National Current Affairs
August 3rd Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : National Current Affairs
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1) Modi announcements on August 15.

  • On the eve of celebration of 69th Independence Day at Red Fort Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a new campaign `Start-up India; Stand up India` an initiative to promote bank finance for Start-ups (an entrepreneurial venture).
  • The campaign was announced with an aim to boost entrepreneurship among the youth and to create employment in India. As per the initiative PM urged 1.25 lakh bank branches to provide finance to at least one Dalit or Adivasi and at least one woman entrepreneur.
  • The initiative is expected to open a new dimension to entrepreneurship and to set up a network of start-ups in the country. It also aims to make India a number one country in Start-ups.
Other announcements:
  1. Government will rename the present Agriculture Ministry as `Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Ministry`.
  2. He announced to replace the current practice of ‘interview-based’ selections with online merit based recruiting for low-skilled government jobs.
  3. Under the Skill India and Digital India initiative government to provide package of incentives to manufacturing units.
  4. To provide houses and access to basic services to all and to make India a developed nation by 2022.
  5. Set deadline of 1000 days to connect 18,500 villages with electricity.
  6. Union Government unveils Indradhanush Mission for PSBs.
About Indradhanush Mission:
  • Objective: Union Government has launched a seven pronged plan called Indradhanush Mission to revamp functioning of public sector banks (PSBs). It was launched by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.
  • The seven shades of Indradhanush mission include appointments, de-stressing PSBs, capitalisation, empowerment, framework of accountability and governance reforms.
  • It seeks to achieve the objective of economic growth revival through improving credit and minimising the political interference in the functioning of PSBs.
  • Appointments: Selection of non-executive chairman in remaining 6 state owned PSBs till November 2015. Appointing MD & CEO of two PSBs as early as possible.
  • Bank Board Bureau (BBB): It will be a body of ’eminent’ professionals to be selected within 6 months i.e. February 2015. It will become functional from Financial year 2016-17 i.e. form 1st April 2016.
  • Capitalisation: Infuse 25,000 crore rupees of capital into debt-laden banks in this fiscal in phased manner. Out of this 20,000 crore rupees would be injected in August 2015. Rest 5,000 crore rupees will be performance based allocation to be allocated in the last quarter of 2016.
  • De-stressing PSBs: To develop vibrant debt market for PSBs in order to reduce lending pressure on banks. Strengthen asset reconstruction of companies.
  • Empowerment: Provide greater flexibility in hiring of manpower in PSBs.
  • Framework of accountability: It will seek to streamline vigilance process for quick action in case major frauds and also include connivance of staff.
  • Governance reforms in PSBs: Next Gyan Sangam (also known as the Banker’s Retreat) will be held from 14 to 16 January 2016. Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) will be initiated for top management.
2) Govt of Gujarat declares ban on use of Plastic.
  • Gujarat Government has declared ban on the use of plastic in the State for the first time (not first state to do so).
  • Objective: This decision was taken keeping in view protection of environment, cleanliness and cattle health. It should be several municipal bodies in the state already have banned use of plastic bags thinner than 40 microns.
  • Other announcements: Apart from plastic ban decision, she also announced that 159 towns and 8 cities in the state now have 100 per cent in-house toilets and nearly 8 lakh toilets have been built in rural areas.
  • Chief Minister: Anandiben Patel
  • Capital: Gandhi Nagar
3) NTPC signed two MoUs for Skill Development.
  • National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has signed two Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) for skill development training in eastern states and Bihar.
  • First MoU: As per the MoU NTPC will provide skill training to 5000 youth and women across 22 locations with special focus on the eastern states. The MoU is for two years with a project cost of Rs. 6.5 Crore.
  • As per second MoU: NTPC will train over 25000 candidates in services and manufacturing sectors across under-served locations in Bihar. The MoU is for five years with a project cost of Rs. 30 crore.
  • Note: Both the projects will be funded by NTPC and executed by NSDC through its Training Partners.
About NSDC:
  1. The National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) is a Public Private Partnership Company with the primary mandate of promotion of the skills landscape in India. It aims to proactively catalyse creation of large, quality vocational training institutions by providing grants and equity.
  2. Ministry of Skill Development : Rajiv Pratap Rudy
4) Odisha Cabinet gave nod to new IPR-2015 and Biju Expressway.
  • Odisha cabinet approved Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) 2015.
  • The IPR 2015 lays focus on various sectors for the next five years which includes infrastructure development, auto & auto components, agro and food processing, IT and ESDM (electronic system design & manufacturing), tourism, civil aviation, manufacturing, pharma sector, handicrafts and textiles and petroleum & petro chemicals.
  • State Cabinet further cleared the State Capital Region Improvement of Power System (SCRIPS) scheme and 650.64 km ambitious Biju Expressway.
  1. SCRIPS is a scheme with an outlay of Rs 1,500 crore that aims to avail quality and uninterrupted power to the consumers in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. This scheme will be implemented entirely out of state’s own finances from 2015-16 to 2019-20, which would have different components like underground cabling of important lines, smart grid and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition).
About Biju Expressway Project:
  • Biju Expressway Project is an ambitious 650.64 km four-lane economic corridor stretching from Rourkela to Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh) that aims to upgrade road connectivity in Naxal infested regions. The project got Central government nod and accordingly out of 650.64 km the state government would develop 307.44 km of roads into four-lane at an estimated cost of Rs 3,630 crore.
  • Chief Minister: Naveen Patnaik
  • Capital: Bhubaneswar
5) Odisha Government approved Fisheries Policy, 2015.
  • Odisha Government approved Odisha Fisheries Policy, 2015. The policy aims at increasing the productivity and production of fish from island, brackishwater and marine resources.
  • The policy targets total fish production of 7.15 lakh tonnes by the end of 2019-20. At present, the state produces 4.13 lakh tonnes of fish.
  • Objective: As many as 15000 hectares of new ponds and tanks will be developed for freshwater aquaculture in 30 districts by 2020. This development will help to create an additional direct employment for about 60000 people in the state.
  • Chief Minister: Naveen Patnaik
  • Capital: Bhubaneswar
6) Kerala Govt declares state as "Digital State".
  • Kerala Government has declared state totally digital, thus becoming first state in the country to achieve it. It was announced by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy during his Independence Day speech held in the capital Thiruvananthapuram.
  • This declaration was made considering the rapid digital strides of the state which has achieved 100 percent mobile connectivity, maximum digital banking, 75 percent e-literacy, broadband connectivity upto the Panchayat level, linking bank accounts with Aadhar cards and e-district plan in all districts.
  • Chief Minister: Oommen Chandy
  • Capital: Thiruvananthapuram


7) Petroleum Ministry announced marketing of Bio Fuel Blended HSD.

  • The Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG) announced Marketing of High Speed Diesel (HSD) blended with Bio-diesel in selected retail outlets of OMC’s in New Delhi & Vishakhapatnam (by HPCL), Haldia (by BPCL) and Vijayawada (by IOCL).
  • It is a path breaking step in India’s retail sector for launching Bio-diesel B 5 blend to diesel consumers.
  • He also launched the sale of Bio-Diesel blended HSD in other cities through live streaming from New Delhi.
  • Earlier, the ministry had permitted direct sale of Bio-Diesel (B100) to bulk consumers like Railways, shipping and State Road Transport Corporations etc.
  1. This was permitted as part of promotion of Ethanol Blended Petrol program (EBP) in the country, wherein ethanol blending in petrol is planned to increase from 5 to 10 % based on the availability of ethanol.
  2. Note: World Bio-Fuel Day observed globally on 10 August.
  3. Ministry of Petroleum : Dharmendra Pradhan
8) Assam passed Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015.
  • State Assembly of Assam passed Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015.
  • Objective: The bill seeks to eliminate rising cases of superstition leading to murder of so-called "witches".
  • Hundreds of cases of torture and killing have been reported in the state in the name of witch.
Highlights of the Bill:
  1. The bill recognises all cases of witch-hunting as non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable within the meaning of the Code.
  2. The Bill has clause to prohibit any person from identifying, calling or defaming any other person as witch by words, conducts, signs or indications.
  3. The Bill has provision of imposing up to seven years of jail and fine up to 5 lakh rupees if anybody violates it.
  4. The bill said that sentence of 3 years imprisonment will be given if anybody blames a person for natural disasters in a particular locality such as droughts, floods, illness or any death.
  5. The bill has also proposed to set up special courts in consultation with the high court for trial of offences.
  6. Assam government will also provide free medical assistance to the victims of witch hunting.
  7. Chief minister: Tarun Gogoi
  8. Capital: Dispur
9) MHA to setup pan-India National Fingerprint Database.
  • Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to establish a pan-India National fingerprint database to aid in the speedy identification of criminals and investigation of crimes across the country.
  • The database will have fingerprint records of nearly 28 lakh convicts from all the states including of those who were arrested for criminal offences.
  • The National Informatics Centre (NIC) will be nodal agency for creating this cloud based national record by linking finger print database of all States and Union Territories bureaus.
  • The integration of all fingerprint databases will help police from any part of the country to furnish criminal finger prints record on real time basis.
10) 300 crore package to save standing kharif crops from weak monsoon: CCEA.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) meet approved the 300 crore rupees package to save standing kharif agriculture and horticulture crops from weak monsoon.
  • The package will help farmers to be better equipped to deal with challenges posed by delayed and aberrant monsoon, as the state governments will be able to initiate immediate remedial measures to save standing agricultural crops and perennial orchards in rainfall deficient districts.
  • Besides, the CCEA also gave its nod to a soft loan scheme to the extent of 6000 crore rupees for the current sugar season.
11) Indian Govt with Seychelles to curb black money.
  • With an intention of curbing black money generation the government approved signing and ratification of the Tax information exchange agreements between India and Seychelles.
  • According to the agreement both the nations will exchange information with each other regarding taxes so as to curb tax evasion and avoidance by its citizens.
  • As per the agreement the information provided by each nation will be treated as confidential and may be disclosed only to persons or concern authorities (Judiciary) who in relation to taxes covered under the agreement.
  • Due to this agreement the competent authorities of both the countries will get relevant information for administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of two countries concerning taxes.
  1. The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Asset) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 was passed by the parliament in May 2015.
  2. It makes people mandatory to disclose their foreign income and assets and pay 30 per cent of it as tax and if fail to pay in given time limit then extra 90 per cent is levied.
  3. India and United States have signed inter-governmental agreement to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
12) Himachal to make Sanskrit mandatory in government schools.
  • Himachal Pradesh announced that Sanskrit will be introduced as a mandatory subject in all Government schools of the state.
  • He also directed the academy to complete the formalities to take over Tungesh Sanskrit College at Cheog, so that it could be run in a better way. Cheog is a village in Theog Tehsil in Shimla District of the state.
  • Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister: Virbhadra Singh

13) Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) from 1 April 2017: Govt.

  • Ministry of Road Transport & Highways issued a notification to introduce Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) compliant four wheeler vehicles through out the country from 1 April 2017.
  • As per the notification from 1 April 2017 all newly manufactured four-wheeled vehicle that are complaint with the BS-IV standards will be allowed to registered and move on roads.
  1. From 1 April, 2010 vehicles in few cities of NCR, Mumbai, Kolkatta, Chennai, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad including Secunderabad, Kanpur, Pune, Surat, Agra, Lucknow and Sholapur were already running with BS IV complaint engine. More 50 cities were added till 1 April 2015.
  2. The BS-IV complaint vehicles release less pollutants {Carbon Mono-oxide (CO), Hydrocarbon (HC), Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Sulphur (SOx) i.e. 0.025 Respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) as compared to its preceding Bharat Stage complaint vehicles.
About BS-IV:
  • Bharat stage emission standards also known as “Bharat Stage” are emission standards instituted by the Government of India in accordance with European regulation standard ‘Euro norms’ to regulate the output of air pollutants that vehicles emits.
  • India adopted “Barat stage” in accordance with `Euro norms` from year 2000.
14) Allahabad HC directed government servants, politicians to send children to government schools.
  • The Allahabad High Court directed the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to ensure that all government officials, elected representatives, members of judiciary and all other persons who get any benefit or salary from state exchequer or public fund send their children to primary schools run by the state Board for Secondary Education.
  • Passing the judgement, Justice Sudhir Agarwal also ruled that penal provisions be laid down for those who violated the order. 
15) Union Government advanced Budget 2016-17 preparations by over 2 months.
  • Union Finance Ministry advanced the budget formulation exercise by over two months for the financial year 2016-17.
  • In consonance with the objective of the government to have wider consultations with various stakeholders as well as to provide more time for planners, it has been decided to start the Budget exercise by middle of August 2015.
  • The Union Budget is traditionally unveiled on the last working day of February of the year.
  • Finance Minister: Arun Jaitley
  • MoS Finance: Jayant Sinha
  • Secretary of Finance Ministry: Hasmukh Adhia
16) Himachal Pradesh Government launched RISHTA project.
  • Himachal Pradesh Government launched the Rajiv Gandhi Illuminating Scheme for Hill Town Advancement (RISHTA) project, an efficient smart LED based street lighting project. With this, Himachal Pradesh became the first state in North India to do so.
  • EESL (Energy Efficient Services Limited) is a joint venture company formed by four power sectors i.e. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL), Power Finance Corporation Ltd. (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC).
  • In this project, a total of 63484 street lights will be replaced with LEDs in all the Urban Local Bodies to achieve 45 to 55 percent energy savings. The total savings within a year in terms of operation and maintenance will be 6.5 crore rupees.
17) Government launched education loan portal for students seeking loans.
  • Government launched a web-based portal for the students seeking educational loans.
  • It is a first of its kind portal that provides access to information and makes application for educational loans provided by banks and also government scholarships under a single window.
  • The portal also has a provision to apply to multiple banks for educational loans and facility for banks to download students’ loan applications among others.
  1. In order to ensure that no student misses out on higher education due to lack of funds, finance minister in the Union Budget for 2015-16 had proposed to set a fully IT-based Student Financial Aid Authority.
  2. In line with this proposal this portal was launched with an aim to administer and monitor scholarship as well as educational loan schemes under the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram (PMVLK). The launch of this portal also aims to bring all banks providing educational loans under one roof.
18) Rajasthan Govt Join Hands With Future Group To Mordernise Public Distribution System.
  • The Rajasthan government entered into an agreement with Future Consumer Enterprise Ltd. (FCEL) to modernise the public distribution system (PDS) by providing multi-brand consumer goods at competitive prices to public through fair price shops.
  • Rajasthan government launched the initiative, ``Annapurna Bhandar Yojna``, a public private partnership (PPP) scheme touted as the first of its kind in the country after Rajasthan State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation and FCEL signed an agreement.
19) Union Cabinet approved signing of MoU between India and Australia on education and research.
  • The Union Cabinet approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Australia on cooperation in the fields of education, training and research.
  • The costs of the cooperative activities under this MoU will be funded on mutually agreed terms.
  • Objectives of this MoU: The MoU will help deepen the existing partnership between India and Australia in higher education and research, including technical and professional education, schools, vocational education and it will now open up new and innovative areas of cooperation.