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National Current Affairs January 3rd week 2016

1) Kerala becomes 1st state in country to achieve 100% primary education.

  • Kerala has become the first state in the country to achieve total primary education. Through its literacy programme Athulyam, which was carried out in two phases after being launched in March 2013, the state aimed at educating those who had been unable to complete their primary education up to fourth standard.
  • The programme was meant to provide primary school education to people aged between 15 and 50.
  • The second phase of Athulyam was carried out across the state as part of the Mission 676 of the government, launched to mark its third anniversary.
2) Sikkim becomes India’s first fully Organic state.
  • Sikkim has become India’s first fully organic state by converting around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land into sustainable cultivation.
  • In Sikkim around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land was gradually converted to certified organic land by implementing organic practices and principles as per guidelines laid down in National Programme for Organic Production.
About Organic Cultivation:
  • Organic cultivation is free of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers as it tries to strike a harmonious balance with a complex series of ecosystems.
  • In the long term, organic farming leads in subsistence of agriculture, bio-diversity conservation and environmental protection.
  • Sustainable farming will also help in building the soil health resulting in sustainable increased crop production.
3) Now, generate your rent receipts online to claim HRA benefits.
  • Cleartax.in, the online tax filing platform has launched an auto rent receipt generator for its users.
  • It is a free-to-use product that automates the generation of rental receipts and assists individuals in submitting their House Rent Allowance (HRA) proofs to their employers.
Working of fCleartax.in:
  • All one must do is, go to the site and enter details such as their name, rent amount, address, the landlord’s name and PAN card details and the duration for which the receipts are to be generated.
  • The Rent Receipt Generator then displays the required receipts, which can either be printed or downloaded for accessing later
  • The receipts can then be signed by the landlords and submitted towards the tax rebate. It takes about a minute to generate rent receipts.
4) Government targets road safety audit of 3000 km of highways in 2016.
  • The government will conduct road safety audit of 3,000 km of central and state highways this year, to avoid increasing accidents.
  • India accounts for 5 lakh road accidents annually in which 1.5 lakh people die and another 3 lakh are crippled for life. The loss due to this is equivalent to 3 per cent of the GDP of the country.
About Road Safety Audit:
  • Road Safety Audit involves evaluating highway improvement scheme during design, at the end of construction and post construction, to identify road safety problems and to suggest measures to eliminate or mitigate any concerns.
  • These audits are undertaken by teams of specialists trained in the skills of road safety engineering. Strategic road schemes and the majority of new works are required to have an independent Road Safety Audit to take corrective measures to reduce accidents.
  • Government is also planning to launch a programme to sensitise and educate truck drivers on road safety on the lines of AIDS awareness and prevention programme launched for heavy vehicle drivers several years ago.
5) Country’s first `water tourism` to begin in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The country’s first ‘water tourism’ will begin in Madhya Pradesh next month with the aim of attracting more tourists to the state.
  • Named as `Jal Mahotsav`, the 10-day extravaganza will be inaugurated in Hanuwantiya at Indra Sagar Dam, one of Asia’s largest man-made water reservoir.
  • Hanuwantiya, which is under Khandwa district of the state, is about 130 kms from Indore and 280 kms from state capital Bhopal.
6) The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 comes into force.
  • The Juvenile Justice Act, which allows children aged 16 to 18 years and in conflict with law to be tried as adults in cases of heinous offences, has finally comes into force.
  • The Act, passed by the Rajya Sabha in the winter session of Parliament, received President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent on December 31.
  • The Ministry of Woman and Child Development has passed orders stating that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 will be enforceable from January 15, 2016.
About Juvenile Justice Act 2015:
  • Under the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, juveniles between 16 and 18 years of age, who are found guilty of committing heinous offences through a preliminary inquiry by the Juvenile Justice Board, will be sent to a children’s court that can pronounce the child guilty.
  • Such juveniles can be detained in a ‘place of safety’ until they reach the age of 21. If still not found to have been “reformed” by 21, they can be sent to jails housing adults. At present, most states do not have the ‘place of safety’, also known as ‘borstals’.
  • It specifies imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to Rs. 1 lakh for giving a child any intoxicating liquor, narcotic, drug, tobacco and psychotropic substances.
  • The new provisions have been made for the underage people 16-18 years to prevent them from the harmful effects of smoking and tighten the noose around those selling pan masala, gutka and cigarettes to children.
7) Singapore inks 4 pacts with Madhya Pradesh.
  • Singapore has inked four pacts with the Madhya Pradesh government in various sectors including Rs. of 7,000 crore to produce nearly 1,000 MW non-conventional energy in two phases.
  • It has also agreed to extend co-operation with the state government in five sectors food processing, renewable energy, urban planning and smart city, skill development and Information Technology.
  • The Madhya Pradesh Govt have also inked an agreement to produce 540 MW in first phase and 407 MW in second with an investment of Rs. 7,000 crore wind energy with Sembcorp Green Infra Ltd.
  • Besides, the state has also signed MOUs with Singapore in sectors like Urban Planning, Skill Development, Clean Energy and Food Processing Industry.
8) India’s Grid-linked solar generation capacity crosses 5,000 MW mark.
  • Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has announced that India’s grid-connected solar power generation capacity has crossed the 5,000 Mega Watt (MW) mark.
  • Presently, Government has set an ambitious plan to achieve 175 Giga Watt (GW) of power generation capacity from renewable sources by 2022. It includes 100 GW from solar and 60 GW from wind.
  • Under the National Solar Mission (NSM), Union Government increased the solar power generation capacity addition target by five times from 20,000 MW to 100 GW by 2022.
  • Top grid – connected state is Rajasthan with the capacity of 1264.35 MW.
9) First `Mahila Squad` Commissioned For High-Altitute Posts Of India-China Border.
  • A freshly-trained contingent of 500 women personnel will become the first `mahila` squad to be deployed in high-altitude posts along the India-China border. The squad was commissioned into the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in Panchkula.
  • The women, in the rank of constable, were inducted in the border-guarding force after 44-weeks of training in battle craft and mountain survival and will now be sent to frontier areas for final acclimatisation before being deployed at ITBP posts along the 3,488-km Sino-India Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • These `mahila` contingents are expected to be posted by March this year at about 20 forward locations of the ITBP situated at heights of between 8,000-14,000 feet, including at the `Mana pass` border post, the last village on the Indian side in Uttarakhand.
  • ITBP Director General Krishna Chaudhary, after reviewing the `passing out parade` of the new personnel, asked them to exhibit the best skills that they have learnt during training to discharge their duties in some of the most difficult locations in the Himalayan ranges.

 

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10) NE state capitals to be linked by rail by 2020: MoS Railways.
  • Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha has announced that the capitals of all north-eastern states would be connected by rail by 2020 and Agartala would be brought onto the map of broad gauge network by March.
  • Sinha received the first broad gauge trial train in Agartala in the presence of state PWD Minister Badal Chowdhury and Transport Minister Manik Dey. He said the construction of 15 km-long railway track to connect Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh ``is a top priority``.
  • The project is funded by the Government of India for connecting Tripura and West Bengal via Bangladesh. The process of acquiring land in Bangladesh was complete and in India, it would start soon, he said adding a 3.7 km-long railway track on Indian side would be a viaduct (through an elevated corridor) to reduce the cost of acquisition of land.
11) PM launches Start-up India, Stand-up India movement for encouraging Start – ups.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled the ‘Start-up India, Stand-up India’ action plan in New Delhi to boost startup ventures in the country.
  • The main aim of action plan is to give impetus to innovation and encourage the talent among young people and remove onerous government regulations and red tape.
Features of plan:
  • Start-up profits to be tax-free for 3 years and also no labour inspections for 3 years of launch of the venture.
  • Compliance regime based on self-certification for labour and environmental laws. Easy exit policy for start-ups with 90 days.
  • Tax exemption to be provided on capital gains if money is invested in another start up.
  • Government to create Rs. 10,000 crore corpus fund for development and growth of innovation driven enterprises. It will be Rs. 2500 crore a year for four years.
  • Liberalised Fast-track mechanism for start-up patent applications under intellectual property rights protection with 80% cost rebate.
  • Encouraging startups to participate in public procurement by easing norms of minimum turnover/experience.
  • Mobile apps, portal for register start-ups in a day from 1st April 2016. Establishing Credit guarantee fund and special scheme for women entrepreneurs.
  • Public-private partnership (PPP) model for 35 new incubators, 7 new research parks, 31 innovation centres at national institutes and 5 new Bio clusters will be set up to help Biotech Sector.
12) Union Government inks loan agreement with World Bank for Neeranchal National Watershed Project.
  • Union Government has signed a loan agreement with World Bank for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project to improve watershed management in rural rain fed areas.
  • The loan credit will support the watershed activities of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) in selected sites in 9 states. These states are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan.
  • World Bank will provide loan of US $178.50 million with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period.
About Neeranchal National Watershed Project:
  • The project is implemented by the Union Ministry of Rural Development over a six-year period (2016-21) to achieve objectives PMKSY.
  • It will support the PMKSY in hydrology and water management, agricultural production systems, capacity building and monitoring and evaluation.
  • It seeks to ensure access to irrigation to every farmland (Har Khet Ko Pani) and for efficient use of water (Per Drop More Crop).
  • The project was approved by the Union Cabinet in October 2015 with a total budget outlay of Rs. 2142 crore. Of the total amount Government’s share was of Rs. 1071 crore (50%) and the rest 50% of the World Bank.
13) Madhya Pradesh selected for Krishi Karman Award for year 2014-15.
  • Madhya Pradesh has been conferred the Union Government’s prestigious Krishi Karman Award in maximum food grains production category for year 2014-15 for the 4th consecutive year.
  • MP has been shortlisted for the award in the Integrated Agri Production category for the year 2014-15. It has produced record 328 lakh tonnes in the mentioned period compared to 280 lakh tonnes 2013-14 period.
  • Earlier the state had won this award in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The state will get an amount of five crore rupees along with Krishi Karman award.
Other winners:
  1. Chhattisgarh: Chosen for achieving growth in production of pulses.
  2. West Bengal: Chosen for good agriculture production.
  3. Odisha: Chosen for being the best performing state in overall foodgrains production among category-II states.
About Krishi Karman awards:
  • Krishi Karman awards are given to Best performer States for raising country’s food grain production.
  • These awards were instituted in 2010-11 for recognising the meritorious efforts of the states in foodgrains production.
  • It comprises of three awards for total food grain production and four awards for production of crops that constitute the food grain viz. rice, wheat, coarse cereals and pulses.
14) Union Government inaugurates Second Liquid Chemical Berth of Mumbai Port Trust.
  • Union Government has inaugurated Second Liquid Chemical Berth of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) at Pir Pau, Mumbai.
  • The facility was inaugurated by Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.
About Second Liquid Chemical Berth:
  • The berth is a modern state- of -art facility built at an expense of 127 crore rupees.
  • It is equipped with Quick Release Mooring Hooks ( QRMHs) and also with 4 mooring dolphin.
  • It is designed to handle 55000 DWT (deadweight tonnes) vessels carrying liquid bulk chemicals and POL (Petroleum, Oil, & Lubricants) products.
  • It has been designed keep in view the safety standards conforming to the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) norms.
15) World Bank sanctioned funds for restoration Indira Gandhi Zoological Park.
  • Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam will be funded $7 million for restoration and development as a world-class international ecological park by the World Bank.
  • This is for the first time that the World Bank will be funding a zoo. Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam was heavily damaged by the cyclone Hudhud in 2014.
About Indira Gandhi Zoological Park:
  • The zoo is surrounded by Eastern Ghats on three sides and the Bay of Bengal on the other.
  • The Animal Rescue Centre, a brainchild of the Central Zoo Authority to shelter endangered species subjected to cruelty by circus companies, has now become a retirement home for many.
  • It now has 17 lions and seven tigers.
16) India and UK to cooperate in infra financing.
  • India and UK have agreed to strengthen their economic cooperation in infrastructure and financial services as they vowed to address cross-border tax evasion and avoidance.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held talks with his UK counterpart George Osborne as part of the 8th India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue.
  • India and the UK also agreed that the development of deeper markets in rupee-linked products, and the increasingly sophisticated relationship between the Indian and UK financial sectors

 

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17) Delhi government launches DVAT BILL app to boost tax collection.

  • In order to boost Delhi government’s tax collection and bring in transparency, deputy chief minister Manish Siodia has launched ‘DVAT BILL’ app and said that people can play an important role in governance through this mobile application.
  • The software has been developed by Delhi government’s Trade and Taxes department. Through this app, people can become a ``VAT Inspectors``.
  • According to VAT commissioner S.S. Yadav, the scheme would be for bill or cash memo/ retail invoice of not less than Rs. 100 for purchases made from a registered dealer in Delhi.
  • The cash award would be transferred to the bank account of the customer directly after verification of the purchases from the seller through ward VAT inspector.
  • The prize amount would be five times the value of goods purchased (excluding tax), subject to a maximum of Rs. 50,000.
18) Jayalalithaa launches ``Amma Call Center`` for grievance redressal.
  • Tamil Nadu Chief J. Jayalalithaa launched a round-the-clock Amma call centre for ensuring fast response to grievances, aimed at quick delivery of government services.
How it Works:
  • The latest initiative was aimed at ensuring quick response to people’s grievances where in they can dial toll-free number ‘1100’ at any point of time in the day.
  • The details of the callers and the issues reported by them would be registered on computer and referred to the relevant department for action through e-mail, SMS and telephone.
  • The callers will also be informed of the details through SMS like which department and official their issue had been referred to. Equipped with latest technology like Computer Telephony Integration and Voice Logger System, the centre will initially handle upto 15,000 calls a day, with 138 operators recruited for the purpose.
19) Ministry of Shipping initiates Project Green Ports.
  • The Ministry of Shipping has started ‘Project Green Ports’ which will help in making the Major Ports across India cleaner and greener.
  • ‘Project Green Ports’ will have two verticals – one is ‘Green Ports Initiatives’ related to environmental issues and second is ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’.
Project Green Ports:
  • The Green Port Initiatives include twelve initiatives which will be implemented under strict time bound fashion in order to achieve the targets.
  • Some of these initiatives are preparation and monitoring plan, acquiring equipments required for monitoring environmental pollution, acquiring dust suppression system, setting up of sewage/ waste water treatment plants/ garbage disposal plant, setting up projects for energy generation from renewable energy sources, completion of shortfalls of Oil Spill Response (OSR) facilities (Tier-1).
Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan:
  • The Ministry has identified 20 activities with certain time-line to promote cleanliness at the port premises.
  • Some of the activities include cleaning the wharf, cleaning and repairing of sheds, cleaning and repairing of port roads, painting road signs, zebra crossing, pavement edges, modernizing and cleanliness of all the toilet complexes in the operational area, placement of dustbins at regular intervals, beautification and cleaning of parks.
20) Recommendations of R.V. Easwar Committee on simplification of the provisions of IT Act, 1961.
  • Expert Committee to simplify income tax laws headed by Justice (retired) R.V. Easwar has submitted its report to Union Finance Ministry.
  • The 10 member committee has recommended simplifying provisions related to tax deduction at source (TDS), tax refunds and claims of expenditure for deduction from taxable income.
Recommendations of the committee:
  • Deferring the contentious Income Computation and Disclosure Standards (ICDS) provisions and making the process of tax refunds faster.
  • Deletion of a clause in IT Act, 1961 that allows the IT department to delay tax refund due beyond six months. In case of delay in refunds levying higher interest.
  • IT department should stop the practice of adjusting tax demand of a taxpayer against legitimate refunds due whose tax return is under assessment.
  • Treat stock trading gains of up to 5 lakh rupees as capital gains and not business income.
  • TDS rates for individuals must be reduced to 5 per cent from current 10 per cent. Dividend income should be treated as part of total income.
21) Uttarakhand allows heli-taxi for tourists.
  • Tourists travelling to Uttarakhand will now be able to enjoy the aerial view of the Himalayas as the first helicopter service between the city of Haldwani and Munsiyari town.
  • The tourism authority of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand will run the service, known as heli-taxi, and will offer an aerial view from a height of 8,000 to 10,000 feet.
  • Uttarkhand Tourism Minister Dinesh Dhane, and other state officials flagged off the helicopter service that would cost rupees 15,000 for a return trip and rupees 8,000 for one-way.
22) Doordarshan’s free DTH service FreeDish to have 112 channels by March.
  • Government owned broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) is set to carry 112 channels on its DTH service FreeDish by March end.
  • FreeDish is a free to air (FTA) DTH service, which recently added Big Magic to its service last month, after an initial run with the DTH service before.
  • As per IndianTelevision.com, DD director general C Lalrosanga has recently conducted several meetings to successfully implement this major expansion from the state controlled broadcaster.
  • DD FreeDish (previously DD Direct Plus) was launched in December 2004 and right now, INSAT-4B satellite at 93.5° is used to broadcast 64 FTA MPEG-2 Channels, 48 MPEG-4 channels and 29 radio channels using this platform.
23) India starts anti dumping probe on rubber import from EU, South Korea.
  • GOI has initiated a probe into alleged dumping of rubber variants used for leather goods by the EU, South Korea and Thailand.
  • The Govt initiated after complaints from Reliance Industries and Indian Synthetic Rubber. The move is aimed at protecting domestic players in the sector against cheap imports.
Back Ground:
  • Countries start anti-dumping probes to determine whether their domestic industries have been hurt because of a surge in cheap imports. As a counter measure, they impose duties under the multilateral regime of WTO.
  • The duty is aimed at ensuring fair trading practices and creating a level-playing field for domestic producers vis-a-vis foreign producers and exporters.
  • India has already imposed an anti-dumping duty on several products, to tackle cheap imports from countries, including China.
24) CCEA approves six-laning of NH-2 in Bihar and Jharkhand.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved development of the six laning of National Highway-2 from Aurangabad-BarwaAdda section in Bihar and Jharkhand.
  • The six laning work approximately length of 222 kms will be under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-V.
  • It will be undertaken on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (BOT/ DBFOT) basis with an estimated cost of Rs. 4918.48 crore.
  • Project’s main object is to expedite the improvement of infrastructure in Jharkhand and Bihar and also in reduce the time and cost of travel for traffic.
25) Bihar Government approves 35 per cent job reservation for women.
  • Bihar Government has formally approved 35 per cent reservation for women in government jobs in the state.
  • This 35 per cent reservation for women will be applicable to in all government jobs including reserved and unreserved category.
  • Presently state is already providing 35 per cent reservation for women in recruitment as police constables and sub-inspectors.
  • There is also 50 percent reservation for women as primary school teachers and in the Panchayati Raj system.
Back Ground:
  • During 2015 state assembly election campaigning, Nitish Kumar who was chief ministerial candidate of the Grand Alliance comprising of Janata Dal-United (JDU), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Indian National Congress (INC) had promised 35 percent reservation for women in all government jobs if he formed a government again.
26) Maharashtra government inks MoU with Tata Trust for skill training of youth.
  • Maharashtra Government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tata Trust for a skill training programme for the youth in the state.
  • This programme has been undertaken under the state government’s ambitious Kushal Maharashtra, Rojgaryukt Maharashtra initiative.
Features of skill training programme:
  • Tata Trust will train around one lakh youths in the state in order to make them employable.
  • It will set up skill development and vocational training centres in 10 districts across the state.
  • The Trust will also set up virtual classrooms in 100 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in Maharashtra. It will improve infrastructure these of ITIs.
27) India inks Loan Agreement with World Bank for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project.
  • Union Government has signed 250 million dollars Financing Agreement with World Bank for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project.
  • The loan has been sanctioned by the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm International Development Association (IDA). The loan has implementation period of 5 years and Bihar Government is the implementing agency.
About Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project:
 
Project objective is to enhance:
 
(i) Resilience to floods from Kosi River which is infamously dubbed as sorrow of Bihar and increase agricultural production and productivity of targeted districts along the river basin.
(ii) State’s capacity to respond promptly and effectively to an eligible crisis or emergency.
 
Five components of Project are:
 
(i) Improving Flood Risk Management.
(ii) Augmenting Connectivity.
(iii) Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Competitiveness.
(iv) Implementation Support
(v) Contingent Emergency Response.

28) Union Cabinet approves Policy on Promotion of City Compost.
  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to Policy on Promotion of City Compost.
  • This policy will help in circulating compost produced from city waste for the purpose of farming and agriculture.
Importance of Policy:
  • For increasing production and consumption of City Compost, provision for Market development assistance of Rs. 1500 per tonne of city compost has been added.
  • Farmers will be benefitted from lower MRP of city compost as result of Market development assistance.
  • To ensure that environment friendly quality city compost, eco-Mark standard has been made mandatory.
  • Fertilizer companies will co-market City Compost along with chemical fertilizers. For promoting the use of compost, these companies will adopt villages.
  • It will be mandatory for Public Sector undertakings and Government Departments to use City Compost for purpose of their horticulture.
29) Cabinet approves India’s stand on food security at WTO.
  • Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval for the approach adopted by India at Nairobi WTO meeting. The outcomes of the Conference, referred to ‘Nairobi Package’ include ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton.
  • The Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference concluded in Nairobi in December 2015.
  • It had proposed either amending the formula to calculate the food subsidy cap of 10 per cent, which is based on the reference price of 1986-88, or allowing such schemes outside the purview of subsidy caps.
About WTO:
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization which regulates international trade.
  • The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.
  • The WTO’s current Director-General is Roberto Azevedo.
30) Nai Manzil Scheme launched in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Nai Manzil scheme was launched for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. The scheme was launched for girls in Srinagar in three institutions- Skill Development Centre, University of Kashmir and two Madarsas.
Highlights of the scheme:
  • Under the scheme, girls from minority communities will be imparted three month skill development training in seven identified sectors relevant to the region.
  • These include training in saffron processing, food processing, embroidery, computers IT (both software and hardware), Tourism/hospitality, electronics and plumbing.
  • Trainees will also be given stipend of 4500 rupees for the course.
About Nai Manzil Scheme:
  • Nai Manzil Scheme is an integrated Education and Livelihood Initiative for the Minority Communities. It was announced by the Union Budget 2015-16.
  • The scheme aims to benefit the minority youths who are school-dropouts or educated in the community education institutions like Madrasas.
  • This will enable them to seek better employment in the organised sector and equipping them with better lives. The scheme covers the entire country.
31) Union Government granted Infrastructure status to Shipyard Industry.
  • The Union Government granted Infrastructure Status to the Shipyard Industry in a bid to ease its financial stress.
  • With the granting of the infrastructure status, the shipyards will be able to avail flexible long-term funding at lower costs.
Benefits of the status:
  • With this inclusion, the financial stress on the shipyard industry will be eased substantially.
  • The shipyards will be able to avail flexible structuring of long-term project loans, long-term funding from infrastructure funds at lower rates of interest.
  • It will also be able to avail longer tenure equivalent to the economic life of their assets, relaxed ECB norms, issuance of infrastructure bonds as well as benefits under Income Tax Act, 1961.
32) Union Cabinet approves amendments of Power Tariff Policy to promote clean energy.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Union Ministry of Power for amendments in the Power Tariff Policy 2006.
  • The comprehensive amendments bring required changes for holistic view of the power sector and also to achieve the objectives of Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) with the focus on 4 Es.
The 4 Es are:
 
Electricity for all:
  • 24X7 power supply will be ensured to all consumers. In this case state governments and regulators will devise appropriate power supply trajectory to achieve this.
  • Micro Grids will provide power to remote unconnected villages. It will have provision for purchase of power into the grid.
  • People near coal mines will be provided with affordable power through procurement of power from coal washery reject based plants.
Environment for a sustainable future:
  • Reduce power cost to consumers through expansion of existing power plants.
  • For reduction in overall power cost, benefit from sale of un-requisitioned power to be shared.
  • To enable Time of Day metering installations of smart meters will be fasten. It will help to reduce theft and allow net-metering.
Efficiency to ensure affordable tariffs:
 
Renewable Power Obligation (RPO): By March 2022, 8% of electricity consumption shall be from solar energy in order to promote renewable energy and energy security.
 
Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO): New thermal plants based coal/ligniteto establish/purchase/ procure renewable capacity.
100% power procurement produced from Waste-to-Energy plants in order to give big boost to Swachh Bharat Mission.

Ensure financial viability and Ease of doing business to attract investments:
Investments will be encouraged in coal rich states like West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to generate employment.

33) Cabinet approves MoU between India and UK in the field of Public Administration and Governance Reforms.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Kingdom for Cooperation in the field Public Administration and Governance Reforms.
  • Under this MoU the co-operation will be in areas like sharing good governance practices in public administration, reducing bureaucracy in service delivery and user led service design.
  • It will also be in areas like Government Process Re-engineering, Public Grievance Redress Mechanism, Building and developing staff capability, Local Government Reforms.
Back Ground:
  • This MoU was signed as per the Union Government’s decision of quantum shift in online delivery of Government Services in the context of ‘Minimum Government with Maximum Governance’ across the country.
  • The Citizen-Centric Online Services are very foundation of an efficient public administration system that leads to accountability and transparency in the governance and also fosters equitable growth.
34) Indian Bureau of Mines, National Remote Sensing Centre signed MoU for monitoring mining activity.
  • Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for monitoring mining activity through satellite technology.
  • The MoU was signed by IBM Controller General R K Sinha and NRSC Director V K Dadhwal in the presence of joint secretary, Union Ministry of Mines, Subhash Chandra.
Highlights of MoU:
  • As part of the MoU, the IBM would set up an exclusive remote sensing cell under the technical guidance of the NRSC at its offices in Nagpur and Hyderabad.
  • These cells utilise Bhuvan-based services for monitoring mining activities across the country.
  • A mobile application will be developed for field data collection to verify ground realities with respect of approved proposals.
  • Chhattisgarh Government inked pact with central PSUs for railway project.
  • The Chhattisgarh Government signed a share-holding agreement with a few central government-run corporations for the second phase of Jagdalpur-Raoghat railway project.
Highlights of project:
  • National Mines Development Corporation will have 43 percent stake in the SPV.
  • IRCON, a Ministry of Railways company, will have 26 percent stake in the SPV.
  • SAIL will have 21 percent and Chhattisgarh Mines Development Corporation will have 10 percent stake in the SPV.
  • The work on the first phase of the project, which will connect Dalli-Rajhara with Raoghat, is already underway.
  • The second phase will have 32 medium-size and 172 small bridges, 12 stations and will require 876 hectares of land.

 

National Current Affairs January 4th week 2016

1) Government inks MoU to implement Action Plan for skill development in Telecom.

  • The Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has signed MoU with Department of Telecommunication (DoT) for Skill Development in Telecom Sector.
  • The MoU has signed to implement National Action Plan for Skill Development in Telecom Sector.
Key Factors:
  • Both signatories will make concerted joint efforts towards skill development by facilitating mobilization of financial support for various activities.
  • The financial mobilization will be under the National Ecosystem for Development of Telecom.
  • National Institute for Policy Research Innovation and Training (NTIPRT) will be also developed for training and skill upgradation in Telecom.
2) Haryana signs 8 MoUs in China on smart-cities etc
  • Haryana is expecting a spike in foreign investments from China after eight MoUs were signed with top companies to set up a USD 10 billion industrial park and smart cities in the state during Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s trip to woo investors.
  • These MoUs were signed with top Chinese companies like Wanda Group, China Land Development Company Private Limited, and ZTE Corporation.
Signed MoUs:
  • The chief minister met Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin and a MoU was signed for development of a World Class Comprehensive Industrial Park at Kharkhoda district in Sonipat.
  • Wanda Group will invest a total of USD 10 billion to develop “Wanda Industrial New City” over an area of approximately 13 square kilometers.
  • The government also signed a MoU with ZTE Corporation for the development of smart cities in Haryana.
  • Another MoU was signed with China Fortune Land Development Company Private Limited (CFLD) for development of large format Industrial Parks in Haryana.
  • CFLD would set up Industrial Park(s) in the state either at Madina in Rohtak district or at Bidhal Lath Gohana in Sonipat district over an area of more than 300 acres.
  • An MoU was also signed with Inspur Group, which plans to invest USD 100 million in IDC, CDN and cable-box manufacture plant.
3) Finance Ministry approves buying 14 lakh new EVMs.
  • The Finance Ministry gave in-principle approval for buying nearly 14 lakh new electronic voting Machines(EVMs).
  • The Election Commission has moved a step forward towards procuring new devices which are required ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
  • In its meeting, the Expenditure Finance Committee headed by Secretary Expenditure in the Finance Ministry, gave in-principle approval for the purchase of 13,95,648 new balloting units and 9,30,432 control units at an estimated cost of Rs 5,511.48 crore between financial years 2015-16 and 2018-19.
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4) Maharashtra’s first Solar Power operated Mini-Water Supply Plant commissioned.

  • The first Solar Power operated Mini-Water Supply Plant of Maharashtra was commissioned in Hingna village of Mouda Taluka in Nagpur district.
  • It will facilitate villagers to get pure water supply for a very low cost which can easily be borne by the Gram Panchayat.
Advantages of Plant:
  • The system delivers 10,000 Litres of purified water every day and runs completely on solar power for which 1800 Watt panels.
  • It purifies the water by removing nitrate content in order to prevent the ill effects on the health of villagers.
  • It can help to curb the menace of nitrate in the ground water which is becoming a major challenge in most parts of the country due of excessive use of fertilizers in agriculture.
  • It has economic considerations as it alleviates the difficulties faced by the local bodies in payment of hefty water supply bills.
5) Union Cabinet clears President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The Union cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recommended imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh under Article 356 (1) of the Constitution.
  • Union Government took this decision after state assembly failed to comply with the provisions of Article 174 (sessions of the state legislature, prorogation and dissolution) of the Constitution.
Back Ground:
  • The political crisis in the north eastern hill state began in December 2015 after 21 out of 47 ruling Congress legislators in the 60-member house rebelled along with 11 BJP and 2 independent legislators and extended support to Kalikho Pul to form new government.
  • Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa also had advanced the date of the convening of the assembly session in order check the majority of ruling government in the assembly.
6) International Solar Alliance headquartered in India with United Nations as Strategic Partner.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with the President of France François Hollande, laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) headquarters in National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in Gwalpahari, Gurgaon.
  • India dedicated 5 acre land at NISE to ISA for hosting its Secretariat and also contributed 175 crore rupees for ISA corpus fund for an initial period of five years.
About International Solar Alliance:
  • It was jointly launched in Paris by India and France on 30 November 2015 during the United Nations climate change conference (COP21).
  • It is the India’s first international and inter-governmental organization of 121 Countries to have headquarters in India with United Nations as Strategic Partner
  • It’s governance structure consists of an Assembly, a Council and a Secretariat.
  • The Assembly will provide guidance, direction and advice to the Secretariat for undertaking the activities.
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7) Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 came into force.

  • The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 came into force.
  • The amended Act has more stringent provisions for prevention of atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • The amended law include new offences like tonsuring of head or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of SCs and STs.
  • It also includes garlanding with chappals, abusing in caste name, using or permitting manual scavenging, imposing social or economic boycott.
  • It also has provisions for establishment of Exclusive Special Courts for the expeditious disposal of cases.
8) Union Government launches Sahaj Scheme for online booking of LPG cylinders.
  • Union Government has launched Sahaj Scheme for online booking of LPG cylinders.
  • Union Government has launched Sahaj Scheme for online booking of LPG cylinders. It was launched by Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas (Independent Charge) Dharmendra Pradhan as part of Government’s 2016-Year of the Consumers initiative.
  • Union government has decided to target of adding 10 crore new LPG connections by December 2018 to present 16.5 crore connections.
About Sahaj Scheme:
  • Consumers can book LPG cylinders online through the unified web portal www.mylpg.in which is available in 13 languages.
  • People can apply online for new LPG connection and they need not visit to the LPG distributors for it.
  • This facility is available around the clock and with online or offline payment options. LPG cylinders will be delivered at home even in their absence.
9) India donated ambulances and buses to Nepal.
  • India has donated ambulances and eight buses to various hospitals, non-profit charitable organizations and educational institutions in Nepal to strengthen the education and health services in the Himalayan nation.
  • Since 1994, the Government of India has gifted 542 ambulances to various organizations across 73 districts in Nepal. This has helped in bringing healthcare services to the doorstep of thousands of people who do not have access to healthcare services.
  • India has so far gifted 106 buses to various educational and welfare institutions across 25 districts in Nepal, making access to education easier for thousands of students.

National Current Affairs January 2nd week 2016

1) Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the River Information System (RIS) at a function in New Delhi. The first of its kind in India, the new system will facilitate safe and accurate navigation on National Waterway – 1 on the Ganges River.


2)
The Rajasthan Government signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cairn Enterprise Centre Society, supported by oil and gas exploration company Cairn India. The MoU aims at providing clean drinking water in Barmer district.

3) Kerala has become the first Indian state to achieve 100 percent primary education. The Vice-President, Mohammad Hamid Ansari has officially declared the 100 per cent primary education status achieved by Kerala.
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4) Taking exception to the Supreme Court order of May 2014, where the top court banned the use of bulls as performing animals, the central government has decided to allow Jallikattu, though with safeguards.


5) Railways to act tough against passengers declaring wrong age from February 1. ”Any passenger found travelling in the train on the berths booked under Senior Citizen Quota by declaration of wrong age should be treated as travelling without ticket and charged accordingly,” the new rule said.

6)
The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoPNG) has launched an Online Initiative to engage the LPG Consumers and Citizens of India in providing efficient and citizen friendly services in LPG distribution. Following two online discussion forums have been launched and are available on myGov.in and mylpg.in for a) Citizen-Friendly Services; and b) Increasing LPG Coverage in the Country.
 
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7) Federal Bank has launched Funds Transfer through Missed Call system, which is simple, convenient and a faster way to transfer funds round the clock, 24/7 free of cost.


8) Urjit Patel reappointed as RBI Deputy Governor, who headed a committee that paved the way for the proposed monetary policy committee, as the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank for a second three-year term.

9) Telangana became the first State in India to introduce compulsory gender education at the graduate level.In this regard, the state introduced a bilingual textbook titled, Towards a World of Equals.The book was introduced on a pilot basis in engineering colleges affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU-Hyderabad).

10) The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari inaugurated KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Sciences & Arts at Kottayam, Kerala.
 

National Current Affairs January 1st week 2016

1) Hyderabad to host international film festival 

  • Come August 2016, Hyderabad is set to host the second edition of All Lights India International Film Festival (ALIFF) & Indywood Film Market (IFM), one-of-its-kind of event to happen in the twin cities in recent times.
  • Touted to be South Asia’s biggest event to be held at Ramoji Film City, 105 films from different Indian languages are to be screened with an expected attendance of more than 10,000 people. The inaugural one was held at Kochi in November last.
  • During the festival proposed to be held between August 17-21, active participation from global film and media fraternity including producers, directors, exhibitors, buyers, sales agents, stuntmen and global film equipment manufacturers among others have been anticipated. In terms of numbers, the organisers expect the event to attract participants from more than 70 countries and expect 1,500 film submissions to be selected for screening.
2) New textile scheme to generate 30 lakh jobs, Rs. 1-lakh cr investment
  • The Centre has stitched together an Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS) that will give a boost to ‘Make in India’ in the textiles sector by attracting investments of Rs. 1-lakh crore and creating over 30 lakh jobs.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 30th December approved the scheme to replace the existing Revised Restructured TUFS. According to an official statement, a budget provision of Rs.17,822 crore has been approved, of which Rs. 12,671 crore is for committed liabilities under the ongoing scheme [RR-TUFS], and Rs. 5,151 crore is for new cases under ATUFS.
  • The statement said with the amount provided for new investment in 2012-17 exhausted, the Finance Ministry was approached for enhancing the allocation. Under the new scheme, there will be two broad categories:
  1.     One for apparel, garment and technical textiles, wherein 15 per cent subsidy will be provided over five years on capital investment not exceeding Rs. 30 crore.
  2.     The second category, comprising all the other sub-sectors, will get 10 per cent subsidy, subject to a ceiling of Rs. 20 crore.
  • The new scheme targets employment generation and export by encouraging the apparel and garment industry. It will encourage better quality in processing industry and check the need for import of fabrics by the garment sector. Eligible cases now pending with the Office of Textile Commissioner (TXC) will be provided assistance under the ongoing scheme and the new scheme given prospective effect.
  • The TXC is also being reorganised and its offices shall be set up in each State. TXC officers will be closely associated with entrepreneurs for setting up units under the new scheme, verifying assets created jointly with the bankers and maintaining close liaison with State government agencies.
3) Railway joint ventures with States approved
  • The Union Cabinet has approved a model agreement, which can serve as the base format for the Railways to enter into joint ventures with States. The Railway Ministry has already entered into an agreement with Odisha for implementing railway connectivity projects.
  • Additionally, Maharashtra has also committed Rs. 10,000 crore to develop rail infrastructure, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had earlier stated. These joint ventures will help the Railways mobilise resources from States for undertaking infrastructure projects. The agreement will align both the Centre and States in implementing Railway projects in terms of financial participation as well as decision-making. This will also facilitate in faster statutory approvals and land acquisition.
  • As per the Cabinet nod, the initial paid-up capital of the Railway Ministry would be limited to Rs. 50 crore for each State. The joint venture companies would be formed with equity participation of the Railway Ministry and the State government concerned. Each joint venture would have an initial paid-up capital of Rs. 100 crore.
  • These joint ventures can also form project-specific special purpose vehicles with equity holding by other stakeholders, such as banks, ports, public sector undertakings and mining companies. Further infusion of funds or equity for projects shall be done after approval and funding at the level of appropriate competent authority.

 

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4) Telangana MLC results: TRS bags four seats, Cong wins two

  • In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) has bagged four MLC constituencies while opposition Congress won two seats. TRS candidates secured two seats from Ranga Reddy district and one each from Khammam and Mahabubnagar districts.
  • The Congress emerged victorious from one seat in Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda seats. Despite Congress and TDP-BJP support, the left parties’ candidate Nageswar Rao has been defeated by 31 votes. Out of total 12 seats where elections were held, TRS candidates have earlier won unopposed from six seats.
5) Chhattisgarh govt to make roof-top solar plants mandatory for new buildings
  • In Chhattisgarh, the state government has decided to make roof-top solar plants mandatory for new buildings of government, semi-government establishments and institutional bodies from next year onwards. The decision will come to effect from January 1, 2016.
  • The decision was taken at a state Cabinet meeting. Solar power plants with the capacity of 10 to 50 KW would be installed in various buildings of the state. With this decision, there is a possibility of installing a total of 200 MW solar capacity power plants in the entire state.
6) No interviews for Class-III, IV govt jobs: PM
  • The decision to abolish interviews for Class-III and IV government jobs comes into effect on 1st January 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described it as a New Year Gift which will free the youth from corruption. The decision will impact over 29 lakh central government posts.
  • The Prime Minister said, interviews are seen as a means to get a job by using somebody`s influence and those deserving are deprived in the process. He said, it is a major step in the fight against corruption and the government`s effort to save the youth from problems they encounter while seeking jobs.
7) Govt sets up panel to revamp Censor Board
  • The government has constituted a committee headed by noted film-maker Shyam Benegal to look into revamp of Censor Board. The recommendations of this committee are expected to provide a holistic framework and enable those tasked with the work of certification of films to discharge their responsibilities keeping in view this framework.
  • During their deliberations, the committee would be expected to take note of the best practices in various parts of the world, especially where the film industry is given sufficient and adequate space for creative and aesthetic expression.
  • The Committee would recommend broad guidelines under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act for the benefit of the chairperson and other members of the Screening Committee.
  • The other Members of the Committee include Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Piyush Pandey, Bhawana Somaaya , Nina Lath Gupta and Joint Secretary (Films) as Member Convenor. The Committee has been requested to submit its recommendations within two months.

 

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8) Govt constitutes panel for holistic interpretation of Cinematograph Act

  • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 1st January constituted a committee headed by noted film personality Shyam Benegal for holistic interpretation of the Cinematographic Act. The panel, which would submit its report in two months, includes filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, adman Piyush Pandey and film critic Bhawana Somaaya.
  • Apart from these, National Film Development Council MD Nina Lath Gupta and Joint Secretary (Films) Sanjay Murthy would also be part of committee.
  • The recommendations of this Committee are expected to provide a holistic framework and enable those tasked with the work of certification of films to discharge their responsibilities keeping in view this framework.
9) Govt forms panel to study wage structure of gramin dak sevaks
  • The government has constituted a one-man committee to examine the wage structure and service conditions of gramin dak sevaks. This is a one man committee. The Department of Posts has 2.6 lakh gramin dak sevaks. Kamlesh Chandra, a retired member of the postal services board, will constitute the committee, which will be assisted by T Q Mohammad, a senior administrative grade officer, who will act as secretary.
  • It further said terms of reference of the committee include examining the system of branch post offices, engagement conditions and the existing structure of wage and emoluments paid to gramin sevaks and recommend necessary changes.
  • The committee will review the existing facilities, the service discharge benefit scheme and other social security benefits of gramin dak sevaks.
  • It also has a mandate to examine and suggest any change in the method of engagement, minimum qualification for engagement for gramin dak sevaks and their conduct and disciplinary rules, particularly keeping in view the proposed induction of technology in rural post offices.
10) Centre to build 50k anganwadi centres every year
  • According to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, the Union Government will construct 50,000 anganwadi centres (AWCs) every year so that in the next four years two lakh anganwadis have their own buildings and can provide health care in villages in a better way
  • The scheme is being funded partly from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGA) and partly from the ICDS budget.
  • Starting with this financial year, 50,000 anagwadi centres are being set up in 11 states which have high burden of malnutrition. These include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Assam, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.
  • Also, the 25 per cent reserved posts in which anganwadi workers, who have completed ten years of service and are graduate can apply and get promoted as a supervisor, has been increased to 50 per cent to motivate them, said Gandhi.