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National Current Affairs
National Current Affairs March 2nd week 2016
Author : Sandhya
Category : National Current Affairs
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National Current Affairs March 2nd week 2016

1) Air India operates world’s longest all-women flight.

  • National carrier Air India successfully flew the World’s longest all-woman operated and supported flight from the national capital New Delhi to San Francisco (United States).
  • The flight was operated as part of International Women’s Day celebrations and travelled a distance of around 14,500 kilometres in close to 17 hours. The non-stop flight to San Francisco took off on 6th March 2016 from New Delhi.

Things to Discuss:

  1. The flight was under the command of Kshamta Bajpayee and Shubhangi Singh. They were supported by First Officers Ramya Kirti Gupta and Amrit Namdhari.
  2. Entire operations in this historic flight on one of the world’s longest route were handled by women.
  3. They handled all operations including cockpit crew to cabin crew, check-in staff, doctor, customer care staff, ATC (air traffic control) and the entire ground-handling.

 

2) Indian Railways forms SPV to execute Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.

  • Indian Railways has formed a new Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to implement the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Bullet Train project.
  • The entity has been named the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) Limited.

Key Facts:

  1. The high speed bullet rain project aims to introduce trains running at operating speeds over 320 kilometers per hour and maximum speed of 350 kmph.
  2. The bullet train project is expected to cover the 5O8 kilometers between Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat).
  3. The project will take about seven years to complete after the awarding of the contract at an estimated to cost 97,636 crore rupees.

 

3) Bill to amend Enemy Property Act introduced.

  • In a major move to prevent transfer of enemy property and allows state appointed custodian to sell it off, the government has introduced a Bill to amend retrospectively several provisions of the Enemy Property Act of 1968.

Background:

  1. The central government had designated some properties belonging to nationals of Pakistan and China as “enemy properties” during the 1962, 1965 and 1971 conflicts with the respective countries and vested these properties in the custodian of Enemy Property for India, an office instituted under the central government.

Amendments:

  • While Enemy Properties Act of 1968 defined an ``enemy`` as a country and its citizens that committed external aggression against India namely Pakistan and China, the Bill expands this definition to include legal heirs of enemies even if they are citizens of India or of another country which is not an enemy, nationals of an enemy country who subsequently changed their nationality to that of another country.
  • The new Bill allows enemy property to be returned to the owner only if an aggrieved person applies to the government and the property is found not to be an enemy property.
  • The Bill also allows the custodian to sell or dispose of enemy property. The Custodian may do this within a time period specified by the central government, irrespective of any court judgments to the contrary.

 

4) NITI Aayog Launches `Women Transforming India` Campaign.

  • The NITI Aayog (GOIs premier think tank) has launched the Women Transforming India initiative on the International Women`s Day in partnership with the UN in India and MyGov.
  • Through this initiative the NITI Aayog seeks entries in the form of written essays or stories, preferably accompanied by photographs that set a context to the narrative.
  • As per the campaign the policy would engage directly with women leaders from across urban and rural areas of the country and making every effort to gather successful stories of change heralded by women at the grassroots level within communities.

About NITI Aayog:

NITI Aayog Chairman: PM Narendra Modi

Vice Chairman: Arvind Panagaria

CEO: Amitabh Kant

5) Karnataka CM to Launch Scheme for Accident Victims’ Free Treatment.

  • Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah launched ‘Santwana Yojana’ under which road accident victims will be given free treatment for the first 48 hours at any hospital.
  • The scheme, `Mukhyamantri Santwana Harish Yojana`, has been named after Harish Nanjappa who donated his eyes moments before his death even as he lay severely injured seeking help after a mishap in Bengaluru last month.
  • The victim would receive medical care for first 48 hours and get treatment at any hospital. All hospitals would be directed not to reject accident victims.
  • The state government has already sanctioned Rs. 10 crore for the scheme and the Chief Minister had agreed to set apart an additional Rs. 75 crore in the budget for the purpose.

 

6) Five regional centres of National School of Drama proposed.

  • Five regional centres of the prestigious National School of Drama (NSD) are to be set up across the country, besides upgrading a resource centre at Bengaluru to a regional centre.
  • On the basis of the recommendations made by the Broad Based Committee NSD Society proposed to establish 5 regional centres one each at Kolkata, Mumbai/ Goa, J&K, and North-East.
  • These regional centres would be established in consultation with the concerned State Governments, who were required to provide accommodation for the purpose.
  • Only the Government of Karnataka has allotted land for the purpose at Bengaluru. NSD has started one year teaching training programme in the Bengaluru Chapter commencing from academic session 2014-15.
  • In addition, under consolidation of Out-reach Programme in the North-East Region, NSD has opened its Centres in Sikkim and Tripura.

 

7) India inks Raptor MoU to save birds of prey.

  • India has signed ‘Raptor MoU’, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on conservation of birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia. With this India becomes 56th county to sign the Raptor MoU under the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS).
  • The MoU was singed Ambassador of India to the UAE Shri T.P. Seetharam the Convention on Migratory Species Office in Abu Dhabi.

About Raptor MoU

  1. The MoU seeks willingness of the signatory states for working for conservation of the raptor species and their habitats.
  2. It covers 76 species of birds of prey under its ambit and an action plan has been formulated under it that envisages the conservation action for Raptor species.

Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS):

  • It is also known as Bonn Convention under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • It aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range. India had become a party to the CMS since 1st November 1983.

8) Union Cabinet Approved Sikh Gurudwara’s Act.

  • The Union government has given the go-ahead for the amendment of the 91-year-old Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, in order to remove the exemption granted to Sahajdhari Sikhs in 1944 to vote in elections to Sikh religious bodies.

About Sikhs:

  1. The Sehajdhari Sikhs were continuously exercising their voting rights in the SGPC elections since 1949
  2. In 2003, the Union Home Ministry debarred the Sehajdhari Sikhs from voting by amending the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925
  3. The notification came as a result of the powers conferred by Parliament under Section 72 of the Punjab Re-organisation Act, 1966

 

9) Union Cabinet gives nod to MoU between India and UAE on Technical Cooperation in Cyber Space and Combating Cyber-Crime.

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the MoU between India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Technical Cooperation in Cyber Space and Combating Cyber-Crime.
  • It was singed between both countries to cooperate in combating cybercrime in the wake of the serious security threat posed by it to safety of people.

About MoU:

  1. The MoU would provide help in handling of the issues related to the cyber-crime between the two countries.
  2. Both the countries shall cooperate in cyber space and combating cyber-crime in all forms, particularly through coordination and exchange of information in relation with cyber crime
  3. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be the nodal agency on the Indian side responsible for the implementation of this agreement.

 

10) India, Bangladesh sign $2 billion Line of Credit.

  • India has signed the second line of credit (LOC) agreement extending 2 billion dollars in development financing to Bangladesh for undertaking various development projects.
  • This credit line will be provided through Export Import Bank of India (Exim Bank), India’s external lending arm. It is Exim Bank’s biggest ever LOC facility given to another country.
  • The development financing will be used in the infrastructural projects like power sector, road transportation, railways, shipping, information and communication technology (ICT) and social sector projects like health and technical education.

Back Ground:

  1. The financing deal comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced new credit line to Bangladesh during his official visit to Dhaka.
  2. It follows India’s earlier 1 billion dollar in assistance provided to Bangladesh in 2011 for infrastructure development.

11) Memorandum of Understanding between India and Bahrain.

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bahrain on cooperation for prevention of human trafficking especially trafficking in women and children; rescue, recovery, repatriation and re-integration of victims of trafficking.
  • This MoU will strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries and increase the bilateral cooperation on the issues of prevention, rescue, recovery and repatriation related to human trafficking especially women and children expeditiously.
Features of MoU:
  1. Strengthen cooperation to prevent to all forms of human trafficking, especially that of women and children and ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organized crime syndicates in either country.
  2. Taking preventive measures that would eliminate human trafficking in women and children and in protecting the rights off victims of trafficking.
 
12) Parrikar launches Interactive Web Portal Of Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat.
  • Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar launched an interactive web portal of Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat in New Delhi.
  • This portal facilitates Ex-Servicemen and dependents to submit online applications under various welfare schemes.
  • This portal developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) at a cost of 58.93 lakhs rupees. It will later contain workflow software for all the schemes of the Secretariat which will provide complete information about Kendriya Sainik Board secretariat, its welfare schemes and allied activities.
About NIC:
  1. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is the premier science & technology organisation of India`s Union Government in informatics services and information-and-communication- technology (ICT) applications.
  2. The NIC is a part of the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology`s Department of Electronics & Information Technology.
13) Suresh Prabhu Has Launched "Clean My Coach" Service.
  • Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu has launched the `clean my coach` service.
  • The service allows a passenger to make request for a dirty coach to be swept and cleaned by sending an SMS on mobile number 58888 or by using an app or a designated website. Prabhu had announced the scheme in the Rail Budget last month.
  • The service is in keeping with the railways `cleanliness drive` Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat`, was launched through Video Conferencing from Rail Bhawan in New Delhi/Northern Railway.
  • A message is also sent by the server to the mobile number of On Board House Keeping (OBHS) staff travelling on the same train along with the details of the passengers such as coach number and seat number.
 
14) Rajya Sabha passes long-awaited Bill to protect Homebuyers.
  • The Rajya Sabha passed a landmark Real Estate Bill with a promise to secure the interests of homebuyers and developers in equal measure and remove corruption and inefficiency from the sector.
  • This bill, passed with all the new recommendations that were cleared by the Union cabinet in December, will regulate both commercial and residential projects and set up state-level regulatory authorities to monitor real estate activity.
  • Yet, the sector has been marked by a lack of trust and confidence between consumers and developers, which has had an adverse impact on investments in the sector.
15) Kakrapar nuclear plant shut down after coolant system develops leak.
  • A power generation unit at Kakrapar Atomic Power Station in Surat was shut down after leakage of heavy water.
  • Leakage in the primary heat transport system of unit one of Kakrapar atomic power station in Gujarat has forced the authorities to shut down the unit as an emergency measure. The leakage occurred but officials maintained that ``no nuclear radiation has occurred due to the leakage``.
  • Consequent to a small leak in primary heat transport (PHT) system, the reactor was shut down as intended as per design provisions. All safety systems are working as intended. The radioactivity/ radiation levels in the plant premises and outside are normal.
About Kakrapar atomic power station:
  1. Kakrapar Atomic Power Station is a nuclear power station in India, which lies in the proximity of the city of Vyara in the state of Gujarat.
  2. It consists of two 220 MW pressurized water reactors with heavy water as moderator (PHWR).
 
16) Aadhar Scheme Collects Biometric Data of 99 Crore Indians.
  • Lok Sabha has passed the Aadhaar (Target Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 by voice vote. It was introduced as Money Bill.
  • The Bill is aimed at giving statutory backing for transferring government subsidies and benefits to targeted people by assigning them Aadhaar numbers i.e. unique identity numbers. With this, government plans to plug leakages in disbursal of subsidies and other services and in ensuring that these reach intended beneficiaries.
Key Factors:
Eligibility: Every resident who has resided in India for 182 days in the one year preceding the date of enrolment application shall be entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number.
Information to be submitted: Individual has to submit his
Demographic (name, address, date of birth) information.
Biometric (finger print, iris scan, photograph).
Use of Aadhaar number:
Verifying the identity of a person receiving a subsidy or a service.
As a proof of identity of the Aadhaar number holder for any purpose asked by any public or private entity.
It cannot be a proof of citizenship or domicile.
Key functions of UID:
Assigning Aadhaar numbers to individuals S.
Specifying demographic and biometric information to be collected during enrolment.
Specifying the usage of Aadhaar numbers for delivery of subsidies and services.
Authenticating Aadhaar numbers.
 
17) Project Mausam aims to explore Multi-Faceted Indian Ocean World.
  • Project Mausam aims to explore the multi-faceted Indian Ocean world for collating archaeological and historical research and not to counter China’s Silk Route strategy.
  • It was announced by Union Minister of State (MoS) for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) Dr. Mahesh Sharma in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.
About Project Mausam:
  1. Project Mausam was launched in June 2014 in the 38th Session of World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting which was held at Doha, Qatar.
  2. It is the initiative of Union Ministry of Culture which is to be implemented by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as the nodal agency.
  3. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and National Museum will be associate bodies for research support.
  4. The research aims at collating archaeological and historical research in order to document the diversity of cultural, religious and commercial interactions in the Indian Ocean.
  5. It will be extending from East Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka to the Southeast Asian archipelago.
18) GOI allows women in combat roles in all CAPFs.
  • The Union Home Ministry recently published new rules allowing women to apply as direct-entry officers in border guarding force ITBP, the only paramilitary which until now did not allow ladies to join in supervisory combat roles owing to its primary task of guarding the difficult Sino-India border.
  • Among the five of these forces, called the CAPFs, the Central Reserve Police Force and the Central Industrial Security Force have been allowing women to apply as direct-entry officers through the UPSC for a long time.
  • Two other forces Border Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal were allowed to directly induct women officers in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
  • By allowing the Indo-Tibetan Border Police to do so now, all restrictions have been lifted on women who want to don the camouflage combat colours of any of these forces.
  • For the first time this year, a CAPF got its first woman chief when IPS officer Archana Ramasundaram was appointed the new Director General of SSB.
 
19) FSSAI to train 20,000 street vendors in Delhi.
  • As part of its project to promote clean food, food safety regulator FSSAI will train about 20,000 street food vendors in the national capital over the next four weeks.
  • The decision to launch ‘Project Clean Strategy Food’ was announced at an event to connect with corporates, media specialists and food experts to promote food safety.
  • The event was co-organised with the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has partnered the government’s Skill India initiative and others for the project.
 

 

20) PM Narendra Modi inaugurates three major railway projects in Bihar.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated three major railway projects in Bihar at an estimated cost of Rs. 7000 crore.
  • PM dedicated Patna Ganga Bridge (4.56 km) to the nation and inaugurated the freight operation through Munger rail-cum-road bridge.
  • PM dedicated a rail-cum-road bridge at Patna, inaugurated another at Munger and laid the foundation of additional bridge at Mokama over the River Ganga.
  • Modi laid foundation stone of second Mokama double line Railway Bridge adjacent to existing Rajendra Pul.
  • There are three bridges over the entire 460 km length of the river Ganga in Bihar one road bridge at Naugachia, a rail-cum-road bridge at Mokama and the third road bridge Mahatma Gandhi Setu at Patna.
 
21) ONGC plans to invest $5 billion on KG basin block.
  • ONGC may invest about $5 billion in its KG basin block KG DWN 98/2 to produce 17 million cubic meters per day (mcmd) of gas and 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil by 2019 fiscal.
  • The announcement comes within days of the government freeing up natural gas pricing.
  • This fresh investment in developing the KG DWN 98/2, with reserves of 70 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas and 23 million tonnes of oil will be over and above the capital expenditure of Rs. 30,000 crore for FY17.
  • KG DWN 98/2 is next to the famous KG D6 block, owned by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), which reportedly pumped $1.4 billion worth of gas from ONGC’s field.
About ONGC:
  1. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) is an Indian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India.
  2. It is India’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company. It produces around 69% of India’s crude oil and around 62% of its natural gas.
22) P&G stops sale of `Vicks Action 500 Extra` after government ban.
  • FMCG firm Procter and Gamble (P&G) has discontinued the manufacture and sale of its popular brand ‘Vicks Action 500 Extra’ with immediate effect after the government banned fixed dose combination drugs.
  • In a gazette notification on March 10, the government had, among others, banned manufacture, sale and distribution of fixed dose combination of chlorpheniramine maleate plus codeine syrup which is used in the cough syrups.
  • Drug majors Pfizer and Abbott stopped sale of their popular cough syrups corex and phensedyl respectively, after the government banned over 300 fixed dose combinations (FDCs) drugs.
  • In view of the government ban on manufacture and sale of Corex, the “company has discontinued the manufacture and sale of its drug ‘Corex’ with immediate effect.
 
23) Kanpur Metro DPR approved by Cabinet; policies for old people.
  • The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet approved the detailed project report of the 32 km-long Kanpur Metro project.
  • At a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the State Cabinet approved the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the metro project prepared by RITES.
  • It also approved the U.P. State Senior Citizen’s Policy that seeks to safeguard the interests of the aged by setting up old-age homes where 25 per cent seats will be reserved for the BPL category people.
  • The government has also decided to increase its share by Rs. 100 in the old-age pension following which a revised pension of Rs. 400 will be payable from April 1, a helpline will also be set up for the benefit of old people.
  • Apart from these a senior citizen welfare fund with contributions from private companies, trusts and individuals has also been proposed, which would be tax-free. The fund will initially be set up by the State with a corpus of Rs. 5 crore.
 
24) MoU Signed between Tourism ministry and Ecotourism Society of India.
  • The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India signed an MOU with the Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) to take its commitments to Responsible and Sustainable tourism to the next level.
  • The Ministry of Tourism and the Ecotourism Society of India started the process a couple of years ago when they formulated & published the STCI (Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India) and carried it to the grass root level through series of advocacy workshops.
  • Through this MOU, it is expected that sustainable tourism and Responsible Tourism will take the forefront and achieve the commitments of the Ministry’s action plan.
  • About Ecotourism Society of India:
  • The Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) was established in 2008 at the behest of the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) as a non-profit organization to promote environmentally responsible and sustainable practices in the tourism industry across the country.
  • It was formed by a group of eminent professionals from the tourism industry, Government, Parliament and environmentalists& Conservationists.
  • The Society has over the past eight years attempted to spread awareness and educate tourism service providers as well as local government officials on the urgent need to ensure sustainable tourism practices.
 
25) RUSA scheme for achieving equity, access, quality in higher education.
  • Central government is implementing the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) for providing financial support to proposals contained in State Higher Education Plan (SHEP) approved by the State Higher Education Councils (SHECs) in order to achieve the objectives of equity, access and quality.
  • It is implemented and monitored through an institutional structure comprising of the National Mission Authority, Project Approval Board and the National Project Directorate at the centre and the State Higher Education Council and State Project Directorate at the state level.
Objectives of RUSA:
  1. To ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions and ensure capacity building at all levels.
  2. To achieve the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) target of 25.2% by the end of 12th Plan and 32% by the end of 13th Plan.
  3. To improve the overall quality of existing State higher educational institutions by ensuring their conformity to prescribed norms and standards.
  4. The central funding in the ratio of 65:35 for general category States and 90:10 for special category states which would be norm based and outcome dependent.
26) Rajya Sabha passes Sikh Gurdwaras Bill.
  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill. The bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha which envisages to amend 91-year-old Sikh Gurdwaras Act to exclude Sehajdhari Sikhs from voting in elections to Sikh religious bodies.
  • The Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 was a piece of legislation in British India, which legally defined Sikh identity and brought Sikh gurdwaras (houses of worship) under the control of an elected body of orthodox Sikhs.
  • The bill was introduced in the House by Union home minister Rajnath Singh. The bill proposes to remove the exception given to Sehajdhari Sikhs in 1944 to vote in the elections to select the members of the board and the committees constituted under the act.
 
27) Real Estate bill passed in Lok Sabha.
  • Lok Sabha approved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016. The bill seeks to create a set of rights and obligations for both the consumers and developers and encourage both of them to live up to the expectations of each other as per the agreement entered into by both of them.
  • It would also ensure that customers are treated fairly by ensuring no arbitrary changes in project plans, full disclosure on apartment size and fairer penalty provisions.
  • The bill defines carpet area as net usable area of an apartment which means now people will be charged only for the carpet area.
  • This comes as a big relief to home buyers as developers today quote on super built up area also know as sellable area which takes into 30-40% area more than flat’s usable area.
  • The Bill ensures the completion and delivery of flats as strict regulations are imposed on developers for any violations of the Appellate Tribunals or monetary penalties or both.
 
28) Union Government fixes Maximum Sale Price of Bt Cotton Seed.
  • The Union Government has notified maximum selling price (MSP) of Bt cotton seed for the year 2016-17. It was announced by the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh.
  • In this regard, Union Government has issued notification as per the Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015 under the Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
  • As per the notification Prices of BG-I version of Bt cotton hybrid and BG-II version of Bt cotton hybrid were fixed at 635 rupees and 800 rupees respectively.
About Bt cotton:
  1. Bt cotton is a Genetically modified organism (GMO) cotton variety, which produces an insecticide to bollworm.
  2. It is produced by the gene coding technique by inserting Bt toxin into cotton as a transgene that causes it to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues.
  3. The Bt toxin is obtained from the strains of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis which is only harmful to different insects including larvae of moths and butterflies, cotton bollworms, beetles but are harmless to other forms of life.
 
29) 400 e-tailers team up with postal department for delivery.
  • More than 400 e-commerce companies are leveraging the extensive reach of the Department of Posts (DoP) in an effort to deliver their consignments at every nook and corner of the country.
  • The Department has tied up with more than 400 e-commerce agencies, including Flipkart, Amazon, YepMe, Snapdeal and the like for delivering e-commerce pre-paid as well as cash-on-delivery (COD) orders. Of all, Amazon is the biggest partner in terms of business with India Post.
  • Department of Posts has a network of some 1.55 lakh post offices, of which 1.3 lakh are in rural areas.
  • Department of Posts is delivering 40,000 e-commerce parcels per day and the average value of parcels handled by India Post is Rs. 5,000 for urban areas and Rs 3,000 for rural areas.

 

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