Kyrgyzstan that claimed hundreds of lives, the parliament of Kyrgyzstan has approved Sooronbai Jeenbekov for the post of the country's prime minister.

    He will replace Temir Sariyev who resigned amid a national scandal surrounding violations in a highway construction tender.

    Jeenbekov, 50, was educated as a zoological engineer and in the beginning of his career worked as a teacher, livestock specialist, and the director of a communal farm. 

    He previously served as the country's agriculture, water, and reprocessing industry minister and as plenipotentiary representative of Kyrgyzstan's government in the southern Osh Province.

    About Kyrgyzstan

    (1) Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and is strongly dependent on remittances sent home by migrants working in Russia. 

    (2) The national economy of Kyrgyzstan has taken a sharp hit from the collapse of the Russian ruble that has affected its own national currency, the som, and slowed production at the country’s Kumtor gold mine, one of the country’s biggest assets.

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  • PM Modi to launch National Agriculture Market portal to connect e-mandis

    PM Modi to launch National Agriculture Market portal to connect e-mandisPrime Minister Narendra Modi will formally launch a National Agriculture Market (NAM) portal  to connect e-mandis in several states  at a function in New Delhi, on the 125th birth anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar. 21 mandis from 8 States will join the platform today.

    The national agriculture market will enable farmers in eight states to sell 25 commodities online in 21 wholesale mandis and get better prices.

    The government is aiming to integrate 200 mandis by September this year and entire 585 mandis by March 2018. About 200 crore rupees has been sanctioned for this purpose.

    The online trade will initially be allowed within the state and inter-state trade will be possible once all states and mandis are integrated.

    To integrate a wholesale mandi with the online platform, the state governments have to amend their Agriculture Produce Market Committee Act.

    The 12 states that are part of the pilot programme are Gujarat, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

    The government has listed 25 commodities, including wheat, maize, chana, jowar, bajra, potato and cotton to be traded with National Agriculture Market (NAM).

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Current Affairs 13 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • PM Narendtra Modi inaugurates 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation

     

    PM Narendtra Modi inaugurates 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger ConservationPrime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.

    More than 700 tiger experts, scientists, managers, donors and other stakeholders are gathering to discuss issues related to tiger conservation. 

    Ministers and government officials from countries having Tiger population are participating in the conference. The conference will discuss issues related to tiger conservation and anti-poaching strategies. 

    The first edition of Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation was held in Hua Hin, Thailand in 2010 and second edition was held in Thimphu, Bhutan in 2013.

    For the first time in a century, the global wild tiger population has increased, as per the data revealed by The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Global Tiger Forum, approximately 3,890 tigers had been counted in the latest global census which is up from 3,200 in the year 2010. In the year 1900, there were 100,000 tigers. 

    Ministers and government officials from all 13 tiger range countries (TRCs) are participating in the conference. These 13 TRCs are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    Tiger population in different countries:  India (2226), Russia (433), Indonesia (371), Malaysia (250), Nepal (198), Thailand (189), Bangladesh (106) and Bhutan (103). Besides, tiger population is also found in countries like China, Myanmar and Laos PDR.

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  • Gurgaon district will now be known as Gurugram

     

    Gurgaon district will now be known as GurugramThe Haryana government has decided to rename Gurgaon,  the corporate hub of Haryana on the outskirts of Delhi, as 'Gurugram'.

    The government has renamed Mewat as Nuh. Decision to change the name of Gurgaon has been taken on the basis of the representations received at several forums. 

    Gurgaon had been known as Gurugram since the times of Guru Dronacharya but in course of time got distorted to Gurgaon.Therefore, since long the people of the area had been demanding that Gurgaon be renamed as Gurugram. 

    Mewat is not a town and in fact it is a geographical and cultural unit spread beyond Haryana in the adjoining States of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The Headquarters of Mewat district is at Nuh town. The elected representatives and the people of area had been demanding that the name of Mewat be changed as Nuh.

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  • Cabinet nod for India-UAE MoU to prevent human trafficking  

     

    Cabinet nod for India-UAE MoU to prevent human traffickingThe Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi  has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) on cooperation in preventing and combating of human trafficking.

    The MoU will strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries and increase the bilateral cooperation on the issues of prevention, rescue, recovery and repatriation related to human trafficking especially women and children expeditiously.

    Objective of the MoU : This MoU is aimed at strengthening cooperation to prevent all forms of human trafficking, especially that of women and children and ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organized crime syndicates in either country.

    Salient features of MoU

    (1) Anti-trafficking cells and task forces will work on both sides to prevent human trafficking. The police and other concerned authorities will work in close cooperation and exchange information which can be used to interdict human traffickers.

    (2) The repatriation of victims would be done as expeditiously as possible and the home country will undertake the safe and effective re-integration of the victims. A Joint Task Force with representatives from both sides would be constituted to monitor the working of the MoU.

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  • Ex-army chief JJ Singh gets highest French civilian honour

     

    Ex-army chief JJ Singh gets highest French civilian honourFormer army chief Gen. (retd) JJ Singh on 12 April 2016 was conferred the highest French civilian honour, Officier de l Ordre national de la Legion d Honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honour), the highest French civilian distinction  given by the French Republic for outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality of the recipients. Singh was conferred the honour by French Ambassador to India Francois Richier.

    Singh was chosen for the honour in recognition of his "stellar role" in modernising the Indian Army and initiating robust exchanges between the Indian and French armies leading to “unprecedented” levels of inter-operability and cooperation.

    About JJ Singh 

    General Joginder Jaswant Singh born 17 September 1945 at Samma Satta in the Punjab,  is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and was commissioned into the 9 Maratha Light Infantry on 2 August 1964.

    In January, 2003, he was appointed as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) and took over as Army Commander - Western Command in January, 2004. 

    On January 31, 2005, Singh assumed the office of Chief of Army Staff. In 2007, he also held the appointment of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the three forces. 

    During his stint in the Indian Army he had played important role for the enhancement of military cooperation between the Indian and French armies.

    It was during his tenure that he mooted the idea of holding joint army exercises at the level already existing between the two countries' air forces (Garuda) and navies (Varuna). 

    In 2009, he was invited as the Guest of Honour for the French National Day military parade in Paris in which an Indian Army contingent took part for the first time. After his retirement in September 2007, Singh served as the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh from 2008 to 2013. 

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  • EPFO settles 118 lakh claims in FY16, 96% in 20 days

     

    EPFO settles 118 lakh claims in FY16, 96% in 20 daysEmployees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has settled 118 lakh claims including PF withdrawals during last fiscal.

    As per EPFO, of the total settled claims, 96 per cent were settled within the mandated period of 20 days. The EPFO also redressed over two lakh grievances during the fiscal year 2015-16.

    In order to widen the social security scheme, the government took a major decision to bring all banks under the ambit of Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act employing 20 or more persons. All such banks will be covered under the Act with effect from 10th of February this year.

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  • Militaries of US, India to share their facilities

     

    Militaries of US, India to share their facilitiesIndia and the U.S.  have agreed “in principle” on a logistics support agreement  that would make it easier for both militaries to share each other’s facilities and further strengthen the growing strategic partnership. 

    The agreement in this regard was covered under "The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)" which was first proposed in 2004 but resisted by the UPA government for a decade.

    Besides LEMOA,  the others are Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).

    Maritime cooperation : The two countries also agreed to set up a new Maritime Security Dialogue between officials from their respective Defence and External Affairs Ministries and conclude an agreement to improve maritime domain awareness with an arrangement to improve sharing of data on commercial shipping traffic. Both countries will also deepen cooperation in Maritime Domain Awareness by finalising a ‘White Shipping’ Agreement. The two countries have agreed to start Navy-to-Navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare.

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Current Affairs 12 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • Bharti Airtel’s payments Bank gets final RBI nod

     

    Bharti Airtel’s payments Bank gets final RBI nodBharti Airtel's payments bank venture "Airtel M Commerce Services Ltd" has become the first entity to receive final approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to start a payments bank.

    Most of the players who received the payments licences are yet to apply for the final licences. Airtel M Commerce is a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, a telecom company. 

    Private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank has upto 19.9 per cent stake in Airtel M Commerce.The payments banks are not allowed to lend. Hence, a tie-up with banks will help them source loans for their customers. 

    Some of the other players that have received such differentiated licences are Vodaphone m-pesa, Tech Mahindra, Reliance Industries, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of the mobile wallet Paytm, and Fino Pay Tech, among others.

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  • Tiger numbers show increase for first time in a century

     

    Tiger numbers show increase for first time in a centuryFor the first time in a century, the global wild tiger population has increased, as per the data revealed by The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Global Tiger Forum, approximately 3,890 tigers had been counted in the latest global census which is up from 3,200 in the year 2010. In the year 1900, there were 100,000 tigers. 

    Currently, the majority of the Tigers are in India, followed by Russia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. India alone has more than half the world's tigers, at 2,226 in the latest estimate.

    The census was released ahead of  3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on the Tiger Conservation which is being hosted by the WWF and the Global Tiger Forum in New Delhi.

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  • Hiroshima Declaration: G7 leaders call for 'world without nuclear weapons'

     

    Hiroshima Declaration: G7 leaders call for 'world without nuclear weapons'US Secretary of State John Kerry and G7 foreign ministers have issued Hiroshima Declaration that calls for a world without nuclear weapons.

    The G7 statement came as ministers wrap up their final day of meetings with discussions focused on global hotspot issues including terrorism and other security threats as well as instability in the Middle East and the refugee crisis.

    G-7 Countries

    It is a group of seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Collectively they represent more than 64% of the net global wealth; they have very high Human Development Index and they represent 46% of the global GDP.

    G7 countries includes- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US. 

    The group has its origins in the Group of Six or G6 formed in 1975. It then changed to the G7 in 1976 with the addition of Canada, and to the G8 with Russia joining in 1998.

    In 2014, Russia was excluded from the group over the Ukrainian crisis. The European Union has participated in the summit since the 1980s.

    Background : The Hiroshima declaration comes as some of the G7 member states including the US and Britain possess huge nuclear stockpiles. Nuclear weapons states have refused to destroy or reduce their stocks of nuclear weapons despite repeated promises to do so. Some of the advanced economies are spending billions of dollars to upgrade their deadly weapons.

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  • Maharashtra's IPS officer Meeran Borwankar appointed DG of BPR&D

     

    Maharashtra's IPS officer Meeran Borwankar appointed DG of BPR&DThe Appointments Committee of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minster Narendra Modi has appointed Maharashtra cadre IPS officer Meeran C Borwankar as the Director General (DG) in the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D)  till the date of her superannuation, i.e. 30th September 2017.

    Ms. Borwankar is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1981 batch of Maharashtra cadre. She is presently working in her cadre state Maharashtra. In her long career, Borwankar has also worked in Maharashtra's anti-terrorism squad (ATS). 

    Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) 

    The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) was set up on 28 August 1970 in furtherance of the objective of the Union Government for the modernisation of police forces. It has evolved as a multifaceted, consultancy organisation. At present it has 4 divisions – Research, Development, Training and Correctional Administration.

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  • Danny Willett wins US Masters 2016

     

    Danny Willett,  professional golfer from England has won his first major championship at the 2016 Masters Tournament, becoming  the first European golfer to win the Masters since 1999, and the first from England since Nick Faldo’s similar win in 1996. 

    Score card :  

    Danny Willett made a score of 283 (-5) and three strokes ahead of runners-up Lee Westwood (UK) and the defending champion Jordan Spieth (US).

    Defending champion Spieth had led by five shots as he had approached the 10th but later he dropped six shots in three holes. He tied for second spot with Lee Westwood. 

    US Masters, 2016 was the 80th edition of the Masters Tournament held at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.

     

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  • Khadija Ismayilova to receive UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016

     

    Khadija Ismayilova to receive UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016Investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova of Azerbaijan has been for the UNESCO or Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016. The Prize will be awarded during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day 3 May 2016 hosted by Finland.

    An independent international jury of media professionals recommended Ismayilova in recognition of her outstanding contribution to press freedom in difficult circumstances.

    Khadija Ismayilova is a freelance journalist and contributor to the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty.

    In September 2015, she was sentenced to seven and a half years’ imprisonment on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion.

    UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 

    (1) The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was established in 1997 by UNESCO’s Executive Board in honour of Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza.

    (2) The award honours a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.

    (3) The prize is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, the editor of the Colombian newspaper El Espectador, who was murdered in Bogotá on 17 December 1986 in front of the offices of his newspaper.

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  • 12 April: International Day of Human Space Flight

     

     International Day of Human Space FlightEvery year 12th April is celebrated as the International Day of Human Space Flight to commemorate the date of the first manned space flight in the history of mankind. On April 12, 1961, Soviet citizen Yuri Gagarin  undertook first successful first human space flight.

    This historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity. In Russia and some other former USSR countries, this historic day is celebrated as Cosmonautics Day. 2016 is the 55th anniversary of First Human Space Flight.

    Background :

    The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/65/271 of 7 April 2011, declared 12 April as the International Day of Human Space Flight .

    The day seeks to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes.

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Current Affairs 11 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • China, Sri Lanka agree to resume Colombo Port City project 

     

    Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk resignsChina and Sri Lanka have decided to redefine the US$1.4 billion  stalled  controversial Colombo Port City project  by making it an international financial outpost in the Indian Ocean, as part of the 20-year framework plan.

    The announcement in this regard was made through Joint Statement issued by China and Sri Lanka at the conclusion of the official state visit of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Beijing.

    India-China clash

    1. It is very important to take note of the fact that the development of this port in the past have caused unease in India over concerns that the project is part Beijing's 'string of pearls' strategy to contain it. 

    2. China, which  has been building various ports in different countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan, has denied having such a strategy.

    3. About the likelihood of India-China clash in the Indian Ocean, Wickremesinghe said the Ocean should be governed by law of the sea principles with freedom of navigation.

    Sri Lanka -China cooperation

    1. Sri Lanka sees huge potential in economic cooperation with China, and will use the Chinese initiative to develop a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to advance infrastructure development in Sri Lanka. 

    2. Both sides will also advance development towards China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, promote joint ventures. Sri Lanka seeks to expand cooperation with China in the areas of economy, culture, science and technology.

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  • B R Ambedkar's birth anniversary to be observed for first time at UN

     

    B R Ambedkar's birth anniversary to be observed for first time at UNThe birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution and Dalit rights activist, would be observed at the United Nations for the first time with focus on combating inequalities to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    The Permanent Mission of India to the U.N. in association with the Kalpana Saroj Foundation and Foundation For Human Horizon will commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of the Dalit icon on April 13 at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

    Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891. He died in 1956 and was posthumously conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 1990. Babasaheb remains an inspiration for millions of Indians and proponents of equality and social justice across the globe.

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  • Lee Chong Wei Wins 11th Malaysian Open Title

     

    Lee Chong Wei Wins 11th Malaysian Open TitleMalaysia's badminton star Lee Chong Wei won his 11th Malaysian Open title in the men’s single category by defeating Chen Long (world No.1) of China in straight games 21-13, 21-8 in the final held at Kuala Lumpur. It was Chong Wei’s overall 11th Malaysia Open title after having won in 2004, 2005, 2006 and consecutively from 2008-2014.

    Winners in other categories :

    1.Women’s singles Title: It was won by Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand). 
    2.Men’s doubles Title: It was won by South Korean pair, Kim Gi-jung and Kim Sa-rang. 
    3.Women’s doubles Title: It was won by Chinese pair, Tang Yuanting and Yu Yang. 
    4.Mixed doubles Title: It was won by Indonesian pair, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir.

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  • NASA's planet-hunting Kepler probe goes into emergency mode

     

    NASA's planet-hunting Kepler probe goes into emergency modeNASA's planet-hunting Kepler probe  has gone into emergency mode (EM) some 75 million miles from Earth.

    The last regular contact with Kepler probe was on April 4. It had entered EM before Nasa engineers could manoeuvre the spacecraft to the centre of the Milky Way for a new task.

    Unable to reach the probe till this weekend, Nasa has declared a mission emergency for Kepler which has switched itself into emergency mode. The team still does not know what prompted Kepler to go into the emergency mode.

    Kepler spacecraft :

    1. Kepler spacecraft which was  launched in March 2009, hunts for Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. Since its launch, the mission has been incredibly successful and has led to finding of more than 1,000 alien planets of which half are exoplanets to be ever discovered.

    2. In 2014, it spent about 70 days observing Neptune, studying the ice giant's extremely windy weather. Kepler mission had confirmed the first near-Earth-sized planet in the "habitable zone" around a Sun-like star.

    3. Kepler spacecraft also collected data to reveal that our solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago and only eight percent of the potentially habitable planets that will ever form in the universe existed.

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  • Pakistan successfully test-fires anti-ship Zarb missile

     

    Former Union Minister Dr C Silvera passes away 	Pakistan Navy has successfully test-fired shore-based anti-ship missile 'Zarb'. The missile was launched from coastal site and successfully hit the surface target in the Arabian Sea.

    The missile was formally inducted into Pakistan's Navy defence system soon after its successful launch.The maximum range allotted for the test was set at 300km.

    Zarb which means hit in Urdu language, is the Chinese C-602.The C-602 is claimed to have a range of 280 kms and weighs around 300 kg. It has semi-armour-piercing warhead and GPS guidance.

    Comment : The missile’s successful test shows the strategic partnership between China and Pakistan toward enhancing the combat capabilities of Pakistani Navy and  step towards further strengthening the seaward defence of Pakistan.

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  • Former Union Minister Dr C Silvera passes away 

     

    Former Union Minister Dr C Silvera passes away 	Former Union Minister Dr C Silvera passed away due to massive stroke in Aizawl District, Mizoram. He was 80. He was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1985 and to ninth, tenth and eleventh Lok Sabha.  Silvera was the first and and so far the only person from Mizoram to be in the union council of ministers.

    About Dr C Silvera 

    1.Dr C Silvera was born on 6 May 1935  in Lunglei District, Mizoram. He studied medicine at Christian Medical College, Vellore, and earned his MBBS in 1964.

    2.In 1995, he became Minister of State for Industry. He was elected in the 9th Lok Sabha, 10th Lok Sabha and the 11th Lok Sabha. 

    3.He was elected member of Rajya Sabha for the term 1984-1990 from Mizoram. He was the longest serving member of Parliament of India from the Mizoram Lok Sabha constituency. 

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  • Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigns

     

    Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk resignsThe Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, announced his resignation in the wake of a months-long political tensions that have risen. His resignation was approved by the current President Petro Poroshenko.

    He would submit his resignation to parliament on Tuesday. The same day, parliament is expected to vote to elect the current speaker, Volodymyr Groysman, as the new prime minister. 

    Background :

    1. Mr Yatsenyuk, have been in office since former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February 2014, during the Crimean crisis.

    2. His resignation comes after his government was accused of inaction and corruption following which IMF  threatened to withhold aid money if it does not carry out reforms.

    3. Earlier in February 2016, Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Government had narrowly survived no-confidence vote in the Ukrainian parliament after which he was accused of allegedly sidelining the government’s reform efforts, which prompted President Poroshenko to ask for his resignation.

    4. Mr Poroshenko and a new government will be under intense pressure, both from Ukraine's European and American partners, and the Ukrainian people, to implement real reform.

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  • Pakistan, China launch joint air force drill 

     

    Pakistan, China launch joint air force drill China and Pakistan have launched a joint bilateral air force exercise named Shaheen (Eagle) 5 in Pakistan, that will take place from April 9 to 30, 2016. This is the fifth such drill between the two countries. 

    The first such drill was held in Pakistan in March 2011, the second in China's western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in September 2013 and the third was held in Punjab, Pakistan, in May 2014. It had featured fighters, fighter bombers as well as airborne early warning and control aircraft.

    The countries call each other "all-weather friends" and share deep cooperation in the areas of defence related production . The joint military exercises and exchanges between Chinese and Pakistani air forces in recent years had effectively deepened cooperation between the two militaries.

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  • IIT-Kharagpur Wins National IP Award

     

    IIT-Kharagpur Wins National IP AwardThe IIT-Kharagpur has won the National Intellectual Property (IP) Award for being the top academic institute for patents in 2016.

    The award will be given on April 26 in Delhi by Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a function jointly organised for the celebration of World Intellectual Property Day by the Indian Intellectual Property office.

    IIT- Kharagpur’s ‘100 patents drive’ initiative had played crucial role for winning this award. Under it IP Portal was launched to simplify the process of patent filing by students as well as professors who have done some substantial research within the institute.

    National IP Awards 

    The Indian Intellectual property office confers national intellectual property awards on outstanding innovators, organisations and companies in the fields of patents, designs, trademarks, and geographical indications on the occasion of World IP Day every year. The National IP Award carries an amount of Rs. 1,00,000, a citation and a memento.

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Current Affairs 09 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • Rajasthan becomes first state to clear land title Bill

     

    Rajasthan becomes first state to clear land title BillRajasthan has become the first state to pass land title bill as the State Assembly passed the Rajasthan Urban Land (Certification of Titles) Bills, 2016. The legislation was passed by the state assembly through a voice vote.

    It means the state residents living in urban areas, which are governed by the municipalities or state development authorities, can seek a certificate of ownership of their lands by paying a nominal fee to the state government.

    Rajasthan Urban Land (Certification of Titles) Bills, 2016

    (1) The state government will set up an authority which will be headed by an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officers. The authority will seek all the documents from the landowners, and will verify it against records held by the state.

    (2) The authority will first issue a provisional certificate, for which the state will not stand guarantee. If there are no objections or dispute arises, the authority will issue a certificate and a map to the owner other land or property with state guarantee.

    (3) Currently, it is kept voluntary for the owners to apply for this certificate. The state government has kept the application fee of 0.5% of the land rate determined by a district level committee to encourage more people to join this new scheme.

    (4) The bill  is seen as one of the key steps towards land reforms as it will create an efficient and transparent modern land market, provide certainty of tenure and end litigation that often mires development projects.

    Comment : This Bill is seen as one of the key steps towards land reforms as it will lead to transparency and will create a sense of confidence among land owners. Disputes and frauds in land deals will be brought to a stop through its implementation. A titling law is both consumer- and industry-friendly, and also empowers poor, often marginal, farmers.

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  • Mother Teresa conferred with Founders Award posthumously

     

    Mother Teresa conferred with Founders Award posthumouslyMother Teresa has been posthumously conferred with the UK’s prestigious Founders Award 2016, which is given to recognise and reward exemplary achievements of people within the global Asian community. Teresa’s only living relative Agi Bojazhiu (niece) collected the award on her behalf.

    Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity and spent 45 years serving the poor, the sick, the orphaned, and the dying on the streets of Kolkata. She died at the age of 87 in Kolkata in 1997.

    The Founders Awards recognise and reward exemplary achievement across 14 categories that include business, philanthropy, entertainment, culture and sport. Winners in other categories are :

    1. Community Service award: Rami Ranger, a leading NRI entrepreneur and philanthropist who contributed 100000 pounds for the Mahatma Gandhi statue.
    2. Business Leader of the Year award: Prakash Lohia, Chairman and co-founder of Indorama Corporation. 
    3. Outstanding achievement in Television’ award: Kunal Nayyar, actor from the hit American comedy series The Big Bang Theory.
    4. Outstanding Achievement in Cinema award: Asif Kapadia, he is Oscar and BAFT-winning documentary-maker
    5. Outstanding achievement in Sports award: Tottenham Hotspurs football star Son Heung-Min of South Korea
    6. Outstanding achievement in Science and Technology: Shuji Nakamura, inventor of the blue LED.
    7. Social Entrepreneur of the year award: Vikram Patel, the leading mental health researcher of India.
    8. Entrepreneur of the Year award: Anil Agrawal, founder and Executive Chairman of the metal and mining company, Vedanta Resources Corporation

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  • Veteran journalist Yogendra Bali passes away

     

    Veteran journalist Yogendra Bali passes awayVeteran journalist and author Yogendra Bali died in New Delhi following a brief illness. He was 86. In his long career, Bali served The Times of India as its roving correspondent till retirement.

    He was also associated with a number of newspapers and publications: The Tribune, Current Weekly, Probe, Sunday Mail, The Day After, Asia Defence News International and Mastana Jogi.

    Bali was a member of the general council of the Lalit Kala Akademi and a member of its committees on Art Education, Publications, the Triennele and International Exhibitions.

    Books authored : (i) The Communal Bogey (ii) Chandra Shekhar: A Political Biography (iii) Pawan Chamling: Daring To Be Different (iv) Sri Satguru Ram Singh Ji and Freedom Movement of India.

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  • Saudi Arabia and Egypt to build bridge over the Red Sea

     

    Saudi Arabia and Egypt to build bridge over the Red SeaSaudi Arabia and Egypt have reached an agreement to build a bridge over the Red Sea connecting the two countries to boost trade as the two countries signed 17 agreements to enhance bilateral ties. The announcement in this regard was made by Saudi Arabia’s king Salman, who is on a five-days official visit to Egypt.

    However it was not mentioned where the bridge would be built, but the closest points between the two countries are Nabq, just north of Sharm el-Sheikh, in Egypt, and Alsheikh Hamid, in Saudi Arabia- the two countries are 16km apart.

    A Red Sea bridge linking the two countries has been proposed several times before but has failed to become a reality. Previous estimates for the bridge project suggested a cost of around $3-4bn but no further information has yet been released.

    Saudi Arabia -Egypt relations

    Saudi Arabia is one of the top foreign investors in Egypt, with more than $8bn pledged late last year in sectors such as tourism, agriculture and information technology. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have supported Egypt with billions of dollars since President Sisi took power in 2013 following mass street protests.

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  • Sajibu Cheiraoba festival celebrated in Manipur 

     

    Sajibu Cheiraoba festival celebrated in Manipur Sajibu Cheiraoba the traditional festival of Manipur was celebrated by Meiteis community (a majority ethnic group) of Manipur with cultural gusto and religious fervor.  The festival is mainly observed on the first lunar day of the lunar month Sajibu (March/April) and so it is also popularly known as Sajibu Cheiraoba.

    Celebrations : On this day people of Manipur clean and decorate their houses and make a sumptuous variety of dishes to feast upon after offering food to the deity on this day.

    After the feast, as a part of the rituals, people climb the "CHEIRAOCHING" located in Chingmeirong or the nearest hill tops; in the belief that it would elevate them to greater heights in their worldly life. Thabal Chongba, a local folk dance is also being organized at different locations of Manipur valley.

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  • WTO cuts 2016 global trade forecast to 2.8%

     

    WTO cuts 2016 global trade forecast to 2.8%The World Trade Organization (WTO) has revised its 2016 global trade updated forecast for 2016 downward by more than one percentage point to 2.8% from 3.9% as slowdown in China and broad market volatility continued to threaten growth.

    In September, the WTO estimated that global trade would rise by 3.9 per cent this year, but lowered that projection to 2.8 per cent, in an updated forecast.

    WTO said that various factors were continuing to apply downward pressure on global commerce. The rout on commodities prices has shown few signs of reversing, while the full extent of the slowdown in China which is the world's top commodities consumer remains uncertain.

    Comment : The 2.8 per cent growth forecast could prove to be an underestimate if efforts by the European Central Bank to stimulate eurozone growth are successful.

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  • World Bank launches ambitious climate action plan 

     

    World Bank launches ambitious climate action plan The World Bank has unveiled an ambitious climate action plan that (i) Willl help developing countries to add 30 gigawatts of renewable energy (ii) Universal access to early-warning systems (iii) Develop climate-smart agriculture investment plans for at least 40 nations. 

    It seeks to help developing countries make major transitions to increase sources of renewable energy, decrease high-carbon energy sources, develop green transport systems, and build sustainable, livable cities for growing urban populations. 

    The target for achieving this is over the next five years i.e. by 2020. The details of the Climate Change Action Plan came  just two weeks before world leaders officially signed the landmark Paris Agreement in New York.

    Funding : International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group will expand its climate investments from the current $2.2 billion a year to a goal of $3.5 billion a year, and leverage an additional $13 billion a year in private sector financing by 2020. The World Bank also intends to mobilise $25 billion in commercial financing for clean energy over the next five years.

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  • Union Government constitutes B B Tandon Committee to monitor Government Advertisements

     

    Government constitutes B B Tandon Committee to monitor Government AdvertisementsThe Information and Broadcasting Ministry has constituted a three-member panel, headed by former Chief Election Commissioner ( CEC) B B Tandon to see that guidelines set for government advertisements by the Supreme Court are followed. Senior TV journalist Rajat Sharma and ad-man Piyush Pandey will be the other two members of the committee.

    Background :

    (1) In May 2015, the Supreme Court had laid down norms for government advertisements and also directed the central government to constitute a three-member committee "consisting of persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality" to regulate the issue of public advertisements. 

    (2) Following the order, the I&B Ministry had constituted a three-member selection committee comprising Press Council Chairman Justice (retd) C K Prasad, I&B Secretary Sunil Arora and advertising professional Prasoon Joshi which chose the three names. 

    May 2015 order of Supreme Court : In its May 2015 order, the Supreme Court  had issued Guidelines on Regulating Government Advertisements based on recommendations of Prof NR Madhava Menon Committee and barred publication of photos of leaders in government advertisements except those of the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.

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Current Affairs 08 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • North East-ASEAN Business Summit kicks off in Imphal

     

    North East-ASEAN Business Summit kicks off in ImphalThe first-ever two-day North East-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Business Summit 2016, kicked off in Imphal, Manipur.

    The summmit has been organised by Manipur Department of Commerce and Industries in association with ICC, an apex business organisation and ICSI, an apex professional organisation.

    The Summit aims at attracting investment from both domestic and foreign firms to the North-East states of the country to increase productivity and generate employment in the region.

    Main highlights of the Summit includes : (i) Regional conference on Ease of Doing Business (ii) Agro and Food Processing: Potential and Challenges (iii) Session on Empowering MSME in North East.

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  • CP Gurnani appointed as Chairman of NASSCOM

     

    CP Gurnani appointed as Chairman of NASSCOMCP Gurnani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra has been appointed as the Chairman of National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) for 2016-17 while Raman Roy, Chairman and Managing Director of Quatrro Global Services, has been appointed as the vice chairman  for the period 2016-17. 

    CP Gurnani :  Born in Neemuch, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, he holds degree in chemical engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela. He has over 31 years of rich corporate experience, he has held several leading positions with  Hewlett Packard Limited, Perot Systems (India) Limited and HCL Corporation Ltd.

    Raman Roy : He is one of the pioneers of the Business Process Outsourcing industry in India and currently serving as the Chairman and Managing Director of Quatrro Global Services. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce from Shri Ram College of Commerce. He has successfully led the BPO initiatives of American Express, GE (now Genpact) and Spectramnd.

    Comment : According to Nasscom projections, IT industry, which directly employs 3.9 million professionals, is expected to grow at about 14 per cent during the present financial year with a likely intake of 2.5 lakh new employees. In 2015-16, industry crossed USD 100 billion mark in exports.

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  • Hashim Thaci sworn in as new President of Kosovo

     

    Hashim Thaci sworn in as new President of KosovoHashim Thaci has been sworn in as the President of Kosovo after he was elected by the parliament in February 2016.

    He succeeds Atifete Jahjaga who was picked when a political crisis led to the need for a non-party, consensus candidate.

    Thaci has served as the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo and the Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the new cabinet led by Isa Mustafa.

    About Hashim Thaci 

    Thaci was born on April 24, 1968 in the village of Brocna, Srbica, SFR Yugoslavia. He studied philosophy and history at the University of Pristina. In the 1990s, he was a leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought a guerrilla war against Serbia from 1998-99. He beacme the first Prime minister of Kosovo, when Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. He was in office from January 2008 to December 2014.

    Kosovo

    1. Kosovo is a disputed territory  and partially recognised state in Southeastern Europe that declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 as the Republic of Kosovo. Its independence has been recognised by the US and many EU countries. 

    2. Serbia recognises governance of the territory by Kosovo institutions and still continues to claim it as its own Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. Since 1999, Kosovo is under UN administration after the NATO intervention had ousted Serbian forces. 

     

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  • Gujarat Governor gives assent to six Bills

     

    Gujarat Governor gives assent to six BillsGujarat Governor O P Kohli has given  his assent to six out of the eleven Bills passed by the Gujarat Legislative Assembly in the recently-concluded budget session.The budget session of Gujarat Assembly started on February 22 and ended on March 31. These six Bills are: 

    1.Gujarat Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill
    2.Gujarat Electricity Duty (Amendment) Bill
    3.Gujarat Stamp (Amendment) Bill
    4.Gujarat Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill
    5.Gujarat Tax on Entry of Specified Goods into Local Areas (Amendment) Bill
    6.Registration (Gujarat Amendment) Bill of 2016

    The remaining five Bills, which were passed in the last two days of the session, are still lying in the office of the Assembly Speaker and not sent to the Governor yet. Remaining five Bills are : 

    1.Gujarat Special Investment Region (Amendment) Bill
    2.The Right to fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition
    3.Rehabilitation and Resettlement(Gujarat Amendment) Bill
    4.The Ganpat University (Amendment) Bill
    5.Gujarat Private Universities (Amendment) Bill 

     

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  • Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson named as new PM of Iceland

     

    Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson named as new PM of IcelandIceland's right-wing coalition government has named Sigurdur Ingi Johanssonn  (53) as the new Prime Minister after igmundur Gunnlaugsson  was forced to step down following the Panama Papers scandal. Since 2013 he has served as Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture and also had served as Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources.

    Why igmundur Gunnlaugsson stepped down ?

    Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson’s appointment as the new PM of Iceland comes after Gunnlaugsson  stepped down as PM after leaked documents from the so-called “Panama Papers” from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, reportedly show that Mr Gunnlaugsson and his wife Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir had an offshore firm in the British Virgin Islands to allegedly shield investments worth millions. The Panama Papers had disclosed up to 11 million documents revealing how the rich and powerful people across the world hide their wealth, potentially to evade taxes. 

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  • China launches SJ-10 retrievable space science probe

     

    China launches SJ-10 retrievable space science probeChina has launched a retrievable scientific research satellite to aid scientists on Earth in studying microgravity and space life sciences. The satellite was launched by Long March 2-D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in north-western China’s Gobi desert.

    In space, the bullet-shaped probe will house 19 experiments involving microgravity fluid physics, microgravity combustion, space material, space radiation effect, microgravity biological effect and space bio-technology, before coming back to Earth with results.

    The experiments will investigate how radiation affects genetics for which mouse embryos will be observed to see how they develop, as they may give scientists clues about whether it would be possible for humans or animals to reproduce in space.

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  • No weightage to Class 12th marks in JEE ranking from 2017: HRD ministry

     

    No weightage to Class 12th marks in JEE ranking from 2017From 2017, class 12th marks will not be a factor for determining rankings in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admissions to engineering undergraduate courses.

    The Human Resource Development Ministry has issued notification in this regard after examining the Ashok Mishra Committee's report and considering the public feedback. The present system gives 40 per cent weightage for the Class 12th marks in calculating the ranks in JEE Main.

    The performance of the students in the 12th Class Examination will be a crucial parameter for determining the eligibility of the student for the JEE examination.

    To qualify in the JEE, the students will have to secure at least 75 per cent marks or be in the top 20 percentile in the 12th Class Examination. For SC and ST students, this condition will be relaxed to 65 per cent marks.

    Background : In November last year, the Mishra committee had recommended major changes in the JEE structure, including setting up of a National Testing Service and 12th marks as a ranking factor in the JEE. Its recommendations were aimed at weaning IIT aspirants away from the dependence on the coaching institutes.

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Current Affairs 07 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • BHEL commissions tiltable canal top solar plant in Andhra

     

    BHEL commissions tiltable canal top solar plant in AndhraPower plant equipment manufacturer Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL)  has commissioned a seasonwise tiltable canal top solar PV plant at Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh.  This is the first canal top project in Andhra Pradesh and also first such project executed by the BHEL.

    The project is developed by NREDCAP (New and Renewable Energy Development Corporation of AP Ltd). Power generation is about 10 per cent more than a fixed Module Mounting Arrangement (MMA).

    The plant has elevated control room with bottom cable that prevents ingress of water during floods. It has also movable walkway which facilitates efficient maintenance of the plant by providing easy access.

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  • Bronze bust of Aryabhatta unveiled at UNESCO Headquarters

     

    Bronze bust of Aryabhatta unveiled at UNESCO HeadquartersUnion Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani unveiled a bronze bust of  ancient Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhatta was unveiled at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. She was in the French capital to attend the high-level International Conference on Zero. 

    The bust has been sculpted by renowned Indian sculptor Ram Sutar, who was recently awarded the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian awards in India, for his contribution to the world of art. 

    International Conference on Zero 

    The International Conference on Zero was organised by the Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO,  along with Pierre and Marie Curie University. It was held to share the rich and remarkable history of mathematics through participation of some of the brilliant minds. The Conference was held on the following topics:

    The international conference was held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France from 4 April – 5 April 2016. It was hosted by the permanent delegation of India to UNESCO along with Pierre and Marie Curie University. The Conference was held on the following topics: 

    (1) Gems of Ramanujan and their Lasting Impact on Mathematics. 
    (2) Indian Mathematics: Negative Numbers, Zero, Infinity and Beyond. 
    (3) Zero: Infinity and Set Theory 
    (4) Panel discussion on the Arabic traditions in Mathematics 
    (5) Mathematics in Indian Music.

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  • 3rd phase of Mission Indradhanush begins

     

    3rd phase of Mission Indradhanush beginsThe third phase of Union Health Ministry’s universal vaccination programme Mission Indradhanush has began from today. 216 Districts across several States including Bihar, Gujarat, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh will be covered in this phase. 

    Two phases of the special drive have been completed, under  which more than 1.48crore children and 38 lakh pregnant women have been fully immunized. Across 21.3 lakh sessions were held  through the country in high and mid-priority districts.

    Know what is Mission Indradhanush ?

    Mission Indradhanush is a nationwide programme to enhance immunisation coverage among children. It was launched by Union Health Minister J P Nadda on the occasion of National Good Governance Day. Immunisation coverage in India has been growing at a rate of only one per cent with the national average increasing from 61 per cent to 65 per cent between 2009 and 2013. The goal of this programme is to achieve total immunisation coverage by 2020.

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  • Foundation stone of Haryana's first Horticulture University laid in Karnal

     

    Foundation stone of Haryana's first Horticulture University laid in KarnalUnion Agriculture and farmers Welfare Minister, Radha Mohan Singh laid the Foundation stone of Haryana State University of Horticultural Sciences at Karnal, Haryana.

    A full fledged horticultural university will cater the needs to support the gap between teaching, research and extension activities in the state and disseminate latest technology and horticulture education to the youths of the state.

    Significance of the University

    This university is expected to help in improving productivity levels and to adopt appropriate crop diversification that suits the agro climatic conditions of the region. 

    It will also act as a skill development centre in order to cater the larger demand for skilled  manpower in the production, post-harvest and processing industries.

    Horticulture in Haryana :

    Haryana holds tremendous potential on account of its fertile lands, favorable climate and water resources. Farmers in Haryana have also started taking up horticulture crops as a separate viable economic activity.

    Haryana has increased area under horticultural crops from 2.0 lakh hectare in the year 2002-03 to 4.5 lakh hectare during 2013-14 and production has also increased from 2.51 million tonnes to 6.30 millin tonnes during same period. 

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  • AIR stops SMS news alerts  

     

    AIR stops SMS news alertsFrom April 5, the public service broadcaster- All India Radio (AIR), has stopped sending news alerts. The decision to discontinue the service was taken on April 1 by the Prasar Bharati Corporation, the parent body of AIR. 

    The objective of the behind the free SMS services which was being provided since September 2013 was to mainly reach out to those who do not have smart phones, or did not use social media platforms for news updates. AIR sends three million SMSes to its subscribers on a daily basis. Each SMS has 160 characters.

    The main reason for discontinuing the service was the cost as the free SMS services was not cost-effective. It was meant for an advertising-based model which Akashvani couldn’t work out. 

    Background :  

    The service launched on September 9, 2013 provided national, international news, headlines in 16 languages and live news updates for special events like Mann Ki Baat, Budget, Independence Day speech of PM and the President’s address on the eve of Republic Day. 

    AIR was using NIC SMS gateway for delivering free SMSes to start with but  after TRAI’s order, AIR had to pay for sending out the alerts which incurred an expenditure of Rs. 5.5 cr. in the financial year 2015-16 so AIR had to discontinue it for financial reasons.

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  • American country music legend Merle Haggard dies

     

    American country music legend Merle Haggard diesAmerican country music songwriter, singer, guitarist, fiddler, and instrumentalist- Merle Haggard has died of pneumonia on his 79th birthday. He was born in California in 1937. 

    He is credited with helping to define the Bakersfield sound, country music with a distinctive twang and lack of sophisticated production. Haggard wrote songs, sang and played fiddle and guitar, usually singing about American pride and outlaws.

    Top hits : His top hits include Mama Tried, The Fugitive, If We Make It Through December and Okie from Muskogee.

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  • MHA sets up committee to suggest ways to tighten security along Indo-Pak border

     

    MHA sets up committee to suggest ways to tighten security along Indo-Pak borderThe Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has set up a high-level committee to suggest ways to strengthen the security along India-Pakistan border.The committee, headed by former Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, will suggest :-

    (i)  Ways to strengthen security and protection along the India-Pakistan Border 

    (ii) Address the issue of gaps and vulnerability in border fencing along the India-Pakistan border.

    The committee will study all types of gaps in the fencing and all other vulnerabilities along the border and suggest a comprehensive approach to fix them on interim and permanent basis. It will submit its report in three months. 

    The move to constitute to this committee comes two terrorist attacks in Punjab :- 

    (i) On July 27 last year, three terrorists in army fatigue had attacked Dinanagar police station in Punjab's Gurdaspur district and killed three civilians and four policemen, including a Superintendent of Police. 

    (ii) In January 2016 terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed had breached the Indo-Pak border in Punjab and attacked the Pathankot airbase killing seven security personnel 

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  • FinMin approves 8.7% interest on EPF for 2015-16

    FinMin approves 8.7% interest on EPF for 2015-16The Finance Ministry has approved 8.7% interest on PF deposits, lower than 8.8% decided by the Central Board of Trustees (CBT).

    This is for the first time that Finance Ministry has overruled the decision of retirement fund body EPFO's apex decision making Central Board of Trustees (CBT) headed by the Labour Minister.

    EPFO had provided 8.75% rate of interest in 2013-14 and 2014-15, which was higher than 8.5% in 2012-13 and 8.25% in 2011-12.

    The estimates of EPFO had projected that the body can easily pay 8.95% rate of interest as it would leave a surplus of Rs 100 crore.

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  • Vishwanathan Anand selected for Hridaynath Mangeshkar Award

     

    Vishwanathan Anand selected for Hridaynath Mangeshkar AwardFive-time world chess champion Vishwanathan Anand will be honoured with the prestigious Hridaynath Mangeshkar Award, which felicitates and recognises successful individuals across the country from various walks of life. Maharashtra State Governor C Vidyasagar Rao will present the award at an event to be held in Mumbai on April 12, 2016.

    Hridaynath Mangeshkar Award

    Hridaynath Mangeshkar Award was established in 2011 by Mumbai- based socio-cultural organisation Hridayesh Art in the honour of music composer and singer Hridaynath Mangeskar the only son of noted musician Deenanath Mangeshkar and younger brother of Indian music legends Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.

    The award carries monetary award of Rs 2 lakh and a memento.The previous recipients of the award include eminent personalities like Lata Mangeshkar, Babasaheb Purandare, Asha Bhosle, Amitabh Bachchan, Hariprasad Chaurasia and A R Rahman.

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  • Madras Atomic Power Station 'architect' M.H.P Rao passes away

     

    Madras Atomic Power Station 'architect' M.H.P Rao passes awayMyneni Hari Prasad Rao, considered the architect of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) and its first project director passed away due to old age ailments. He was 88. He is praised by many as "The Father" or "Architect" of Madras Atomic Power Station.

    Myneni Hari Prasad Rao 

    Born on 21 July 1927 in Edlalanka village near Avanigaddam, he completed  master's degree in Power Systems Engineering from Illinois Institute of technology and authored many articles and research papers.

    Rao was specially appointed by the then Nuclear Power Board to oversee the construction and commissioning of the MAP. The scientists found cost-effective and practical solution for the problems they faced during the construction. He has served for many years as a member of Southern, Western and Northern Indian Regional electricity boards.

    Awards and Homours : He has received several awards, including the Padma Shri (1984) and the Sanjay Gandhi Award for contribution in Science and Technology (1983).

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  • India wins Asian Nations Cup Chess tournament

     

    India wins Asian Nations Cup Chess tournamentIndian men won the Asian Nations Cup Chess tournament, 2016 by defeating Vietnam in the final round by 3-1 score.

    In the final round match against Vietnam, Grandmasters S P Sethuraman and K Sasikiran won on the second and fourth boards while GMs B Adhiban and Vidit Santosh Gujrathi drew their respective matches on top and 3rd boards.

    India collected 17 points, two more than World and Olympiad champions China. India drew Mongolia and beat the rest of the teams in a 22-team tournament.

    This was the third time that Indian men won the event.They won at Esfahan, Iran in 2005 and Kolkata 2009 previously when China did not participate on both occasions.Therefore, this victory over China was something which will be remembered for long.

    In the women's section, top seed China won the title with 15 points. Uzbekistan were second with 14 and Kazakhstan third with 13 points. Indian women finished fourth with 12 points after drawing Iran in their final round match.

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  • Scientists Discover a Rare Planet with triple-star system

     

    Scientists Discover a Rare Planet with triple-star systemResearchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the United States have discovered a rare triple-star system named KELT-4Ab  with a gas giant planet similar in size to Jupiter.

    The research was published in The Astronomical Journal. Planetary systems with three stars are very rare. Scientists have found only three instances as such till date.

    Facts about triple-star system :

    1. The KELP-4Ab is the closest planetary system that has three stars. The main star, KELT-A is the brightest among the three stars that serve as suns for their planets. 

    2. KELT-A has a giant gas planet, similar in size to Jupiter, that takes approximately three days to make its way around its sun (star) KELT-A. The pair completes orbiting around the bigger star (KELT-A) in every 4,000 years.

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Current Affairs 06 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • RBI cuts repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5%

     

    RBI cuts repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5%The Reserve Bank of India has cut down  key interest rates by 25 basis points in its first bi-monthly monetary policy review for the 2016-17 fiscal. With this, Home, auto and other loans are set to become cheaper. However, RBI has kept Cash Reserve Ratio unchanged at 4 per cent.

    First bi-monthly monetary policy review 2016-17 

    1. Repo rate: The rate, at which RBI lends to the financial system, has come down from 6.75 per cent to 6.5 per cent.

    2. Cash reserve ratio (CRR): RBI has unchanged CRR and kept it at 4.0 per cent of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL). 

    3. Reverse repo rate: The rate at which banks can keep excess funds with the RBI, was hiked to 6 per cent. 

    The policy said the average overnight borrowings by banks have increased to Rs 1,935 billion in March from Rs 1,345 billion in January. RBI also retained its GDP growth forecast at 7.6 per cent, on the assumption of a normal monsoon and a boost to consumption through the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations. However the implementation of  Seventh Pay Commission will hurt inflation by 1 to 1.5 per cent over a two year period.

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  • Bihar imposes complete ban on liquor

     

    Bihar imposes complete ban on liquorThe Bihar government has imposed a complete ban on all types of liquor in the state including Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL). The state Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at its meeting in Patna approved a proposal by the excise and prohibition department to impose a complete ban on the sale and consumption of  all types of liquor across the state, including on IMFL brands. According to the estimates, Bihar will lose around Rs 4,000 crores in revenue due to this total ban.

    Earlier, on 1st April 2016, a ban was imposed on the manufacture, sale and consumption of country liquor in rural areas but state government was compelled to ban  Indian Made Foreign Liquor brands after women started protesting against the move to allow consumption in urban areas. With this, Bihar becomes the fourth state in the country to go completely dry, after Gujarat, Nagaland and Mizoram.

    What is the meaning of liquor  ban ?

    The production, sale and consumption of all types of liquor have been banned in the state which means that henceforth person found indulging in manufacturing trade, transportation, sale and consumption of liquor across the state will be punished under the stringent provisions of the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016. The Act has various stringent provisions including awarding ‘capital punishment’ for those who manufacture and sell illicit liquor that causes death.

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  • Former Italy coach, AC Milan player Cesare Maldini passes away

     

    Former Italy coach, AC Milan player Cesare Maldini passes awayFormer AC Milan defender and Italy coach Cesare Maldini died on 3rd April at the age of 84. He was known for being a commanding and respected defender with good technique and passing range.

    His leadership, consistency, and tactical versatility, as well as his discipline and class, both on and off the pitch is regarded with honour among the entire football community.

    Facts about Cesare Maldini

    1. During his career he has made 412 appearances with the Rossoneri between 1954 and 1966, winning four league titles including a first 'scudetto' in his first season with the club.

    2. He had the honour of lifting the trophy at Wembley in 1963 when Milan became the first Italian club to win the European Cup, with victory over Eusebio-inspired Benfica.

    3. He played 14 times for Italy, including their 1962 World Cup campaign in Chile before retiring in 1966. He moved into coaching from 1972-74. 

    4. He was assistant coach to Enzo Bearzot for Italy’s 1982 World Cup triumph in Spain. He took charge of Paraguay for the 2002 World Cup but they did not progress beyond the Round of 16.

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  • Waqar Younis resigns as Pakistan chief coach

     

    Waqar Younis resigns as Pakistan chief coachPakistan's head coach Waqar Younis (44)  has resigned from his post following the humiliating exit of his team from the World Twenty20 in India. It won just one match against Bangladesh and lost to Australia, India and New Zealand.The 44-year old took on the job for the second time in 2014, having previously held the post in 2010-11.

    Shahid Afridi, who had already retired from Test and 50-over cricket, has also left Pakistan captaincy due to the poor performance of his team. Afridi captained Pakistan in 43 T20Is, scoring 597 runs at 15.71 and taking 40 wickets at 27.12. He replaced Mohammad Hafeez as T20 captain in 2014.

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  • DCB Bank launches Aadhaar-based ATM

     

    DCB Bank launches Aadhaar-based ATMDomestic bank, small-sized lender DCB Bank has launched India’s first of its kind Aadhaar-based Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) usage facility wherein  a customer can now use his/her biometric details instead of using a PIN number to make cash transactions. The first of the Aadhaar-based ATMs has been installed at the Bank's corporate office in the megapolis' Lower Parel area, Mumbai.

    Features of Aadhaar-based ATM :

    1. Under this facility, user can key-in the 12-digit Aadhaar number or swipe the card at ATM, but at the stage of confirming the identity, it requires biometric details rather than the PIN. 

    2. The solution has been developed in-house and involves connecting up with the Aadhaar server to authenticate the identity of the customer every time a transaction is initiated.

    3. Aadhaar-based authentication is comparatively inexpensive solution and the bank, which currently has 400 ATMs, is targeting to cover its entire network under the system within a year. 

    Comment

    1. If a person has mutiple bank accounts it is very difficult for him to remember all PIN codes but with Aadhaar based authentication the process becomes very easy as user needs to just put his fingers on the scanner.

    2. Enrolments under Aadhaar are set to cross the 100 crore mark soon. The data is being used for a slew of purposes like opening bank accounts and the government's direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme. 

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  • India, Saudi Arabia sign 5 agreements 

     

    India, Saudi Arabia sign 5 agreements India and Saudi Arabia on 3rd April 2016 signed five agreements, including a key pact on terror financing and money laundering during PM Narendra Modi's two-day visit to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. The visit to Saudi Arabia was part of PM Modi’s three-nation visit to Belgium,United States and Saudi Arabia for Nuclear Security Summit. 

    Five agreements singed are

    1. Agreement on Labour Co-operation: It was singed for recruitment of general category workers between the Ministry of Labour, Saudi Arabia and Ministry of External Affairs, India. 

    2. Technical Cooperation Program: It was signed between Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). 

    3. Executive Program for Cooperation in the Field of Handicrafts : It was signed between the Export Promotion Council for Handicraft (EPCH) in the Republic of India and Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

    4. MoU between Financial Intelligence Unit : India and the Financial Intelligence Unit-Saudi Arabia concerning Cooperation in the Exchange of Intelligence related to Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing and Related Crimes

    5. Framework for Investment Promotion Cooperation:  It was signed between Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and Invest India.

    During his visit Modi gifted King Salman a gold-plated replica of a mosque in Kerala, India, which was built by Arab traders in the early 7th Century.  The mosque is situated in Thrissur district of Kerala and is  believed to be the first mosque built in India by Arab traders around 629 AD.  King Salman awarded Modi Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian award, the King Abdulaziz Sash.

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  • ECoR becomes largest freight loading railway zone

     

    ECoR becomes largest freight loading railway zoneThe East Coast Railway (ECoR) has emerged as the largest freight loading railway zone of Indian Railways in 2015-16.

    ECoR loaded 173.49 million tonnes of freight compared to 161.91 during the last year, registering a 7.1 per cent growth. 

    On the earnings side, ECoR earned about Rs 15,978.28 crore which is 14.13 per cent more than the previous financial year. It registered an increase of Rs 1961.27 crore in earning.

    The East Coast Railway carried 131.2 rakes loading per day from its jurisdiction against 122.4 rakes per day in 2014-15. These include coal, iron ore, cement, food grains, POL and other commodities.

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  • Over 50% rise in Death penalty in 2015: Amnesty

     

    Over 50% rise in Death penalty in 2015: AmnestyA surge in the number of executions recorded worldwide saw more people put to death last year than at any point since 1989, as per Amnesty International.

    At least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, a rise of more than 50% on the previous year. At least 20,292 people were on death row at the end of 2015.

    Excluding China, almost 90% of all executions took place in just three countries – Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The total does not include China, where Amnesty said thousands more were likely killed but records were kept secrect.

    Methods of execution : People were mainly executed mainly through beheading, hanging, lethal injection and shooting. 

    In 2015, four countries namely Fiji, Madagascar, the Republic of Congo and Suriname abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In total, 102 countries have abolished death penalty.

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  • Virat Kohli, India maintain top spot in ICC rankings

     

    Virat Kohli, India maintain top spot in ICC rankingsIndia's star batsman Virat Kohli has maintained his number one position in the ICC T20 batsmen rankings after the conclusion of the World T20.

    Kohli who was adjudged player of the tournament, leads Australia’s second-ranked Aaron Finch by 86 points.Team India too has retained its number one position.

    West Indies are now one point behind India’s 126 points. World T20 runner up England are now fourth after swapping places with South Africa. New Zealand, who lost to England in the first semi-final, have retained their third place at 120 points.

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  • Scientists keeps pig heart alive in baboon for over two years

     

    Scientists keeps pig heart alive in baboon for over two yearsResearchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in Bethesda, Maryland, have managed to keep a pig heart beating for 945 days  inside the body of a live baboon. 

    This record-breaking outcome gives  researchers a ray of hope for the potential for xenotransplantation - the transplantation of animal organs or tissues into humans, to address worldwide organ shortages.

    Cross-species transplants provoke a powerful immune reaction, leading to rejection of the organ by the host. But a US-German team used a combination of gene modification and immune-suppressing drugs. Their work is described in the journal Nature Communications.

    If everything goes well and the eexperiment gets successful, animal organs can be used for transplantation in humans who are in  desperate need of transplants but not getting any donor. Currently in the US, 22 people die every day just waiting for organs, which are in constant short supply.

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Current Affairs 05 Apr 2016 Apr 2016

  • World’s first public immunization program for dengue launched in Philippines

     

    World’s first public immunization program for dengue launched in PhilippinesThe world's first public dengue vaccination programme was launched in the Philippines by injecting French drug Dengvaxia (world’s 1st dengue fever vaccine) to millions of schoolchildren against a mosquito-borne disease that the World Health Organization estimates infects 390 million people a year globally.

    Hundreds of fourth-graders aged between 9 and 10 were vaccinated with the injections at a public school in metropolitan Manila's Marikina city. The Philippines had the highest dengue incidence in the WHO's Western Pacific region from 2013 to 2015, recording 200,415 cases last year.

    Dengvaxia, developed by the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, obtained its first license in Mexico in December 2015 for use in individuals aged 9 to 45. With the launch of first public dengue vaccination programme, Philippines became first country to introduce, adopt and implement the first-ever dengue vaccine through the public immunization program.

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  • World's first white tiger safari opens in Madhya Pradesh

     

    World's first white tiger safari opens in Madhya PradeshWorld's first white tiger sanctuary was inaugurated  in the forest area of  Mukundpur in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh. It was inaugurated and opened to public by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and union Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. 

    The first of its kind safari has cost Rs. 50 crore and is spread over an area of 25 hectares. The forest area has three white tigers including two females named Vindhya and Radha and one male named Raghu, two Bengal tigers of more usual fur colour and some bears.

    White Tigers : It is a pigmentation variant of the Bengal tiger. They have been reported in the wild from time to time in the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar. These tigers have white fur because lack of the pigment pheomelanin, which is found in Bengal tigers with orange colour fur. The white Bengal tigers are distinctive due to the color of their fur. The white fur caused by a lack of the pigment pheomelanin, which is found in Bengal tigers with orange color fur.

    Background

    1. The first white tiger was spotted in Madhya Pradesh’s Vindhya region by erstwhile king Martand Singh in 1951. The royal family named him Mohan, which became "a pet, a family member".

    2. Mohan's cubs were thereafter distributed to zoos in India and abroad. They were reportedly inbred to create a white tiger progeny. But they disappeared completely from Rewa in 1976.

    3. The animal is a pigmentation variant of the Bengal tiger and is believed to have originated in the former Rewa state, now part of Madhya Pradesh. They have been reported in the wild from time to time in the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar.

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  • Vietnam police chief Tran Dai Quang sworn in as president

     

    Vietnam police chief Tran Dai Quang sworn in as presidentVietnam's police chief, Tran Dai Quang, has been sworn in as the ninth President of Vietnam after he was elected by country’s National Assembly.

    He will succeed and shall have term of five years. He was elected as President after he secured 91.5% of the valid votes i.e. 452 out of the total 494 members of the unicameral house, voted in favour of Quang.

    About Tran Dai Quang 

    Quang, 59, is a police general and has been head of the ministry of public security (2011 to 2016), which has been the focus of Western criticism of the nation's human rights record. He is a member of the 12th Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam and is currently ranked second after General Secretary Nguyen Phu Tro. 

    From 1972 to 1975 he was a student at the School of Foreign Languages Department of Cultural Affairs which is (now the Ministry of Public Security. In 1975-1976 he served as an Officer in Political Protection Department. In August 2011 he was appointed Secretary of the Central Police Party Committee.

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  • Latin Jazz Saxophonist, Gato Barbieri, passes away

     

    Latin Jazz Saxophonist, Gato Barbieri,  passes awayRenowned Argentine jazz tenor saxophonist and composer, Leandro Gato Barbieri who rose to fame during the free jazz movement in the 1960s and is known for his Latin jazz recordings of the 1970s, passed away in New York, US due to pneumonia. He was 83.

    Gato won Grammy Award for best instrumental composition for his music for Last Tango In Paris in 1973. He had recorded number of albums over a career spanning more than seven decades.

    Between 1967 and 1982, he had recorded some 35 albums. He gained international prominence after playing alto saxophone in an orchestra led by Lalo Schifrin, the pianist and composer

    Awards and Honours :  Barbieri received the UNICEF Award at the Argentinian Consulate in November 2009. He won Latin Grammy lifetime achievement award for his career in 2015.

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  • Novak Djokovic wins 2016 Miami Open Title

     

    Novak Djokovic wins 2016 Miami Open TitleWorld No. 1, Serbian professional tennis player Novak Djokovic Serbia has won the 2016 Miami Open Title in the men’s singles category by defeating Kei Nishikori of Japan with a score of  6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Miami Open played on outdoor hard courts at the Tennis Centre at Crandon Park Florida, US, 

    It is his fourth consecutive championship, and overall sixth ATP Miami Open title, equalling Andre Agassi’s Miami record total. It was also his 28th overall, in the Masters 1000 a series of nine tournaments considered the most prestigious other than the four grand slams.

    Other winners of Miami Open 2016

    Men’s Doubles title : French pair of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut bagged the 2016 Miami Open Title in the men’s doubles category by defeating the pair of Raven Klaasen (South Africa) and Rajeev Ram (US) with a score of 5–7, 6–1 in the final match.

    Women’s Singles title : Victoria Azarenka from Belarus has won  the 2016 Miami Open Title in the women’s singles category by defeating  Svetlana Kuznetsova  of Russia with a score of 6–3, 6–2 in the final match. It was her third Miami Open Title

    Women’s Doubles title : The pair of Bethanie Mattek-Sands (US) and Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) bagged the  2016 Miami Open Title in the women’s doubles category by defeating the pair of  Timea Babos (Hungary) and Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) by 6–3, 6–4 score.

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  • Kenya’s Kotut and Jepkesho win Paris Marathon 2016  

     

    Kenya’s Kotut and Jepkesho win Paris Marathon 2016Kenyan Cyprien Kotut and Visiline Jepkesho also from Kenya have won the 40th edition of the 2016 Paris marathon held on 3 April 2016 in Men's and Womens category respectively.  

    He finished the 35km race in an official time of 2hr 07min 10sec while Jepkesho  finished the race in 2hr 25 min 52 sec.

    Defending champion Mark Korir settled second in 2:07:31 while Stephen Chemlany waylaid Gebretsadik settled to third position by completing the race in 2:07:39.

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  • Nico Rosberg wins F1’s Bahrain Grand Prix

     

    Nico Rosberg wins F1’s Bahrain Grand PrixGerman racing driver for Mercedes Formula One team - Nico Rosberg has won the 2016 Gulf Air Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix held at Bahrain International Circuit in Manama. It was Rosberg’s overall sixteenth championship title of F1 in his career and the second win in the 2016. 

    His victory puts him level with Stirling Moss as F1’s greatest winner never to have won a world title. Bahrain Grand Prix title in which  total 11 teams had participated was the second race of the 2016 season of Formula One.

    Top rankers of 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix  :

    1st position : Nico Rosberg (Germany) of Mercedes team.
    2nd position : Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) of Ferrari Team.
    3rd position : Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) of Mercedes team. 
    4th position : Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) of Red Bull team.
    5th position : Romain Grosjean (Switzerland) of Haas team.

    Top 3 teams: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bul

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  • PM Narendra Modi conferred Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour

     

    PM Narendra Modi conferred Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honourPrime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred Saudi Arabia's highest civilian honour- the King Abdulaziz Sash. The Prime Minister was conferred the prestigious award by King Salman bin Abdulaziz at the Royal Court.

    About King Abdulaziz Sash

    The award has been named after Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the modern Saudi state. The award is bestowed upon citizens of Saudi Arabia and foreigners for meritorious service to the Saudi Kingdom. King himself makes awards to foreigners.

    World leaders who have received the honour include US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

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  • Scientists develop green technology for water purification

     

    Scientists develop green technology for water purificationIndian scientists have developed an eco-friendly nanotechnology for water-softening applications that could be used in civic water treatment plants for generating potable water.  It was developed by the team of scientists from Guwahati (Assam) based Institute of Advance Study in Science & Technology (IASST). This material, is the first of its kind biopolymer with potential to act as a biodegradable and green material for water-softening applications.

    Key facts about the research

    1. The biopolymer has been developed using a naturally occurring substance, called chitosan (obtained from the hard outer skeleton of shellfish, including crab, lobster, and shrimp) as a backbone for the carbon nanoparticles to sit on. 
    2. In the biopolymer, nanoparticles are the functional parts of the technology as they remove calcium and magnesium components of water through ion exchange. Thus, it shows the same process that is used by common water purifiers.
    3. In this biopolymer, nanoparticles are the functional parts of the technology as they remove calcium and magnesium components of water through ion exchange, the same process that is used by common water purifiers.

    Potential Applications  This could be used in civic water treatment plants since they do not have very effective water-softening methods and the resulting treated water is very. It will  reduce dependency on conventional water-softening techniques that uses synthetic resins for water-softening applications.

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