Current Affairs, News & Facts of 12 Mar 2016

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  • Rajya Sabha passes Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015

     

    Rajya Sabha passes Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015Rajya Sabha approved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015 that promises to protect the interests of the large number of aspiring house buyers.The Rajya Sabha has passed the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015 to protect the interests of consumers and curb the malpractices in the real estate sector. 

    The bill seeks to create a uniform regulatory mechanism across the country and enhance the growth of construction sector. It also ensures to bring transparency and accountability in the real estate sector to access capital and financial markets essential for its long term growth.The Bill aims to bring about transparency in the real estate sector, thereby encouraging investments by foreign and domestic financial institutions and protecting the interests of home buyers.

    Real Estate Bill, 2015

     (1) Real Estate Bill, 2015 bars developers from advertising and selling homes in projects until they have obtained all approvals from local authorities.  In case of delays in completion of projects on time, developers will have to pay the same penal interest rate as the buyer does. 

    (2) 70 percent of the money collected from buyers would be deposited in an separate account  and it will be utilised only for construction and paying for land, thus putting an end to the widespread diversion of funds to other projects.

    (3) The bill establishes state level regulatory authorities called Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERAs) and tribunals called Real Estate Appellate Tribunals (REAT) which will have authority to settle disputes.

    (4) At the time of registration, the developer will have to disclose all relevant information including promoter details, project plans, implementation schedule, land status, layout, approvals and agreements among others, thus empowering buyers with the information they need. 

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  • Project ‘Mausam’ aims to explore Multi-Faceted Indian Ocean ‘World’

     

    Project ‘Mausam’ aims to explore Multi-Faceted Indian Ocean ‘World’Project ‘Mausam’ which is the intiative of Ministry of Culture with Archaeological Society of India (ASI), aims to explore the multi-faceted Indian Ocean ‘world’ collating archaeological and historical research in order to document the diversity of cultural, commercial and religious interactions in the Indian Ocean. It will be extended from East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka to the Southeast Asian archipelago. 

    Project ‘Mausam’ is not aimed to counter China’s Silk Route strategy. Instead it focuses on monsoon patterns, cultural context, maritime trade routes and coastal landscapes and examines key processes and phenomena that link different countries along the Indian Ocean littoral as well as the coastal centres that connect hinterlands.

    Project ‘Mausam’ was launched in the 38th Session of World Heritage Committee meeting which was held at Doha, Qatar in June, 2014. It is the project of Ministry of Culture project with Archaeological Society of India (ASI) as the nodal agency. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and National Museum will be associate bodies for research support.

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  • Arab League names Egypt's Ahmed Aboul Gheit as new chief

     

    Arab League names Egypt's Ahmed Aboul Gheit as new chiefVeteran Egyptian diplomat Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has been selected as the new secretary-general of Arab League. He was voted unanimously by 22 member states of Arab League. Although secretary-general can be elected by obtaining a minimum two-thirds majority of member states, but the group prefers to have unanimous agreement.

    Aboul-Gheit, who was the last foreign minister of Egypt under former president Hosni Mubarak, was only contender for the post at its ministerial meeting held in Cairo, Egypt. He will replace Nabil El-Araby, Egyptian diplomat whose term ends in July 2016 as he rejected the second term.It is a long-held protocol that Egypt, as host of the Arab League, nominates the chief of the Arab League, which has been almost exclusively led by Egyptians.

    What is Arab League ?

    The Arab League, formally, the League of Arab States is a regional organization of Arab countries in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia. 

    Objective : The League's main goal is to draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.

    Formed : It was fromed on 22 March 1945 with six members: Kingdom of Egypt, Kingdom of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. 

    Membership : Currently, the League has 22 members, although Syria's participation has been suspended since November 2011.

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  • Plastic degrading bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 identified

     

    Plastic degrading bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 identifiedA team of Japanese researchers has successfully identified a bacterium species capable of breaking down plastic-poly(ethylene terephthalate) or PET.  The results were published in the journal Science.

    Discovery of Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6

     (1) Shosuke Yoshida from the Department of Applied Biology, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Kyoto, Japan and his team collected 250 debris-contaminated samples from a PET bottle recycling site after which they looked for microorganisms that relied on PET film as a primary source of carbon for growth.

    (2) They identified a distinct microbial consortium that contained a mixture of bacteria species that degraded the PET film surface at 30°C; 75 per cent of the PET film surface was broken down into carbon dioxide at 28°C.

    (3) From the microbial consortium, the researchers isolated a unique bacterium "Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 "that could almost completely degrade a thin film of PET in a short span of six weeks at 30°C.

    (4) The bacterium uses two enzymes in sequence to break down the highly biodegradable-resistant polymer PET. First enzyme helps the bacterium to adhere to the PET and produce an intermediate substance through process of hydrolysis. The second enzyme then works with water and acts on this intermediate substance. 

    Comment : Human-made PET has been littering the environment for the last 70 years and in 2013 about 56 million tonnes of PET were produced worldwide. PET makes up almost one-sixth of the world’s annual plastic production of 311m tons, although PET is recycleable but only just over half is ever collected for recycling and far less actually ends up being reused.

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  • Astronaut Scott Kelly announces retirement

     

    Astronaut Scott Kelly announces retirementAfter spending nearly a year in space, Scott Kelly, the astronaut who spent U.S. record 520 days in four flights in space, is set to retire on 1 April from his regualr service as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). During his one-year trip, Scott Kelly posted hundreds of images, mostly of Earth from orbit, on social media.

    The 52-year-old Kelly spent a U.S.-record 340 days in orbit on the International Space Station to see how the human body holds up for long periods of time in space. His results are being compared to those on the ground from his twin brother, Mark, who is a retired astronaut.

    Kelly was Commander of the International Space Station on the one year mission until February 29, 2016, when he passed control to Timothy Kopra. In October 2015, he set the record for the total number of days spent in space by an American astronaut, 382. Kelly spent 340 consecutive days in space.

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  • India, IMF sign pact to set up regional training centre

     

    India, IMF sign pact to set up regional training centreIndia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have a signed a pact to set up South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC) in New Delhi with an aim to enhance capacity development and training officials in dealing with macro-economic and financial issues.

    MoU in this regard was signed between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The training centre will help address existing training requirements and respond to demand for IMF training in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, while bringing the region’s training volume on par with those of other regions.

    The training centre will  become the focal point for planning, co-ordinating and implementing IMF’s capacity development activity in the region on a wide range of issues, including macro-economic and fiscal management, monetary operations, financial sector regulation and supervision, and macro-economic statistics.

    Funding : Funding of the project will come from regional member countries and development partners. The Australian Agency for International Development, the Republic of Korea and India have pledged financial support for the centre.

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  • Wikipedia to develop a speech engine for visually impaired users

     

    Wikipedia to develop a speech engine for visually impaired usersWikipedia has announced that it is collaborating with researchers from Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology to develop an open, crowdsourced speech engine that will make the online encyclopedia more accessible to the visually impaired.

    This move by wikipedia will benifit 25 percent of its user base, aproximately 125 million people monthly will benefit from the new service. Although the engine will be optimized for use on Wikipedia itself, any site running MediaWiki software will be able to integrate it as well.

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