April 1 to 7 – Current Affairs

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1) Rourkela Steel Plant is located in Odisha.

2) Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited, a company under Ministry of Finance have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”)  for supporting Badminton sport. Under the MOU, IIFCL shall contribute Rs. 30 Crores (Rs. 10 crore each year for 3 years) to  the Target Olympic Podium Scheme “ TOP Scheme”  under its initiatives for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

3)The Water Storage available in 85 important reservoirs of the country as on March 31, 2015 was 53.97 BCM which is 35% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This storage is 84% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 108% of storage of average of last ten years. The present storage position during current year is less than the storage position of last year but is better than the storage of average of last ten years.

Central Water Commission monitors live storage status of 85 important reservoirs of the country on weekly basis. These reservoirs include 37 reservoirs having hydropower benefit with installed capacity of more than 60 MW. The total storage capacity of these reservoirs is 155.046 BCM which is about 61% of the storage capacity of 253.388 BCM which is estimated to have been created in the country.

4) The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee participated in the celebration of the 100th year of the advent of the Divine Adya Mata organized by Dakshineswar Ramakrishna Sangha Adyapeath at Kolkata.

5) Mumtaz Ali has written a book ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master (A Yogi’s Autobiography) ‘, under the name “Shri M.” He is now travelling the country on foot, for the cause of the “oneness of humanity.”

6) The state of Gujarat has led others in the implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission during 2014-15. Out of the 2,70,069 household toilets constructed during the last financial year, Gujarat alone accounted for 60% of them having built 1,65,376 household toilets. Madhya Pradesh has constructed 99,151 household toilets followed by Karnataka with 4,697.

7) Speaking during a healthcare meet, President said a healthcare system, which is universally accessible, affordable and effective, is crucial for a developing country like India. To build such a system, we require robust healthcare infrastructure, trained and motivated personnel, and better access to medicines and equipments. There are 7 hospital beds per 10,000 population in India, compared to 23 in Brazil, 38 in China and 97 in Russia. In terms of healthcare professionals, we again lag behind the other BRIC countries. There are 7 physicians per 10,000 population in India, compared to 19 in Brazil, 15 in China and 43 in Russia. Though schemes like the National Health Mission have improved service delivery, health services in India still suffer from lack of reach and constraints of quality.

8) The National Geoscience Awards earlier known as National Mineral Awards were instituted in the year 1966 by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India. The objective of these awards is to honor individuals and teams of scientists for their extraordinary achievements and outstanding contributions in the field of fundamental/applied geosciences, mining and allied areas to provide incentive for striving towards excellence.

Geo-science is a comprehensive branch of science that deals with the planet Earth. The phenomena that make Earth the most magnificent spectacle of nature are diverse. The study of geo-sciences enables mankind to decipher the interplay of various forces of nature. This important science stream helps us to unravel the mystery of the origin and dynamism of the earth, the oceans, earthquakes, volcanoes, river systems and the like. It also contributes to our growing understanding of the evolution of life on this planet

India has a rich heritage of geological research work. The Geological Survey of India, established in 1851, is the second oldest amongst such organizations in the world. Over the years, it has developed a huge depository of knowledge in diverse fields of geo-science.

9) Mountaineer Malli Mastan Babu, known for conquering peaks all over the world was found dead during one of his expeditions.

10) The Prime Minister witnessed a tripartite agreement between the Union Ministry of Textiles, the Government of Maharashtra and the National Textile Corporation, for transfer of 12 acres of land adjacent to the Chaityabhoomi in the Indu Mills Compound in Mumbai, where the last rites of Babasaheb Ambedkar were performed.

The agreement paves the way for resolving the long-pending issue of transfer of land from the National Textiles Corporation to the Government of Maharashtra to enable construction of a befitting memorial for Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

11) The Prime Minister, said good infrastructure for the Judiciary was a priority for the Government, and an amount of Rs. 9749 crore had been earmarked for strengthening the Judiciary under the 14th Finance Commission. He said that under the Digital India Programme, technology should be deployed to bring about a qualititative change in the Judiciary. He stressed that quality manpower was required for the Judiciary. He was as concerned about the Human Resource, as he was about the physical infrastructure, the Prime Minister added.

12) General Dalbir Singh, Chief of the Army Staff, on behalf of the Hon’ble President of India, Shri PranabMukherjee, presented the “President’s Colours to 20 MADRAS and 21 MADRAS Battalions of the Madras Regiment.

This rare honour has been bestowed upon these two battalions in due recognition of their dedicated and meritorious service rendered to the nation since raising.

13) The Government of India has released more than Rs.37,420 crore to all the States for Financial Year 2015-16 as the First Installment of devolution as per the 14th Finance Commission (FFC).

14) India is hosting the 5th meeting of the SAARC Health Ministers at New Delhi.

15) The Chief Justice of India Justice H.L.Dattu said efforts are on to see that no court case would be pending for more than five years. He said efforts are also on to see that the maximum life of a case is not beyond two (2) years. Justice H.L. Dattu said the idea of Morning as well as evening courts, uniform policy for the selection of Judges across the country and provision of uniform retirement benefits for the retired judges of High courts were all discussed. In addition the speedy judicial process cases relating to women harrasment, juveniles, disabled persons and senior citizens also came up for discussion. He called for increase in number of judges to tackle the problem of pendency. Almost 96% of the district and subordinate courts have been computerised and are providing case information to litigants and lawyers online through the district court websites.

16) Union Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences and Vice-President, CSIR Dr Harsh Vardhan,  has said that Aerospace and Defence have been identified to be at the heart of ‘Make in India’.

Dr Harsh Vardhan complimented the scientists and staff on the numerous spin-off products developed including India’s largest Autoclave for Airworthy Composite Processing, the first indigenous transmissometer (DHRISTI) for measuring runway visibility, the first indigenous Electronic target (DHVANI) for the Indian Army, Active noise control, smart materials and surface modification.

17) The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Conference of State Environment and Forest Ministers said, India, which has had a long tradition of living in harmony with nature, should lead the global fight against climate change.

18) Union Agriculture Minister emphasised the need for bringing Green Revolution to Eastern Region of the country.

For the first time, soil health card is being implemented in Mission Mode and every farmer of the country will be provided with Soil health card in next three years and they will be empowered with complete details about soil nutrient for effective crop management.

Two more ‘Indian Agricultural Research Institute’ are planned to be established, one each in Jharkhand and Assam to enhance the educational and Research opportunities.

19) Ministry of Culture takes over the management of Lalit Kala Akademi.

20) Kalvari, first of the Indian Navy’s Scorpene class stealth submarines being built under the Project 75, under collaboration with M/s DCNS, France, achieved a major milestone today with her ‘undocking’ at the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL).

21) Minister of State – Labour & Employment  launched the portal Digital India Initiative: NCVT-MIS Portal  a digital platform that will help in improving the market function of vocational training delivery in India. The platform, developed by the Ministry’s Directorate General of Employment & Training(DGE&T), will scale up the infrastructure that can help realise Prime Minister’s Skill India mission, as well as significantly improve government’s process efficiencies, increase transparency and reduce leakages and corruption by the use of technology.

The Minister also awarded e-certificates from the first set of e-certificates generated from portal for candidates who had successfully completed trainings from various Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the past.

22) Major Indian Steel Companies, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Ministry of Steel for setting up of Steel Research & Technology Mission of India (SRTMI).

The SRTMI is an industry-led initiative in association with the Steel Ministry to promote collaborative research programmes in steel sector, which aims at increasing investment on Research & Development in the steel sector from present level of 0.2-0.3 % of turnover progressively towards the international benchmark of 1-2 % of turnover.

SRTMI will carry out R&D in priority areas of national importance covering best usage of available raw materials & conservation of natural resources, optimum energy conservation & minimum emissions, innovations and in-house development of design, engineering & manufacturing facilities of key steel plant equipments.

Presently, SAIL, Tata Steel, JSW Steel, JSPL, RINL, NMDC & MECON are the participating companies who have signed the agreement today with the Ministry of Steel. The initial corpus for setting up of SRTMI is to the tune of Rs. 200 crore wherein Rs. 100 crore will be contributed from the Steel Development Fund of the Ministry, and Rs. 100 crore will be provided by these participating companies.

23)  The President congratulated Prince Aga Khan on the Padma Vibhushan Award being conferred on him and said this reflects the admiration and respect India has for him and for the valuable public service being done by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

24) Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Ltd. (MUDRA) – a new bank to be set up through a statutory enactment, would be responsible for developing and refinancing through a Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana, all Micro-finance Institutions (MFIs) which are in the business of lending to micro / small business entities engaged in manufacturing, trading and service activities.

MUDRA would also partner with State/Regional level coordinators to provide finance to Last Mile Financiers of small/micro business enterprises. Further, the approach goes beyond credit only approach and offers a credit – plus solution for these enterprises spread across the country. These measures to be taken up by MUDRA are targeted towards mainstreaming young, educated or skilled workers and entrepreneurs including /women entrepreneurs.

 25) The Law Commission of India has submitted its Report No. 256 on “Eliminating Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy” to the Union Minister of Law and Justice today. The report also provides a model draft law to eliminate discrimination faced by Persons affected by Leprosy.

In 2014, India had the largest number of new Leprosy cases globally (58%). From 2005 till 2014, the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) recorded a rate of 1.25 to 1.35 lakh new cases every year. A majority of these are children, who are threatened with isolation and discrimination at a young age.

Although Leprosy may cause irreversible disabilities, with medical advances, it is now a completely curable disease. However, a major obstacle is the social stigma associated with Leprosy, and many persons affected by Leprosy continue to be outcast from society. Another problem is that of Indian laws, which continue to directly and indirectly discriminate against Persons affected by Leprosy.

 

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March 2015 – Current Affairs

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1) Government has announced the setting up of a Self- Employment and Talent Utilisation (SETU) mechanism, to support all aspects of start up businesses, and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven areas.

2) Finance Minister has announced setting-up of manufacturing hubs in CMLV countries, namely, Combodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

3) The Finance Minister has proposed to create a Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank, to finance Micro-Finance Institutions through a Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.

4) ‘Go-India’ smart card launched on pilot basis between New Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Howrah.

5) Election Commission of India has launched “National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme” (NERPAP).

6) The Maharashtra government has officially scrapped the five per cent reservation for Muslims in educational institutions, despite a Bombay High Court ruling in its favour.

7) The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)  found three new records of coral reef on the Sindhudurg coast near Malvan of Maharashtra.

8) Pharma Jan Samadhan, a web enabled system for redressal of consumers’ grievances relating to pricing and availability of medicines’ was launched by the Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers. It was created by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

9) INS Alleppey was recently decommissioned at sunset after 35 years of service under the Indian Navy.

10) Britain wants to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), making it the first Western nation to embrace the China-backed institution.

11) Top Ministers, bureaucrats and more than a dozen Ambassadors in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) are meeting for the first time in Odisha to discuss strategic challenges in the region.

12) The Supreme Court asked the central and state governments not to insist on possessing Aadhar card for availing benefits under the various social security schemes.

13) DigiLocker – the digital locker system launched by the government to securely store documents online.

14) Rajendra Singh won the Stockholm Water Prize for his innovative water restoration efforts and extraordinary courage to empower communities in Indian villages.

15) Shashi Kapoor honoured with Dada Saheb Phalke award, India’s highest honour in cinema.

16) Madhav Gadgil awarded Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

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February 2015 – Current Affairs

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1) “Raahgiri day – for the persons with disabilities” was organized by the Department of Empowerment of persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The concept is inspired by “Ciclovia” held weekly in Bagota, Columbia and now popular all over the world known by different names viz. Open Streets, Summer Streets, etc. The streets identified for Raahgiri Day are cordoned off for motorized transport and made safe for the citizens to cycle, walk, run, skate, play and enjoy the streets. Children and adults are invited to bike, skate, run and walk; to partake in community leisure activities such as street games, street dancing; to learn yoga, aerobics and zumba.

2)  PaHaL (Pratyaksha Hastaantarit Laabh) is the Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme for LPG Subsidy.

PaHaL, which covers more than. 9.75 crore LPG consumers, is perhaps the world’s largest cash transfer program as compared to similar programs in other countries, such as China, Mexico and Brazil.

3) Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a 21-nation grouping of Pacific Rim countries.

4) Britain has become the first country to allow a “three parent” IVF technique. Here, babies born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor.

5) An independent study conducted on the impact of reservations in public sector jobs on productivity and efficiency has shown that the affirmative action did not reduce productivity in any sector but raised it in some areas.

6) Two new bloom-forming algal species – Ulva paschima Bast and Cladophora goensis Bast were discovered recently off the west coast of India. These two species have excellent carbon capture properties — ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce global warming — and are also promising candidates for use as bio fuels.

7) The number of new cancer cases is expected to rise by about 70 per cent globally over the next two decades.

8) Officials from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal met to finalize a Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA).

This is to allow passenger, personal and cargo vehicles to travel  in the four SAARC countries without trans-shipment of goods and passengers at the border posts.

9) Bhalchandra Nemade won the 50th Jnanpith Award for 2014.

10) The Rockefeller Foundation has announced the 100 Resilient Cities project with a $100 million commitment to build urban resilience worldwide.

It has already selected 67 cities and from India, Chennai, Bengaluru and Surat figure in that list.

11) Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to religion cannot affect public order, health and morality.

12) Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise was recently conducted in the Lakshadweep islands, by the Indian Navy.

13) Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has won the newly instituted Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize.

14) ICICI Bank launched the first digital bank in the country, ‘Pockets’.

15) Sailab Se Salamati Tak is a Cycle Expedition from Srinagar to Delhi conducted by the Indian Army.

16) A civil nuclear cooperation agreement was signed between India and Sri Lanka recently. This is Sri Lanka’s first nuclear partnership with any country.

17) Geological Survey of India (GSI)’s Samudra Ratnakar set sail to locate gas hydrates below the sea-bed near Kanyakumari.

18) Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) created ‘Mridaparikshak’, a digital mini-lab that can determine soil health.

19) The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion launched 11 Central Government Services on eBiz portal, under the National E-Governance Plan.

20) Garuda Shakthi – joint exercises between armies of India and Indonesia.

21) A parliamentary committee rejects government’s proposal to try juveniles as adults for heinous crimes like rape and murder.

22) Kayakalp: Innovation council to be setup under Indian Railways.

23) This year’s theme for National Science Day is Science for Nation Building.

 

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January 24 to 31 – Current Affairs

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1)  Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region has issued orders to set up a camp office of the Ministry’s Secretariat by rotation for three to four days every month in each of the eight North-Eastern States.

2) Giving a fillip to the programme of developing smart cities in the country, the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) today signed three Memorandums of Understanding on Cooperation to Support the Development of Smart Cities in Uttar Pradesh , Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh with respective state governments .

3) The Income Tax Department has been awarded GOLD by the Government of India under category “Cat-I-Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering” for National Award on e-governance 2014-15. The award has been conferred for “TDS Reconciliation Analysis & Correction Enabling System (TRACES)” project launched by the Department.

4) The Supreme Court upheld a 2004 amendment enabling banks to follow different guidelines for declaring bad loans as “non-performing assets.”

The earlier amendment deals with Section 2, which defines non-performing assets (NPA) under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests (SARFAESI) Act, 2002.

5) IIT Bombay will provide free online courses and give access to high quality, IIT-style education to Indian students in Indian languages.

IIT Bombay, launched three Mass Open Online Courses (MOOC) in computer programming, thermodynamics, and signals and systems from the institute’s IITBombayX platform developed in collaboration with edX, a not-for-profit initiative by MIT and Harvard.

6) Government approved mandatory packaging of sugar and foodgrains in jute material to the minimum extent of up to 90 per cent of production.

People in the News:

1) King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who passed away.

2) RK Laxman: Cartoonist, famous for the creation of ‘common man’ series.

3) Hanumanthu Purushotham assumed charge as the Chairman and Managing Director of National Research Development Corporation.

4) Dr VK Saraswat took over as member NITI Aayog. Dr Saraswat is former Secretary of Defence (Research & Development- R&D) and Director General of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

5) Jaishankar is the new foreign secretary.

6) Shekar Sen: New director of Sangeet Natak Akademi.

7) Subhash Ghisingh: Leader of Gorkhaland movement who passed away.

8) Shirani Bandaranayake: Sri Lanka’s new President on Wednesday restored the country’s former Chief Justice after she was controversially impeached by the previous administration led by Mahinda Rajapaksa.

9) RM Lodha: Chairperson of the three member committee appointed by the Supreme Court to clean up BCCI.

10) Wing Commander Pooja Thakur became the first lady officer to lead the Inter-Service Guard of Honour.

Places in the News:

1) The Minister of State for Tourism laid the foundation stones of campus buildings of National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology (NMI) and Indian Culinary Institute (ICI) in Noida today. While NMI belongs to the Ministry of Culture, ICI is an Institute of the Ministry of Tourism.

2) Salar Jung Museum is located in Hyderabad.

3) Satyamangalam Tiger Reserve is located in Tamil Nadu.

Books in the News:

1) Red Sari, written by Javier Moro. It is a book on Sonia Gandhi.

 

 

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January 22 & 23 – Current Affairs

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1) Microsoft launches wearable 3D glasses called HoloLens.

2) The United States and Cuba began historic talks in Havana to end decades of Cold War-era animosity and re-establish diplomatic relations. The reopening of mutual embassies, closed since relations broke in 1961, will be at the centre of talks.

3) France plans civility lessons and ‘day of secularity’:

French schoolchildren are to be given lessons in national symbols including the tricolour and the Marseillaise in an attempt to combat the spread of religious fundamentalism.

The government announced new measures including a “day of secularity” after concerns were raised that some children — notably those from migrant populations — were failing to understand the “values of the republic”.

Teachers are to be given training in transmitting republican values in an effort to stop young people dropping out of education and falling prey to extremists. Pupils will be given “civic and moral lessons” — including in civility and politeness.

Source: Guardian

4) India and United States have signed a Joint Declaration of Intent for cooperation in the field of Information & Communications Technology and Electronics (ICTE).

This Joint Declaration of intent made for a period of next five years would help in strengthening industrial, technological, research & innovation and economic cooperation between India and U.S. in the ICTE sector. It would also lead to US companies exploring opportunities for collaboration in India’s ambitious Digital India programme, Electronics manufacturing and Human Resource Development, through cooperation among private and public entities in a focused manner under the umbrella of the ongoing India-US ICT Dialogue.

5) Home Ministry has decided to launch a web portal ‘MySecurity.in’ that will be a platform for innovation in the field of security related web applications. Any individual, company, student, NGO etc can develop and deploy on this portal such security applications which may be useful to the people.

6) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao” scheme (Save girl child-Educate girl child). The scheme aims to generate awareness and improving the efficiency of delivery of welfare services meant for women.

Programme Objectives:

Prevent gender biased sex selective elimination

Ensure survival & protection of the Girl Child

Ensure education of the Girl Child

Improve the Nutrition Status of Girl Child

Promote a protective environment for Girl Child

People in the News:

1) N. Srinivasan – former Chairman of BCCI.

2) Lord Harris – considered as responsible for introducing cricket in India.

3) Abdullah Saud – King of Saudi Arabia who passed away.

4) Shanta Kumar – Chairperson of High-Level Committee on Restructuring of Food Corporation of India.

Awards in the News:

1) National Bravery Awards are a set of awards given annually to Indian children for “meritorious acts of bravery against all odds.”

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January 19, 20 & 21 – Current Affairs

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1) A World Bank report titled “Addressing inequality in South Asia,” found that the probability of a poor person escaping poverty in India in 2014 is same as that of United States.

2) Karnataka became the first state in the country to provide universal health coverage with the launch of two schemes, the Rajiv Arogya Bhagya for APL households and the Jyothi Sanjeevini for government employees.

3) More Tigers in India:

India now has 70 per cent of the world’s tiger population estimated at 2,226 up by 30 per cent from 1,706 in 2010, show estimates in “Status of Tigers in India, 2014.

The largest increase is recorded in the Western Ghats Landscape complex — Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Tamil Nadu — with 776 tigers . The Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarahole-Wayanad complex holds the world’s single largest tiger population currently estimated at over 570 tigers. Goa now has a tiger presence with three to five animals.

However, the Sunderbans did not report an increase in the numbers because of a low prey base and other factors. Odisha reported a fall in number.

4) Guinness Book of World Records has recognized the achievements made under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.

In its citation, the Guinness Book said: “Most bank accounts opened in one week as part of the Financial Inclusion Campaign is 18,096,130 and was achieved by the Department of Financial Services, Government of India from August 23 to 29, 2014.”

5) International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected India to grow at 6.5 per cent in 2016, overtaking China whose growth was forecast to slow down to 6.3 per cent.

6) European Union lifts the ban placed on import of Indian mangoes.

The European Union accounts for more than 50 per cent of total exports of fruits and vegetables from India.

7) Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a paradigm shift in global attitudes towards climate change, from “carbon credit”, towards “green credit.”

8) National Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) that seeks to preserve and rejuvenate the rich cultural heritage of the country has been launched.

9) “Make in North-East India”: Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region has announced “Make in Northeast” initiative beginning with a comprehensive tourism plan for the region.

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Organisations in the News:

1) ICICI Bank launches banking services that can be utilised through Twitter.

2) Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala, won the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) biennial award for encouraging local public participation in managing the reserve.

There are 75 communities living around the reserve, including tribal people who are dependent on eco-development programmes.

The community-based eco-tourism activities helped visitors and tourism was supplemented by pepper growing, honey processing and other income-generating activities.

3) Greenpeace – Non-governmental environmental organization.

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People in the News:

1) R.K. Laxman – Cartoonist.

2) Majid Majidi – Iranian filmmaker honoured with Lifetime achievement award at Jaipur film festival.

3) Rajni Kothari – Political scientist and former member of Planning Commission who passed away.

4) Pahlaj Nihalani – New chairperson of Censor Board of Film Certification.

5) Malini Parthasarathy – New editor of ‘The Hindu’.

6) Bibek Debroy – Economist who took over as member of NITI Aayog.

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Places in the News:

1) West Hollywood, California has made it compulsory to have gender-neutral rest rooms.

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January 17 & 18 – Current Affairs

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1) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed interest in creation of 25 rupees note, after a suggestion from a trader.

2) Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that ‘Only “deserving cities” will be eligible for Central aid under flagship programmes such as the “smart city” initiative’.

Ministry was currently working on a “City Challenge” framework, which would help identify the right cities for participation in schemes to build 100 smart cities, develop 500 cities and towns and so on. All cities and towns seeking to participate in these schemes would be profiled based on specific parameters that had a bearing on their ability to address issues of governance reforms, resource mobilisation and execution.

3) Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises Ministry is planning to close five loss-making Public Sector Units.

This follows the earlier decision of Cabinet to close PSUs running in losses, starting with HMT Watches, HMT Barings, HMT Chinar Watch, Hindustan Cables and Tungabhadra Steel.

4) Scientists in U.S. says that 2014 was Earth’s hottest year.

5) Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar handed over the first series-production version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to the Indian Air Force.

6) Braj tourism circuit covers major tourism destinations around Mathura, including towns and hamlets like Vrindavan, Goverdhan, Barsana, Nandgaon, Gokul and Baldev.

People in the News:

1) Leela Samson: Resigns as chief of censor board.

2) Jagtar Singh Tara, assassin of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, was extradited to India from Thailand.

Tara had escaped from Chandigarh’s high-security Burail Jail, by digging a tunnel.

3) Javier Moro, author of Red Sari, a book on Sonia Gandhi.

4) Justice S.K. Sinha, first Hindu Chief Justice of Bangladesh.

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January 15 & 16 – Current Affairs

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1) National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) an enterprise under the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and Reliance Industries executed an agreement for commercialization of “A Novel Superabsorbent Hydrogels” technology.

Hydrogel has extensive use in Agriculture. Hydrogel absorbs a minimum of 350 times its weight of pure water at 500C. It exhibits absorbency at high temperatures suitable for semi-arid and arid regions. Besides, low rate of application it also improves physical properties of soil such as porosity, aggregate stability and hydraulic conductivity.

Key Characteristics:

· Less affected by the presence of salts in its immediate environment
· Improves physical properties of soils and the soil less media
· Improves seed germination and the rate of seedling emergence
· Improves root growth and density
· Helps plants withstand prolonged moisture stress
· Reduces nursery establishment period
· Reduces irrigation and fertilization requirements of crops with improved input use efficiency

2) Union Finance Minister  Arun Jaitley said that the role of IT sector, be it hardware or software, is crucial in order to promote e-governance for empowering citizens. The role of this sector is also important in promoting the inclusive and sustainable growth of the electronics, IT and ITeS industries and enhancing India’s role in internet governance.

3) On 25th January, which is celebrated as National Voters’ Day, the Election Commission of India will launch nationwide Electronic Roll Management System (ERMS), which will provide country wide voters list and enable voters to see their details.

4) The Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (Independent Charge), Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has appreciated the good work of World Trade Organization (WTO) in stemming protectionism and urged it to be more responsive to the needs of developing and least-developed countries.

The Minister highlighted that few developing countries have improved their share of global trade. Least Developed Countries (LDCs), according to her only accounted for 1% of global trade. She felt that in order to sustain growth, job creation and inclusive development must be emphasised. Development encompasses other things besides trade including the burden to feed over 32 per cent of India’s poor who live under abject poverty – a concern that the WTO recognised. The Minister urged the members of the WTO to show the same urgency on food stockholding as the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) under the Bali Package.

5) Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) conducted a survey of 1000 companies for Japanese manufacturing sector. Based on this research, India has been ranked as the No.1 destination for future investments followed by Indonesia (ranked No.2) and China (ranked No.3).

The Government has set up Japan Plus, a special management team, to facilitate Japanese investors and to help develop Japanese Integrated Industrial Parks.

6) Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment launched a ‘Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes’ with initial capital of Rs. 200 crore. IFCI Ltd. will act as Sponsor, Settler and Asset Management Company / Nodal Agency to operate the scheme. The IFCI Ltd. would contribute Rs.50 crore which would comprise Rs.5.00 crore as sponsor and Rs. 45 crore as investor.

The objectives of the Venture Fund are as follows:

• It is a Social Sector Initiative to be implemented nationally in order to promote entrepreneurship amongst the SCs who are oriented towards innovation and growth technologies.

• To provide concessional finance to the SC entrepreneurs, who will create wealth and value for society and at the same time will promote profitable businesses. The assets so created will also create forward/ backward linkage. It will further create chain effect in the locality.

• To increase financial inclusion for SC entrepreneurs and to motivate them for further growth of SC communities.

• To develop SC entrepreneurs economically.

• To enhance direct and indirect employment generation for SC population in India

7)  National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC)an institution under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, has launched ‘Green Business Scheme’ for providing financial assistance has been launched keeping into the concern for the climate change.

Under this Scheme, loan for unit cost upto Rs.1 lakh at concessional rate of interest will be provided to Scheduled Castes for activities such as e-rickshaw, Solar Pump and Solar energy powered implements, poly house etc.

8) The Programme Evaluation Organization (PEO) in the NITI Ayog and the National Institute for Labour Economics Research and Development (NILRD, earlier known as Institute of Applied Manpower Research), an autonomous organization under NITI Ayog, are jointly organizing EvalWeek, a five-day event (19 – 23 January 2015) featuring consultations on strategies to spread awareness about policies and programmes of sustainable development and good governance.

 Organisations in the News:

1) Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) functions under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

2) Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd is located at Kolkata.

3) NABARD stands for National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.

4) Tribal Food Festival – 2015 was held in New Delhi.

People in the News:

1) H.S. Brahma is the next Chief Election Commissioner.

2) A S Kiran Kumar takes over as Secretary, Department of Space, Chairman, Space Commission and Chairman, ISRO.

3) Bhakti Sharma created a world record by swimming 1.4 miles in 52 minutes in the Antarctic Ocean.

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January 14 – Current Affairs

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1) According to the Annual Status of Education Report – 2014, only 48 per cent of Class V children across India can read a Class II standard text.

While this is an improvement from the 47 per cent in 2013, the percentage shot up to 46.9 from 31.9 in Tamil Nadu. Though the reading levels in Himachal Pradesh (75.2 per cent) and Haryana (68.1 per cent) are higher, they do not differ much from 2013. In Assam, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, less than 35 per cent of the Class V children surveyed can read a Class II-level text.

The survey was facilitated by Pratham, a non-governmental organization.

2) U.N. Secretary General has urged India to legalize homosexuality and called it a matter of human rights. In recent years, many countries have legalized homosexual marriages.

3) Union government requested the Supreme Court to direct the search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing to reveal the monetary gains they made from allowing online advertisements of pre-natal sex determination technologies in violation of the Indian law.

The Centre also wants to know the measures taken by them to block and/or filter keywords and sponsored links that violates the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act.

4) The Centre has identified five areas for the Kyoto-Varanasi partnership, under which Japanese experts will help improve Varanasi.

These include solid-liquid waste management, transport management, developing the Buddhist tourist circuit in and around Varanasi, industry-university interface and setting up of a convention centre.

Earlier, an agreement on Sister City Cooperation was signed between India and Japan.

5) Russia is India’s single largest tea market.

6) The National Space Society, United States, chose ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission team, headed by M. Annadurai, for its 2015 Space Pioneer Award.


 

People in the News:

1) Avinash Chander is removed as Chief of Defense Research and Development Organisation.

2) Jagdish Bhagwati – a prominent economist.

3) Mullah Fazlullah, commander of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has been declared as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, by U.S.A.

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January 1 to 13 Current Affairs

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1) Pact on Smart Cities signed: The Government of Gujarat, the Government of India and the World Bank have entered into a tripartite agreement in support of Gujarat’s ‘swachhta abhiyaan’ and smart city initiatives.

Around 2,100 MoUs to the tune of Rs. 25 lakh crore and 1,225 strategic partnership agreements were signed at the Summit in the areas of skill development, defence, renewable energy and biodiversity.

Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries, Gautam Adani of the Adani Group and Kumar Mangalam Birla of the Aditya Birla Group have pledged investments worth Rs. 1 lakh crore and Rs. 20,000 crore and Rs. 20,000 crore respectively.

What is a smart city ?

A ‘smart city’ is an urban region with highly advanced overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents.

According to IEEE : “A smart city brings together technology, government and society to enable the following characteristics: smart cities, a smart economy, smart mobility, a smart environment, smart people, smart living, smart governance.”
2) The Government has accepted the Election Commission’s recommendation to allow Non-Resident Indians to vote from overseas through e-postal ballots or proxy voting.

3) “Boyhood” has won the Golden Globe Award for best picture, drama.

Golden Globe Awards were instituted to honour the best in film and television.

4) Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti  said that river linking of Sarda (or the Mahakali) river and the Yamuna, an offshoot of the agreement on Pancheswar between India and Nepal, would end Delhi’s water problems. The 5600 MW Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project was proposed on river Mahakali known as Sarda, which forms the international boundary between India and Nepal.

5) French publication ‘Charlie Hebdo‘ came under terrorist attack.

6) The biggest industrial strike by coal unions in 30 years, which led to zero coal stocks at nearly a third of the 50 thermal plants across the country, was called off after negotiations.  They were demanding withdrawal of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014, which will allow commercial mining from blocks allotted to private firms. At present, blocks are allotted to companies with restrictions on the end use.

7) Marathi language may get classic language status soon.

8) Choice Based Credit System and Credit Framework for Skills will be introduced in Central universities and institutions from the next academic session.


Organisations in the News:

1) Rio Tinto, global mining firm, will invest 2 billion dollars in an iron ore project in Odisha and 500 million dollars in a diamond mine in Madhya Pradesh.

2) BSE, Asia’s oldest stock exchange, will establish an international exchange in GIFT SEZ-IFC, a multi-services special economic zone  being developed as India’s first International Financial Services Centre  by Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Ltd.

3) Securities and Exchange Board of India proposed e-IPO norms, where investors can bid for shares through Internet.

4) NITI Aayog or National Institution for Transforming India Aayog is a policy think-tank of government that replaces Planning Commission and aims to involve the states in economic policy-making in India. It will be providing strategic and technical advice to the central and the state governments. Prime Minister of India heads the Aayog as its chairperson.


People in the News:

1) Abhijit Chakrabarti has resigned as Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University.

2) Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger was sentenced to receive 1000 whip lashes for supporting free speech.

3) Global defence and aerospace company BAE Systems appointed HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh as a non-Executive Director and Chairman of its Indian subsidiary, BAE Systems India.

4) Maithripala Sirisena is elected as the new president of Sri Lanka.

5) Jasodhara Bagchi: women’s rights activist and former chairperson of West Bengal Commission for women.

6) Perumal Murugan, author of ‘One Part Woman’, who refused to write further, after Hindu religious groups protested against his work.

7) Arvind Panagariya, economist is Niti Aayog’s Vice-Chairman.


Places in the News:

1) Sagar Island: Largest Island in the Indian Sunderbans system.

2) Pottipuram, Tamil Nadu: Possible location for the new Neutrino Observatory.

 

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