National Current Affairs
March 3rd Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : National Current Affairs
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1) Government merges Green India Mission (GIM) merged with MGNREGA to reclaim forest cover.

  • Union Government has merged Green India Mission (GIM) with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) Scheme.
  • By merging GIM with MGNREGA Scheme government seeks to increase 10 million hectares of forest cover.
Key facts:
  1. National Mission for a Green India aims for afforestation at 10 million hectares of land over the next decade in order to increase and improve the country’s forest cover. It also aims at improving ecosystems services, forest based livelihood income of about three million households and to enhance annual CO2 sequestration.
  2. At present under MGNREGA Scheme green works such as water harvesting, afforestation and farm forestry are undertaken which are implemented by Union Ministry of Rural Development.
  3. Government will also use modern technology like remote sensing to monitor the progress of this initiative regularly.
  4. Union Government also has set out 
  5. convergence guidelines in this regard after consulting both Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF) and Rural Development Ministries.
Convergence guidelines include:
  1. All lands including community lands, village common lands, revenue wastelands, wetlands, shifting cultivation areas, and private agricultural lands will be eligible for afforestation.
  2. Under MGNREGA for afforestation, forest works such as pre-plantation, planting, watering and pit digging will be undertaken. Fencing, plant support and protection activities, mulching, weeding and manuring the plants will be also undertaken.
  3. Technical advice related to the plant species suitable for area and to raise nurseries will be provided by State Forest Development Agencies (SFDA).
  4. SFDA will also deliver information related to plant material to each gram panchayat before July each year meeting the cost from MGNREGA funds.


2) Development officers working in LIC are not workmen under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947: SC.
  • The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the decision of Allahabad High Court (HC) that the development officers working in Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) are not workmen under the Section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act (IDA), 1947.
  • The decision was given by a SC bench comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C Pant said that there was no flaw in the judgment rendered by the Allahabad HC.
  • The SC bench gave the ruling while hearing an appeal by few development officers of LIC, who had challenged the decision of Allahabad HC.

3) SC removes Jats from OBC list.

  • Holding that politically organized communities like the Jats cannot be included in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), the Supreme Court directed the government to recognize emerging socially and educationally backward groups like transgender, who are among the most distressed.
  • Hours after the court’s judgment, 27 Jat MPs, cutting across party lines, led by Union Rural Development Minister Chaudhury Birender Singh, met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with the plea that the government challenges the order in a review petition, or the community itself might have to take on that task.
  • Given that the judgment will affect the politically significant Jats in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and Bharatpur and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the Modi government will have to consider the plea of these MPs very carefully.
  • The apex court struck down the quota notification issued by the UPA government.
4) Centre includes compensation in GST Constitutional Amendment Bill.
  • The Centre has included in the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill the compensation which will be paid to states for revenue loss on account of rolling out the new indirect tax regime, Parliament was informed on March 17, 2015.
  • To a written question on whether the compensation in GST has been incorporated in the Constitutional Amendment Bill, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said: "Yes".
  • Elaborating further, he said that as per the provisions of the Bill, Parliament may on the "recommendation of the GST Council, provide for compensation to the states for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the GST for such period which may extend to five years".
  • The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 19. While liquor has been completely kept out of the GST, petroleum products like petrol and diesel will be part of the new regime from a date to be decided at a future date by the GST Council, which will have two-third of its members from states.
5) Union Cabinet approved the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015.
  • The Union Cabinet approved the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015 to deal with cases relating to black money stashed away in other countries.
Important provisions of the Bill:
  1. Concealment of income and assets and evasion of tax in relation to foreign assets will be prosecutable with punishment of rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years.
  2. Offence of stashing unaccounted money abroad will be made non-compoundable (A non-compoundable offence is one in which the complainant (the government in this instance) does not enter into a compromise with the accused.
  3. The offenders will not be permitted to approach the Settlement Commission.
  4. Penalty for such concealment of income and assets at the rate of 300% of tax shall be levied.
  5. The government will give a short window to those stashing black money abroad to declare their wealth, pay taxes and penalty, and escape prosecution under the proposed law.
  • The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the Union Budget 2015-16 on 28 February 2015 had spelled out government’s intention to bring a law in the budget session of the Parliament to curb black money stashed abroad.
Besides, he also had proposed following steps in the Union Budget 2015-16 to curb black money:
  1. To introduce a more comprehensive Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill in the Parliament.
  2. Quoting of PAN will be made mandatory for any purchase or sale exceeding the value of one lakh rupees.
  3. There will be prohibition on acceptance or payment of an advance of 20000 rupees or more in cash for purchase of any immovable property.
  4. The third party reporting entities would be required to furnish information about foreign currency sales and cross border transactions.
6) Union Ministry of Railways constitutes Kaya Kulp council.
  • Union Ministry of Railways has constituted ‘Kaya kulp’ Council, an innovation council for Indian Railways. The council was constituted by Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu in order to fulfill the promise made in the Railway Budget Speech.
  • The council also seeks to re-engineer business and introduce a spirit of innovation in Indian Railways.
  • Eminent industrialist and former chairman of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata will head the KayaKulp council.
Key facts:
  1. Purpose of the Council- To recommend innovative methods and processes for the improvement, betterment and transformation of the Indian Railways.
  2. The council will act as a standing body and will interact with all stakeholders and other interested parties.
  3. Members- The Council initially will have following members.
  4. Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary of All Indian Railway men’s Federation (AIRF).
  5. M. Raghavaiah, General Secretary of National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR).
  6. While the other members of the Council will be announced in due course.
  7. Union Government launches BIRAC AcE Fund to accelerate growth of entrepreneurs in Biotechnology.

7) Union Government launched Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) AcE Fund to accelerate growth of entrepreneurs in Biotechnology.

  • It was announced by Minister of State (MoS) for Science and Technology (S&T) and Earth Sciences Y.S. Chowdary on the occasion of the third foundation day of BIRAC in New Delhi.
  • The BIRAC AcE Fund aims to address the pressing needs of accelerating the growth of entrepreneurs, in the field of Biotechnology.
  • This equity fund will be operated by BIRAC a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the aegis Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of Union Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • Apart from launching the fund, MoS for S&T and Earth Sciences also inaugurated a Two day Panel discussions focused at making biotechnology as one of the drivers of the ‘Make in India’ Programme.
7) Lok Sabha passes Warehousing Corporations (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
  • The Lok Sabha passed the Warehousing Corporations (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Warehousing Corporations Act, 1962.
Key facts:
  1. Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill states that the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) has been awarded a Mini-Ratna Public Sector Enterprise (PSE) status by the Department of Public Enterprises.
  2. The bill put to end the Central Government’s responsibility of being a financial guarantor to the CWC in order to follow the criteria to be a Mini-Ratna enterprise status.
  3. The one of criteria of status states that enterprise should not have financial support and it must be independent of any budgetary support or guarantee by the government.
  4. The proposed amendment in the bill omits certain sections relating to the government’s responsibility of being a guarantor to the CWC.
  5. It should be noted that, the Central and state warehousing corporations are established under the Warehousing Corporations Act, 1962 for the purpose of warehousing agricultural produce and other commodities.
8) NGT announces Rs 5,000 fine for littering on railway property.
  • National Green Tribunal (NGT) has announced a fine of Rs. 5,000 on individuals spotted littering or throwing waste on the railway platforms and tracks.
  • It was announced by a NGT bench, headed by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar.
  • In this regard NGT has passed a slew of directions to the Railways and other authorities for maintaining cleanliness on railway tracks.
  • The Tribunal directed the Railways and the Delhi Municipal Corporations to place dustbins after identifying exact locations for collection of garbage.
  • NGT also directed the Railways instead of directly releasing the garbage into sewer system they should collect, transport and treat the waste at the treatment plants. The tribunal also directed the concerned authorities to install mobile toilets near slum clusters in order to control pollution caused by plastic products and human defecation around railway tracks.
  • NGT gave the directions on a petition filed by lawyers Saloni Singh and Arush Pathania. The petitioners were seeking a blanket ban on use and sale of plastic products on railway platforms across the country besides a ban on open defecation by people around tracks.
9) EVMs to carry photos of candidates from May 1, 2015: EC.
  • Election Commission has announced that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and ballot papers will carry photographs of candidates from 1 May 2015.
  • This move of EC seeks to avoid voters being misled by several namesakes in the election fray. In this regard EC has issued an order to all political parties and State Chief Electoral Officers for implementation.
  • EC also has modified the relevant provisions of law under the Conduct of Election Rules giving effect to the photo ballot papers and EVMs.
  • Henceforth, the photo of candidate will appear between the name and election symbol on the ballot sheet and EVM. While for designing the new photo ballot papers, the EC has specified election candidates to supply stamp size recent photograph with specification of 2.5 cm width and 2 cm height.
10) Lok Sabha passed Repealing and Amending Bill, 2014.
  • Lok Sabha passed the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2014 with a voice vote. The bill seeks to repeal 35 archaic laws either partially or entirely as they have ceased to be in force or have become obsolete.
  • Out of the 35 acts, three acts will be repealed entirely. These include The Indian Fisheries Act, 1897, The Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947 and The Sugar Undertakings (Taking over of Management) Act, 1978.
  • The remaining 32 Acts that are being repealed are amendments to principal Acts. These include amendments to the Representation of the People Act, 1951, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Anand Marriage Act, 1909 the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 among others.
  • Earlier on 8 December 2014, the Lok Sabha passed the Repealing and Amending (Second) Bill, 2014 which sought to repeal 90 laws and pass amendments to two laws. Out of 90 laws, 88 laws will be repealed completely. The Bill is lying with Rajya Sabha.
11) Union Ministry of Environment to launch National Air Quality Index in April 2015.
  • Union Ministry of Environment announced to launch National Air Quality Index in April 2015.
  • The National Air Quality Index is a simple, composite, and easy to understand measure of air quality.
  • The index will measure the eight major pollutants that impact health - particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead - and disseminate information on associated health risks through a colour-coded easy to identify format.
  • Each colour will indicate a level of the index. There are six levels: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor and Severe.
  • Further, Pollution monitoring stations would be set up on 66 cities having population of 10 lakh or more. At present there are 46 stations with continuous monitoring capabilities in 16 cities.
  • The launch of the index will be an important step towards creating greater awareness among people about the true nature of the city`s air quality. The level of pollutants in the air of Delhi exceeds the limits set by the World Health Organization.
12) Union Cabinet approved Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) to impart skill training to youth.
  • The Union Cabinet approved the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) with an outlay of 1500 crore rupees.
  • The programme aims to impart skill training to youth with focus on first time entrants to the labour market and class 10 and class 12 drop outs.
Key characteristics of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKY):
  1. The programme aims to impart skill training to youth with focus on first time entrants to the labour market and class 10 and class 12 drop outs.
  2. The scheme will cover 24 lakh persons and skill training would be based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.
  3. The programme will be implemented by the Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) training partners.
  4. In addition, Central and State Government affiliated training providers would also be used for training purposes.
  5. Skill training would be on the basis of skill gap studies conducted by the NSDC for the period 2013-17.
13) Union Cabinet approved 33% women reservation in police forces of all Union Territories.
  • The Union Cabinet approved 33 percent reservation for women in police forces of all Union territories (UTs) including Delhi police, through direct recruitment in non-gazetted posts like constables to sub-inspectors.
  • The aim of the decision is to make police more gender-sensitive and increase representation of women in Police.
  • The reservation will also cover reserved categories like SCs, STs and OBCs. The reservation would apply to all existing vacancies in police forces of the UTs and any vacancy arising later.
  • The decision was taken in the Union Cabinet meet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the backdrop of the rising demands for concrete actions to curb crimes against women, more so after the 16 December 2012 Delhi Gangrape case.
  • Earlier on 24 June 2014, Gujarat Government had announced 33 percent reservation for women in the police force of the state.
14) Mithivirdi nuclear plant gets CRZ nod from Union Government.
  • Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) has given coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) nod to the 6,000-MW Mithivirdi Nuclear Power Plant of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat.
  • The clearance was granted by MoEFCC for constructing an intake and outfall facility in the plant. This intake channel will be 100 metre wide and 10 metre deep and a discharge facility comprising of Condenser Cooling Water Discharge tunnels will be 8 metre diameter and 6 kms in length for each two units and a total of 18 kms each for units.
  • MoEFCC also has proposed to construct a small barge handling marine facility having a draft of 3-4 meters. It will help for receiving and handling over dimensional consignments (ODCs) during the construction stage of the plant and will be in the form of a shore-based wharf type or an open-piled jetty system.
  • MoEFCC also asked NPCIL to examine possibilities of deploying ultrasonic devices with the help of National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) to divert the aquatic life from entering into the sea water intake in connection. The ministry also has asked filters to be provided at intake to prevent entry of marine life along with the sea water.