National Current Affairs
January 2nd Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : National Current Affairs
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1) Commemorative Postage Stamps released to mark 100 Years of Mahatma Gandhi’s Return to India.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi released Commemorative Postage Stamps to mark 100 Years of Mahatma Gandhi’s Return from South Africa to India. A set of two Commemorative Postage Stamps were released during the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • The coins are of denomination of 100 rupees and 10 rupees, while the stamps are of value of 25 rupees and 5 rupees. The coins and stamps show two pictures of Gandhi, one when he was a young barrister and another one when he came to be known as Mahatma by people across the globe.
  • Mahatma Gandhi arrived in South Africa at a young age of 24 years as the legal counsel of Indian traders based in the city of Pretoria. He spent more than two decades in South Africa, where he developed the concept of Satyagraha while fighting against the gross injustice, discrimination and racism prevailing in South Africa.
  • In 1915, Gandhi returned to India with a formidable reputation to lead the Indian masses struggling for freedom from colonial domination through civil disobedience and non-violence, which proved to be highly effective moral weapon in the struggle for Independence in India.
2) PM Narendra Modi inaugurated Dandi Kutir museum.
  • PM Narendra Modi on inaugurated a state-of-the-art museum Dandi Kutir opposite Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on the occasion of the 13th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD).
  • About Dandi Kutir
  • Dandi Kutir is located inside a 41-metre high salt-mound as a symbol of Gandhi`s famous Dandi march against the salt tax provisions imposed by the British regime in March 1930.
  • The museum displays each and every aspect of Mahatma Gandhi`s life in the form of sculptures that depict his childhood, early life, his return to India and his role in the country`s freedom struggle.
  • Key concepts of Gandhian thoughts like Satyagraha, non-violence, self reliance, Gram Swaraj are elaborately explained through a number of exhibits.
3) Vistara started its first flight from Delhi to Mumbai.
  • Tata Group launched its full-service airline Vistara in partnership with Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA), more than 60 years after the Indian government nationalized the group’s airline business and following two abortive attempts to return to the skies.
  • The airline’s first Airbus A320 flight, from Delhi to Mumbai, took off at 12.52pm and landed at 2.46pm. Minister of state for aviation Mahesh Sharma inaugurated the flight, which was welcomed in Mumbai by Tata Sons Ltd chairman Cyrus P. Mistry.
  • The name Vistara comes from Vistaar in Sanskrit, which means limitless expanse, and draws inspiration from the brand’s domain—the limitless sky.
  • Tata Sons holds the majority stake of 51% in Vistaara and SIA the remaining 49%. It’s the third full-service airline operating in India after state-run Air India Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd.
  • According to consulting firm Capa Centre for Aviation, India’s airlines had posted an estimated loss of Rs. 10,660 crore in FY14, which was 76% higher than in the previous fiscal year, and the worst result since FY08.
  • Over the last seven years, Indian airlines have lost about $10.6 billion, according to Capa. These years also saw the closure of Kingfisher Airlines, Air Deccan (Which had merged with Kingfisher), Deccan 360, Air Mantra, MDLR Airlines, Paramount Airways and Indus Air.

4) 100% coverage achieved in Shivamogga,Karnataka under PMJDY.

  • Deputy Commissioner V.P. Ikkeri has said that the district has achieved 100 per cent coverage under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). Since its launch on August 16, 2014, as many as 1,90,154 zero-balance bank accounts had been opened in the district.
  • With this, all the 4,08,171 households in the district have a bank account each, and thereby, total financial inclusion has been achieved.
  • A survey was conducted in the limits of 260 gram panchayats and 189 wards of urban local bodies to find out the families that didn`t have access to banking facilities. From the fourth week of August, a number of camps were organized by all the 16 nationalized banks in the district to get zero-balance accounts opened by such families.
  • The process of distribution of ‘RuPay’ debit cards for the beneficiaries of PMJDY had commenced. So far, 65,000 such cards had been distributed. According to the new guidelines, it was mandatory to record at least two transactions through RuPay card prior to the day of accident to claim the Rs. 1 lakh accident insurance.
  • The PMJDY, the flag-ship scheme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was a significant step in financial empowerment of poor families. The first phase of the scheme in which it had been planned to open bank accounts for all households had been successfully completed in Shivamogga district.
5) Sultanpur National Park shut down after migratory birds found dead.
Forest and wild life department shut down the Sultanpur National Park (Haryana) for one week. The park was shut down after 47 migratory birds were found dead in the park on 10 January 2015.
The dead birds included Eurasian coots (36) and common moorhen (9) and one each of spot-billed duck and jungle babbler.
Deaths of these birds had triggered fears of bird flu outbreak in the park but real cause of their death is not clear. The real cause is not known because the common feature of flu was not spotted in any of these birds. In case of bird flu, the legs of birds develop red spots.
About Sultanpur National Park
Sultanpur National Park, a bird sanctuary on Gurgaon-Farrukh Nagar Road is a seasonal wetland that attracts around 200 species of migratory birds every year between October and March from Europe, Siberia and Central Asia. The park is also a home of several species of insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
The park is located on the Sultanpur Jheel (an area of 1.21 sq. Km) and the jheel was accorded Sanctuary status on 2 April 1971 under section 8 of the Punjab Wildlife Preservation Act of 1959. The decision of granting the Sanctuary status was taken after the 1969 Conference of the International Union of Conservation of nature and Natural resources (IUCN) in New Delhi.

6) Election Commission of India announced dates of Delhi Assembly Elections 2015.

  • Election Commission of India announced dates of Delhi Legislative Assembly elections 2015. Voting for Delhi Assembly Elections will be held in a single phase on 7 February 2015 and counting of the votes will be held on 10 February 2014.
  • Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath announced the dates of election for 70 seats of Delhi Assembly at the Nirvachan Sadan. With this announcement the Model Code of Conduct has come into force.
  • The commission in its notification said that last date for nominations is 21 January 2015 while last date for withdrawal of nominations is 24 January 2015.
  • Since 17 February 2014, Delhi, the national capital was under President Rule. The national capital fell under the President rule after the then Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (Leader of Aam Aadmi Party, AAP) resigned from the office on 14 February 2014. He served his resignation within 49 days of coming into power.
7) President signed Ordinance to amend Mines and Minerals Development & Regulation Act, 1957.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to an ordinance that amends the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, 1957. The ordinance paves way for introduction of competitive bidding for allocation of mines of iron ore and other non-coal minerals.
  • Objective of the MMDR (Amendment) Bill, 2014
  • Improved transparency in the allocation of mineral resources.
  • Obtaining for the government its fair share of the value of such resources.
  • Attracting private investment and the latest technology.
  • Eliminating delay in administration, so as to enable expeditious and optimum development of the mineral resources of the country.
8) NRIs can now vote in Indian elections without coming to India.
  • Non-resident Indians (NRIs) will soon be able to cast their vote through electronic-ballots or through their nominees residing in India but will not be able to exercise their franchise through the novel method during the coming Delhi assembly polls.
  • The Union government informed the Supreme Court that it had accepted Election Commission`s recommendation to allow NRIs to vote through e-ballot system or through proxy. The EC discarded other possibilities - postal ballot and internet voting terming them fraught with the danger of manipulation.
About NRI Voting:
  1. After the Centre conveyed its acceptance of the EC recommendations on NRI voting, a bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice A.K. Sikri gave the Centre eight weeks to effect necessary amendments in the law to implement the EC suggestion.
  2. The government’s decision to allow NRIs to vote could set the stage for expatriates to emerge as a decisive force in the country’s electoral politics. This decision also, historically, removes an “unreasonable restriction” posed by Section 20(A) of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act of 2010, requiring overseas electors to be physically present in their constituencies to cast their votes.
9) Uma Bharti inaugurated India Water Week Exhibition.
  • Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti inaugurated the India Water Week exhibition in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.
  • Theme "Water management for sustainable development”.
  • The exhibition will conclude on the 17th of this month. Australia is the partner country for this event and 30 Australian companies are participating in the exhibition to showcase the technological advancement in the area of water resources. Maharashtra is associated as a partner State.
  • The event is being organized in co-ordination with nodal Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and Forests and Climate Change, Rural Development, Urban Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Power and NITI Ayog along with their associated expert organizations and Public Sector Units, key international bodies and private and public business houses.
10) Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off first CNG-based train in Haryana.
  • Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the first CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) based two trains from Haryana’s Rewari station.
  • These trains based on the dual fuel system - diesel and CNG - will reduce greenhouse gas emission and also the consumption of diesel. Prabhu launched the trains on Rewari-Rohtak and Rewari to Bikaner section.
  • About Railway Plan in India:
  • The Indian railway plans to start more such trains on other routes in due course to reduce diesel consumption.
  • The train will consume over 20 percent of the CNG, covering 81 kilometer long distance in about two hours on Rewari-Rohtak section.
11) NGT gave directions to clean Yamuna under Maily se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalization Plan 2017.
  • The directions were given by the principal bench of NGT presided over by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar. The tribunal`s judgment came on a petition by Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan against pollution in the Yamuna and covering of drains in Delhi.
  • Directions given by bench are
  • Impose a fine of 5000 rupees on individuals for throwing waste or religious items into the river.
  • Banned the dumping of construction material into the Yamuna while imposing a fine of 50000 rupees on the violators.
  • Restrained real estate developers from carrying out any construction work on the floodplains.
  • It also directed states where Yamuna and its tributaries flow to come up with an action plan to ensure environmental flow to revive the Yamuna stretch in Delhi.
  • The bench directed that 4000 crore rupees, as estimated by the expert committee be made available from the 20000 crore rupees Budget of Delhi Government.
12) Union Ministry of Health proposed COTPA (Amendment) Bill 2015.
  • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposed the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) (Amendment) Bill 2015 (COTPA).
  • The bill seeks to amend some provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. The Draft Bill has been put out in the public domain by the Ministry for inviting suggestions from stakeholders by 15 February 2015.
  • Provisions of the COTPA (Amendment) Bill 2015
  • The bill proposes to ban on-site advertising of tobacco products and shops selling cigarettes and other tobacco products will no longer be able to display the brand names.
  • It proposed scrapping of designated smoking areas from hotels, restaurants and airports making an exception only for international airports to prevent exposure of non-smokers to harmful emissions.
  • The penalty for smoking in restricted areas has been raised from 200 to 1000 rupees.
  • Anyone found producing tobacco products without the specified warning will be liable for imprisonment for up to two years for the first offence or fine up to 50000 rupees or both.
13) First set of RIC readers handed over to Chiefs of Indian Navy and Coast Guard.
  • Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh handed over the first set of Resident Identity Card (RIC) readers to Navy Chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan and Coast Guard Director General Vice-Admiral A.G. Thapliyal.
  • These RIC readers will be used by maritime security agencies to check identity cards of the residents of coastal area issued under RIC Scheme.
  • As per RIC Scheme under the National Population Registrar, government had issued these identity cards to more than 65 lakh residents of coastal villages. Apart from this, the Union government is also preparing the National Population Registrar (NPR) in 3331 coastal villages under the said scheme.
About Resident Identity Card (RIC) Scheme:
  1. The scheme aims at strengthening coastal security measures in 9 states and 4 Union Territories that shares their borders with sea-line.
  2. The scheme of preparing RICs for residents of coastal areas is being implemented by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, an office under the Union Home Ministry.
  3. Cards issued under the scheme will help the coastal security agencies to authenticate an individual’s demographic and biometric authentication without using Internet services.