National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs May 4th week 2016
Category : National Current Affairs
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1) States asked to convert 3,784 urban areas into statutory Urban Local Bodies.

  • Ministry of Urban Development has asked 28 States to take immediate and necessary action to convert 3,784 Census Towns into statutory Urban Local Bodies to promote planned urban development.
  • Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (Urban Development) in a letter to the Chief Secretaries of these States has highlighted the need for statutory Urban Local Bodies for planned and coordinated infrastructure development, enhancement of revenues and efficient delivery of services to citizens leading to overall growth of economic activities.
  • The opportunity of planned urban development might get lost if unplanned construction and ad hoc provisioning of infrastructure is allowed to take place over a long time.
  • A Census Town is an area with urban characteristics like a minimum population of 5,000, at least 75% of the male main working force engaged in non-agricultural activities and population density of at least 400 persons per As per 2011 Census, there are 3,784 Census Towns as against 1,362 in 2001.
  • Shri Gauba also informed the States that conversion of Census towns into statutory ULBs entitle them to Central assistance as per the guidelines of 14th Finance Commission. Under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), 50 & weightage is given to the number of statutory towns in any State/UT in allocation of funds among States/UTs.

2) WCD Minister Smt Maneka Gandhi releases Draft National Policy for Women, 2016 for consultation.

  • Union WCD Minister Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi released the draft National Policy for Women, 2016 for stakeholder comments and consultations. Releasing the draft policy at a press conference in New Delhi,
  • The Minister stated that the Policy is being revised after 15 years and is expected to guide Government action on Women’s issues over the next 15-20 years.
  • The Minister stated that several things have changed since the last Policy of 2001 especially women`s attitude towards themselves and their expectations from life. In view of this the new draft Policy shifts the focus from entitlements to rights and from empowerment to creating an enabling environment.
  • She has requested for widespread comments on the draft policy so that the final policy document can be a true reflection of the voice of all women.

3) India’s first national social security platform to be developed by DeitY.

  • India`s first national social security platform will be developed by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), which has been entrusted with the task following the intervention of the Prime Minister`s Office to end the tug of war between three central ministries.
  • The PMO stepped in after the ministries of labour, finance, and communications and IT could not reach consensus on who should set up the backbone for distributing social security benefits.
  • It has been decided that DeitY will use the socio-economic caste census to establish the identity of all resident beneficiaries.
  • This will be seeded with Aadhaar and Jan Dhan accounts of all the beneficiaries for direct transfer of benefits as we go forward, according to a senior official, requesting not to be identified. DeitY will develop the platform while the other ministries will use this platform to authenticate their beneficiaries.

4)`Tatkal` system to expedite patent examination.

  • The government has amended rules and introduced several measures including a system similar to ‘tatkal’, to expedite examination of patent applications by start-ups as well as entities choosing India for the first filing of patent. This comes in the backdrop of 2.37 lakh patent applications pending in the country.
  • The government, incidentally, is aiming to bring down the time period for initial examination of patent applications from the present 5-7 years to 18 months by 2018. It had also last week announced the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy to push IPRs as a marketable financial asset and economic tool, promote innovation and entrepreneurship/ start-ups, while protecting public interest.
  • Under the ‘tatkal’-like system applicants can opt for the `expedited examination` - route on the grounds that they have chosen India as the competent International Searching Authority or International Preliminary Examining Authority in the corresponding international application, and file their applications first in India.
  • Under the ‘expedited examination’ route, the fees for individuals and start-ups have been fixed at Rs. 8,000, while for small firms it is Rs. 25,000 and for large companies, the fee is Rs. 60,000.

5) Odisha to launch Green Passage Scheme for Orphan Students.

  • The Odisha government launched Green Passage scheme for orphan students to ensure that they get free of cost higher education in the state.
  • A proposal of the higher education department was approved by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. As per the scheme, orphan students pursuing higher education from Plus-II level to post-graduation level, will no longer have to bear the education expenses.
  • As many as 16,382 orphan students lodged in 272 institutions across the state, will be exempted of admission fee, tuition fees and laboratory fees for higher studies. In this Green Passage scheme will be provided free hostel facilities and food.
  • All government, private, government aided colleges and universities to ensure that the orphan students are not charged in any form.

6) Ola signs MoU with govt. to benefit `Safai Karamcharis`.

  • Mobile app for transportation Ola a MoU with National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) established under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to focus on building a sustainable framework by supporting entrepreneurship, skill development training and self-defence courses for Safai Karamcharis and Scavengers.
  • The Ola-NSKFDC partnership has the potential to generate synergies that will result in a better future for driver entrepreneurs by creating sustainable careers and livelihoods for them.
  • Aimed at socio-economic development of Safai Karamcharis/ Scavengers, the MoU will aim at benefitting these people and their dependents by enabling livelihood opportunities, especially for women beneficiaries identified by NSKFDC.

7) Inauguration of Intelligent Operations Centre and Launch of Mobile APP `Monitor` for Smart President’s Estate.

  • The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated an Intelligent Operations Centre (IOC) in Rashtrapati Bhavan and launch a Mobile App `Monitor` for transformation of President`s Estate into a smart township at a function to be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • The IOC is a software solution designed by IBM which helps collect and make sense of the rich data streaming in from several sources within the Estate to provide intelligent insights. It offers integrated data visualization, near real-time collaboration and deep analytics that will help agencies prepare for problems, coordinate and manage response efforts and enhance efficiency of services.
  • The "Monitor" mobile application is a Residents collaboration tool of the Intelligent Operation Center. This will help residents and domain (Energy, Water, Horticulture, Waste and Security) supervisors to collaborate in a smarter way for their observations.

8) Assembly results in five states.

  • In an emphatic mandate, the BJP has won 86 of Assam`s 126 assembly seats, with the Congress, which ruled for the last 15 years, getting only 26.
  • Kerala too has delivered an unambiguous verdict. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) won 91 seats with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) at 47 in a state that has stuck to its trend of not voting the same government in twice. Pinarayi Vijayan is set to become the next Chief Minister of Kerala.
  • J. Jayalalithaa a second successive term. The AIADMK won 134 seats, well past the half-way mark at 118, while the DMK-Congress got 98 seats.
  • In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has constructed another sweep, with her Trinamool Congress winning 211 of the state`s 294 seats. The Left-Congress alliance was far behind at 77.
  • Good news comes to congress its way from Puducherry, where it won 17 of 30 seats.

9) Himachal CM launches PEHAL programme.

  • The Shimla District Administration introduced PEHAL programme in the district.
  • The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh launched the programme from the historic Ridge Maidan.
  • The aim of the programme is to identify certain thrust areas which have a direct bearing on the lives of the people at grassroots.
  • The five areas identified under PEHAL are Primary Education, Forest Rights, Health and Sanitation, Campaign against drugs and skill development and Women Empowerment.
  • Shimla is the first district in the state to launch such different programme to work as a team with the people.

10) BHEL commissions 250 MW thermal unit in Maharashtra.

  • State-owned BHEL has commissioned a 250 MW thermal unit in Maharashtra .
  • The unit has been commissioned at Parli Thermal Power Station (TPS), located in Beed district in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra.
  • The project is owned by Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco). This is the eighth coal-based unit commissioned by BHEL at Parli TPS.

11) Health Minister launches `Kayakalp Fortnight` to be observed across the country in Central Government hospitals.
To implement the vision and philosophy behind Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan launched by the Hon. Prime Minister, the Health Ministry launched the Kayakalp initiative to set protocols for hygiene and sanitation at government health facilities.

  • The initiative towards total ``Swacchta`` in public health facilities is aimed towards building confidence of the users in public health facilities, provide quality service and encourage team work.
  • The initiative will encourage every public health facility in the country to work towards standards of excellence to help the facilities stay clean and hygienic.
  • The Union Health Minister was speaking at the launch of the `Kayakalp Fortnight` which shall be observed throughout the country in various central government hospitals with a view to intensifying the Kayakalp initiatives under the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan.
  • Shri Nadda launched the Kayakalp Fortnight at AIIMS, New Delhi. Shri Nadda stated that as part of the various activities to be taken up during the fortnight, senior officers of the Ministry will be inspecting various Central Hospitals in the country to take stock of the existing status and to intensify the Swachhta drive.

12) Dr. Mahesh Sharma inaugurates exhibition `frontier Gandhi and the Indian Freedom Movement` to commemorate 125th birth anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

  • Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Tourism inaugurated an exhibition entitled ‘Frontier Gandhi and the Indian Freedom Movement’ on the occasion of commemoration of ``125th Birth Anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan`` organized by Ministry of Culture.
  • Ministry of Culture has been celebrating the 125th Birth Anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan during 2015-16. As a part of activities under the commemoration and Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, New Delhi has organized this exhibition and programme.
  • The Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was a great person who was devoted to the Freedom of India and Hindu-Muslim unity. It is a great moment that his family members are present in this function. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Gandhi ji were complementary to each other and we will keep his memories alive for the decades to come.


13) WCD Ministry and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sign MoC for technical support to strengthen the nutrition programme in India.

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to provide technical support at the National and State level for strengthening the delivery of nutrition goals, especially during pre-conception, pregnancy and first two years of life.
  • Further, the Gates’ Foundation will support an enhanced framework of collaboration in Information and Communication Technology enabled Real Time Monitoring (ICT-RTM) of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and technical support on nutrition.
  • Improving the health and lives of women and children in India, by strengthening nutrition programs in order to promote their holistic development is one of the topmost priorities of the Government. In sync with this focus, the four priority areas.

This MoC would include:

  1. Development and deployment of ICT solutions for improving and strengthening ICDS Service Delivery System.
  2. Support Ministry of Women & Child Development in developing a shared national communications campaign for maternal and child nutrition among target populations.
  3. Provision of technical support for the National Nutrition Mission, Restructured ICDS Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) and Restructured ICDS through a Technical Support Unit at the national and state level for strengthening their capacities to deliver nutrition especially during pre- conception, pregnancy and first two years of life.
  4. Technical support and Knowledge management support to strengthen human resource capabilities at various levels in order to deliver effective nutrition interventions.

14) India lauded for Medicines with the Red Line campaign on antibiotics.

  • India’s idea of putting a red line on antibiotic packages to curb their over-the-counter sale is now being cited as a model that can be used globally to counter the rising threat of superbugs.
  • In its final report on tackling drug resistant infection released, the global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance - commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and chaired by economist Jim O’Neill - says India has led the way so far with its idea of a ‘Red Line Campaign’ for antibiotics packaging, launched earlier and should be considered as a starting point. It recommends that the labelling and symbols used can be improved if needed and then expanded globally.
  • Common labelling standards of this type could become a condition of sale of antibiotics around the world,” the report notes, while stressing that convincing people to stop using antibiotics would not be effective unless they recognize antibiotics.

15) Government takes measures to set up science cities, science centers.

  • The union government will soon launch a hub and spoke model to set up science cities and science centers to encourage science and technology (S&T) incubators and create an enabling environment, according to YS Chowdary, Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences.
  • The entire country can be divided in five zones so that each zone can have a science city, so that number of science centers can be there whereby rural population and youngsters can have a lot of access.
  • There is a need for us to spend more time on blueprint rather than on trying to execute, particularly from government’s point of view, as once blueprint is prepared properly with all kinds of IT tools the execution can be done perfectly.


16) Bihar govt bans gutka and paan masala.

  • The Bihar government has cracked down on gutka and pan masala, banning the sale, distribution, storage and publicity of such tobacco products.
  • The government issued an order authorizing officials to conduct raids and inspections and take action against those flouting the guidelines.
  • The ban, which will remain effective for the next one year, on edible items having tobacco content, both packaged and unpackaged, aims at preventing the deterioration of public health.

17) Centre sets up panel to relook defence spend.

  • The NDA government has appointed a committee of experts to recommend measures to enhance the combat capabilities of the over 13-lakh strong armed forces and "re-balance" the overall defence expenditure in view of the escalating salary and pension bills.
  • The 11 member committee led by former Lt Gen D.B. Shekatkar, which includes several other top military officers as well as civilian experts, has been given three months to chalk out an action plan.
  • The overall aim is to ensure India`s combat capabilities and potential are enhanced, with a better teeth-to-tail combat ratio, within budgetary constraints. The committee will hold its first meeting with defence minister Manohar Parrikar.
  • This comes a year after Parrikar first underlined the need to slash the non-operational "flab" of the Army, Navy and IAF after a detailed review to ensure leaner, meaner and cost-effective fighting forces.

18) Centre urges States to exempt pulses from local taxes.

  • To check spiraling prices of pulses, the Centre urged the States to exempt it from value-added tax (VAT) and other local taxes.
  • It may help cool the prices of the pulses by 5-7 per cent while briefing the media after a meeting of State Food Minister to draw an action plan to check prices of essentials, such as pulses, edible oil and sugar.
  • The State Food Ministers’ conference also noted that the prices of the specified food items, such as pulses, sugar, edible oils shoot up abnormally due to hoarding, profiteering and cartelling by traders and middlemen, with farmers ending up as the biggest losers.
  • There is a need that all States and Union Territories impose and implement stock limits, which should follow a logical and scientific formula separately in consuming States and surplus States.
  • The meeting adopted an action plan to improve availability and contain prices of essential food items, which includes rationalization of imposition of stock limits, streamlining of the price monitoring mechanism, utilization of full potential of the Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) and States to consider setting up own PSFs.