[current affairs] 13 – 19 May 2017


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11 – 17 February 2017

  • Government has proposed to establish a National Testing Agency as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutes. This would free CBSE, AICTE and other premier institutions from these administrative responsibilities so that they can focus more on academics.

  • Government proposed to extend the number of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras from current 60 to cover more than 600 districts across the country. Announcing this in the General Budget 2017-18, the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said 100 India International Skills Centres will be established across the country. These centres would offer advanced training and also courses in foreign languages. This will help those of our youth who seek job opportunities outside the country.

  • Union Finance Minister said that in the Financial Year 2017-18, a programme SANKALP (Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion Programmes) will also be launched at a cost of Rs. 4,000 crore. SANKALP will provide market relevant training to 3.5 crore youth.

  • Government Proposed to launch the next phase of Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) in the next financial year 2017-18, at a cost of Rs. 2200 crore. The Finance Minister said STRIVE will focus on improving the quality and market relevance of vocational training provided in it is and strengthen the apprenticeship programmes through industry cluster approach.
  • The Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley has also proposed that a Special Scheme for creating employment in leather and footwear industries will also be implemented. This will be on the line of already launched Special Scheme for creating employment in the textile sector.

  • The Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley has also proposed to set-up Five Special Tourism Zone, anchored on SPVs in partnership with the States. The Finance Minister said this is because Tourism is a big employment generator and has a multiplier impact on the economy. The Minister also announced the launching of incredible India 2.0 campaign across the world.

  • Mahila Shakti Kendra to be set up at village level with an allocation of Rs. 500 crores in 14 lakh ICDS Anganwadi Centres. This will provide one-stop convergent support services for empowering rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition.

  • Under nationwide scheme for financial assistance to pregnant women, Rs. 6,000 each will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children.

  • For the welfare of Women and Children under various schemes across all the Ministries, the allocation has been stepped-up from Rs. 1,56,528 crores in BE 2016-17 to Rs. 1,84,632 crores in 2017-18.

  • The allocation for the welfare of Scheduled Castes has been stepped from Rs. 38,833 crores in 2016-17 to Rs. 52,393 crores in 2017-18, representing an increase of about 35%. The allocation for Scheduled Tribes has been increased to Rs. 31,920 crores and for Minority Affairs to Rs. 4,195 crores. The Government will introduce outcome based monitoring of expenditure in these sectors by the NITI Aayog.
  • For senior citizens, Aadhar based Smart Cards containing their health details will be introduced. A beginning will be made through a pilot in 15 districts during 2017-18. The LIC will implement a scheme for senior citizens to provide assured pension, with a guaranteed return of 8% per annum for 10 years.

  • First combined Budget of Independent India, that includes Railways, presented. Total Capital and Development Expenditure of Railways pegged at Rs. 1,31,000 crores. Government to focus on 'Swachh Rail'; Rs. 1 lakh crores 'Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh' to be created in 5 years. Cashless reservations go up from 58% to 68%.

  • Political parties cannot receive donation above Rs. 2,000 in cash from one person; entitled to receive donations by cheque or digital mode from their donors; Have to file its Income-Tax Return within the prescribed time limit. Banks to issue Electoral Bonds to enable donations to Political parties.

  • The pace of construction of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) roads has accelerated to reach 133 km roads per day in 2016-17, as against an average of 73 km during the period 2011-2014. A sum of Rs. 19,000 crore has been provided in 2017-18 for this scheme.

  • One crore houses to be completed by 2019 for the houseless and those living in Kutcha houses as the Government has stepped up the allocation for Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana Gramin from Rs. 15,000 crore in 2016-17 to Rs. 23,000 crores in 2017-18.

  • 100% village electrification likely to be achieved by 1st May 2018 and an increased allocation of Rs. 4,814 crores has been proposed under the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana in 2017-18.

  • The Government has proposed to increase the allocations for Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission for promotion of skill development and livelihood opportunities for people in rural areas to Rs. 4,500 crore in 2017-18.
  • The allocation for Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) and Credit Support Schemes has been increased more than 3 times.

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) has made tremendous progress in promoting safe sanitation and ending open defecation. Sanitation coverage in rural India has gone up from 42% in October 2014 to about 60% and such villages are now being given priority for piped water supply. For imparting new skills to the people in the rural areas, mason training will be provided to 5 lakh persons by 2022, with an immediate target of training at least 20,000 persons by 2017-18.

  • With a better monsoon, agriculture is expected to grow at 4.1% in the current year, i.e. 2016-17 as the total area sown under kharif and rabi seasons are higher than the previous year. Adequate credit to be made available to the farmers in time and the target for agricultural credit in 2017-18 has been fixed at a record level of 10 lakh crores. The farmers to also benefit from 60 days' interest waiver announced by the Prime Minister in respect of their loans from the cooperative credit structure.

  • Computerization and integration of all 63,000 functional primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) with the Core Banking System of District Central Cooperative Banks to be done in 3 years at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,900 crores, with financial participation from the State Governments to ensure seamless flow of credit to small and marginal farmers.

  • The coverage of Fasal Bimal Yojana to be increased from 30% of cropped area in 2016-17 to 40% in 2017-18 and 50% in 2018-19. The Budget provision of Rs. 5,500 crores for the scheme in 2016-17 was increased to Rs. 13,240 crores in RE 2016-17 to settle the arrear claims. For 2017-18, a sum of Rs. 9,000 crores will be provided and the sum insured under this Yojana has more than doubled from Rs. 69,000 crores in Kharif 2015 to Rs. 1,41,625 crores in Kharif 2016.
  • Government to take more steps and enable the farmers to increase their production and productivity and to deal with post-harvest challenges. The coverage of National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) will be expanded from the current 250 markets to 585 APMCs. Moreover, assistance upto a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakhs will be provided to every e-NAM market for establishment of cleaning, grading and packaging facilities.

  • As Dairy is an important source of additional income for the farmers, a Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund to be set-up in NABARD with a corpus of Rs. 8,000 crores over 3 years. He said that issuance of Soil Health Cards has gathered momentum, even as the Government has decided to set-up new mini labs in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and ensure 100% coverage of all 648 KVKs in the country.

  • Union finance Minister said the Demonetisation is expected to have a transient impact on the economy. It will have a great impact on the economy and lives of people. Demonetisation is a bold and decisive measure that will lead to higher GDP growth. The effects of Demonetisation will not spillover to the next fiscal, he added.

4 – 10 February 2017

  • The nation celebrated its 68th Republic Day on 26th January with the theme 'Skill India and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao'. The main function was organized in New Delhi where President Pranab Mukherjee unfurled the national flag and took salute of grand parade at Rajpath. Crown Prince Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the Chief Guest of the ceremony. The highest peacetime military decoration award – the Ashok Chakra – was given to Havaldar Hangpan Dada posthumously for his selfless service to the nation. The award was received by his wife Chasen Lowang Dada.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee has said it is his firm conviction that India's pluralism and her social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity are the greatest strength of the country. Addressing the nation on the eve of Republic Day, the President said, India's tradition has always celebrated the argumentative Indian. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also greeted the nation on Republic Day.

  • President Pranab Mukherjee announced the names of recipients of year 2017 Padma awards comprising Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhusan and Padma Shri. This edition of list includes more than 15 unsung persons and also people who rendered selfless service at the grassroots. Padma Awards, the country's highest civilian awards given in various disciplines – art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.

  • List of Padma Vibhushan Awardees 2017 includes – 1. K.J. Yesudas in the field of Art – Music; 2. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in the field of Others – Spiritualism; 3. Sharad Pawar in Public Affairs; 4. Murli Manohar Joshi in Public Affairs; 5. Prof. Udipi Ramachandra Rao in Science & Engineering; 6. Sunder Lal Patwa (Posthumous) in Public Affairs; and 7. P.A. Sangma (Posthumous) in Public Affairs.

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said demonetisation shook the financial system for a short while, but will integrate the shadow economy with the formal in the long run and ensure better tax compliance. He said most contentious issues regarding the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have been sorted between the Centre and states and the new indirect tax regime is at the final stages of implementation. He was speaking after inaugurating the two-day 23rd edition of CII Partnership Summit in Visakhapatnam. The finance minister further said the government plans to implement GST, from July 1st.
  • National Voter's Day was observed on 25th January. The Election Commission of India was founded on this day in 1950. The commission observes National Voters Day to create awareness on voting and voter rights. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi wished the citizens on this day. Calling elections as the celebrations of democracy, the Prime Minister urged every eligible voters to exercise their franchise and called upon the youth to register as voters when they turn 18. On this occasion, Unfolding Indian Elections: Journey of the Living Democracy' published by Publications Division was released by the Election Commission of India.

  • Meghalaya Governor V. Shanmuganathan resigned days after a controversy was triggered by reports in local media, which accused him of sexual misconduct 67-year-old Shanmuganathan tendered his resignation from the post. The resignation also follows a protest in Shillong, in which civil society groups hit the streets on Republic Day. Earlier, nearly 100 Raj Bhavan staff had petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister and union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking their intervention to remove the 67-year-old Governor and restore the dignity of Raj Bhavan.

  • National Investigation Agency will probe the sabotage angle in the recent train derailments in Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur and Andhra Pradesh's Kuneru area. Official sources said the agency has taken over the probe in these cases following an order from the Home Ministry. An NIA team has already conducted an inspection of the site in Vizianagaram where Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express went off the track to ascertain if it was an act of terror as the railway suspected sabotage. Several people were killed in the accident. The role of Pakistan's ISI in the derailment of Indore-Patna train on 20 November, 2016 in Kanpur, is also being looked into.

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for launching of Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017. The scheme will be launched as part of Government's commitment for financial inclusion and social security. The scheme will be implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) during the current financial year, i.e. FY 2016-17. It will be open for subscription for a period of one year from the date of launch.
  • The Government gave its approval to ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 2012 and is set to expire in 2020. 75 countries, so far, have ratified the Second Commitment Period.

  • The Union Cabinet has given its nod for a new scheme for promotion of Rural Housing in the country pucca houses to improve dwelling units. Under this scheme, the Government will provide interest subsidy to every rural household who is not covered under the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (Grameen).

  • The Government constituted a Working Group committee to frame uniform rules for the states to avoid delay in proper implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 across the country. The Committee will be headed by Secretary from Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. It will submit its report within three months.

  • India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) inked 14 agreements in various areas to boost bilateral cooperation between both countries. These agreements were signed after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in New Delhi. The Crown Prince who is Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces was on a three-day visit. He was the chief guest of 2017 Republic Day Parade.

  • Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has cancelled his planned trip to the US after President Donald Trump tweeted that he should cancel his visit if Mexico is unwilling to pay for the massive border wall being built to stop illegal migrants from entering America. Pena Nieto was scheduled to be in Washington on 31st January. Trump's Mexican counterpart condemned the US decision to build a border wall and repeated that Mexico will not pay for the wall.
  • The US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to formally put US out of the negotiating process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal of 12 Pacific Rim countries. The mega trade deal TPP was one of the major international trade initiatives of his predecessor Barack Obama aimed to set trade rules for the 21st century and bind US allies against growing Chinese economic clout.

  • Russia and Turkey conducted a joint aerial operation in Syria's Al-Bab after exchanging intelligence data on terror group Islamic State targets. Russia Defence Ministry said Russian Su-24M attack aircraft, Su-35S fighter jets, as well as Turkish F-16 and F-4 multirole fighter aircraft took part in the attack. As a result of joint airstrikes, three IS command centers and a number of terrorist strongholds have been destroyed. Since January 18, Russian and Turkish warplanes have destroyed some 60 terrorist targets.

  • Russian Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin passed away in New Delhi after brief illness. Mr. Kadakin had contributed greatly to strengthen India-Russia relations. He had served as the Russian Ambassador to India since October 2009. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the death of Mr. Kadakin. In a tweet, he said, the Russian Ambassador was an admirable diplomat, a great friend of India and a fluent Hindi speaker. Mr. Modi said the Ambassador tirelessly contributed to stronger India-Russia ties.

  • Improved Pinaka rockets, with a guidance system and an enhanced range were successfully test-fired for the second time from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha. The guided version dubbed as Pinaka mark-II, has been evolved version of Pinaka mark-I.

28 January – 3 February 2017
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over the functioning of government's departments in isolation and stressed on coordination among the departments of Central and State governments. Delivering the inaugural address on a three-day National Conference of Central and State Ministers and Secretaries of Tourism, Culture and Sports at Kutch in Gujarat through video-conferencing, the Prime Minister asked the participants to share their best practices to solve the outstanding problems. He asked the Departments to chalk out a blue-print to channelize the youth power for the betterment of the country and the world. He said, digital movement in the nation is going on and the youth are at the core of this. He said, the youth have also given strength to Swachh Bharat Mission. Prime Minister called for an institutional arrangement to enable excellence in sports as every government wants to popularize sports. The Prime Minister said, India has a lot more in sports than just cricket for which there is a need to map sports persons at District level to identify talents.

  • Prime Minister has said, Indian youth have successfully resisted radicalization, which has affected several parts of the world. He said, its credit must go to the long, shared heritage of the country and now, it is people's collective responsibility to take the heritage forward. In a meeting with a delegation of Muslim ulema, intellectuals and academicians in New Delhi, Mr. Modi said the culture, traditions and social fabric of India will never allow the nefarious designs of terrorists or their sponsors to succeed. The Prime Minister stressed on the importance of education and skill development, which is a key to gainful employment and upliftment from poverty. Appreciating Saudi Arabian government for increasing the number of Haj pilgrims for India, Mr. Modi asserted that there is a positive image of Indian Muslims abroad.

  • Delhi Police Commissioner and Senior IPS officer Alok Kumar Verma has been appointed as new Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. He will have tenure of two years. He was selected by a three-member committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. He will take over from interim director Rakesh Asthana, who was handed the reins of the premier investigating agency after former director Anil Sinha retired on December 2, 2016.
  • RBI Governor Urjit Patel appeared before the Public Accounts Committee and briefed the panel about government's recent decision to demonetize high value currency. The committee is headed by Congress MP K.V. Thomas. According to sources, Mr. Patel has assured the committee that cash situation will be normalized soon. Earlier, Mr. Patel had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and briefed about the decision to demonetize high value currency and the impact on note ban. Mr. Patel had informed the committee that Rs. 9.2 lakh crore, in new currency has been introduced in the system after the decision.

  • Over 3 lakh 80,000 consumers and 21,000 merchants have won prize money worth around Rs. 61 crore at 24 Digi-Dhan Melas across the country, so far. This was disclosed by the Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi. He said, the government's efforts to give a boost to the digital payment systems and cashless economy have evoked good response from the people. Mr. Prasad said, people from different age groups, occupations and walks of life have taken part in a big way in the Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-dhan Vyapar Yojana giving a fillip to digital transactions.

  • The Centre has sanctioned over Rs. 2,207 crore to Jammu and Kashmir as special assistance during current financial year to expedite completion of area-specific schemes. The Finance Ministry in a release said, the Centre has also decided to provide further special assistance of over Rs. 1,129 crore to Bihar during 2016-17 for completion of the approved ongoing projects under the special plan for Bihar. The Ministry said with this the centre has so far released over Rs. 6,934 crore to Bihar. According to the release, special assistance of nearly Rs. 368 crore was given to Odisha for funding of projects under special plan for Districts of Koraput, Bolangir and Kalahandi.
  • The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 28th Dantan Gramin Mela-2017 at Dantan, Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal on 19th January. Speaking on the occasion, the President Pranab Mukherjee expressed concern over growing tensions and difference of opinion in society. Referring to the violence in different parts of the world, the President said the general trend of human society is for people to love each other and co-exist, not spread hatred. Rural fairs like Dantan Gramin Mela promote brotherhood, harmony and peaceful co-existence among people. They reflect the eternal wisdom of rural areas and increase friendship amongst different sections of society.

  • Government will facilitate Tangaliya weavers in purchase of looms, by providing them an assistance amounting to 90% of the price of looms. The Union Textiles Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani made this announcement during her interaction with Tangaliya weavers in Surendranagar district of Gujarat. Upon listening to their concerns, the Minister also announced the formation of a special association of Tangaliya workers, which will work for their interest. Expressing appreciation for the Tangaliya embroidery, Smt. Irani said that the work needs to be marketed through international platforms; she requested the district administration to make proper arrangements for the same.

  • Bihar government has launched a Nasha Mukti campaign to make the state addiction-free with formation of over 11 thousand km long human chain across the state. Over two crore people participated in this human chain. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Prasad Yadav and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav joined their hands in human chain at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. Besides teachers of schools and college students of 71 thousand schools took part in human chain. The human chain covered all panchayats of the state. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said 'nasha mukti' in Bihar will herald a new era in the state, as no one will be permitted to use intoxicating substance and tobacco products. Mr. Kumar said Bihar will become an ideal state of the country as dreamed Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Union Cabinet has given its nod for amendment in the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) for electronics manufacturing. These modifications will further incentivize investments in electronic sector and move towards Union Government's goal of 'Net Zero imports' in electronics by 2020.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its 'in principle' approval for listing the five Public Sector General Insurance Companies owned General Insurance Companies in the stock exchanges. The companies are New Indian Assurance Company Ltd., United India Insurance Company Ltd., Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., National Insurance Company Ltd. and General Insurance Corporation of India. The shareholding of these PSGICs will be divested from 100% to 75% in one or more tranches over a period of time as per Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) rules and regulations.

  • The first flight of the government's ambitious regional connectivity scheme – UDAN is likely to take off next month. The scheme UDAN (Ude Desh Ke Aam Nagrik) seeks to boost regional air connectivity and provides various incentives to airlines. The fare for a one hour journey of approximately 500 kilometer on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30-minute journey on a helicopter will be capped at two thousand 500 rupees under the scheme. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said, the Airports Authority of India has received 45 initial proposals from 11 bidders covering more than 190 routes under the scheme.

  • India has reiterated that there is no place for a third party intervention on Jammu and Kashmir. In reply to a question on a reported discussion on the matter in British Parliament, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, the issues between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally. To a query on Nuclear Suppliers' Group, NSG membership, Mr. Swarup said, India does not want the membership as a gift.
  • Mr. Donald Trump has taken over as the 45th President of the United States. He took over the reins from Barack Obama amid expectations of radical change in policies and apprehension at home and abroad. Mr. Trump, 70, took the oath of office in front of about 8 lakh people who braved chilly weather to gather on the National Mall in the center of the capital to celebrate the occasion. He was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice John Roberts. Mike Pence was also sworn-in as the Vice President of the US. In his maiden address to the nation from the US Capitol, Mr. Trump promised to rebuild the country to bring back their dreams wherein America First will be the key to his governance. He vowed to address the ills he sees plaguing the nation, including gun violence, drugs and crime.

  • United Nation's Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution expressing full support to Gambia's new President Adama Barrow and calling on ex-leader Yahya Jammeh to step down. The UN resolution also condemned Yahya Jammeh's attempts to usurp power. A last-minute revision to the resolution after Barrow took the oath of office, backed efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to ensure that Barrow's election victory is respected. The deputy ambassadors of Russia and Britain said that Barrow is now president and he can ask ECOWAS for military action to oust Jammeh. Meanwhile, Senegalese army spokesman said that their troops have entered the Gambia to ensure Adama Barrow assumes power as the country's new president.

  • India clinched the three-match series 2-0 after defeating England by 15 runs in the second One-Day International at Cuttack. At the Barabati Stadium, India compiled a massive total of 381 for six after being put into bat on flat track. In reply, England despite skipper Eoin Morgan's 102, could manage only 366 for 8 in the stipulated 50 overs. On the Indian side, Yuvraj made 150 which was his 14th ODI hundred and his careers best, while Dhoni scored 134 which was his 10th ODI hundred.
  • The largest warship of the Indian Navy, INS Vikramaditya, will be equipped with its own dedicated ATM. It will cater to over two thousand naval personnel deployed on the aircraft carrier. India's largest public sector bank State Bank of India is providing the Navy the services for the ATM which will be on the satellite link. A currency chest will also be provided to keep running the ATM. The much needed facility is expected to ease out cash problems of a large floating population of the warship as they run out of money during long period of deployment of the carrier.

  • The Union Government launched a dedicated web portal 'ShaGun' for monitoring the progress of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The portal 'ssashagun.nic.in' has been developed by World Bank in collaboration with Human Resource Development Ministry.

  • Indian Space Research Organization Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar has said, ISRO has successfully maneuvered the orbit planes of Mars Mission to enhance the capacity of battery. Speaking at Ahmedabad, he said, Mars orbiter was not getting sun light during eclipse, so that had changed the direction of orbit plane to cut the eclipse duration. He said, mars Mission has still 30 kilograms of energy, which will provide services for many more years.

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