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National Current Affairs June 2nd Week 2017
Author : Admin
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National Current Affairs June 2nd Week 2017

1. Railways, NBCC ink MoU to redevelop 10 railway stations.

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Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) has inked MoU with National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) for redevelopment of 10 railway stations across the country on global standards. The identified stations to be taken up initially by NBCC, a PSU of Urban Development Ministry  for redevelopment are Tirupati, Nellore, Puducherry, Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Madgaon, Lucknow, Gomtinagar, Kota, Thane (New) and Ernakulam.  

RLDA is an arm of the Indian Railways for commercial exploitation of rail land.

As per the MoU, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be formed at the national level as a Joint Venture (JV) company between RLDA and NBCC on 50:50 shareholding basis. The SPV in turn will enter into City Support Agreements (CSA) with respective cities for the redevelopment of stations and commercial development on Railway land in alignment with the Smart City Plans of respective cities. 

RLDA will lease out the land to the SPV for a fixed lease period of up to 45 years at a nominal token cost for development and NBCC as Project Management Consultant will execute the project work on behalf of SPV. 

Earnings from the commercial development of land parcels at stations will be utilized to redevelop the stations for creating necessary infrastructure and better passenger amenities. The surplus earnings will go to RLDA which would in turn would be remitted to Zonal railways. The entire revenue from lease revenues from built up spaces will be deposited in an SPV’s ESCROW account which is to be managed by a Committee to be formed.
 
2.Assam to raise Special Rhino Protection Force for rhino protection.

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The Assam government is going to raise a new Special Rhino Protection Force (SRPF) for better protection of the one-horned rhinos in Assam. State government has already started the process of recruitment for the proposed force. 

The cadre for the force will selected from local youths hailing from the fringe areas of the Kaziranga national park. After initial selection, recruits will be given necessary training. They will be also provided with arms and ammunition for better protection of the one horned rhinos.

The greater one-horned rhinoceros is the largest of the Asian Rhinos. Its preferred habitat is alluvial flood plains and areas containing tall grasslands along the foothills of the Himalayas. Formerly, they were extensively distributed in the Gangetic plains, but today they are restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and North Bengal, and Assam. 

They are found in Kaziranga, Orang, Pobitara, Jaldapara (in Assam), Dudhwa (UP) National Park. Kaziranga National Park hosts two-thirds of the world’s Great One-horned rhinoceros (68% of worldwide population). It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
 
3. NMCE, ICEX to merge to create India’s third biggest commodity exchange.
 
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National Multi Commodity Exchange (NMCE), India’s first demutualised online national multi-commodities exchange will merge with Indian Commodity Exchange (ICEX). The merged entity will create India’s third biggest commodity exchange. The largest commodity exchange by volume is the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) followed by National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX).

This is the first merger deal in the commodity exchange space in India. It has been approved by the boards of both exchanges and is expected to be completed by December 2017, subject to regulatory approvals. In the merged entity, the ICEX will hold a 62.8% stake, while NMCE shareholders will own the rest. The new exchange will offer a wide range of contracts, including bullion, oil, rubber, and other agri-commodities. It will also offer the world’s first diamond futures contract, which has already received in-principle approval from the marker regulator SEBI. 

The merger will help ICEX to further strengthen its position in the country’s fast-growing commodity derivatives market. It will result in greater financial strength, the consolidation of clients and members, an enhanced product basket, and higher operational synergies. 
 
4. Indigenously developed quick reaction surface-to-air short range missile successfully test-fired.

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India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed quick reaction surface-to-air short range missile (QR-SAM). The sophisticated missile was test fired from a truck-mounted canister launcher from launch complex-3 at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur. It was the second successful developmental trial of the state-of-the-art missile with an aerial target. The first test launch of the missile was conducted in June 2017 from the same base.

The QR-SAM has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other establishments. It has been designed to be a quick reaction missile. It is an all-weather weapon system capable of tracking and firing. The missile has a strike range of 25 to 30 km and can engage multiple targets. QR-SAM will complement the existing Akash short range SAM (surface-to-air missile) with a range of 25 kilometres which has already been inducted into the services.
 
5. India’s defence commitment to Bhutan.
 
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The present standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam (located at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan) has highlighted India’s very special relationship with Bhutan, including military responsibilities.

In June 2017 Chinese Army (People’s Liberation Army) construction party had entered the Doklam area and attempted to construct a road. Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) patrol had attempted to dissuade them from this unilateral activity. Later Bhutan underlinined that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory was a direct violation of the 1988 and 1998 agreements between Bhutan and China and affected the process of demarcating the boundary between these two countries. Since these developments, India and Bhutan have been in continuous contact, giving a view of India’s role in Bhutan’s security and matters of mutual interest.
 
6. India, ADB inks $220 million Loan Agreement for Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program.

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The Union Government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $220 million loan agreement for improving connectivity as well as transport efficiency and safety on State Highways of Rajasthan. The loan will be provided as the first tranche of the $500 million Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program, approved by ADB Board in May 2017. The Program will upgrade about 2,000 kilometers of state highways and major district roads to two-lane or intermediate-lane standards to meet road safety requirements.

Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program aims improve State Highways and major district roads in Rajasthan. It will enhance the capacity of the State public works department (PWD) in the areas of road asset management, road safety and project management. One of the focus areas of the program is to attract private sector financing through government capacity building on public private partnership (PPP) development. ADB will finance part of the construction costs for the annuity-based PPP concessions and engineering procurement construction (EPC) contracts. It will also enhance the stability of contract regime, and ensure good governance during project implementation. 

The first tranche loan will improve about 1,000 kilometres of State Highways and major district roads. It will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 8 years. The loan will carry an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s London interbank offered rate-based (LIBOR) lending facility. The total cost of the project is $1.415 billion, of government contributing $465 million and $450 million from the private sector and other concessionaries.
 
7. President approves ordinance allowing Kambala in Karnataka.
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President Pranab Mukherjee has approved the promulgation of The Prevention of cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 by the Governor of Karnataka in pursuance of Article 213 of Constitution. The promulgated ordinance legalises Kambala, bullock cart races and bull runs as traditional sports involving animals and exempt them from The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

In November 2016, the Karnataka High Court had banned the kambala along with bull-cart race in the state while hearing a case filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) citing animal cruelty. The high court had stayed these traditional sports in view of the Supreme Court’s ban on jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu. 

Following protests by people and kambala organisers, Karnataka Assembly had passed an ordinance Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2017 in February 2017 to allow Kambala. In April 2017, the Union Home Ministry asked the state government to modify the Bill (ordinance). The state government made the modifications and sent it back to the union government. Earlier in June 2017, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice had cleared the modified bill (ordinance).

 8. Foundation stone of country’s biggest Global Skill Park laid in Bhopal.

 
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The foundation stone of the country’s biggest Global Skill Park was laid in Bhopal jointly by Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajeev Pratap Rudi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The park will come up on 37 acre land allotted in Narela Shankari area of Bhopal. It will be established with the support of Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education and Education Services (ITEES).

The objective of the Global Skill Park is to prepare skilled youths who could get jobs in private companies as per their requirements. Besides, the youths will be able to get employment opportunities in foreign countries. Thus, the skill park will function on the spirit of ‘With Industry -For Industry’. 

The park will have capacity to impart skill training to 1000 students every year by trainers of international standard. The courses conducted for skill training at the park will also have provision of international joint certification.
 
9. Vice Presidential Election.
 
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Incumbent Vice President Hamid Ansari’s term comes to an end on August 10, 2017. Election Commission of India (EC) has issued a notification, the process of filing nominations for the vice presidential election.

The officer of Vice-President is second highest public office in India. He has second rank in the order of precedence. Practically, office of Vice President has been created to provide political continuity of the Indian state. His main function is in the form of ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. He works as acting president when president is not available.
 
10. UDAY covers 97% of discom debt: Centre.

The Union Ministry of Power has announced that about 97% of the total outstanding debt of all state power distribution companies (discoms) has been covered under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY). 

As on September 2015, the total debt of all state-owned discoms was Rs. 3.95 lakh crore. The 26 states and 1 UT which have joined the UDAY scheme accounted for total outstanding debt of Rs. 3.82 lakh crore. Hence, about 97% of the total outstanding debt of all State discoms has been covered under UDAY.

Issuance of bonds: 

The total liability opted by states for restructuring through the issuance of bonds under the scheme was Rs. 2.69 lakh crore. So far, states have issued bonds of Rs. 2.09 lakh crore and discoms have issued bonds worth Rs. 0.23 lakh crore. Bonds worth Rs. 0.37 lakh crore are yet to be issued by various discoms. Hence, about 86% of the restructurable debt of states has been restructured so far under UDAY. 

National average of aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses:  

It stood at 20.2% in FY17 from all UDAY states. It has increased by two percentage points, from 81% in FY16 to 83% in FY17. The difference between the average cost of supply (ACS) and the average revenue realised (ARR) also has come down in the last year.
 
11. SC asks government to formalise Election Commissioners’ appointment through Law.
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The Supreme Court has asked the Union government to formalise appointment of election commissioners through law.

The Supreme Court has observed that even though the Election commissioners have been so far appointed in a very fair manner, there exists a legitimate expectation in the Constitution of India that Election Commissioners, who are charged with the free and fair conduct of elections be appointed through a “most transparent and just process” formalised by a law enacted by the Parliament. 

According to the Supreme Court, at present due to lack of a parliamentary law, there is no transparency in the eligibility, criteria required for a person to be appointed as an election commissioner. The court has observed that even the selection procedure of the CBI Director is formalised by a written law.
 
12. In a first, ‘White tiger’ spotted in Nilgiris.
 
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A photographer named Nilanjan Ray is believed to have spotted a rare ‘white tiger’ with a pale skin colour for the first time in the Nilgiris. 

The discovery has aroused interest among conservationists and forest officials. It is yet to be ascertained whether the white tiger is a true genetic mutant. The tiger which was spotted in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve does not seem to be albino and was found to be whitish with golden brown patches. 

As per the scientists, genetic mutation among tigers changes an amino acid responsible for the normal colour being formed, resulting in “natural polymorphism”. According to the scientists, white tigers lack pheomelanin, which is responsible for the red-yellow hue in the skin coat.

In India, white tigers are predominantly found in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. In 2016, world’s first White Tiger Safari was inaugurated at Mukundpur in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh. The first white tiger in Madhya Pradesh’s was spotted in Vindhya region in 1915. 

However, the rare breed of the big cat spotted for the first time died in 1920. In 1951, a white tiger cub named Mohan was captured by Rewa Maharaja Martand Singh. Later the tiger cub became the progenitor of all known white tigers in the world after the Maharaja arranged for its breeding.
 
13. HRD Ministry: No Detention Policy to be removed from next Academic Year.
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The HRD Ministry has decided to remove the no-detention policy for students from the next academic year. Under the Right to Education Act, no child will be detained or held back in any class or expelled till the completion of elementary education covering classes 1 to 8.

The government’s decision comes after it had received several complaints regarding the deterioration of the quality of basic education in the country. In addition, the States have been asking for the withdrawal of the no-detention policy from the Right to Education Act 2009. As per the critics, the policy has resulted in remarkable improvement in enrollments but has brought down the academic standards.

No-Detention Policy :

Under this policy, the students up to class VIII are automatically promoted to the next class without being held back even if they do not get a passing grade. The policy was implemented as part of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) under the RTE Act to ensure all-round development of students. The concept of CCE which was imported from the West lays emphasis on evaluating a child through the year, and not just based on performance in one or two term exams. The basic objective behind the no-detention policy was to prevent dropouts. The no detention policy in the RTE does not mean the abolition of assessment rather it calls for a replacement of the traditional system of evaluation with a continuous and comprehensive assessment that is not threatening. The policy also intends to free the students from the pressure and fear of examination and give them a stress-free academic environment and childhood.

Committees:  

The TSR Subramanian committee on Education had observed that the no detention policy in schools should be applicable till Class V and exams be held from Class VI onwards. Prior to this, the Vasudev Devnani committee had also recommended for the revocation of No-Detention Policy.
 
14. Siemens opens its first digital factory in India.
 
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Whether it’s manufacturing or software-development – India, with its huge pool of skilled workers, plays a very important role in Siemens’ corporate strategy. Many Siemens products are already in part “made in India,” and more will follow in the future.

Improving education is the key to economic growth: India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is convinced of that. Modi will visit the 2015 Hannover Messe trade show, for which India is the partner country this year. The Prime Minister will present his “Make in India” program at the event. 

The basic idea behind the program is to massively expand industrial production on the subcontinent and increase industry’s share of the country’s gross domestic product from the current 16 percent to 25 percent by 2022 – and create 100 million new jobs in the process. It’s a very ambitious goal, and Modi has some assistance from German industrial companies, which have built infrastructure and plants and are now providing training as well.

Siemens is doing its part through the company’s Technology Application Center (TAC) in Bangalore, a city of eight million people. The words “Training on” and “Basic milling” blink on and off in a yellow light on a display board with the Siemens logo outside a hall at the center. 

Once you go inside, you quickly discover all the things you can learn here. For example, one area houses several latest-model machine tools that are being used to teach trainees how to mill and process metal parts. Meanwhile, in a small lecture hall, an instructor is teaching a course on programming Sinumerik, the Siemens computer control system for machine tools, with which all of the adjacent machines are also equipped.

 15. Kewal Handa appointed as Non-executive chairman of Union Bank.

 
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Kewal Handa was today appointed as non-executive chairman of Union Bank of India.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved Handas appointment as non-official director/non-executive chairman of the bank, an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said, without citing any details about him.
Handa will hold the post for a period of three years.

 

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