National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs March 1st week 2016
Category : National Current Affairs
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1) Mahesh Kumar Singla committee constituted to consider ST status to 6 communities of Assam.
  • The Union Government has constituted a committee to consider Scheduled Tribe status to six Communities of Assam.
  • These six Communities are Koch Rajbongshi, Moran, Matak, Tai Ahom, Chutia and Adivasi (Tea Tribes).
  • It will be headed by Mahesh Kumar Singla, Special Secretary (Internal Security) Ministry of Home Affairs.
Key facts:
  1. The committee has been constituted by Union Home Ministry in consultation with the Government of Assam.
  2. It has been tasked to recommend the modalities for granting of Scheduled Tribe status for the required reservations to the 6 Communities in Assam.
  3. It will also look into modalities for shifting the existing reservation for these communities from Other Back Class (OBC) status to ST for protecting their interests to ensure fairness of reservations.
2) M.S. Swaminathan Research Chair for Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences.
  • The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation has signed a MOU with Bhubaneswar-based Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) to establish a Research Chair.
  • The Chair will be named after M.S. Swaminathan, father of Indian Green Revolution for promoting knowledge and skill for empowerment for less privileged children in India.
  • This is the first-ever initiative of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation to establish a Research Chair in any private institute in the country.
  • The Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) is the largest residential institute for the tribals in the world. It provides free of cost accommodation, education, food, health care from Kindergarten to Post Graduation to more than 25,000 children of whom 12,200 are girls.
3) Chennai gets India’s first self-cleaning smart toilets.
  • A total of 180 self-cleaning public eToilets have been installed in Chennai. These Toilets are free for public use.
  • Around 40 toilets come equipped with a sanitary napkin generator. Notably, these toilets can be located through an Android app called eToilet.
  • Spread over 35 square feet, each automatic unmanned toilet cleans itself before entry and after use.
4) 46 new coal blocks identified in India.
  • The Geological Survey of India has identified 46 new coal blocks in the country, out of which 12 are located in West Bengal.
  • Out of the 34 new coal blocks outside Bengal, Chattisgarh has 12, Madhya Pradesh 11, Maharashtra 4, Jharkhand 1, Telangana 2, North-Eastern regions 3 and Andhra Pradesh 1.
About Coal Blocks:
  1. Coal is made largely of carbon but also features other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur and nitrogen.
  2. Different types of coal contain different amounts of carbon. Lignite contains only around 60 to 75%, while anthracite contains more than 92%.
  3. Coal has long been burned to create electricity and heat. The use of coal is increasing every year, in 2006 the world consumed over 6,000,000,000,000 kilograms of coal!
5) Carriage by Air` amendment bill passed by Rajya Sabha.
  • A bill that would enhance compensation for air travellers in case of death, injury, lost baggage or even inordinate delay in flights was passed by the Rajya Sabha.
  • The `Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill, 2015`, was passed by the Upper House with changes. It was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December 2015.
  • Piloting the bill in the Rajya Sabha, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said it would bring legislative character to international character with respect to compensation for air passengers.
  • Now it will go for the Presidential assent as per Article 111 of Constitution.
Key Facts:
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Carriage by Air Act, 1972 to revise the limits of liability for airlines and compensation in order adhere with the global counterparts.
  • Empowers Union government to revise the limits of liability for airlines and compensation as per the Montreal Convention.
  • Empowers Union Government to make rules to carry out provisions of the Act.
The Carriage by Air Act, 1972:
  1. Regulates carriage by air by giving effect to the Warsaw Convention, 1929 and as amended by Hague Protocol, 1955 and the Montreal Convention, 1999.
  2. It also provides for application of the international aviation travel rules to domestic travel, subject to exceptions and adaptations.
The Montreal Convention, 1999:
  • It establishes airline liability in the case of injury, death or delay to passengers.
  • It also includes liability in cases of damage or loss or delay of baggage and cargo.
  • It also mandates that every five years, limits of liability of the air carriers should be reviewed.
6) CCS gives nod to acquire 2 AWACS from Israel.
  • Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel later this year, a first by an Indian Prime Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has cleared the purchase of additional surveillance aircraft from the country.
  • The CCS chaired by Mr. Modi cleared the proposal to acquire two more Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) at a cost of Rs. 7,500 crore under a tripartite agreement with Israel and Russia.
About AWACS:
  1. They are advanced radars mounted on an aircraft to give an ability to see deep inside enemy territory and 360 degree coverage to detect incoming aircraft and missiles at long ranges.
  2. The Indian Air Force (IAF) already had three such AWACS platforms that comprise of Israeli-made radars mounted on Russian heavy transport planes IL-76.
  3. The CCS also approved a proposal for induction of the 4th regiment of supersonic cruise missile Brahmos and 2 more of Pinaka rocket launchers in the India Army.
7) Union Government gives nod for issuance of UDAY bonds to four states.
  • The Union Finance Ministry has approved the proposal of four states for the issuance of Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) bonds.
  • These four states are Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.
  • These states account for around about 35 per cent or around 1.5 lakh crore rupees of the outstanding loans of State electricity distribution utilities in the country.
  • State governments can take over 75 per cent of discom debt and pay back lenders by issuing bonds. The scheme provides for the remaining 25 per cent of the debt to be paid back through discom-issued bonds. Total discom debt in the country amounts to Rs. 4.3 lakh crore.
8) Govt plans to set up more nuclear power plants.
  • In order to meet the India’s growing needs, the GOI plans to set up nuclear power plants in Bihar, Haryana and Punjab.
  • The GOI aims to increase nuclear power generation capacity by three times in ten years.
  • There has been a delay there due to water shortage since the current level of water available is not sufficient for the project. 
9) PM Modi launches `Setu Bharatam` project, vows to improve infrastructure.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched Setu Bharatam Project to make all national highways free of railway crossings by 2019.
  • This project will be implemented by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • Under the project, 208 rail-over bridges and rail-under bridges will be built at the cost of Rs. 20,800 crore.
  • Also, 1,500 decade-old bridges will be reconstructed and revamped for Rs. 30,000 crore.
  • Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways already has launched an Indian Bridge Management System to map 1,50,000 bridges across the country. So far inventory of 50,000 bridges has been prepared under it and the first cycle of condition survey will be completed by June 2016.
10) Union Government approves winding up of National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved winding up of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) set up in 2004 by the UPA government as a forum for policy dialogue between the industry and the government.
  • The Union Cabinet, which also met on Wednesday, gave a green signal to the setting up of a society `36th International Geological Congress (IGC)` – for organizing the 36th (IGC) in 2020 with a budgetary outlay of Rs. 52 crore for preparatory activities.
  • The IGC will be hosted jointly by the Ministry of Mines and Ministry of Earth Sciences with support from the science academies of India and co-host neighboring countries.
About National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC):
  1. The erstwhile UPA government had established NMCC in 2004 as a part of its Common Minimum Programme (CMP)
  2. Its mandate was to provide a continuing forum for policy dialogue to energize and sustain the growth of manufacturing industry.
  3. It was established as an autonomous organization with its Chairman in the rank of a Cabinet Minister and members from Government and Industry.
  4. Since its inception, NMCC had conducted various studies independently in consultation with several Government Ministries Departments and also industry association.
11) Uttar Pradesh Assembly passes UP Revenue Code (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
  • Uttar Pradesh Assembly passed the UP Revenue Code (Amendment) Bill 2016 replacing an ordinance that will allow Dalits to sell their land to non-Dalits in the state.
  • The ordinance to amend the pre-British era revenue law was replaced by UP Revenue Code (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which was presented by Revenue Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav in the house
  • The Bill allows Dalits to sell their land to non-Dalits even if they are left with less than 3.5-acres of land.
12) SC refuses interim relief to telcos on call drop.
  • The Supreme Court has declined any interim relief to telecom companies against the Delhi High Court’s order upholding TRAI’s decision making it mandatory for them to compensate subscribers for call drops from January 1, 2016.
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), on the other hand, maintained that its Telecom Consumers Protection (9th Amendment) Regulations, 2015 which was upheld by the Delhi High Court last month was framed purely in the interest of the common man.
  • TRAI making it mandatory for cellular operators to pay consumers one rupee per call drop experienced on their networks, subject to a cap of Rs. 3 a day.
13) GOI to digitise all rural post offices by 2017.
  • The government plans to digitise nearly 1.3 lakh rural post offices by March 2017.
  • The government has approved Rs. 4,909 crore for modernization of 1.55 lakh post offices including 1.29 lakh post offices in rural areas, called Gramin Dak Sewak post offices. The modernization process will include setting up centralized data centres and disaster recovery centres, networking of all post offices.
  • Telecommunication Consultant India Limited (TCIL) will provide the handheld devices alongside RICOH India Limited, and also ensure connectivity, while Infosys will be the Rural System Integrator.
14) India puts a halt on scanning Japanese food imports.
  • Indian Government has decided to discontinue the scanning of the Food products from Japan that run the risk of being contaminated by radioactive substance.
  • The order has been conveyed to the customs department and the food safety commissioners of all states.
  • The abrupt end to the practice has, however, alarmed experts. The move by the Indian government can be seen as an attempt to bolster the already strong business and cultural ties with Japan.
15) PM adopted Nagepur village in his Varanasi Constituency under SAGY.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has selected Nagepur village in his Varanasi Constituency of Lok Sabha in Uttar Pradesh under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).
  • Earlier in the first phase of SAGY, PM had adopted Jayapur village in Sevapuri Assembly segment of Varanasi in 2014.
About SAGY:
  1. SAGY encourages Members of Parliament (MP’s) from both Houses to identify and develop one village from their constituency as a model village.
  2. Under this scheme, MPs will be responsible for developing the socio-economic and physical infrastructure of three villages each by 2019, and a total of eight villages each by 2024.
16) Oil Minister Lays Foundation Stone Of Octomax Unit At Mathura (UP).
  • Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan today laid the foundation stone of countrys first-of-its-kind Octomax unit at the Mathura refinery that will help in the production of high-octane gasoline.
  • Octomax, a "novel technology" developed in-house by Research and Development Centre of Indian Oil, involves conversion of cracked C4 streams to high-octane gasoline blending stock for production of Euro-IV/V equivalent gasoline.
About Octomax Unit:
  1. The refinery will setup a plant of 55 KTA capacity at an estimated cost of Rs. 43 crore and is expected to be completed by October 2017.
  2. The unit on Octomax technology has been conceptualized and designed based on indigenous efforts.
  3. Mathura refinery will play major role in meeting government`s target of introducing BS-VI standardizing petrol and diesel by 2020. 
17) Union Government launches online marketing platform Mahila E-HAAT.
  • Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Sanjay Gandhi launched Mahila e-Haat portal in New Delhi.
  • It will provide access to markets to thousands of women who make products and are spread all over the country.
About Mahila e-Haat:
  1. It is open to all Indian women citizens more than 18 years of age and women SHGs desiring for marketing their legal products/services after indemnifying RMK from any or all acts of transaction.
  2. Rahstriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) is primarily involved in the creation of the portal and the entire business of e-Haat can be handled through mobile phone.
  3. 3-Stages of women empowerment: The launch of Mahila E-Haat is the first stage towards achieving the objective of women empowerment.
  4. In the second stage Mahila E-Haat will be integrated with e-commerce portals to provide a larger platform for selling and buying.
  5. In third stage, it will culminate into Women’s Entrepreneurs Council which will help to expand this initiative further and give it an institutional shape.
  6. It will benefit more than 10000 Self Help Groups (SHGs) and 1.25 Lakh women beneficiaries spread across the country.
Germany Partners with India to Develop Kochi, Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar As Smart Cities.
Germany will partner India in turning Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore and Kochi into smart cities, according to German ambassador to India Martin Ney Germany is an ideal partner in India`s mission to create smarter cities as the country is very strong at smart planning for urban centres.
Germany developed the technologies to make life in cities easier.
They developed the processes to bring on board the stakeholders to make cities thrive and German companies have developed smart solutions to make smart cities.
Five Healthcare ATMs Launched in 4 States.
Five healthcare ATMs have come up in four states. Those states are MP, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
These ATMs are going to come up under a Health Ministry pilot that combines telemedicine with a rudimentary free drugs programme.
The health ministry is aiming that these ATMs would tide over the massive shortage of doctors in the country. It will also save from the risk of pilferage in free drugs programmes.

For these ATMs technical support is being provided by the division of healthcare technology and National Health Systems Research Centre.