Tuesday, 28 April 2015

19th April 2015

>>Three Indian race walkers - Khushbir Kaur, Manish Rawat and Sandeep Kumar - on Sunday qualified for next year's Rio Olympics after creditable performances in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge at Rio Maior in Portugal. 
  • National women's 20km walk record holder Khushbir Kaur clocked 1:33:58, better than Rio 2016 qualification time of 1:35, though she finished 13th in the race. 
  • In the men's 20km race walk, Manish Rawat logged a personal best performance to finish in top 10 with a timing of 1:22:50, well above Rio Games qualification time of 1:24. 
  • National 50km race walk record holder Sandeep Kumar also qualified for Rio Games with a 14th-place finish in 1:23:32 though he received one warning. 

>>Nasim Zaidi took over the 20th Election Commissioner of India on Sunday.  
  • Zaidi said holding free and fair elections "at all cost" will be his aim. Zaidi will have a tenure up to July, 2017 when he attains the age of 65.
  • Zaidi took over from Hari Shankar Brahma who had retired on April 18th  2015

  • Incidentally, he is the only one left in the three-member constitutional body as the others have retired.
  • The government is yet to fill up the vacancies of two Election Commissioners.

>> India’s Y Pranjala has won the Asian Junior Tennis championship title on 18 April 2015.
  • In the final match played at New Delhi she defeated China’s Zheng Wushuang with a 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 scoreline.
  • She also had won the Asian Junior Tennis doubles title along with partner Zheng Wushuang on 17 April 2015

>>India's first satellite - Aryabhata - was launched successfully by a Russian rocket Kosmos-3M launch vehicle  on an April 19th day 40 years ago, taking the country on an exciting space odyssey as far as the Moon and the Mars.
  • It was named after great Indian astronomer and built by ISRO.Objective of this project was to gain experience in building and operating a satellite in space.

>>The Maharashtra government is considering a proposal to link ration cards with Aadhaar numbers so as to enhance the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the state.
  • The move is being planned with a view to ensuring that the benefits provided by the government reach the beneficiaries and the process remains transparent.

>>PM Modi was also voted among the 100 most influential people in the world in an online poll by readers of Time magazine. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also featured in that list.
  • Writing about Modi in the TIME 100 issue, US President Barack Obama notes that the Indian Prime Minister has “laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India’s true economic potential.”
  • Apart from PM Modi, ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochchar and Vikram Patel, co-founder of the NGO Sangath and the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, have also been named in the annual list of the most influential people in the world "who are shaping the future".

Monday, 27 April 2015

18th April 2015

>>Supreme Court has appointed Vivek Priyadarshi to head an investigating team to further probe the Indian Premier League (IPL) season 6 spot-fixing and betting scandals.

>> US President Barack Obama plans to honour Microsoft’s Indian-origin CEO Satya Nadella with the ‘Champions of Change’ award for bringing about change within his company to support working families.
  • Champions of Change’ award is given to those who support working families and have helped to bring about change within their companies, communities or organisations by advocating for commonsense paid sick and paid leave policies, equal pay and an end to pregnancy discrimination to support families, businesses, and economy.
  • The ‘Champions of Change’ programme was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

>>Haryana’s Ashish Jakhar on Friday set a national youth record in boys’ hammer throw on the second day of the 12th National Youth Athletics Championships here.
  • Ashish hurled the 5kg ball-and-chain to a new distance of 71.92m on his opening throw and went on to improve it further to 72.04m to stamp his class with fine rotations on the circle to set the first national record of the meet.

>>Andhra Pradesh Government inks MoU with IISL Company to exchange streetlights in 13 municipalities with LED lights
  • MoU was signed by Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development T. Narayana and IISL’s representatives in Amaravati, the brand new capital state.
  •  As per the contract, IISL will keep substitute and keep LED streetlights within the 13 municipalities for seven years.
  • By fitting LED streetlights, cut down the energy consumption by 50 per cent.

>>An MoU was signed between Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) and Dighi Port, developed by a private firm in the Konkan region.
  • Aiming to strengthen the transport network in Maharashtra, the state government is developing a number of small and big ports and connecting it with rail and road network in its effort to develop water transport system.
  • A special purpose vehicle, with 26 per cent ownership with RVNL, 11 per cent with the state-run Maharashtra Maritime Board and the rest with the port company, will be executing the 33.7-km line connecting the port, about 150km from Mumbai, with the nearest railhead at Roha on Konkan Railway.
  • In accordance with the Centre's policy to promote waterways and connect private ports with rail network and roads, the state government has taken an initiative to connect all ports.

>> Maharashtra government sets up task forces on agriculture development and poverty alleviation.
  • The 12-member task force for agriculture development will be headed by the additional chief secretary (Agriculture).
  • At the first meeting of National Institution for Transformation of India (NITI) on February 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested to all state governments to set up such panels, a government resolution (GR) issued .
  • The state government in a separate GR said another task force has been set up for poverty alleviation to be headed by principal secretary (Social Justice department).
  • Secretaries of the departments of finance, planning, cooperation, water resources, water conservation, forest, dairy development are the members of the task force on agriculture.
  • The task force on poverty elimination comprises secretaries of departments of tribal development, rural development, finance, housing, urban development, labour and public health.

>> President Pranab Mukherjee  inaugurated the centenary celebrations of Patna High Court.
  •    The court came into existence in the year 1916.
  • The President mentioned the glorious history of the Patna High Court where the country's first President Rajendra Prasad and the first President of the Constituent Assembly of India Sachchidanand Sinha had practised.
  • He further said that three Judges of the Patna High Court Justice Bhuvaneshwar Prasad Sinha, Justice Lalit Mohan Sharma and Justice R M Lodha were elevated to Chief Justice of India.

>> Today is World Heritage Day.
  • UNESCO established 18 April as the International Day for Monuments and Sites in 1983. 
  • It aims to raise public awareness about the diversity and vulnerability of the world’s built monuments and heritage sites and the efforts required to protect and conserve them.
  • ICOMOS: International Council on Monuments and Sites.

>> Vikas Swarup took over as the new face of the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry.
  • Vikas Swarup, the author of Oscar award winning 'Slumdog Millionaire', is most likely to succeed Syed Akbaruddin as Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
  • Mr. Akbaruddin, who has been designated as the chief coordinator for the India-Africa summit to be held in New Delhi in October, is credited with bridging the gap between the Ministry and the masses using social media.

>> The World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim said on Friday that the "strong visionary leadership" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has resulted in "extraordinary effort" by India on financial inclusion of its people.
  • The World Bank in a report released this week said by January 2015, 125 million bank accounts had been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna launched in August 2014 for comprehensive financial inclusion with the goal of opening a bank account for every household in India.
  • As a point of comparison, a 2013 survey had found that fewer than 400 million people in the country had an account.

>> The Haryana Government on 14 April 2015 issued a notification that forests in Aravalli ranges are not a forest.  
  • According to the latest order, the vast tracts of forests of Aravalli range, including Mangarbani grove, would now be recorded as not forest.
  • This reverses the department's March order in which it was decided to record the entire Aravali range as forest while carrying out ground surveys of natural conservation zones (NCZs) in NCR.
  • Consequently after this order, the forest clearance regulations which currently prevent the lands from being diverted for any other activity would not apply on these lands, making it a cake walk for real estate and other industries to chop the forests to use the lands.
  • This latest decision of Haryana government to free up about 80000 hectares of land is seen by activists and local villagers as a result of constant lobbying by builders.

17th April 2015

>> Gujarat government today formed a task force comprising several ministers to device a new strategy to eliminate poverty in the state and provide suggestions to the government to achieve this objective. 
  • Gujarat's Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramanlal Vora has been appointed chairman of this task force. 
  • The task force also comprises two Ministers of State (MoS), including Urban Development Minister Shanker Chaudhari as well as Women and Child Development Minister Vasuben Trivedi.

>>Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been presented by ancient Indian sculpture Parrot Lady by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his official visit to Canada.

>>Oil India, the nation's second largest state-owned oil explorer, today said it has commissioned a 54 MW Wind energy project in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Saddled between the two states, the project is split between a 16 MW capacity plant at Patan in Gujarat and a 38 MW at Chandgarh in Madhya Pradesh, the company said in a statement.
  • The project cost Rs 439 crore -- Rs 126.5 crore for the Gujarat side and Rs 312.45 crore for the Madhya Pradesh location.
  • "With this, OIL's installed renewable energy capacity (commercial wind energy and solar energy projects) stands at an impressive 126.60 MW," it said.
  • OIL said the Patan wing of the project was commissioned on March 26 while the Chandgarh site was commissioned on March 31.
  • "The Project, fully funded by OIL, is being run by Gamesa Wind Turbines, Chennai, who are the project developers. The Project Management consultants are Power and Energy Consultants

>>Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on 17 April 2015 approved release of Gharials in Sutlej and Beas rives in the state to promote eco-tourism.
  • Initially, 10 Gharials (last surviving species of the family Gavialidae) will be released in the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary as a part of ‘Gharial Recovery Action Plan’.
  • Union Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) also had given permission for release of Gharials under Section 12 of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

 About Gharial
  • The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is also known as the gavial.
  •  It is a fish-eating crocodile and belongs to one of the three crocodilian species found in the Indian Sub-Continent.
  •  It is also listed as Critically Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.

>>Pakistan and Russia have agreed to hold first-ever joint military exercises as part of their enhanced defence cooperation, in a sign of increasing bonhomie between the Cold War-era adversaries. 
  • Asif is on an official visit to Moscow to attend a regional security conference. He held talks with the Russian defence minister, during which the two ministers agreed to increase military cooperation in training and import of arms and equipment. 

  • "Joint participation in military exercises will be promoted," the Pakistan defence ministry said in a statement. 
  • The ministers also agreed that conflicts should be resolved through diplomatic means and that use of force must be discouraged and abandoned. 
  • They also reached a consensus that a multi-polar world would ensure peace and balance in international relations. 
  • Pakistan and Russia last year signed a military cooperation agreement to deepen their defence ties and vowed to translate their relationship in "tangible" terms during the first-ever visit of a Russian defence minister in 45 years. 
  • Russian defence minister Shoigu's visit last November to Pakistan came at a very critical juncture as US-led NATO forces drawdown from Afghanistan. 

>>Vijender Gupta was appointed the leader of opposition (LoP) in the Delhi assembly on 16 April 2015 with immediate effect.

>>United Nation (UN) peace envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar has resigned, after losing support from Gulf countries for his mission in the conflict-riven nation. 
  • His resignation comes after UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for the swift resumption of peace talks and an end to violence in Yemen on 14 April 2015. The adopted resolution adopted calls on the Huthis to withdraw from Sanaa and all other areas they have seized.

>>National Green Tibunal (NGT) chair person Justice Swantanter Kumar issued notices to chief secretaries of all states seeking status on prevention of air pollution on roads.

>>Today 17th April is Worls Hemophilia Day

  • This day is an awareness day for hemophilia and other bleeding disorders.
  • This day is observed by World Federation of Hemophilia(WFH) in honor of Frank Schnabel’s(founder of WFH) birthday.

>>International Paralympic Committee suspends the Paralympic Committee of India for an indefinite period.
  • This is because of the infighting within the national body and shoddy treatment meted out to athletes during the National Para-Athletics Championships at Ghaziabad last month.

>>Japan scientists developed a self-elevating barrier with the ability to bear the impact of powerful tsunamis.
  •  Developed by the team of Nagoya University,in collaboration with Hitachi Zosen Corporation.

>>30 year-old V Saritha becomes the first women driver of the Delhi Transport Corporation.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

16th April 2015

>>Former Czech Republic Prime Minister Stanislav Gross passed away on 16 April 2015. He was 45.

  • Stanislav Gross was the youngest PM of Czech Republic and was elected in July 2004 at the age of 34. He had led the Social Democrat government as PM for one year i.e. till 2005.
>>Professor Susanta Lahiri, Chemical Sciences Division, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, received the Hevesy Medal Award 2015, on April 12 at the Tenth International Conference .

  • He received award on Methods and Applications of Radio-analytical Chemistry for his outstanding contributions to heavy ion induced radioisotope production, tracer packet technique, converter targets, and green chemistry.
  • The other person to also win the award this year is Professor Kattesh V. Katti of the Cedntre for Radiological Research, University of Missouri, Columia.
  • This premier international award named after George de HEVESY, the 1943- Chemistry Nobel Laureate, "

>>Surya Bahadur Thapa, former Prime Minister (PM) of Nepal passed away on 15 April 2015 in Gurgaon. He was 87.
  • Thapa had served as Prime Minister of Nepal for five times under three different kings. His was in office from 1963-64, 1965–69, 1979–83, 1997–98 and 2003-04.

>> India on Thursday successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Agni-III ballistic missile, with a range of over 3,000 km, from a base in Odisha.
  • The surface-to-surface missile was fired from a launch complex at the Inner Wheeler Island off the coast of Dhamra in Bhadrak district, about 200 km from here.
  • Agni-III is capable of carrying warheads weighing up to 1.5 tonnes. It is 16 metres in length and weighs 48 tonnes.
  • The missile has a two-stage solid propellant system. It can re-enter the atmosphere at a very high velocity.
  • Agni-III is a rail mobile system capable missile and can be launched from anywhere in India

>> India Post today released special  commemorative stamps to mark 50 years of Indo-French co-operation in space research.
     PM: Manuel Valls
     President of France: Francois Hollande
>> Defence minister Manohar Parrikar's visit to  South Korea to boost the defence ties.
  • On his first official visit to South Korea, Parrikar will co-chair the India-RoK (Republic of     Korea) Defence Ministerial meeting with his Korean counterpart Gen. Han Min-Koo on Friday, IANS quoted an official statement as saying.
  • With an aim to facilitate joint production and investment by South Korean defence companies into the Indian market, these business heads belonging to Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), Larsen and Toubro, Tata Power SED , among others, made detailed presentations before the joint forum of India-Korea defence industries.

>>Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar was inducted into the prestigious Laureus Sports Academy.
  • Along with him four other sportspersons were inducted as new members in the Academy.

      Yao Ming- Retired Chinese professional basketball player.
      Tegla Loroupe-  Kenyan long-distance runner.
      Li Xiaopeng-  Chinese gymnast.
      Yang Yang- Former Chinese short track speed skater Yang Yang.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

15th April 2015

>>Mrs. Meenakshi Madan Rai was sworn in as the first lady judge of the Sikkim High Court. Governor of Sikkim Srinivas Patil administered the oath of office to her at Raj Bhavan in Gangtok.

  •  With this Sikkim High Court again got its full strength of three judges after a gap of about one year. 
  •  Sikkim High Court was established under Article 371-F which was added in Constitution by Constitutional (Thirty-Sixth Amendment) Act, 1975.

>>Assamese ace film director, actor Bidyut Chakraborty passed away on 15 April 2015 in Guwahati, Assam. He was 55.
  •  He had directed several Assamese movies including Goon Goon Gaane Gaane, Dwaar and Raag-Biraag. 
  •  His directorial film Rag-Birag is based on a novel written by Jnanpith award-winner Mamoni Raisom Goswami.

>>Senior diplomat Dr. Mohan Kumar has been appointed the India’s next Ambassador to France.
  •  He will succeed Arun Kumar who was recently appointed Ambassador to the United States.

>>The 45-day annual ban on deep sea fishing along the East Coast of Tamil Nadu will come into force from Wednesday. 
  • The ban, enforced by the district administration through Fisheries Department, is aimed at facilitating breeding of fishes and conservation of fish stock in marine ecology. 
  • The enforcement would remain in effect from April 15 till May 29.

>>During last phase of  three nation tour Modi visited the Canada and  became the first PM to arrive in Canada in a stand-alone bilateral visit in 42 years. 
  • His visit was largely welcomed by Canada, a country home to a big Indian diaspora. PM Modi held hectic talks with Canadian PM Stephen Harper and addressed a 8,000-strong audience of Indo-Canadians at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum. It was an event similar to the PM’s Madison Square Garden event in the US.
1. Both countries signed an agreement for long-term supply of Uranium to India.
2. Harper and Modi agreed to increase collaboration in the fields of energy efficiency, oil and gas development and renewable energy.
3. India and Canada looked forward to an investment of CAD $2.5 million in five healthinnovations in India by Grand Challenges Canada and its Indian partner – theDepartment of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology.
4. Air Canada has said that it plans to have direct flights from Toronto to New Delhi — an outcome that we believe came after the PM’s bilateral visit.
5. Both leaders vowed to deepen cooperation in fighting against terrorism and violent extremism.
6. 13 MoUs were signed  between the National Skill Development Council of India and 13 Canadian colleges, institutes, and Sector Skills Councils in the fields such asagriculture, automotive, aviation, construction, healthcare, hydrocarbons and IT. 

>> Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei paid an official visit to India.
  • The President of India stated friendly relations with Belarus. It was pointed out that there is a huge potential of bilateral trade and economic cooperation, there are no discords in the international arena.Later Vladimir Makei held talks with the External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj.
  • During the meeting the sides discussed intensification of political dialogue, exchange of visits at different levels, including the highest level. 
  • Special attention was paid to the regional agenda with focus on the need of peaceful settlement of arising disputes. The sides touched upon the issues of the UN Security Council reform and the organization in general. The importance to support each other in the international arena was stressed.

>>The government has formed an inter-ministerial committee headed by cabinet secretary(Ajith Seth) to review the Official Secrets Act in context of demands to declassify files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's death or disappearance. 
  • RAW, IB, Union home ministry and PMO officials will be part of the panel. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi  had met Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's grandnephew, Surya Bose, in Berlin and promised to examine the request for declassification of all files related to events since his death or disappearance in Taiwan on August 18, 1945. 

>>Karnataka Health Minister U.T. Khader had inaugurated   the two-wheeler ambulance  in Bangalore.
  • The two-wheeler ambulance has a first-aid kit using which the rider of the vehicle would provided needed medical care to the patient before shifted him/her to a four-wheeler ambulance.
  • The Minister said that the two-wheeler ambulance would be introduced in parts of the city where traffic density is high.

>>State-owned power equipment maker BHEL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Russian company INTMA, to set up a gas-based power project in Kazakhstan.
  • The MoU will further help BHEL in consolidating its presence in the CIS countries.
  • The two parties will endeavour to assist each other in the implementation of this MoU.
  • Primarily engaged in manufacturing of power plant equipment like gas turbines, steam turbines, hydro turbines and boilers, BHEL has robust experience in construction of power plants in India and overseas.
  • BHEL is currently executing 23 major projects in 16 countries and has a presence in more than 75 countries.
  • "INTMA is one of the leading general Engineering Procurement and Construction contractors (EPC) in Russia and Kazakhstan, with wide experience in industrial construction, renovation of facilities, automation and other energy related sectors,".

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

14th April 2015

>>The PM’s visited to Germany and inaugurated the famous Hannover industrial fair along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
1. Both leaders spoke in favour of a free trade agreement between the European Unionand India. PM Modi said that this was important for the expansion of India as amanufacturing hub.
2. The joint statement by both countries recognized the establishment of a workinggroup on urban development.
3. PM Modi promised to set up a mechanism to help German companies invest and dobusiness in India — something that he has done only for Japan and the US.
4. While addressing a diaspora event in Berlin, PM Modi said that India would lead the way in dealing with climate change. He added that India is not answerable to the worldin relation to climate change.
5. The two countries said stronger educational exchanges will be encouraged along with collaborations between universities.

>>FM transmission of Vividh Bharati Service was launched by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley on 14 April 2015. 
It was launched at function held at New Broadcasting House of All India Radio (AIR) in Delhi.

>>Indian-American businesswoman Shamina Singh has been nominated as the member  of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). 
She was nominated to top most post by United States President Barack Obama for term of four years.

>> Turkey launched the construction of its first nuclear power plant, a controversial USD 20 billion project slammed by ecologists which Ankara hopes will begin a new era of greater energy self-sufficiency.

  • The nuclear power station, in Akkuyu in Mersin province on the shores of the Mediterranean is being built, like Iran`s first nuclear power plant, by Russia`s nuclear agency Rosatom.
  • It is the first of three nuclear power plants Turkey currently plans to build to reduce its dependence on importing energy from exporters like Russia and Iran. 
  • A second plant is due to be built by a French-Japanese consortium in the Black Sea city of Sinop while a third plant whose location is yet to be finalised is also planned.
  • The construction of the power station, which is expected to be completed by 2020 and will have four power units with a capacity of 1200 MW each.
  • The launch of the power plant comes two weeks after Turkey suffered its most serious nationwide power cut in 16 years which exposed the shortcomings of its energy system.
  • The project is strongly backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of his plan to make Turkey one of the world`s top ten economies. 

>>The country's largest border guarding force BSF has launched an ambitious satellite-based tele-medicine programme to address medical and health-related problems of its troops deployed in far-flung frontier areas and difficult regions in the hinterland.

  • The tele-medicine or 'e-medicine' facility will be operated and hosted from the Kadamtala-based composite hospital of the force in Siliguri in West Bengal.
  • The 100-bed hospital centre in the eastern flank of the country, which will have a full-time team of doctors, would have links through satellite phones and the VSAT platform to connect the posts of the Border Security Force (BSF) along the Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangla frontiers that it guards.
  • "The initiative will come as a big boost to the medical setup of the force. The programme is aimed to connect far-flung border posts and other locations of the force in direct contact with our medical experts".
  • Officials said such a medical system was the need of the hour in the BSF as the troops deployed in border areas have to not only face the vagaries of the nature and climate but also counter diseases like malaria and flu quite often.
  • They said it is impossible for them to keep a doctor or medical attendant in each border post of the force and hence it was decided to link these posts through communication gadgets and links that are available with the troops which are deployed in a variety of operational theatres ranging from the hot deserts of Rajasthan to the icy heights in Jammu and Kashmir and riverine and dense jungle borders in West Bengal and North Eastern states.
  • The tele-medicine link also envisages to train few personnel in each of the border posts in basic skills of administering first aid to a colleague, a lesson also taught to troops during their training days.

>>The Ministry of Home Affairs has renamed   “Tourist Visa on Arrival-Electronic Travel Authorization (TvoA-ETA)” scheme to  “e-Tourist Visa” to clarify that it is not an on-arrival scheme,, who are under the impression that the visa is being granted on arrival.
  • The government has issued 1.10 lakh visas under the new scheme that was launched on November 27 last year. According to the MHA, it will be extended to more countries and airports in a phased manner.
  •  After some Indian embassies raised the issue with the Home Ministry seeking change of name, a committee comprising officials of the Bureau of Immigration, Home and External Ministries was formed to suggest a new name.

>>Online restaurant guide Zomato on 14 April 2015 acquired MaplePOS, a cloud-based point of sale product for restaurants developed by Delhi based MapleGraph.

>>the Centre today constituted a 'Task Force' to work on forging consensus among different states for speedy implementation of the NDA government's ambitious project. 
  • The Union Water Resources Ministry's decision came in the backdrop of opposition from a couple of states over interlinking of rivers. 
  • The Task Force would be chaired by B N Navalawala and take up all issues for expediting the work on interlinking of rivers in the country. 
  • Apart from examining the existing links that are laid out as per the National Perspective Plan under both Himalayan and Peninsular components, the Task Force would also consider alternative plans in place of infeasible links in the present plan, the release added. 
  • The panel would facilitate interlinking of intra-state and intra-basin rivers also along with that of inter-state and inter-basin links. 
  • The Task Force would also provide guidance on norms of appraisal of individual projects in respect of economic viability, socio-economic, environmental impacts and preparation of resettlement plans. 

>>Australia today assured India that it would extend full technological support for the ambitious project to cleanse the Ganga, saying measures like controlling effluent discharge could be used to clean the river.

  • "Australia has promised its full support to Ganga Rejuvenation plan. This was communicated by Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop when she called on Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharati here today," a statement said.
  • Both the leaders also discussed bilateral co-operation in sectors like water-flow forecasting, recharging of ground water, mapping of ground water storage and inter-linking of rivers.

>>A three-month action plan has been formulated to combat pollution for the National Capital Region. 
Key facts:
  • Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Independent Charge, Shri Prakash Javadekar stated that National Thermal Power Corporation, NTPC, has decided to convert Units IV and V of Badarpur Plant with retro-fitting, which will reduce emission load from two-thirds to one-thirds.
  •  NTPC has also decided to phase out Units I, II and III in a time-bound manner. He also added that the Centre is forming rules for handling construction and demolition waste. 
  • Rajasthan is taking effective steps to manage construction and demolition waste and will inspect the fuel quality being used in industrial units in Bhiwadi. 
  • Haryana government will ensure that only BS IV norms are registered
  • New Delhi Municipal Corporation, NDMC, is coming out with the first plant for plasma gasification in Asia. This facility will treat polluting material and convert it into gas. 

>>The WORLD BANK has predicted 8% GDP growth rate of India by 2017 and said that due to favorable oil prices and strong expansion in the country accelerate the economic growth.

Monday, 20 April 2015

13th April 2015

>> Gujarat government is promoting a tour package covering major industrial installations which have earned global acclaim for the state.
  • Some of the major attractions of this recently launched tour package include a visit to Tata Nano plant in Sanand, Pipavav port near Amreli, Alang ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar and Amul Dairy in Anand.
  • The package, called Industrial Tour of Gujarat, has been offered by city-based Akshar Travels Pvt Ltd, official partner of state-run tourism agency Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd (TCGL), which is promoting the tour on its website.
  • As per the itinerary of this tour package, tourists can select the places from various options which include visit to Sanand based Tata Nano plant, Morbi-based ceramic industry as well as Asia's biggest Ajanta clock factory.
  • Tourists can also opt for a visit to Reliance Refinery in Jamnagar, Tata Chemicals factory in Mithapur, ship breaking yard in Alang, Pipavav port, Asian Paints plant in Ankleshwar, Arvind Mills in Ahmedabad, Amul Dairy in Anand and many more such destinations.
  • Tourists  can take to salt pans near Okha. Those interested in cotton are taken to Kadi in Mehsana, which has the highest number of cotton gins in Asia. Our package also include visits to world-famous diamond industry as well as textiles industry in Surat and plastic industry in Hazira," .

>>Government's think tank NITI Aayog today said it will soon come out with an integrated policy to help meet massive demand for energy including solar, wind, gas and coal.
  • The move is aimed at boosting power generation in the country from various sources like solar, wind, gas, coal etc to meet the growing demand.
  • At present, the country has an installed power generation capacity of over 2,50,000 MW from all sources, while the peak power deficit in around 3.6%.
  • The government has set an ambitious target of generating 1,75,000 MW from renewable sources by 2022, including 1,00,000 MW solar power.

NITI Aayog  Chairman:Narendra Modi
NITI Aayog Vice Chairman: Arvind Panagariya.
CEO:Sindhushree Khullar.
>> The Lok Sabha passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill to scrap the collegium system of appointing Supreme Court and High Court judges and cleared the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2014 to regulate the procedure.
  • The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, was passed by voice vote along with one official amendment The Minister moved an amendment changing the number of the constitution Amendment Bill from 121st to 99th . So the Bill was introduced as 121st but since it got cleared earlier than others, its number was changed.”
  • Under the new law,a six member panel-NJAC –headed by the chief Justice of India will select judges of the apex court and state high courts.
  • Along with the head,this panel includes two senior-most Supreme Court judges,Union Minister of Law and Justice and two”eminent persons” nominated by a committee comprising the Prime Minister,CJI and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha or Leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

>> The Haryana government decided to give “status equivalent to Cabinet Minister” to Baba Ramdev, who has been appointed as the State’s brand ambassador to promote yoga and ayurveda.
  • “Ramdev, Brand Ambassador for promotion of yoga and ayurveda in Haryana, will be given status equivalent to Cabinet Minister,” Haryana’s Health and Sports Minister, Anil Vij tweeted.
  • The emphasis on yoga and ayurveda would lead to an amalgamation of tradition and modernity and inclusion of yoga in the school syllabus would turn Haryana into a model State based on Indian values and traditions, Mr. Vij had said.
  • Yoga would be made a compulsory subject in Haryana’s schools for which ‘yogshalas’ will be constructed in all the towns and about 6,500 villages of the State under the guidance of Baba Ramdev, he said.

>> Mobile commerce platform Paytm inked memorandum of understanding MoU with National Centre for Trade Information (NCTI) to promote Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
  • As per MoU, Paytm will offer a virtual marketplace platform for NCTI members and will extend its services and enable them to sell online.
  • In this regard, Paytm will set up payment gateways platform for online ticketing and membership fees for NCTI.

>> German Nobel laureate novelist Guenter Grass passed away on 12 April 2015 in Berlin. He was 87.
  • Grass is recognized for his efforts to revive German culture in the aftermath of World War II and also had given voice and support to democratic discourse in the post war Germany.

Awards and Honours-

  • In 1999, he was awarded Nobel Prize for literature for his efforts to revive German literature after the Nazi era. Hermann Kesten Prize (1995).
  •  He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1993.

>> The Maharatna Company status Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) commissioned 600 MW unit of a thermal power project for the Dainik Bhaskar Power Limited (DBPL) at Dhabra in Janjgir Champa district of Chhattisgarh.
  • The commissioned unit is the second unit of DBPL’s 2 × 600 MW power project. The first 600 MW Unit was commissioned in 2014. BHEL is partner in the power development programme of the state of Chhattisgarh.
  • With this commissioning of second unit, BHEL’s cumulative installed capacity has increased at 11,400MW in Chhattisgarh and accounts for 68 per cent share of the total installed capacity in the state.

12th April 2015

>>Ace Indian shooter JituRai won bronze medal in the 10m air pistol event at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup which was held in Changwon, South Korea.

  • He scored 181.1 points in the final to won the bronze. Jin Jongoh of South Korea won gold medal while Naung Ye Tun of Myanmar won silver medal. 

>>Yuki Bhambri won 15,000 US Dollar ITF Futures tournament title after defeating DzmitryZhyrmont of Belarus in the finals. Final match was held at Karshi, Uzbekistan.

  • This win also has ensured Yuki's entry into the French Open qualifying event which will be the Clay Court Grand Slam that will begin on the 19th May 2015.

>>SaniaMirza created history by becoming the first Indian female tennis player to achieve the world number one rank in doubles category.
  • She achieved this feat after winning WTA Family Circle Cup along with her Swedish partner Martina Hingis.

>>India won the bronze i.e. finished third by defeating South Korea by 4-1 goals in the penalty shoot-out after both the teams were tied at 2-2 at regulation time.

  • New Zealand has won the 24th edition of Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament 2015 for second time.
  • In the final match, New Zealand defeated World Champions Australia by 3-1 goals in the penalty shoot-out. In regulation 60 minutes time, both teams had tied at 2-2 goals.

>>Lieutenant General Hanut Singh (retd) on 12 April 2015 passed away in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. He was 82. He was a 1971 Indo-Pak war hero and one of the most famous officers of the Indian Army.

>>SBI announced a cut in homw loan rate by up to 0.25%
  The rate cut will be effective from tomorrow.
  • Note:The cut in interest rate on home loans is higher than the reduction of 0.15% in base rate that came into force on April 10.

>>The Union Home Ministry has notified a new set of rules to “regulate” official visits of Governors outside their States, mandating prior permission from the President and putting a cap of 73 days in a year as duration of such visits.

  • Amending the Governors (Allowances and Privileges) Rules, the MHA on February 10, 2015 issued a notification stating that all out-station visits of Governors will require prior approval of the President
  • “In case of emergent or extraordinary circumstances, the intimation shall contain details of the circumstances and the compelling reasons why it was not possible to obtain prior permission....,” it says, adding that the duration of such visits cannot exceed 20 per cent of the days in a calendar year [73 days].

>> Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro shook hands at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, marking the first meeting between a U.S. and Cuban head of state since the two countries severed their ties in 1961.

  • The meeting came four months after the presidents announced their countries would restore ties. Successive U.S. administrations have maintained a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.