National Current Affairs
november 2nd week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : National Current Affairs
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1) Union Government launches Three Gold Schemes.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched three gold related scheme viz Gold Monetization Scheme (GMS), Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme (SGBS) and Indian Gold Coins (IGC).
  • These ambitious schemes were launched to reduce the physical demand for gold and fish out 20,000 tonnes of the precious metal lying idle with households and institutions.
Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS) 2015:
  1. GMS 2015 will offer option to resident Indians to deposit their precious metal and earn an interest on it and will replace the existing Gold Deposit Scheme (GDS) 1999.
  2. All residents can invest in this scheme but are subjected to Know Your Customer (KYC) Scheme.
Scheme Tagline: Earn, while you secure.
  1. As per Reserve Bank of India (RBI) directives all Scheduled Commercial Banks (excluding Regional Rural Banks) will implement GMS 2015.
Deposit limit:
  1. Minimum deposit at any one time of raw gold in the forms of bars, coins, jewellery excluding stones and other metals is 30 grams with 995 fineness. There is no maximum limit for the deposit.
  1. Banks will accept gold deposits under the Short Term of Bank Deposit (STBD) of 1-3 years, Medium (5-7 years) and Long (12-15 years).
  2. Principal and Interest of the deposit:
  3. Banks are free to fix the interest rates and it will be denominated in gold.
Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme (SGBS) 2015:
  • Seeks to shift part of physical gold in form of bars and coins for investment into Demat (Dematerialised) gold bonds in order to reduce the demand for physical gold.
  • These gold bonds are interest bearing and will be payable in terms of grams of gold.
Scheme tagline: Invest wisely. Earn Safely.
Minimum investment: 2 grams of physical gold.
Maximum investment: 500 grams.
Issuing Bonds: RBI on behalf of Union Government will issue the Gold bonds in the denominations of one gram and its multiples.
Tenure of Gold bonds:
8 years is maximum tenure. But there is exit option from 5th year can be exercised on interest payments dates.
Tradable and Exchangeable: These bonds are available in DEMAT and paper form. It can be tradable in stock exchange and can be used as collateral for loans.
Indian Gold Coin 2015:
  • It is Indian’s first ever Indian gold coin and bullion to be officially issued by Union Government. The gold coins will bear national emblem Ashok Chakra on one side and Mahatma Gandhi’s engraved image on the other side.
  • The coins will be available in denominations of 5 and 10 grams and a 20 gram bullion. Available at: 125 Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC) of India outlets across the country.
2) President launches IMPRINT India initiative of IITs and IISC.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee launched Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India to boost research in the country.
  • The initiative is joint venture of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISC).


Key facts

  • IMPRINT India initiative seeks to develop a roadmap for research in order to solve major engineering and technology challenges in 10 identified technology domains.

These 10 domains are:

  • Health Care, Computer Science and ICT, Advance Materials, Water Resources and River systems, Sustainable Urban Design, Defence, Nano-technology Hardware, Environmental Science and Climate Change and Energy Security.
  • These domains are distributed among IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur, IIT Bomaby, IIT Rookree, IIT Madras and IISC, Bengaluru.
Objectives of this initiative:
  1.  Identify areas of immediate relevance that requires innovation in the society.
  2.  Direct scientific research in the identified areas.
  3. Ensure support and higher funding for research for identified areas.
  4.  Measure the outcomes of innovation and research efforts and its impact on the standard of living in the urban and rural areas.
3) Rajasthan government launched the Agro-Processing and Agri-Marketing Promotion Policy.
  • Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje launched the Rajasthan Agro-Processing and Agri-Marketing Promotion Policy 2015. The policy seeks to promote agro-processing and to reduce post harvest losses at the farm gate.
  • The Agriculture Department of Rajasthan Government will be the nodal department for the policy and Rajasthan State Agricultural marketing Board will act as nodal agency for the policy.
Provisions of Agro-Processing and Agri-Marketing Promotion Policy 2015:
  1. Rajasthan Agro-Processing and Agri-Marketing has been included as the thrust sector under Rajasthan Investment Promotion Scheme, 2014 to provide higher incentives than normal provisions.
  2. In addition, additional incentives provisions of subsidy for product patent, product registration, quality certification, sending samples abroad, project report preparation, transport of on fruits and vegetables and spices abroad also have been made.
  3. Investors in agro-processing sectors making investment above 25 lakh rupees shall be granted 60 percent capital subsidy, 10 per cent employment generation subsidy of VAT and CST deposited for 7 years.
  4. These investors shall be granted 50 per cent exemption in land tax, electricity duty and mandi cess for 7 years and 50 per cent exemption in stamp duty, conversion charges and entry tax on plant & machinery in the state.
  5. 5 per cent interest subsidy on term loan shall be granted to cattle feed and poultry feed manufacturing units for 5 years or till loan is finally deposited whichever is before.
4) MP Government proposed 1656 crore rupees AMRUT Action Plan.
  • The Madhya Pradesh (MP) Government proposed to improve basic infrastructure relating to water supply, sewerage network services, storm water drainage, urban transport and parks and green services.
  • The plans were proposed for 32 cities and towns under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) during 2015-16 at a cost of 1656 crore rupees.
  • The State Annual Action Plan (SAAP) was submitted by the State Government to the Union Ministry of Urban Development. SAAP was formulated based on Service Level Improvement Plans for each of the 32 mission cities.
Key proposals under Action Plan:
  1. Out of the proposed investment of 1656 crore rupees, the Union Government will invest 672 crore rupees while the state government will contribute 756 crore rupees. The remaining 228 crore rupees will be met from the resources of respective urban local bodies.
  2. Cost of water supply projects will be 582 crore rupees.
  3. Sewerage projects will ask for the investment of 926 crore rupees.
  4. 36 crore rupees will be spent on storm water drains.
  5. Urban transport will seek a funding of 70 crore rupees.
  6. Cost for provision of parks and green spaces will be 41 crore rupees.
  7. During the five year mission period of AMRUT, the state government will take up a total of 101 projects with a total investment of 8279 crore rupees.
5) Union Government constituted Empowered Committee to approve schemes under Nirbhaya Fund.
  • The Union Government constituted an Empowered Committee to approve schemes proposed under the Nirbhaya Fund.
  • The Committee comprises officials from various ministries, including Women and Child Development, Home Affairs, Road Transport and Railways.
  • The Secretary of the Women and Child Development Ministry will be the chairperson of the committee.
  • The Members of the Empowered Committee may nominate an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary as representative to the Empowered Committee of Officers.
  • The Empowered Committee of Officers will take decision on the sanction of schemes/ projects from Nirbhaya Fund within 15 days of the date of receipt of the proposal by the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  • The Nirbhaya Fund has a total of 3000 crore rupees fund as 1000 crore each was allocated to it in 2014-15 and 2015-16 on top of 1000 crore rupees initial corpus.


6) Union Government decided to impose 0.5 per cent Swachh Bharat Cess on all services.

  • Union Ministry of Finance decided to impose 0.5 per cent Swachh Bharat Cess (SBC) on all taxable services. It will be levied in addition to the 14 per cent service tax that is in force now.
  • The SBC will come into force on 15 November 2015. Its proceeds will be exclusively used to support Swachh Bharat initiative.
  • The decision to impose SBC is in tune with the announcement made by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget 2015-16 budget speech advocating for 2 percent additional cess to fund Swachh Bharat.
  • As per an estimate, the SBC is expected to fetch additional 4000 crore rupees per annum in tax revenues to the government.
  • The Union Government under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is planning to spend around 134000 crore rupees by 2019 to construct 11 crore 11 lakh toilets in the country.
7) Supreme Court upheld Kerala Government’s ban on online lotteries.
  • The Supreme Court of India (SC) upheld Kerala Government’s ban on online lotteries.
  • The judgment was delivered a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) H.L. Dattu while hearing the All Kerala Online Lottery Dealers Association Vs State of Kerala & Ors. case in which Sikkim Government is also one of the petitioners opposing the ban.
  • While upholding the ban, the bench stated that lottery is a form of gambling and it was condemned as a vice by the Rigveda, Smritis and Arthashastra.
  1. The case was an appeal from a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court that upheld Kerala Government’s decision to declare the state an online lottery free zone.
  2. In April 2005, the Kerala Government banned all computerized and online lotteries run by whether private or other state governments in the state, while allowing paper lotteries to continue in the state.
8) UDAY may provide Rs. 80,000 crore relief to struggling discoms.
  • The state-run Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojna (UDAY) is likely to provide a relief to struggling state-owned discoms to the extent of Rs. 80,000 crore per year till FY19. It would translate into a reduction in losses by around Rs. 0.95 per unit on an all India basis.
  • The conversion of discom loans into bonds would lead to capital savings of Rs. 12,000 crore for public sector banks.
  • The all-India losses of discoms are estimated at around Rs. 62,000 crore for March 31, which were mainly due to poor operational inefficiencies because of high AT&C losses, tariff hikes of the past not being reflective of cost and huge interest burden because losses were being funded by debt.
About Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojna:
Function: UDAY provides for the financial turnaround and revival of Power Distribution companies (DISCOMs), and importantly also ensures a sustainable permanent solution to the problem.

9) PM announces Rs. 80,000 crore package for Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a package of Rs. 80,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir and said it should be used to transform the state, devastated by floods last year, into a modern, progressive and prosperous one.
  • Modi said India was ``incomplete without Kashmiriyat``, invoking the words of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also of the BJP, who had talked about ``Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat aur Insaniyat’ (social consciousness and cultural values of the Kashmiri people, democracy, and humanity)``.
  • In his 40 minute speech, PM Modi highlighted progress, promising improved road and rail networks, as well as AIIMS, IITs and IIMs. Modi inaugurated 450 MW Baglihar Hydro Electric Power Project Phase-II and four laning project of Udhampur- Banihal on Jammu-Srinagar National highway.
10) Bihar will get 1st big FDI in railways.
  • Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has finally given the go-ahead to the long-stalled, big-ticket foreign direct investment (FDI) projects to set up state-of-the art diesel and electric locomotive manufacturing plants in Bihar.
  • This is the the first major FDI in rail projects.The projects, closely monitored by the PMO.
  • It was the first big ticket project under `Make in India` initiative in the public transporter, GE and Alstom.
  • Railways will have 26 per cent equity while the global players will have 74 per cent equity in each of the plants.
11) Grand Alliance won the 2015 Assembly Elections of Bihar with two-thirds majority.
  • Election Commission of India announced the results of the 2015 Assembly elections of Bihar. The elections were held in 5 phases between 12 October and 5 November 2015 for 243 assembly seats.
  • Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), JANATA DAL (UNITED) (JD(U)) and Indian National Congress (INC) emerged as the winner of the election with thumping two-third majority. RJD, a part of the grand Alliance with 80 seats emerged as the largest party.

12) Union Government issued notification for implementation of OROP.

  • Union Government issued the notification regarding implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) in respect of Defence Forces personnel.
Features of OROP scheme
  1. Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the same rank and with the same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013.
  2. The benefit will be given with effect from 1 July 2014 to the ex-service men of all the three forces.
  3. Those drawing pensions above the average will be protected.
  4. In future, the pension would be re-fixed every 5 years.
  5. Arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments.
  6. All widows, including war widows, will be paid arrears in one instalment.
  7. Personnel who voluntarily retire will not be covered under the scheme.
  8. The estimated cost to the exchequer would be 8000 to 10000 crore at pre sent, and will increase further in future.
13) Union Government launched E-Pathshala, Saransh, Shaala Siddhi Portals.
  • The Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani launched the e-Pathshala, Saaransh and National Programme on School Standards and Evaluation Framework (Shala Siddhi) web portals/ mobile apps.
  • These portals were launched during the edNEXT, the National Conference on ICT in School Education that was held at New Delhi. During the Conference, Shala Darpan, MDM-IVRS and Ekta project from Alwar, Rajasthan were also show-cased.
E-Pathshala web portal:
  1. E-Pathshala is a web portal which hosts educational resources for Students, Teachers, Parents, researchers and educators.
  2. It contains textbooks and other e-books as E-Pub 3.0 and Flipbooks in English, Hindi and Urdu.
  3. It is available through especially developed mobile app interface on Android, IOS and windows platforms for wider access.
Shaala Siddhi web portal:
  1. Shaala Siddhi web portal is a comprehensive instrument for school evaluation which enables the schools to evaluate their performance in more focused and strategic manner.
  2. The web-portal will help all schools to assess themselves and the results can be seen by all enabling them to provide feedback.
  3. The initiative has already been successfully piloted in four districts of Tamil Nadu.
Saransh platform
  1. Saransh is a tool which allows the schools to identify areas of improvement in students, teachers and curriculum to facilitate and implement change.
  2. The platform is presently available for classes 9th to 12th and provides a comprehensive overview of standard 10th performance since 2007 and standard 12th performance since 2009 till the current academic session.
14) Centre approves Rs. 2100 crore for Karnataka, Gujarat under NDRF.
  • The GOI has approved Rs. 2,100 crore funds under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) for Karnataka and Gujarat, which recently faced drought and floods respectively.
  • The Committee examined the proposals based on the report of the central team that visited the affected states hit by severe natural disasters.
  • A high-level meeting for Central assistance to states affected by natural disasters was held in in the national capital under the chairmanship of Home Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, Agriculture Minister Sanjeev Balyan and other senior officials.
  • It approved the assistance from the NDRF in respect of Karnataka to the tune of Rs. 1,540 crore and for Gujarat an amount of Rs. 562 crore regarding the losses caused by drought and flood respectively.
15) Bengaluru is top destination for real estate investments.
  • Bengaluru, the IT capital has surpassed both the commercial and political capitals of India as the top investment destination in the property market.
  • Nearly 13 per cent of over $6.7 billion (Rs. 44,450 crore) that PEs have invested in India’s property market from 2013 through the first half of 2015 has gone to Bengaluru. Global property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) latest Asia-Pacific City Investment Intensity Index ranks the southern city among the top-20 destinations globally.
  • At the 20th position, it is well above New Delhi (34th) and Mumbai (42nd). JLL had earlier this year listed Bengaluru among the top-20 technology-rich cities globally.
16) President approved Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Bill.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Bill.
Key provisions of the bill:
  1. Cow slaughter in Haryana will invite rigorous imprisonment ranging from 3 to 10 years and a fine of up to 1 lakh rupees.
  2. Any person who attempts to export cows for slaughter will be imprisoned for not less than 3 years and up to 7 years. In addition, fine between 30000 rupees and 70000 rupees will be imposed.
  3. The killing of a cow in an accident or for self-defence will not be considered slaughter.
  4. For exporting a cow out of the state, people will have to apply for permit and file a declaration that cows for which permit for export is required will not be slaughtered.