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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