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Current Affairs

Vikas Engine

ISRO has successfully conducted a ground test of its high thrust version of the Vikas Engine that would improve the payload capability of the space agency’s launch vehicles.

The test for a duration of 195 seconds was conducted by scientists at the ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) in Mahendragiri in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu .

The Vikas Engine is the workhorse liquid rocket engine used to power the second stage of the ISRO’s trusted Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

It is also used in the second stage and also at the four strap on stages of Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and in the twin engine core liquid stage (L110) of GSLV Mk-III.

ISRO is planning to launch GSLV-MkIII-D2 during the second half of 2018 carrying GSAT-29.

 Nomination of  four person in RS-

President Ram Nath Kovind  nominated four persons, including classical dancer Sonal Mansingh and RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha, to Rajya Sabha. The names also include farmer leader and former MP Ram Shakal, and sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra.

In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 80 of the Constitution of India, and on the advice of the Prime Minister, President Kovind made the four nominations to the Rajya Sabha. 

 

Sonal Mansingh: She is among India’s foremost exponents of Indian Classical Dance. She has been performing Bharatnatyam and Odissi for over six decades. She is also a well-known choreographer, teacher, orator and social activist. She founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances, in Delhi in 1977

Ram Shakal: Ram Shakal is a public leader from Uttar Pradesh, who is known to have worked for the welfare and well-being of the Dalit community. A farmer leader, he is also known for championing the cause of farmers, labourers and migrants. He has also been a three-time Member of Parliament, representing Robertsganj constituency of Uttar Pradesh. 

 Rakesh Sinha: RSS ideologue, a widely read author, Rakesh Sinha is also the Founder and Honorary Director of the Delhi-based think-tank “India Policy Foundation.” A Professor of Motilal Nehu College of Delhi University, he is also currently a member of the Indian Council of Social Science Research. He is a regular columnist in a range of newspapers. 

Raghunath Mohapatra: He is an internationally renowned authority on stone carving. Practicing since 1959, he has trained over 2000 students. He has contributed to the preservation of traditional sculpture and ancient monuments, and has worked on the beautification of the Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri. His famous works include a 6 feet high statue of the Sun God carved in grey sandstone, in the Central Hall of Parliament; and the Wooden Buddha, Buddha Temple, Paris.

The FIFA World Cup-2018

The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body.

The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War. The current champion is France, which won its second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

FIFA 2018 logo & Muscot –

  Logo:- A logo is a graphic mark, emblem, or symbol commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition.

The shape of FIFA 2018 logo has an outline of the World Cup trophy. The design consists of the most dramatic use of red, blue and gold colors which symbolize the “Age-old Art Techniques” from Russia. This beautiful and colorful logo has a traditional look of Russia. 

Muscot- A muscot is a person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck, especially one linked to a particular organization or event.

Zabivaka (mascot .) -A wolf with a name that translates from Russian as The Goalscorer. Zabivaka wears red shorts and a blue and white T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Russia 2018”. The colour combination is that of the Russian team, as the mascot .

The current format of the competition involves a qualification phase, which currently takes place over the preceding three years, to determine which teams qualify for the tournament phase, which is often called the World Cup Finals.

After this, 32 teams, including the automatically qualifying host nation(s), compete in the tournament phase for the title at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of about a month.

The 21 World Cup tournaments have been won by eight national teams. Brazil have won five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. The other World Cup winners are Germany and Italy, with four titles each; ArgentinaFrance and inaugural winner Uruguay, with two titles each; and England and Spain with one title each.

Top 4 team rankings: France (1st, Winner), Croatia (2nd, Croatia), Belgium (3rd) and England (4th). Golden Ball award: Luka Modric (Croatia). Golden B… 

Golden Ball award- for best player: Luka Modric (Croatia). Golden Boot award: Harry Kane (England captain) for scoring six goals across six games. Golden Glove award: … 

Golden Boot award: for top goal scorer Harry Kane (England captain) for scoring six goals across six games. Golden Glove award: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)…. 

Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper,: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium).

FIFA Young Player award: 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe (France)…. 

FIFA Fair Play Award: Spain for superb disciplinary record…. 

The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world, as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games;

Qatar are planned as hosts of the 2022 finals, and 2026 will be a joint hosted finals between Canada, the United States and Mexico, which will give Mexico the distinction of being the first country to have hosted games in three different finals.

The 2030 FIFA World Cup will be the 24th FIFA World Cup .This will be 100 years after the first World Cup which took place in Uruguay,

Resolution 2428

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted Resolution 2428(2018) to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, almost five years after ruinous civil war was started in infant country. The resolution was drafted by United States and won minimum nine votes needed in favor to none against with 6 abstentions.

The South Sudanese Civil War is an ongoing conflict in South Sudanbetween forces of the government and opposition forces. In December 2013, President Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar and ten others of attempting a coup d’état.

 Machar denied trying to start a coup and fled to lead the SPLM – in opposition (SPLM-IO). Fighting broke out between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and SPLM-IO, igniting the civil war. Ugandan troops were deployed to fight alongside the South Sudanese government.  The United Nations has peacekeepers in the country as part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The 2018 Wimbledon Championships 

Was a Grand Slam tennis tournament which took place at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom. The main tournament began on  2 July 2018 and finished on Sunday 15 July 2018. Novak Djokovic won the Gentleman’s Singles for a fourth time.

 Angelique Kerber won the Ladies’ Singles title.

Angelique Kerber won her third Grand Slam singles title, defeating Serena Williams in the final, 6–3, 6–3. Kerber became the first German since Graf in 1996 to lift the trophy. Williams was attempting to equal Margaret Court‘s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

EBRD-

India has 69th shareholder of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), paving the way for more joint investment with Indian companies across the bank’s regions of operation.

India takes a shareholding in the EBRD but it will not be a recipient of EBRD financing.

In the lead up to the membership, the EBRD held its inaugural business forum in Mumbai .

The conference, co-hosted with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and with the support of the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India, was held under the banner of “Mobilising private sector finance in the EBRD region and how Indian companies can benefit”.

The EBRD has already cooperated with Indian enterprises on joint projects worth almost 1 billion euros, including investments with Tata, SREI, Jindal and Mahindra and Mahindra.

World’s sixth-largest economy

India has become the world’s sixth-largest economy, pushing France into seventh place according to the latest World Bank (WB) data for 2017. India’s GDP hit $2.597 trillion in 2017, while France’s was at $2.582 trillion.

The United States (US), China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom (UK) occupy the top five slots with GDPs of $19.390 trillion, $12.237 trillion, $4.872 trillion, $3.677 trillion and $2.622 trillion respectively.

Wings-

State-run telecom firm BSNL  unveiled first internet telephony service in the country that will allow users to dial any telephone number in India through its mobile app Wings’. Now BSNL customers will be able to make calls using the company’s mobile app Wings to any phone number in the country. Before this, phone calls on mobile apps was possible within users of a particular app and not on telephone numbers.

Resolution 2427-

The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution aimed at a framework for mainstreaming protection, rights, well-being and empowerment of children throughout the conflict cycle.

Resolution 2427, which won unanimous approval of the 15 members of the council  strongly condemns the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict as well as their re-recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and abductions .

The resolution also condemns attacks against schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflict and all other violations of international law committed against children in situations of armed conflict.

The Global Innovation Index (GII)-2018

The Global Innovation Index (GII) has ranked India as the 57th most innovative nation in the world. The country has improved its ranking from 60th position last year. India has been improving steadily since it was ranked 81st in 2015. Meanwhile, China improved its ranking from 22 in 2017 to 17 this year. 

The GII is being developed jointly by Cornell University, the Paris-based business school Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. GII ranks 126 economies. 

Technology Exchange Centre-

The India-Korea Technology Exchange Centre was Inaugurated in New Delhi .The purpose of the Technology Exchange Centre is to create a platform for micro, small and medium enterprises of India and Korea where they can be assisted to identify and exchange latest technologies, share management expertise, product development and technology applications for product development.

The MSME Minister further said that the Technology Centre will also work towards building reliable alliances in Space, Solar Energy, Nano technologies and some other upcoming technologies. He said that a number of Korean organizations have showed keen interest to initiate technology transfers in MSME sectorsbetween the two countries and this Centre will provide them reliable partners for effecting   business alliances.

‘The Eat Right Movement’

To promote safe and healthy food, regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked industry to voluntarily reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat in packaged food products as it would take about a year to make labelling norms operational.

The FSSAI has launched a national campaign ‘The Eat Right Movement’ to improve public health and combat lifestyle diseases.

 Institutions of Eminence

The government granted “Institutions of Eminence” (IoEs) status to IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay and the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in the public sector, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education, BITS Pilani and Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation in the private sector.

The IOE will target to come  in top 500 of world ranking in the next 10 years and in top 100 eventually overtime. The scheme has been launched with an objective to provide world class teaching and research facilities to Indian students within the country and enhance general level of education of the country. The salient features are available in the UGC Guidelines and the UGC Regulations under which greater autonomy viz. to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty upto 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses upto 20% of its programmes; to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, etc. has been provided to IoEs.

The HRD Ministry’s selection of the yet-to-be-established Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation as one of the six “Institutions of Eminence” drew sharp criticism from various quarters  with many questioning the process of selection and the motive behind it.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), a panel of which carried out the selections, however, defended the move saying the institution was accorded the coveted tag under greenfield category for new or proposed institutions that are yet to come into existence.

The UGC defended Jio Institute’s inclusion on the grounds that it was selected under rules for greenfield institutions. According to officials, 11 such institutions had applied for the IoE tag and Jio was selected from among them.

The move is part of a scheme of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to select 20 IoEs 10 public and 10 private that will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.

Minority status to Jews

Gujarat Government has granted religious minority status to Jews living in the state. In this regard, State’s Department of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued GR to this effect. Gujarat is third state in India to grant religious minority status to Jews after West Bengal and Maharashtra.

They shall get benefits of welfare schemes formulated for religious minority communities within the jurisdiction of Gujarat

 The Jewish community had made a representation to the state government for minority status.

“Gujarat has a small Jewish community with no more than 170 members, a majority of them located in Ahmedabad,”

Merging of Idea and Vodafone

The Department of Telecommunications approved the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular which will create the country’s largest mobile services operator.

The department has asked Idea Cellular to pay Rs. 3926 crore in cash for Vodafone’s spectrum and furnish a bank guarantee of Rs. 3342 crore.

ADB Loan –

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved USD 503-million lining project of the Son canal in Shahabad-Bhojpur region of Bihar which would benefit the agriculture sector immensely in the region.

World’s largest mobile factory-

Samsung has set up what is the world’s largest mobile factory at  Noida  .One of the first electronics manufacturing facilities set up in the country in the early 1990s, the plant started by manufacturing TVs in 1997. The current mobile phone manufacturing unit was added in 2005.

This will help Samsung bring some local features to the devices powered by R&D here. Apart from this, the company can also bring in export opportunity for Samsung to SAARC and other regions,” Pathak told IANS.

Reduction of import duties on Indian medicines

China is agreed on reduction of import duties on Indian medicines including anti-cancer drugs, which are highly expensive in the country.

Beijing, which earlier announced a cut on import duties on over 8,500 Indian items, said it will relax taxes on more goods from India and other countries as its trade war with the US heats up.

Indian pharma products, especially cancer-curing medicines, which are cheaper than the multinational drugs .

Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge-

As part of the technology sub-mission of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna- Urban (PMAY-U), the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) plans on launching the Global Housing Construction Technology Challenge that aims at accelerating PMAY-U target for providing housing for all.

By implementing this global challenge, MoHUA will draw ideas in the context of innovative technologies that can be used for mass housing projects to help build cheap, fast and better houses, supported with a sustainable green material.

The selected technologies will be tried and tested for geographical conditions of six different urban areas with different terrains like plain areas, hilly areas and earthquake-prone areas. Considering all the parameters of cost, time, sustainability and quality, the winning technologies will be used for building 1000 houses and multistorey buildings depending on the type of area. The technology will be chosen to construct cheap and fast mass housing in such areas. 

With PMAY-U in place, almost 8 lakh houses have been constructed since 25 June 2015, which apparently doesn’t even count 10 percent of revised MoHUA target in which 1.2 crore houses are meant to be built by 2022. 

Karmakar Dipa –

Karmakar  clinched the gold medal in the vault event of FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup at Mersin, Turkey.

The athlete, who is returning to action after a lay-off of nearly two years due to an injury, created history by becoming the first Indian gymnast to clinch a gold at a global event.

The 24-year-old from Tripura, who had finished fourth in vault event in the 2016 Rio Olympics, scored 14.150 to win the top prize.

JEE (Main), NEET (UG)-

In a student-friendly move, the Human Resource Development Ministry  announced that the JEE (Main), NEET (UG) exams will now be conducted twice from next year.

As the exams happen once in a year and if some mishap happens during that day than the entire year gets wasted due to which this decision has been taken”.

He added that the students will have an option to take the JEE (Main) and NEET (UG) exam twice a year.  

Meanwhile, competitive exams like JEE (Main), NEET (UG) and UGC-NET from this year would be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

Master of Roster

The ‘Chief Justice of India’ (CJI) is an individual judge and not the powerful collective of five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court called the ‘Collegium’, the Supreme Court held recently .

And it is this exclusive authority of this individual judge, who is the “spokesperson of the court”, to allocate cases to fellow judges as the ‘Master of Roster‘, a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan declared in their separate but concurring opinions.

The judgment is based on a petition filed by former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan to have a collegium of Supreme Court judges collectively allocate cases rather than leave the entire power in the hands of the CJI in his administrative capacity as the ‘Master of Roster’.

 Justice AK Goel  –

Department of Personnel and Training has intimated the appointment of Justice AK Goel as the new Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). is tenure as NGT Chairperson has been specified as being for a period of five years from the date he assumes office, or till he reaches the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

Justice Goel enrolled at the Bar in 1974. He practised before the Punjab & Haryana High Court for five years and the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court for about twenty-two years.

 

National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 (NGT) is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues. It draws inspiration from the India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.

Civil Aviation Research Organization (CARO)-                                         

Airports Authority of India (AAI) will set up a state-of-the-art Civil Aviation Research Organization (CARO) at Hyderabad’s Begumpet Airport to find “indigenous solutions to meet the challenges posed by the growing air traffic and for enhancing safety, capacity and efficiency of aircraft operations in the country.”

AAI has earmarked Rs 1,200 crore for this project that will be spent over 12 years for research and develop3Ezment. CARO is expected to be built in three years.


Union aviation minister Suresh Prabhu  laid the foundation stone for CARO which will be spread over 27 acres and cater to air navigation services and airport/engineering research. It will houses latest infrastructure and be equipped with simulators.

Centre of Excellence for D S & A I  .

Indian IT industry apex body Nasscom  opened a Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Bengaluru.

The centre was set up in collaboration with the Karnataka government with an aim to nurture innovation in emerging disruptive technologies such as AI and to leverage the power of data science .

The centre is the step required to propel the data sciences and AI to make India as a destination for global product solutions,” Nasscom President Debjani Ghosh said on the occasion.

The Law Commission-

The Law Commission of India has taken a revolutionary step which might change the way sports is consumed in India as the body has recommended legalising sports betting and gambling activities in India in its latest report. However, the commission has also clearly stated in its report, which has been submitted to law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, that match-fixing and sports fraud should be treated as criminal offences.

The report reads that the commission took opinions of students, experts and the general public before coming to a conclusion that regulation in the law was required instead of complete prohibition.

The panel headed by Justice BS Chauhan prepared the report which reads, “In the light of the fact that the existing black-market operations relating to these activities are a major source of influx of black money in the economy, regulation rather than complete prohibition the logical step to be taken.”

Animal kingdom-

The Uttarakhand High Court  declared the animal kingdom, including avian and aquatic animals, legal entities with distinct persona and corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.

The court was hearing a petition seeking directions to restrict the movement of horse carts between Nepal and India, through the Champawat district. The plea demanded that the horses be vaccinated and checked for infections before they enter the Indian territory.

“The corporations, Hindu idols, holy scriptures, rivers have been declared legal entities and thus, in order to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic, animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/ legal person,” the High Court bench observed, according to Live Law. “The animals should be healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour without pain, fear and distress. They are entitled to justice.” They cannot be treated merely as “property”, the bench 

Crew escape system-

In its aim towards human spaceflight, Indian space agency ISRO  carried out the first in a series of tests to qualify a crew escape system. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in a statement said the crew escape system is a critical technology for human spaceflight. The crew escape system is an emergency escape measure designed to quickly pull the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.

“The first test (Pad Abort Test) demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad,” ISRO said.

According to the ISRO, the five-hour countdown was smooth. The crew escape system along with the simulated crew module with a mass of 12.6 tonne, lifted off at 7 am at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The test was over in 259 seconds, during which the crew escape system along with crew module soared skyward, then arced out over the Bay of Bengal and floated back to Earth under its parachutes about 2.9 km from Sriharikota.

‘Design University for Gaming’ in Visakhapatnam.-

Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India],  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will be setting up a ‘Design University for Gaming’ in Visakhapatnam.
UNESCO delegation entered into an agreement with Andhra PradeshEconomic Development Board (APEDB) for the establishment of ‘Gaming Digital Learning Hub’, following which they met with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

The UNESCO delegation asked the Chief Minister for an allocation of 100 acres of land in Visakhapatnam for developing the city as ‘International Gaming and Digital Learning Hub’.


They will develop edutech gaming in the state, with the target of providing 50,000 jobs in 10 years.

Gaming Technology will be the best source of income in future and IT giants like UBSoft, Samsung, Microsoft etc are ready to establish their centres in Visakhapatnam, the UNESCO delegates informed CM Naidu.

Centre’s Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species-

Four species that are one step away from becoming extinct in the wild have been included in the Centre’s Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species.

They are Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska), Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale and Red Panda.

  

  

Under the International Union for Conservation of Species (IUCN), Critically Endangered Species are those facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, and the centre’s recovery programme charts out species-specific plan to salvage the animals’ numbers. The programme, which already covers 17 species across the country, includes legal sanction against hunting, financial assistance to states to protect the species, creation of sanctuaries, and even the CBI’s assistance in prosecuting the poachers.

The four species were recommended to be included by the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), and was approved recently by the Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) .

Norther River Terrapin, which is a species of riverine turtle found in the rivers that flow in Eastern India, is hunted for its meat and carapace. It is a native of Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018

The Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on  approved The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill 2018. The primary intended purpose for enactment of the “DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill 2018” is for expanding the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country.

The utility of DNA based technologies for solving crimes, and to identify missing persons, is well recognized across the world.

By providing for the mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories, the Bill seeks to ensure that with the proposed expanded use of this technology in the country, there is also the assurance that the DNA test results are reliable and the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.

Bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.

 Forensic DNA profiling is of proven value in solving cases involving offences that are categorized as affecting the human body (such as murder, rape, human trafficking, or grievous hurt) and those against property (including theft, burglary, and dacoity).

The aggregate incidence of such crimes in the country, as per the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2016, is in excess of 3 lakhs per year. Of these, only a very small proportion is being subjected to DNA testing at present.

It is expected that the expanded use of this technology in these categories of cases would result not only in speedier justice delivery but also in increased conviction rates, which at present is only around 30% (NCRB Statistics for 2016).

Lieutenant-Governor  bound by the “aid and advice-

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously held on  that Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal is bound by the “aid and advice” of the Arvind Kejriwal government.

In case of difference of opinion, the L-G should straightaway refer the dispute to the President for a final decision without sitting over it or stultifying the gov- ernance in the National Capital, the Bench said.

It concluded that the governance of Delhi cannot rest upon the whims of one functionary — the Lieutenant-Governor.

“The Lieutenant-Governor has not been entrusted with any independent decision-making power. He has to either act on the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him

The bench cautioned L-G against sending every “trivial” dispute with the government to the President.

The judgment came on appeals filed by the NCT government against an August 4, 2016, verdict of the Delhi High Court, which had declared that the L-G has “complete control of all matters regarding the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and nothing will happen without the concurrence of the L-G.”

CJI quotes from the 1987 Balakrishnan report to conclude that Delhi is not a State‘Control of the Union over Delhiis vital in the national interest’‘Lieutenant-Governor has free hand in judicial, quasi-judicial functions’‘Administrator has to be more active than the Governor of a State’

United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres(portugese) has appointed a veteran Uruguayan Army official as head of the United Nations mission tasked with monitoring the ceasefire line between India and Pakistan.

Major General José Eladio Alcain of Uruguay will be Head of Mission and Chief Military Observer for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

UNMOGIP was established in January 1949.

The first team of unarmed military observers, who eventually formed the nucleus of UNMOGIP, arrived in the mission area in January 1949 to supervise, in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the ceasefire between India and Pakistan, and to assist the Military Adviser to the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP), established in 1948 by Security Council resolutions 39 and 47.

Following the India-Pakistan war in 1971 and a subsequent ceasefire agreement of 17 December of that year, the tasks of UNMOGIP have been to observe, to the extent possible, developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of 17 December 1971 and to report thereon to the Secretary-General.

India has maintained that UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control

Cvigil

The Chief Election Commissioner Shri. O.P. Rawat, along with the Election Commissioners Shri Sunil Arora and Shri Ashok  Lavasa launched a mobile app, called ‘Cvigil,’ on July 3, 2018, for citizens to report any violation of the model code of conduct during elections.

“cVIGIL” is a user-friendly and easy to operate Android application. It will be operational only where elections are announced.

However, the beta version of the app (alpha test meant the first phase ,Beta second phase)will be made available for the public and election staff to download so that they can acquaint themselves with its features and also try sending dummy data. Upon successful completion of the trial that is underway, the application will be made available for general use by all, right from the forthcoming Assembly elections in the States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan. The practical use of the app during the four-state Assembly polls will also serve as a pilot initiative before it is put to extensive use during the next Lok Sabha General Elections.

By using this app, citizens can immediately report on incidents of misconduct within minutes of having witnessed them and without having to rush to the office of the returning officer to lodge a complaint.

The vigilant citizen has to click a picture or record a video of upto two minutes’ duration of the scene of violations of the model code. The photo or video is to be uploaded on the app. The automated location mapping will be done by the app using the Geographic Information System. After its successful submission through the app, the vigilant citizen gets a Unique ID to track and receive the follow up updates on her or his mobile.

A citizen can report many incidents in this manner and will get a unique id for each report for follow up updates. The identity of the complainant will be kept confidential.

Once the complaint is lodged, the information beeps in the District Control Room from where it is assigned to a Field Unit. A field unit consists of Flying Squads, Static Surveillance Teams, Reserve teams etc.

After a Field Unit has taken action, it messages and uploads the relevant document as ‘action taken report’ via the ‘cVIGIL Dispatcher’ to the returning officer concerned for his decision and disposal. If the incident is found correct, the information is sent to the National Grievance Portal of the Election Commission of India for further action and the vigilant citizen is informed about the action taken within a hundred minutes.

MOVE Summit

The MOVE Summit will be held in  September, 2018. This Summit will help drive Government’s goals for vehicle electrification,  renewable energy integration and job growth and also speed up India’s transition to a clean energy economy.

The Hon’ble Prime Minister  Shri Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the Summit, which will be the first Global Mobility Summit of its kind, with over 1,200 expected participants from across the world including Government leadership, Industry leaders, Research Organizations, Academia ,Think Tanks and Civil Society Organisations.

MOVE Summit aims to bring together and engage with key stakeholders within the rapidly transforming global mobility landscape and to evolve a public interest framework for a shared, connected, zero emission and inclusive mobility agenda for the future. The Summit will constitute three designated components – The Conclave, the Expo and the Featured Events.

Baffle firing ranges .-

 

Baffle firing ranges are covered shooting practice areas which prevent possible accidents due to stray bullet injuries. The possibility of such mishap has increased many folds in recent times due to growth of civilian population around the cantonments. To prevent such casualties without affecting the training requirements of the Armed Forces, MOD has approved additional baffle ranges.

These 17 ranges will be in addition to the 60 similar firing ranges existing all over the country. The proposed baffle shooting ranges can facilitate firing from 300 to 500 meters.

Payments Council of India (PCI)-

Payments Council of India (PCI), the apex body representing the companies in the payments and settlement system, in its latest Annual General Meeting, has announced the appointment of Vishwas Patel, Director, Infibeam Avenues Limited, as its new Chairman.

The Payments Council of India was formed under the aegis of IAMAI (The Internet and Mobile Association of India)in the year 2013 catering to the needs of the digital payment industry. The Council was formed inter-alia for the purposes of representing the various regulated non-banking payment industry players, to address and help resolve various industry level issues and barriers which require discussion and action.

The council works with all its members to promote payments industry growth and to support our national goal of ‘Cashto Less Cash Society’ and ‘Growth of Financial Inclusion’ which is also the Vision Shared by the RBI and Government ofIndia.

PCI works closely with the regulators i.e. Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Finance Ministry and any similar government, departments, bodies or Institution to make ‘India a less cash society’.

Genome Valley 2.0.

Government of Telangana signed an MoU with Singapore-based largest engineering firm Surbana Jurong to lay the roadmap for Genome Valley 2.0. Surbana Jurong is reportedly Singapore’s largest engineering firm and one of the largest Asia-based global urban, industrial and infrastructure consulting firms.

Genome Valley 2.0 is a vision to upgrade the current Genome Valley cluster into a world-class knowledge led integrated corridor in a self-sufficient life sciences ecosystem. The cluster, which currently is an industrial hub is being envisioned to transform into an industry-led, knowledge-based ecosystem to become a driver for local economic development. Additionally, the knowledge economy will foster skill development of the local workforce to an international benchmark, thereby expanding the city’s talent pool.

In Telangana, the Genome Valley cluster has emerged as the one of the largest life sciences destination in Asia, being home to over 200 companies employing 10,000 people. According to a statement from the minister’s office, the current initiative will introduce a world class knowledge cluster and lay a master plan to transform the ecosystem into a smart satellite town of Hyderabad.

Moreover, the cluster’s proposed footprint expansion will enable more global companies to establish and expand their operations. The cluster is already home to Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Mylan, DuPont, US Pharmacopeia among others and has recently witnessed major investments from new as well as existing companies.

Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA)

India  has agreed to provide tariff concessions on 3,142 products to the six member nations of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) effective from July 1.
APTA is an initiative under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) started in 1975 for trade expansion through exchange of tariff concessions among developing country members of the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), previously known as the Bangkok Agreement and renamed 2 November 2005, was signed in 1975. It is the oldest preferential trade agreement between countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Seven Participating States- Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Mongolia,Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka are the parties to the APTA.

It is a preferential trade agreement under which the basket of items, as well as extent of tariff concessions, are enlarged during the trade negotiating rounds launched from time to time.

Appointing Directors-General

The Supreme Court  restrained the State governments from appointing Directors-General of Police without first consulting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

The State government concerned has to send to the service commission the names of the probables three months before the incumbent DGP is to retire. The UPSC will prepare a list of three officers fit to be DGP and send it back.

It shall, as far as practicable, choose the people who have got a clear two years of service and must give due weightage to merit and seniority.

The State, in turn, shall ‘immediately’ appoint one of the persons shortlisted by the commission.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, passed the directions on an application by the Centre for modification of a September 22, 2006 judgment on a petition filed by former DGPs Prakash Singh and N.K. Singh for reforms .

UNESCO’s World Heritage List-

Mumbai’s Victorian Gothic and Art Deco buildings Declared World Heritage site by UNESCO — Two building clusters of Victorian Gothic and Art Deco architectural styles in Mumbai, Maharashtra were jointly inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List. The decision was take during 42nd session of UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Manama, Bahrain.

                                   

         Victoria Gothic ,Mumbai                                                                          Art Deco buildings

 National Kalidas Samman-

Noted artist Anjolie Ela Menon, 78 received the National Kalidas Samman in Delhi for visual arts from the Madhya Pradesh government.

The award was conferred in recognition of her insightful and sensitive portrayal of the identity and spirit of women through her meaningful paintings in a variety of media.

With her first solo exhibition being held in Delhi in 1958, Menon is counted among India’s most accomplished artists and is the recipient of numerous national and international awards including the Padma Shri. She recently received a doctorate from Rabindra Bharati University.

First Delta ranking

The NITI Aayog has launched the first Delta ranking (incremental progress) for the Aspirational Districts, based on self-reported data of districts between March 31, 2018 to May 31, 2018, across five developmental areas of Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion and Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure.

This Delta ranking takes a step further and looks into specific aspects of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and analyses how districts have performed in last two months across important sectors. This grouping and positioning would aid the District Magistrates/Collectors to focus more on these sectors and improve their ranking in future.

The knowledge partners of NITI Aayog – Tata Trusts, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (ID Insights) – are expected to provide data on 13 survey indicators and have validated values for 29 data-points. The next ranking will take into account these inputs and will be released soon thereafter.

Some of the data points have been sourced from Central Ministries viz. Financial Inclusion, Skill Development and 3 indicators of Basic Infrastructure – Household Electricity Connections, Household Toilets and Rural Drinking Water. Most of the data points, however, have been self-reported by the various districts themselves.

2018 World Union of Wholesale Markets

Haryana will host 33rd World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) Conference in Gurugram from October 10-13 2018. Heads of 200 mandis from across the world will participate in this Conference.

Solar Charkha Mission-2018

President Ram Nath Kovind launched the Solar Charkha Mission  under which the government will disburse a subsidy of Rs 550 crore to thousands of artisans, generating employment in rural areas. It will generate employment in rural areas and contribute to the green economy

Under this mission, the Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) will cover 50 clusters and each cluster will employ 400 to 2,000 artisans.

15 new state-of-the-art technology centres are being set up all over the country including in the Northeast of which 10 centres will become operational by March 2019.Each centre, he said, is being built at a cost of around Rs 150 crore.

The 10 centres which will become operational soon are located in Durg (Chhattisgarh), Bhiwadi (Rajasthan), Rohtak (Haryana), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Sitarganj (Uttarakhand), Baddi (Himachal Pradesh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Puducherry.

Women Entrepreneurs Platform (WEP) 

The WEP is an initiative under the NITI Aayog which was launched on March 8, 2018 on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurs Platform (WEP)  signed five separate Statement of Intent (SoIs) with Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank Limited, Indiabulls Housing Finance Limited, SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited, Sreemanta Sankar Mission and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).

The WEP was established on the occasion of International Womens’ Day in March 2018 to substantially increase the number of women entrepreneurs who will create and empower a dynamic New India.

The WEP intends to undertake this task through its partner organizations, private as well as public organizations; by bringing their existing as well as new women specific initiatives on a single platform, which in turn will also address knowledge gaps, promote partner connects and will increase the outreach of partner programmes.

Oxytocin-

Oxytocin is a hormone secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure at the base of the brain. It’s sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone,” because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially.  Oxytocin is also used as a medication to facilitate childbirth. There is consensus that oxytocin modulates fear and anxiety;

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has restricted the manufacture of Oxytocin formulations for domestic use to public sector only from 1st July 2018. It has also banned the import of Oxytocin and its formulations.

From 1st July 2018, no private manufacturer will be allowed to manufacture the drug for domestic use. Only Karnataka Antibiotics & Pharmaceuticals Ltd (KAPL), a public sector company, would be manufacturing this drug for domestic use from that date.

The Oxytocin formulations meant for domestic consumption will be supplied by the manufacturer, i.e. KAPL, to the registered hospitals and clinics in public and private sector directly . Oxytocin in any form or name will not be allowed to be sold through retail Chemist.

 Capital infusion of Rs.2000 crore-

ECGC is a premier export credit agency of the Government of India to provide Export Credit Insurance Services to facilitate exports from the country.  The ECGC offers credit insurance schemes to exporters to protect them against losses due to non-payment of export dues by overseas buyers due to political and / or commercial risks.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the capital infusion of Rs.2000 crore for strengthening of  Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC).  The amount would be infused in the three financial years i.e. Rs.50 crore in 2017-18, Rs.1450 crore in the year 2018-19 and Rs.500 crore for 2019-20.

The infusion would enhance insurance coverage to MSME exports and strengthen India’s exports to emerging and challenging markets like Africa, CIS and Latin American countries.  With enhanced capital, ECGC’s underwriting capacity and risk to capital ratio will improve considerably.

With a stronger underwriting capacity, ECGC will be in a better position to support Indian exporters to tap new and unexplored markets.  Increased capital infusion will help ECGC to diversify its product portfolio and provide cost effective credit insurance helping exporters to gain a stronger foothold in the difficult markets.  Covers from ECGC will help in improving competitive positon of India exporters in International markets.

More than 85% of customers benefitted by ECGC’s covers are MSMEs.  ECGC covers exports to around 200 countries in the world.

World’s biggest Reactors

GE and French utility EDF have agreed to team to build six reactors for a nuclear power project in Maharashtra state, which is due to be the world’s biggest when finished.

The six European Pressurised Water reactors will be for a 9,900 mw nuclear power project at Jaitapur, south of Mumbai, GE and EDF said in a joint statement released on Tuesday.

India plans to have nuclear power generation capacity of 22,480 mw by 2031 through projects including Jaitapur, where construction has not yet started .

Global Environment Facility (GEF)-

Playing a crucial role to mitigate climate change and other environmental challenges across the globe, India has announced it will increase for the next four years the money it pays to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a mechanism to provide grants for environmental projects.

India has decided to increase its commitments from $12 million to $15 million to the GEF’s new four-year investment cycle, known as GEF-7.

 

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. The GEF unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.

Since 1992, the GEF has provided over $17 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $88 billion in financing for more than 4000 projects in 170 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has invested $450million and leveraged similar levels of co financing supporting over 14,500 community based projects in over 125 countries.

An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversityclimate changeinternational watersland degradation, the ozone layerpersistent organic pollutants (POPs)mercurysustainable forest managementfood securitysustainable cities.

India, among the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, is both a donor and a recipient of GEF.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) concluded its third Annual Meeting in Mumbai  , on a high note to improve connectivity within the region and in turn enable citizens in the region to reach their potential and enjoy prosperity and security.

Shri Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog, pointed out that “Make in India is about laying emphasis on manufacturing in India, not protectionism. India believes in globalization and has opened its economy in every single sector that you can name. As a result, India has stood numerouno in terms of attracting foreign direct investment in the past three years.”

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi called upon the need to deepen India’s engagement with AIIB. In his speech, Prime Minister called upon Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to increase its lending to US$40 billion by 2020 and US$100 billion by 2025 from US$4 billion now.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. The bank currently has 86 member states from around the world.

The bank started operation after the agreement entered into force on 25 December 2015, after ratifications were received from 10 member states holding a total number of 50% of the initial subscriptions of the Authorized Capital Stock.[ Major economies that are not members include JapanMexicoNigeria, and the United States.

The capital of the bank is $100 billion, equivalent to ​23 of the capital of the Asian Development Bank and about half that of the World Bank.

The bank was proposed by China in 2013 and the initiative was launched at a ceremony in Beijing in October 2014. It received the highest credit ratings from the three biggest rating agencies in the world, and is seen as a potential rival to World Bank and IMF.

Need for new  organization

The reasons are:

  1. a) Western dominance:

The presence of western dominance in the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been considered as the major factor behind formation of AIIB. It is a set norm that the president of WB will be a person chosen by the US, where as the IMF chief would be an European.

  1. b) Lack of reform in IMF & World Bank:

This means that there is no reflection of current economic situation in the quota politics dominates economics. The World Bank violated its Articles of Agreement in denying India fresh loans after India tested nuclear weapons in May 1998. As per its Articles, political issues should not influence.

  1. c) Huge demand of infrastructure fund in Asia:

According to report by ADB, till 2020 Asia needs $800bn per annum for infrastructure projects

(ADB can provide only $10 bn).

Why China is interested?

  1. a) With forex reserve $3.8 tn it gives immense financial muscle to China to take the leadership of the group.
  2. b) It will contribute to the internationalization of the Yuan.
  3. c) It will help secure contracts for Chinese firms and thus boost employment opportunities at home
  4. d) China also wants to move away from export led growth towards  domestic consumption led growth. It wants to strategically  deploy it’s  huge forex *BRICS  new development  bank, silk route initiative.
  5. e) According to some analysts ,AIIB is the economic wing of China’s “one belt one road initiative”, where money will be strategically invested towards China’s geopolitical objective

Global impact

  1. a) It will catalyze the reforms in global financial institutions as more competition among these banks will catalyze the long awaited  reform in Bretton wood twins.
  2. b) According to ADB, Asia needs $800 bn of investment every year. AIIB can play a significant role in providing funding for it.
  3. c) Economic and political power may shift to Asia as key European members and allies of USA  has joined the Bank.

Relevance for India

  1. a) India is a founding member of the AIIB and is expected to have the second-largest shareholding after China.
  2. b) Establishment of the AIIB will help India and other signatory countries to raise and avail resources for their infrastructure and sustainable development projects.

It is expected that with membership in AIIB, India would be able to raise and obtain more resources for much needed infrastructure development. As per 12th FYP ,India needs $1 trn for infrastructure funding thus India can leverage its membership in AIIB to avail cheap loan .

Van Dhan Scheme

The Government proposes to set up 3000 Van Dhan Kendras involving 30,000 SHGs across the country under the Van Dhan Scheme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. In a new game changing initiative, the Prime Minister launched the Van Dhan Scheme of Ministry of Tribal Affairs and TRIFED on 14th April, 2018 during the celebrations of Ambedkar Jayanti at Bijapur Chattisgarh.

Emphasizing the important role of value addition in increasing tribal incomes, the Prime Minister stated that Van Dhan, Jandhan and Goverdhan Schemes had the potential to change the tribal-rural economic system. All these three schemes in tandem need to be promoted for this purpose by the State Governments.

Under Van Dhan Scheme,  Self Help Groups of  Tribal gatherers  have been constituted at . They are then trained and provided with working capital to add value to the products, which they collect from the Jungle. Working under the leadership of Collector, these groups can then market their products not only within the States but also outside the States. Training and technical support is provided by TRIFED.

The scheme will be implemented through Ministry of Tribal Affairs as Nodal Department at the Central Level and TRIFED as Nodal Agency at the National Level. At State level, the State Nodal Agency for MFPs and the District collectors are envisaged to play a pivot role in scheme implementation at grassroot level. Locally the Kendras are proposed to be managed by a Managing Committee (an SHG) consisting of representatives of Van Dhan SHGs in the cluster.

Key Highlights of Van Dhan Initiative are as fallows-

At unit level, aggregation of produce would be done by SHGs having about 30 members each forming Van Dhan Vikas ‘Samuh’. The SHGs would also undertake primary value addition of the MFPs using equipment such as small cutting and sieving tools, decorticator, dryer, packaging tool etc based on MFPs available in the area.

Van Dhan Vikas Samuh would have the following facilities:

Provision for required building/ infrastructure support to be established in one of the beneficiary’s house/ part of house or Government/ gram panchayat building

Equipment/ Tool Kit comprising of equipment such as small cutting and sieving tools, decorticator, dryer, packaging tool etc. based on MFPs available in the area

Fully equipped training facilities for a batch of 30 trainees with provision for raw material for training purpose and supply of trainee kits (comprising of bag, scribbing pad, pen, brochures, training manual, booklet etc)

Provisioning of working capital for the SHGs through tie up with financial institutions, banks, NSTFDC etc

A cluster of ten such SHGs within the same village shall form a Van Dhan Vikas Kendra. Subject to successful operations of the samuhs in a Kendra, common infrastructure facilities (pucca Kendra) may be provided to the Kendra in the next phase in terms of building, warehouse, etc. for use of the samuh members

An illustrative list of major MFPs which may be covered under the initiative are tamarind, mahua flower, mahua seed, hill broom, chironjee, honey, sal seed, sal leaves, bamboo split, myrobalan, mango (amchur), aonla (churan/candy), seed lac, tez patta, cardamom, black pepper, turmeric, dry ginger, cinnamon, coffee, tea, sea buckthorn .

 US Migration policy changes

U.S. border control has said that migrant parents crossing in from Mexico illegally will for now no longer be referred for prosecution, effectively suspending a key plank of the “zero tolerance” policy.

President Donald Trump had signed an executive order ending the policy of separating families entering the country illegally.

Commodity market to allow in mutual funds-

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is gearing up to usher the next set of reforms in the commodity market by allowing mutual funds to participate in the segment while also actively considering allowing derivatives on commodity indices.

A SEBI committee is separately looking into the issue of physical settlement for commodity derivative contracts. This comes two months after the regulator made it mandatory for stock derivatives to move to the physical settlement mechanism in a phased manner.

Upholding  travel ban in US

The U.S. Supreme Court  handed U.S. President Donald Trump one of the biggest victories of his presidency, upholding his travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries and rejecting the argument that it represented unconstitutional religious discrimination.

The 5-4 ruling, with the court’s five conservatives in the majority, ended a fierce fight in the courts over whether the policy amounted to an unlawful Muslim ban.

Mr. Trump quickly claimed ”profound vindication” after lower courts had blocked his travel ban announced in September 2017, as well as two prior versions, in legal challenges brought by the State of Hawaii and others.

The court held that the challengers had failed to show that the ban violates either U.S. immigration law or the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition on the government favouring one religion over another.

The current ban, announced in September 2017, prohibits entry into the U.S. of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chief Justice John Roberts said the actions taken by Mr. Trump to suspend entry of certain classes of people were “well within executive authority”.

 Bharat-22 ETF  oversubscribed

The second tranche of Bharat-22 ETF was oversubscribed on the final day of offering, with the issue garnering subscription to the tune of Rs 12,500 crore.

Through the Bharat-22 Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), comprising shares of 22 companies, the government had targeted to mop up Rs 6,000 crore with a green-shoe option of another Rs 2,400 crore.


The government had on June 19 launched the follow-on fund offer (FFO) of Bharat-22 ETF, which is managed by ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are comprised of securities traded in India. This is an emerging market play, meaning it carries higher risk than more mature markets. Higher risk can mean higher reward, but it can also mean steeper selloffs.

Lawrence Haddad & Dr. David Nabarro

The World Food Prize will be awarded this year to two men who have dedicated their careers to improving the availability of nutritious food for pregnant women and children in an effort to reduce the effects of malnutrition in developing countries.

Lawrence Haddad, who is a British economist and food policy researcher, and Dr. David Nabarro, who has worked with the World Health Organization and United Nations on health and hunger issues, were named the 2018 prize recipients in a ceremony  at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington.

India – Seychelles Relations-

India and Seychelles will ensure several initiatives for the strategically located country, including the grant of $100 million Line of Credit for the purchase of defence hardware. “On the project of Assumption island, both have agreed to work for the welfare of each other,.

India and Seychelles  agreed to work together on a project to develop a naval base at the Assumption Island keeping each other’s concerns in mind after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Seychelles President Danny Faure.

The two countries have convergence of views on the geostrategic importance of the Indian Ocean region. He also declared that both sides would intensify cooperation to carry out hydrographical studies of the maritime region and have declared exchange of necessary oceanic maps between two sides.

India also gifted a Dornier aircraft to Seychelles.This will reach on time to participate in the June 29 National Day of Seychelles.

Moral policing

Moral police is a blanket term used to describe vigilante groups which act to enforce a code of morality in India. Some of India’s laws, and some actions of police forces in India are also considered to be instances of moral policing. The target of moral policing is any activity that vigilante groups, the government or police deem to be “immoral” and/or “against Indian culture“.

Some of these groups have attacked or have forced to shut down art exhibitions, where they claim obscene paintings were being displayed. They have issued diktats against western attires. Some have also condemned beauty parlours. Some members of the media have also colluded with such groups. Some politicians have supported such viewpoints and occasionally such activities

Assam have arrested eight persons for assaulting and confining a Muslim man and a Hindu woman alleging that they had an illicit relationship.

A Garo tribal woman was “taught a lesson” for riding pillion on a Muslim man’s motorcycle at Paikan in western Assam’s Goalpara district bordering Meghalaya. The police had arrested 12 tribal men for kicking and punching the duo.

Groups like Shiva Sena, Valentine’s Day is often opposed by the moral police for being a western import. Vigilante group have been known to attack gift and card shops prior to the occasion.

Iran banned imports of over 1,300 products

Iran banned imports of over 1,300 products, preparing its economy to resist threatened U.S. sanctions, amid rare public protests against the plunge of its currency to record lows.

Police patrolled Tehran’s Grand Bazaar  as security forces struggled to restore normalcy after clashes with protesters angered by the rial’s collapse, which is disrupting business by driving up the cost of imports, witnesses said.

U.S. sanctions threat is pushing Tehran back toward running a “resistance economy” designed to conserve foreign exchange reserves and become as self-sufficient as possible in many products.

The rial is under heavy pressure from the U.S. sanctions threat. It sank as low as 90,000 against the dollar .

Polavaram irrigation project-Andhra pradesh

Polavaram irrigation project is a multipurpose irrigation project across Godavari river in West Godavari district with its reservoirs spreading across states of Chhattisgarh and Orissa as well. It is a national project which implies that its implementation is monitored by the Central Water Commission. The project is slated to be complete by 2019.

The project endeavours to develop irrigation, drinking water facilities and hydropower to regions of  East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, Krishna and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Vanijya Bhawan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  laid the foundation stone of Vanijya Bhawan at Delhi’s Akbar road. Once ready, the new building will house the Department of Commerce. The new building will be a symbol of not only India’s growing economic might but also the adoption and use of technology in governance.

PM Modi set sight on taking India into the 5 Trillion dollars economy club; stressed on taking GDP growth rate into double digits and doubling India’s share in global exports to 3.4%.

The Department of Commerce is currently housed in Udyog Bhawan which also houses a large number of other Government of India departments leading to constraint of space.

Aadhaar biometric data-

National Crime Records Bureau made a case for limited Aadhaar data access for the police to crack crimes, UIDAI has also asserted that use of Aadhaar biometric data for criminal investigation is not allowed under the Aadhaar Act.

It also informed that Aadhaar data has never been shared with any crime investigating agency.

The statement from Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) came after National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) made a strong pitch for the police to be provided with limited access to Aadhaar data, to aide them in catching first-time offenders and for identification of unidentified bodies.

The “very limited” exception to this, said UIDAI, is allowed under Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act, which permits use of or access to Aadhaar biometric data in cases involving national security only after pre-authorisation by an oversight committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS

The government has banned new offshoots of al-Qaeda and ISIS under the Anti-terror law- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an official order regarding the same . “Both Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham-Khorasan (ISIS-K), an Afghanistan-based affiliate of ISIS, have been declared unlawful by the Union home ministry as they were found to be radicalising Indian youths for ‘global jihad’ and encouraging terror acts on Indian interests.

 

Draft on cross-border insolvency-2018

In order to strengthen the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the government  released a draft on cross-border insolvency that would help banks access overseas assets of a company undergoing resolution. Similarly, the Indian authorities will also be required to cooperate with foreign creditors to a domestic company.

The draft favours adoption of the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Laws) model on dealing with cross-border insolvency. The UNCITRAL model law envisages a balance between liquidation and reorganisation of global companies going in for resolution.

“On the global scale, the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency, 1997 (“Model Law”) has emerged as the most widely accepted legal framework to deal with cross-border insolvency issues while ensuring the least intrusion into the country’s domestic insolvency law.

Due to the growing prevalence of multinational insolvencies, the Model Law has been adopted by 44 States till date, including Singapore, UK, and US,” .

As per the draft law, the central government after entering into agreement with other countries, may bring overseas asset of a domestic corporate debtor into consideration of insolvency resolution in India. While initially the cross border insolvency framework will apply only to corporate debtors, it can be extended to cases of personal insolvency resolution as well. The draft says India will also cooperate with foreign creditors and enable them to initiate insolvency against local corporate debtors.

India and the United States will hold an inaugural 2+2 dialogue-

India and the United States will hold an inaugural 2+2 dialogue on July 6 ,2018 in Washington DC to discuss bilateral defense and security cooperation. As per a release by the United States Department of State, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will host Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the dialogue.

The meeting will focus on strengthening strategic, security, and defence cooperation with respect to the evolving global challenges.

Retaliatory tariffs

India has imposed retaliatory tariff on 29 US products worth $235 million will come into effect on 4 August 2018, countering a US move to unilaterally raise import duties on Indian steel and aluminium.

However, India left out Harley-Davidson from the final list, in a change from an earlier announcement that it would impose 50% additional tariff on the iconic American motorbikes.

India could have imposed the retaliatory tariffs with immediate effect. But with negotiations coming up on a “trade package”, New Delhi seems to have allowed some more time as assistant US trade representative Mark Linscott is scheduled to visit India next week.

Yoga for Peace June 21,2018

Fourth International Yoga Day was observed across the world on June 21,2018. On this day, which is dedicated to inner and outer well-being of human body, people across the world practice yoga in groups.

The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga, a physical, mental and spiritual practice. The word yoga originates from Yuja, a Sanskrit word which means, “to join or to unite”, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness. The theme for Yoga Day 2018 is “Yoga for Peace.”

June 21 is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed this date at the United Nations General Assembly 2014.

The first International Day of Yoga was observed all over the world on June 21, 2015. 35,985 people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a large number of dignitaries from 84 nations, performed 21 yoga asanas (postures) for 35 minutes at Rajpath in New Delhi.

The event at Rajpath established two Guinness world records – one for the largest yoga class, featuring 35,985 people, and second for the largest number of participating nationalities (84 nations).

United Nations Human Rights Council-US Withdrawl

The United States announced  that it was leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council, with Ambassador Nikki Haley calling it “an organization that is not worthy of its name.”

It was the latest withdrawal by the Trump administration from an international institution.

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights . The US  sets to cut voluntary support United States for international bodies by at least 40%.

The U.S. withdrew from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2017 . World’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter will remove itself from global treaty as Trump claims accord ‘will harm’ American jobs (2017).

The United States is withdrawing from a United Nationsdeclaration intended at protecting the rights of migrants, saying in a notice to the international group that staying in the agreement would be inconsistent with American immigration policy(2017).

The announcement came just a day after U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents. But Ms. Haley cited longstanding U.S. complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel. She had been threatening the pull-out since last year unless the council made changes advocated by the U.S.

Still, she suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, “we would be happy to rejoin it.”

International Centre for Humanitarian Forensics- Gandhinagar

The world’s first International Centre for Humanitarian Forensics (ICHF) was launched on 20 June 2018 in Gujarat, India by the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University (GFSU) in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Delegation for India, Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives.

ICHF is the first definitive effort at institutionalising humanitarian forensic action within an existing university system.

The Centre will conduct various academic and professional programmes, training, research and provide technical expertise to support operations (together with authorities and agencies concerned) in the field of humanitarian forensics. It is envisioned to be the one-stop centre of excellence in Asia for global high quality and sustainable capacity building, research and innovative projects that will underpin operational responses for humanitarian forensic purposes in relevant contexts.

India Smart Cities Award’ 2018

Surat has been awarded for showcasing “great momentum” in the implementation of projects under the Smart Cities Mission by Ministry of the Housing and Urban Affairs (HUA) .

Under ‘India Smart Cities Award’ 2018, Bhopal and Ahmedabad were selected in the ‘Innovative Idea’ category for their “transformative approach towards sustainable integrated development, while nine smart cities, including NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council), bagged ‘Project’ awards for innovative and successful projects in seven categories

“The city award is being given to Surat for showing great momentum in implementation of projects especially in the categories of urban environment, transport and mobility and sustainable integrated developmentJoint winners in ‘Innovative Idea’ category were Bhopal for its Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) and Ahmedabad for Safe and Secure Ahmedabad (SASA) Project, the release said.

MoU between the ICMR and INSERM, France

Union Cabinet has been apprised of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU signed between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Institut National de la Santeet de la RechercheMedicale (INSERM), France. Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The MoU will strengthen relations between ICMR and INSERM within the framework of international scientific and technological cooperation in fields of mutual interest. The scientific excellence on two sides will help to successfully work on health research in specified areas.

The MoU aims at cooperation in areas of common interest within medical, health research and life sciences fields. Based on scientific excellence on both sides, both parties have agreed to have a specific focus upon diabetes and metabolic disorders, bio-ethics with focus on ethics and regulatory issues of gene editing techniques, rare diseases and any other areas of mutual interest can be considered after discussions between two sides.

Cabinet approves enactment of Dam Safety Bill, 2018

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament. The bill aims to help all States and Union Territories to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which will ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This will also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.

The bill address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, comprehensive dam safety review, emergency action plan, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, instrumentation and safety manuals. It lays onus of dam safety on dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.

The Bill also provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) as regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement policy, standards and guidelines for dam safety in the country. It also provides for constitution of State Committee on Dam Safety (SCDS) by State Government.

NDSA will maintain liaison with State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs) and owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices. It will provide technical and managerial assistance to States and SDSOs. It will maintain national level data-base of all dams in the country and records of major dam failures.

There are over 5200 large dams and about 450 dams are under construction in India. Moreover, there are thousands of small and medium dams. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in the country, dam safety has been issue of concern. Unsafe dams are hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.

 Repositioning of North Eastern Council

The Union Cabinet has approved proposal of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) for nomination of Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC). It also approved that Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER will serve as Vice Chairman of NEC.

NEC is statutory body with Governors and Chief Ministers of all eight North Eastern State as its members which implements various projects through State and Central agencies. The repositioning of NEC will help it to become more effective body for North Eastern Region (NER).

Under new arrangement with Home Minister as Chairman and Minister of DoNER as Vice Chairman will provide forum for discussing inter-state matters more comprehensively and also consider common approaches to be taken in future.

NEC now can perform tasks undertaken by various Zonal Councils to discuss such inter-State issues as smuggling of arms and ammunition, drug trafficking, boundary disputes etc.

NEC will also review from time to time implementation of the projects and schemes included in project. It will also recommend effective measures for coordination among state Governments for these projects etc. NEC will also have such powers as may be delegated to it by the Central Government.

NEC is statutory body established under North Eastern Council (NEC) Act, 1971 as an apex level body for securing balanced and coordinated development and facilitating coordination with states. It has been mandated to function as regional planning body for NER .It gives priority to schemes and projects while formulating regional plan for this area benefiting two or more states. In case of Sikkim, NEC formulates specific projects and schemes for that State.

Dr Bindeshwar Pathak

Renowned social activist and founder of Sulabh International, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak (75) was honoured with the Japan’s prestigious Nikkei Asia Prize for his contribution to Asia’s development. He was presented with this award at 23rd Nikkei Asia Prize ceremony held in Tokyo, Japan under ‘Culture and Community’ category for his significant work in tackling poor hygiene and discrimination.

He was among three who were conferred with this award. Other two awardees are Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun who was awarded business innovation prize  for using power of internet to promote cleaner industry and Vietnamese doctor Nguyen Thanh Liem who won science and technology prize in recognition of his work advancing health care for children.

Nikkei Inc. is one of largest media corporations in Japan. It has been presenting Nikkei Asia Prize since 1996 to honour people in Asia who have made significant contributions in one of three areas: Economic and Business Innovation, Science, Technology and Environment and Culture and Community. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Infosys Chairman Narayan Murti are among few Indians who have won this prize in the past.

He had founded Sulabh International in 1970. It is an NGO that works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation among other social services.

 Ah-64E Apache  helicopters

The United States State Department has approved sale of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters along with support equipments to India. The Apache choppers are one of the most advanced multi-role combat helicopters which have advanced weapons systems and night-fighting features, manufactured by Boeing.

The total estimated cost of the deal is $930 million. The proposed sale also includes 180 Hellfire Longbow air-to-surface anti-armor missiles, 90 R-3 Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles, 200 Stinger air-to-air missiles; rockets, 30 mm cannons and ammunition.

It also includes simulators, communication equipment, spare and repair parts, training, engineering and other support. The prime contractors for the support sale will be Lockheed Martin, Longbow, Raytheon General Electric and Boeing.

The sale of Apache attack helicopters will strengthen India’s ability to defend its homeland and deter regional threats. It will increase in India’s defensive capability to counter ground-armored threats and modernise its armed forces. India will have no difficulty absorbing the helicopters and support equipment into its armed forces. Moreover, sale of these attack helicopters from US to India will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

Composite Water Management Index

The NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog launched Composite Water Management Index as useful tool to assess and improve performance in efficient management of water resources. The index aims to inspire States/UTs towards efficient and optimal utilization of water and recycling thereof with sense of urgency.

The composite water management index comprises of nine parameters and 28 indicators. These include various aspects of ground water, irrigation, restoration of water bodies, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance. For purpose of analysis, reporting states of index were divided into two special groups North Eastern and Himalayan states and Other States to take into account different hydrological conditions across these groups.

General States or Other States: Gujarat topped the list followed by Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Jharkhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were worst performers among general States. In terms of incremental change, it was Rajasthan which held the first position.

North-eastern and Himalayan states: Tripura has topped the list followed by Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam.

Composite water management index’s ranking of states/UTs will ensure that principle of competitive and cooperative federalism is actualised in India’s water management system. It will help build pressure on states who have not performed well to improve their water management techniques as this is directly linked to agriculture prosperity in different states.

It can be also utilised to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources. It will provide useful information for States and also for concerned Central Ministries and Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.

India in recent times is suffering from worst water crisis in its history. Millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat due to this crisis. Currently, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about 2 lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water.

It is estimated crisis is going to get worse by 2030 when India’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply. In view of limitations on availability of water resources and rising demand for water, sustainable management of water resources has acquired critical importance. The Composite Water Management Index will fulfil mandate of cooperative and competitive federalism and also challenges States/UTs to meet aspirations of new India.

Import duty on non-palm oils

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBITC) under Finance Ministry has raised import duty by 5-10% on non-palm edible oils, both crude and refined ones, in order to protect interest of domestic oilseeds growers and processors.

Sunflower oil: The import duty on crude variant was increased from 25% to 35%, while that on refined variant from 35% to 45%.

Crude groundnut oil: The import duty was increased from 30% to 35%, while that on refined groundnut oil from 35% to 45%.

Canola oil: The import duty was increased from 25% to 35% .

India has 60-65% import dependency in edible oils as there is huge demand supply gap in domestic market. India imports over 14 million tonnes of vegetable oils annually to meet domestic demand.  Thus, international trade in edible oils generates huge import bill to be paid every year. The import bill for edible oil is around $10 billion which is India’s third-highest overseas spending after oil and gold.

In March 2018, Central Government had raised import duty on crude palm oils from 30% to 44%, while that on refined palm oils to 54% from 40%. But the customs duty on non-palm crude and refined edibles was kept unchanged.

106th Science Congress

The 106th Indian Science Congress will be held at Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Jalandhar, Punjab from January 3 to 7, 2019. It will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The theme for the five-day science congress is ‘Future India: Science & Technology. It will be organised by the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), a premier scientific organisation of India.

The science congress will comprise of 18 plenary sessions, including those of medical, environmental, chemical and other science domains.

There will also be four parallel mega events, including women’s science conference, children’s science conference; science communicators meet and science exhibition. The exhibition will see participation from national and international science companies, especially from US, Australia, Germany and Switzerland. About 15,000 delegates, including 300 top scientists and Nobel Laureates from across world are going to attend the congress.

ISCA was started in the year 1914 at its headquarters in Kolkata. It organises Indian Science Congress annually in first week of January.

National Health Protection Mission

Twenty States have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) for implementing Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM). The MoUs were exchanged during Health Ministers’ conclave held in New Delhi. During the conclave, aspects of NHPM, like operational guidelines, model tender document for selection of insurance companies and implementation support agencies for trusts were discussed.

AB-NHPM aims to target over 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC) database.

It will cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year, taking care of almost all secondary care and tertiary care procedures. There will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme. The scheme integrates two on-going centrally sponsored schemes viz. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).

Benefit cover: It includes pre and post-hospitalisation expenses. It will cover all pre-existing conditions from beginning of the policy. It will also pay defined transport allowance per hospitalization to the beneficiary.

Cashless benefits: The scheme allows the beneficiary to take cashless benefits from any public or private empanelled hospitals across the country. The payment for treatment will be done on package rate which will be defined by Government in advance basis. The package rates will include all the costs associated with treatment.

Role of state governments: They are allowed to expand the scheme both horizontally and vertically. They are also free to choose modalities for implementation. They can implement through insurance company or directly through Trust/ Society or a mixed model. States/UTs will have also flexibility to modify these rates within limited bandwidth.

Council: For giving policy directions and fostering coordination between Centre and States, Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Council (AB-NHPMC) will be set up at apex level. It will be chaired by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister.

Swajal Scheme

Swajal is community owned drinking water scheme or programme for sustained drinking water supply. Under it, 90% of project cost is taken care by the Government and remaining 10% is contributed by beneficiary community.

Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation announced that Swajal schemes in 115 aspirational districtsof the country will involve an outlay of Rs 700 crores through flexi-funds under the existing NRDWP budget.

These schemes will aim to provide villages with piped water supply powered by solar energy.

The Minister also announced the modernisation of 2000 water quality testing laboratories spread across the country.

The Sustainable Development Goal ‘safe drinking water for all’ is achieved in India by 2030.The operations and management of the project is taken care by the local villagers. Under this scheme, government aims to provide villages with piped water supply powered by harnessing solar energy. Moreover, hundreds of rural technicians will be trained under this scheme for operation and maintenance of Swajal units.

A R Rahman

A R Rahman has been appointed as the Brand Ambassador of the Sikkim government, an official notification said. Rahman will promote and project the state’s achievements nationally and globally, the notification issued by the Chief Secretary A K Srivastava said.

Sikkim, with its natural and pristine beauty, has over the last two decades emerged as a world famous eco-tourism destination, besides attaining a distinct identity as the first fully organic farming state of the country, it said on Monday. The state government had earlier this year made Rahman its Brand Ambassador of tourism and business.

Governor’s rule in J&K

Jammu and Kashmir was brought under Governor’s rule  and the state Assembly put under suspended animation, a day after thePDP-BJP government collapsed + with the BJP ending the three-year-old alliance with the regional party.

As Governor N N Vohra held multiple meetings in Srinagar during which security measures were discussed, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said the ongoing military operations in the Valley against terrorists + would continue as earlier.

Governor’s rule in the state is unlikely to have any impact on ongoing military operations,.It is for the fourth time that the sensitive border state was placed under Central rule+ in the last one decade — all under the tenure of Vohra, who was made the Governor in June 2008. This is the eighth time in the last four decades that the state was put under Governor’s rule.

An official gazette notification issued in Srinagar said the Governor Vohra has put Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly under suspended animation. The six-year term of the current Assembly ends in March, 2021.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh said the Centre wants terrorism to end and peace to prevail in Kashmir.
SIPRI

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) launches the findings of SIPRI Yearbook 2018, which assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security.

Key findings include the following: all the nuclear weapon-possessing states are developing new nuclear weapon systems and modernizing their existing systems; and the number of personnel deployed with peace operations worldwide continues to fall while the demand is increasing.

World nuclear forces, January 2018

Country   Deployed    Warheads* Other warheads**   Total    2018    Total     2017
USA 1 750 4 700 6 450 6 800
Russia 1 600 5 250 6 850 7 000
UK 120 95 215 215
France 280 20 300 300
China   280 280 270
India   130-140 130-140 120-130
Pakistan   140-150 140-150 130-140
Israel   80 80 80
North Korea .. .. (10-20) (10-20)
Total 3 750 10 715 14 465 14 935
         

Jeff Bezos

According to Forbes World’s Billionaires list released on 18 June, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has become the richest man in the world with a net wealth of $141.9 billion.

Bezos’ wealth has grown more than USD 5 billion since June 1 to beat Bill Gates, the principal founder of Microsoft Corporation, who is the second-richest man in the world with USD 92.9 billion.

Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors in the world, trailed in the third place with a total of wealth of USD 82.2 billion.

Nasscom to support women techies

In an effort to increase the number of women in senior levels in the Information Technology (IT) industry, NASSCOMhas unveiled its ‘Women Wizards Rule Tech’ programme for women techies

The Indian IT industry’s apex body has designed the programme to support women techies in core technologies like IT-Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES), Business Process Management (BPM), product and research and development (R&D) sectors by equipping them with the skills required for an edge in their career.

The Women Wizards Rule Tech was announced in March at the Nasscom Diversity and Inclusion Summit in Chennai as a joint initiative by the Nasscom Sector Skills Council and the Data Security Council of India.

Star rankings to its panchayats

In a novel initiative, Haryana government has decided to give star rankings to its panchayats on the basis of seven social parameters under the state’s 7-Star Gram Panchayat Rainbow scheme.

The panchayats will be judged on sex ratio, education, hygiene, environment preservation, governance and social participation. The selected villages will be honoured at an award ceremony to be held in Panchkula, Gurugram and Rohtak next month.

Wind energy target

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE)  announced medium and long term offshore wind energy target of 5GW by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030, respectively, to provide confidence to the industry.

While this may look moderate in comparison to India’s on-shore wind target of 60 GW and its achievement of 34 GW, and solar target of 100 GW by 2022, this would still be challenging considering the difficulties in installing large wind power turbines in open seas.

The MNRE had notified National Off-Shore Wind Policy in October 2015 to realise the offshore wind power potential in the country. Preliminary studies have indicated good wind potential for off-shore wind power both in southern tip of Indian peninsula and west coast.

Suresh Mathur

Regulator Irdai has set up a 10-member panel to review norms related to insurance marketing firm (IMF) with an aim to increase insurance penetration in the country.

The new distribution channel of IMF was introduced in 2015 by Irdai, with the objective of increasing insurance penetration through an area–wise registration approach.

The committee is headed by Suresh Mathur, Executive Director (insurance marketing firms), IRDAI, with nine more members.

Video-game playing as a mental health disorder

International health officials have classified excessive video-game playing as a mental health disorder — and parents who gave out games as gifts this year may want to take note.

World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to its International Classification of Diseases. It finalized the 11th update of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a guide that describes different health problems and their symptoms.

“For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months,” WHO said.

This is a watershed moment for video-game addiction treatment and players. Up until now, addiction to video games has not been formally recognized as a health problem by experts.

Numerous researchers have indicated that a significant portion of video game players may be addicted. Indeed, a treatment center dedicated to people who are hooked on video games exists. There is also the self-help group On-Line Gamers Anonymous, which was started by a woman who believes her son committed suicide as a result of his gaming addiction.

Dhanush-

The indigenously upgraded artillery gun Dhanush has successfully completed final user trials and is ready for induction into the Army. Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured by India in the mid-1980s.

“This was the third and final phase of user exploitation firings in which six Dhanush guns were fired in battery formation from May 31 to June 7, 2018 at the Pokhran field firing range. A total of 301 rounds were fired from the six guns, including burst fire,” said Dr. Uddipan Mukherjee, public relations officer of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), in response to a questionnaire from this newspaper.

The decay of the land

Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations. Desertification does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of the world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.

2018 Theme “Land has true value – invest in it.”

Your choices determine future scenarios for sustainable growth. The 2018 World Day to Combat Desertification campaign #2018WDCD urges you to move away from unsustainable land use and make a difference by investing in the future of land under the slogan, “Land has true value — invest in it.” (source)

Every one of us has a role to play, know the true value of land and invest in it:

  • Spending money on organic and fairly trade products to avoid land degradation.
  • Making a pledge to protect and conserve the value of land.
  • Observing World Day to Combat Desertification, supporting a sustainable way of living, producing and consuming.
  • Organizing an event or launching an initiative to promote sustainable land management (SLM) and land degradation neutrality (LDN). Send the details of your event t

Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket-

Russia launched a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket from the Plesetsk space center  to orbit a GLONASS-M satellite ((the Russian acronym for ‘Global Navigation Satellite System’)).

Earlier, a satellite producer Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems reported that the signal interface control document for GLONASS would be updated in 2018, making radio signals to the satellite navigation system less susceptible to corruption.

Assumption Island

Danny Faure held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and review the wide-ranging cooperation between the two countries, including in the fields of defence and security,
A joint project with New Delhi to develop a naval base at Assumption Island in his country would not move forward.

There has been growing political opposition in Seychelles to an agreement it signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at the island which would have given New Delhi a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean Region.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),

The twenty-eighth Plenary Meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), chaired by Ambassador Jānis Zlamets of Latvia, was held in Jūrmala, Latvia, on 14 and 15 June 2018.

The NSG brings together 48 Participating Governments* with the European Commission and the Chair of the Zangger Committee participating as permanent observers.

The Group aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation on a national basis of export controls for nuclear and nuclear-related material, “dual use” material, equipment, software and technology, without hindering international cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The NSG took stock of developments since the last meeting in Bern in 2017.

In particular, Participating Governments exchanged information on global proliferation challenges and reiterated their firm support for the full, complete and effective implementation of the Treaty on Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime.

Duty war

China  imposed additional duties on USD 50 billion worth of American products, a day after US President Donald Trump slapped a stiff 25 per cent tariff on Chinese goods worth similar amount, triggering a full-fledged trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Trump  accused China of intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices as he announced 25 per cent tariff on USD 50 billion worth of Chinese goods. The Chinese government has decided to impose additional duties of 25 per cent on 659 items of US products worth about USD 50 billion, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The government also unveiled a list of US products which will be subjected to additional tariffs, it said.

Additional tariffs for 545 items worth about USD 34 billion including agricultural products, vehicles and aquatic products will be effective from July 6, 2018, a statement issued by China’s Customs Tariffs commission said. The implementation date for imposing additional tariffs on the remaining 114 items, covering chemical products, medical equipment and energy products will be announced later, it said.

More foreign workers

Japan’s Cabinet  adopted an economic plan that would allow more foreign workers as the rapidly aging country seeks to make up for its declining workforce.

Under the plan, Japan would relax visa requirements in sectors facing severe labor shortages such as nursing care, agriculture, construction and transport — new categories it would start accepting in addition to highly skilled professionals.

The workers would be allowed to stay in the country for only up to five years as visitors, not as immigrants. They would not be allowed to be accompanied by family members — a measure that would encourage them to leave Japan when their visas expire and not become part of Japanese society. Japan also sets high standards for language skills and cultural understanding.

Human rights groups and business lobbies have urged the government to expand work visas so that foreign workers can work legally and under improved conditions.

 

 

 

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