[current affairs] 13 – 19 May 2017


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10-16 September 2016

  • President Pranab Mukherjee gave away the national sports awards at Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of National Sports Day. Rio Olympics Silver Medalist P.V. Sindhu, Bronze medalist Sakshi Malik, Gymnast Dipa Karmakar and Shooter Jitu Rai were conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awards. The award is given for the most outstanding performance by a sports person over a period of four years. Six coaches have been honoured with Dronacharya Awards. They include Nagapuri Ramesh for Athletics, Sagar Mal Dhayal for Boxing and Raj Kumar Sharma for Cricket. Dipa Karmakar's coach Bishweshwar Nandi also received the award. The Dronacharya Award for Lifetime contribution has been conferred on S. Paradeep Kumar for Swimming and Mahabir Singh for Wrestling. Apart from this, 15 sports persons were given Arjuna Awards. They include Olympian runner Lalita Babar, cricketer Ajinkya Rahane, boxer Shiva Thapa and wrestler Vinesh Phogat. Athlete Satti Geetha, hockey player Sylvanus Dung Dung and Rower Rajendra Pralhad Shelke were given the Dhyanchand Award. National sports day is celebrated to honour legendary hockey player, Major Dhyan Chand Singh who was born on 29th August, 1905. On the eve of National Sports Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met P.V. Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar and Jitu Rai at his residence in New Delhi. He also met the Khel Ratna awardees, Dhyan Chand awardees, Dronacharya awardees and Tenzing Norgay Awardees.
  • Speaking on sports performances at the Olympics in his popular 'Mann Ki Baat' program on All India Radio, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, the Government will make an in depth in-house analysis and study the practices being followed around the world. The nation has to prepare a far-reaching plan keeping in view the Olympics in 2020, 024, 2028, he said. The Prime Minister urged State Governments to find out as to what can be done in sports and also the Sports associations to do objective and impartial brainstorming on improving India's global sports performances, especially the Olympics. Prime Minister has also requested all citizens who have interest in this matter to mail their suggestions on NarendraModiApp. The Prime Minister said, he is confident that India, a nation of 125 crore people comprising 65 percent youth population can reach an exalted status in the world of sports as well and to move ahead with this resolve.

  • Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore has said that the ministry has launched single window clearance to facilitate the filmmakers in the country. He was addressing a seminar on 'Cinematic Tourism – the Way Forward' held at the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The Seminar was organized by Tourism Department of Gujarat government.

  • India and Myanmar have signed four Memoranda of Understanding in areas including renewable energy, tradition systems of medicine and construction and upgradation of 69 bridges. The pacts were inked after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Myanmar U Htin Kyaw in New Delhi. In a press statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, Myanmar is an important neighbour for India as it is a bridge that connects India with South East Asia. He said Buddhist principles of loving kindness and equality of all religions define the ways of life of the two countries. Mr. Modi said Myanmar has entered a new era defined by maturity of leadership and commitment of people to democracy. He said both the countries have agreed on the need to remain sensitive to each other's concerns for safety and security of the people. India and Myanmar share more than 1,600-kilometer long border and one of India's concerns has been the presence of insurgent groups along the border.
  • Indian Navy has set up a high-level committee to find out the extent of Scorpene submarine data leak and the damage to the Navy. Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said, leak of information related to Scorpene submarine is a matter of serious concern and they have asked French Defence firm DCNS to launch an urgent investigation. The committee will be headed by Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Ashok Kumar. Mr. Lanba said, based on the report of the committee, Navy will see what mitigation measures need to be taken.

  • The US has said that bilateral trade with India has reached USD 109 billion and it will get a further boost from new reforms including GST. US Commerce Secretary Ms. Penny Pritzker, said in an interview that travel and tourism and sub-national engagement have been identified as two new areas of focus to drive commercial cooperation between the two countries in 2017. She said that the two countries enjoy a thriving trade and investment relationship. US-India bilateral trade reached USD 109 billion in 2015, up from USD 37 billion in 2005. Ms. Pritzker said, Indian companies are also investing in each other's economies at record levels. In 2015, US investment in India reached more than USD 28 billion and Indian investment in the United States reached more than USD 11 billion. In fact, US affiliates of Indian-owned firms now employ more than 52,000 workers in the US. She expressed confidence that India's rapidly growing economy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's ambitious reform agenda, including Goods and Services Tax, passage of the recent national bankruptcy law, and liberalized foreign direct investment limits in key sectors, will further a deeper economic relationship in the years ahead. She described increasing number of travelers who move between the US and India as a significant commercial opportunity. More than 1 million people travel between the two countries each year.
  • The country's economy grew at 7.1 percent in the April to June quarter of current fiscal. This is the slowest growth in the last six quarters and was mainly due to subdued performance of the mining, construction and farm sectors. GDP had expanded 7.5 percent growth in the year-ago quarter, and 7.9 percent in the January to March 2016 quarter. According to data released by the Central Statistics Office, growth in the farm sector was 1.8 percent, and in construction, it was 1.5 percent during the quarter under review. But manufacturing sector growth accelerated to 9.1 percent.

  • NASA has ended its yearlong Mars simulation on Hawaii. A team of six people have completed a Mars simulation in Hawaii, where they lived in near isolation for a year. Since 29 August 2015, the group lived in close quarters in a dome, without fresh air, fresh food or privacy. The NASA funded study run by the University of Hawaii is the longest of its kind since a Russian mission that lasted 520 days. Principal Investigator for the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog, and Simulation, Kim Binsted, said the researchers are looking forward to getting in the ocean and eating fresh produce and other foods that were not available in the dome. The team consisted of a French astro-biologist, a German physicist and four Americans – a pilot, an architect, a journalist and a soil scientist.

  • Action movie star, writer, director and martial artist Jackie Chan is to be given an honorary Oscar for his extraordinary achievements in the movies. The US film academy also voted to give the awards to editor Anne Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary maker Frederick Wiseman. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs described the four as true pioneers and legends in their crafts. Chan, 62, starred in dozens of martial arts films in his native Hong Kong. He went on to huge international success with hits like Rumble in the Bronx, the Rush Hour franchise, and the animation film Kung Fu Panda. The other three honorary winners have all had long careers in film. Their statuettes will be presented at the Governors Awards ceremony in November.

4-10 June 2016
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that his government set a path for accelerated growth; changes have been made to curb corruption and fill the gaps in rural infrastructure in last two years of his government. In an exclusive interview to Wall Street Journal on the eve of the NDA government's second anniversary at the Centre, Mr. Modi said his government has made it easier to do business and opened up more of economy for foreign investment. The Prime Minister said his government has taken the initiative to give a fillip to defence production in the country which will also generate employment for the youth. Prime Minister said maximum reform measures have been undertaken but added that he has enormous tasks ahead in this regard. He also said labour law should not just mean in the interest of industry but they should be in the interest of the labourer. Prime Minister also asserted that he expects Goods and Services Tax Bill, a major reform measure aimed at replacing a web of varying state taxes will be passed this year. The bill has been stuck in the Rajya Sabha in Parliament, where the government is in a minority. He also commented that today, unlike before, India is not standing in a corner.

  • BJP leader Sarbanand Sonowal has taken over as the Chief Minister of Assam. Sonowal and 10 of his ministerial colleagues, including Hemanta Biswas Sarma were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor P.B. Acharya in Guwahati. A former student leader, Sonowal had led an alliance of BJP and two regional partners – Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People's Front – to victory in the Assembly elections ending a 15-year Congress rule in the state which paved the way for formation of the first-ever BJP led government in Assam.

  • AIADMK Supremo M. Jayalalithaa has been sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. 28 ministers also took oath for office with her. This is Jayalalithaa's second consecutive term as Chief Minister, and sixth overall.

  • Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee has sworn-in as Chief Minister of West Bengal for a second term. Kolkata Mayor Shovan Chatterjee, former Indian cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla and singer Indranil Sen are among the 18 new faces in the 42-member ministry.

  • CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan has also sworn in as the 22nd Chief Minister of Kerala at the Central Stadium ground in Thiruvananthapuram. Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam also administered oaths of office to 18 cabinet ministers – 11 from CPI-M, four from CPI, and one each from the Congress-S, Janata Dal (S) and the Nationalist Congress Party.

  • BJP leader and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi is the new Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. President Pranab Mukherjee approved her appointment. Earlier, Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Ajay Kumar Singh was holding additional charge of Puducherry.
  • Anurag Thakur has been unanimously elected as BCCI President while Ajay Shirke has been chosen as Secretary at a Special General Meeting of the board in Mumbai. Mr. Thakur replaces Shashank Manohar who stepped down from the position to take up the ICC chief's job. Thakur, who is a BJP MP in Lok Sabha, is the youngest BCCI chief. Talking to media persons, he said he will work towards strengthening the transparency, accountability and professionalism within the board.

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs CCEA has approved Railway projects worth Rs. 11,000 crores. These include Bina-Katni 3rd line project an estimated cost of nearly 2,500 crore. The 279 km long railway line is expected to be completed in five years. Another project is Vizianagaram and Titlagarh 3rd line project, costing nearly 2,335 crore.

  • Six new Indian Institutes of Technology, IITs, will come up in the country. Briefing media, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the Cabinet has given its ex post facto approval to amend The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 for incorporation of 6 new IITs one in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh; Palakkad, Kerala; Dharwad, Karnataka; Bhilai, Chhattisgarh; Goa and Jammu in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. In an another decision, the Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed between India and Maldives for strengthening cooperation in the field of tourism.

  • India has launched its maiden indigenous winged Reusable Launch Vehicle, RLV from Sriharikota spaceport. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said the mission has been accomplished successfully. The Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator, RLV-TD, that is ultimately aimed at putting satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter the atmosphere, was carried up on a solid rocket motor. The nine-metre long rocket weighs 11 tonnes. Very similar in its looks to the US space shuttle, the 6.5 meter long RLV-TD has aeroplane like structure which weighs about 1.75 tons.
  • The Indian navy commissioned the highly maneuverable fast attack craft INS Tarmugli at the Eastern Naval Command. Tarmugli would be based in Visakhapatnam under the Naval Officer-in-Charge (Andhra Pradesh) and would be deployed for coastal patrol and surveillance operations along the Eastern Coast. The commissioning of this ship completes the addition of another chapter to the nation's 'Make in India' initiative and indigenization efforts in the field of warship design and construction.

  • President Pranab Mukherjee has signed an ordinance to keep state boards out of the common entrance test (NEET) for MBBS and dental courses for this year. Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi was at the President's Secretariat along with top Health Ministry officials to respond to clarifications sought by the President on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

  • Supreme Court has refused to entertain during vacation a petition against Centre's ordinance allowing States to continue with exam for admissions in MBBS and BDS courses. Apex Court asked for listing of the petition on opening of courts after summer vacations. The court added that there should be certainty for students about holding of exams. The petition challenged the validity of the ordinance allowing states to conduct their own medical entrance examinations this year. It alleged that the ordinance frustrated the order of the Supreme Court directing implementation of NEET from the current academic year and pleaded for immediate stay on the executive order.

  • The Apex Court has said the Italian marine, Salvatore Girone, under investigation in Indian embassy for the killing of two Indian fishermen is free to go to his native country, Italy, while the international arbitration in the case is ongoing. A two-judge vacation bench of the apex court ruled that the United National Tribunal would decide on the jurisdictional issue between India and Italy.
  • The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to formulate a national policy for providing adequate reliefs to ape survivors as setting up of a separate fund like the Nirbhaya fund is not enough and amounted to just a lip service. A vacation bench of Justices P.C. Pant and D.Y. Chandrachud said that Central government must ensure that adequate relief is being provided to the victims of sexual offences. The court said, different states have different schemes and there is no national plan as how the rape victims are to be compensated.

  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted an interim stay on reservation given to Jats and five other castes in Haryana. The reservation was challenged in the court by a petitioner on the grounds that it is in violation of Supreme Court orders. The court has fixed the 21st of July, the next day of hearing. The government of Haryana had earlier approved the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Bill. The bill enlists the Jats, Bishnois, Tyagis, and Rors in the recently sculpted Backward Classes (C) category, making them eligible for 10 percent reservation in class 3 and 4 posts, and 6 percent reservation in class 1 and 2 jobs.

  • The University of Grants Commission (UGC) has brought out a new set of regulatory norms for deemed universities in order to reduce subjectivity and government interference and focus more on quality. According to the UGC Regulations, 2016, which were approved by the Commission at a meeting last week, an institution will be eligible to become a deemed university if it has undergraduate and 5 post-graduate programmes with research in existence for 3 years. Speaking in New Delhi, Higher Education Secretary V.S. Oberoi said as per the new regulations, a deemed university should have minimum 40 percent open space of the total built up area. Mr. Oberoi, however, emphasized that the new regulations would be required to go through the scrutiny of the HRD Ministry after which they would be notified.
  • In a landmark judgment, the National Green Tribunal Bench in Kerala banned light and heavy diesel vehicles, which are more than 10 years old, in six major cities. These are state capital Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kollam, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur. In its first sitting, the bench, comprising NGT chairperson also directed the state government not to register any diesel vehicle in the capacity of 2000 CC and more, except public transport and local authority vehicles.

28 May – 3 Jun 2016

  • In election results announced on May 19th to the four state assemblies and one Union Territory, the BJP and its alliance partners have won an absolute majority in Assam. BJP won 60 seats on its own in the 126-member House. Its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has won 14 seats, while another ally Bodoland People's Front (BPF) has bagged 12 seats. The party has, thus, made history by winning an assembly election in the State for the first time. Congress has bagged 26 seats, AIUDF 12 and one seat has gone to an independent.

  • In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress crossed the two-third mark by winning 211 seats in the 294-member assembly. The Congress-Left combine has taken 76 seats while BJP has bagged three seats. Independents and others have won four seats.

  • In Tamil Nadu, AIADMK Chief J. Jayalalithaa has made history by becoming the first sitting Chief Minister in 32 years to be voted back to power. Her party bagged 134 seats out of 232 seats that went to the polls. The opposition DMK has won 89 seats while Congress has bagged 8 segments and IUML one.

  • In Kerala, the LDF has pushed the ruling UDF out of power by bagging 85 of the 140-seats. The UDF could bag only 46 seats. The BJP has opened its account in the state by wining one seat. Eight results have gone in favour of others.
  • In Puducherry, the Congress has won 15 seats and its alliance partner DMK has two seats giving it a majority in the 30-member house to form a government. AINRC has bagged 8 seats and AIADMK 4 seats while one seat has gone to an independent.

  • The Union Cabinet has cleared an ordinance to keep state boards out of the ambit of common medical entrance exams for one year. Through the ordinance, the order of the Supreme Court on national Eligibility cum Entrance Test, NEET will be put on hold for a year. On 9th of this month, the Supreme Court had refused to modify its April 28th order making NEET mandatory for admission to undergraduate medical courses across the country for the academic year 2016-17. The court order had implied that all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET and those examinations which had already taken place or were slated to be conducted separately stand scrapped. Major political parties and States had favoured deferring implementation of the apex court verdict. Several State governments also wanted their exams to be the basis for admission for their 85 percent quota for this year too. Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda had discussed the issue with State Health Ministers. So far, 6.5 lakh students have already sat for the first phase of NEET held on 1st of this month. The next phase of the exam is scheduled for July 24th.
  • The Government has proposed that foreign universities coming to India will have to collaborate with Indian academic institutions so that in case of any legal dispute, the settlement will be done in the country itself. Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said if any foreign university sets up campus in India, it will come under the ambit of our law when it has some legal collaboration with us. God forbid if any student of ours is harassed or any faculty is faced with a challenge, they cannot seek justice in a foreign court. Mr. Irani also said that the government will soon come out with a new Education policy to promote quality education in the country.

  • In Jammu and Kashmir, Union Health & Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda laid foundation stones of three new medical colleges in Rajouri, Baramulla and Anantnag districts. The colleges will come up at a cost of 189 crore rupees each. The Rajouri Medical College will have 100 MBBS seats along with a hospital with a capacity of 300 beds. He said the setting up of five new medical colleges in the state as well as two AIIMS will prove to be a turning point in the State's healthcare sector. He said land has been identified in Kashmir & Jammu for setting up two AIIMS in the State. He added that the Centre has also sanctioned two State Cancer Institute's at SKIMS Soura and GMC Jammu at an estimated cost of Rs. 240 crores.

  • India has reacted strongly to Pakistan seeking UN intervention on the Indian draft bill on map. Responding to media query on Pakistan Foreign Office reaction on India's Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said it is an entirely internal legislative matter as Jammu and Kashmir is integral part of India. Under the proposed legislation, wrong depiction of the map of India could land the violators in jail with a maximum term of seven years and impose a fine upto Rs. 100 crores.
  • India successfully test fired an indigenously developed Advanced Air Defence interceptor missile which is capable of destroying any incoming hostile ballistic missile. Named as Ashwin, the missile was test-fired from the launch complex of Abdul Kalam, Island in Bhadrak district of Odisha. India is the fourth country to have successfully developed this anti-ballistic missile system, after United States, Russia and Israel. This development now strengthens India's position in the very exclusive Ballistic Missile Defence club of the three countries. The success is likely to pay the way for the supersonic interceptor missile's induction in the armed forces. The test was the twelfth test of interceptor missiles fired from a warship in the Bay of Bengal near Paradip. Of the 11 tests held earlier, nine have been successful.

  • Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Shahid Latif, Pakistan-based handler of Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who had attacked Pathankot Air Force base in January. CBI, which is the nodal body for Interpol affairs in India, has also forwarded the request for issuing RCN against Kashif Jaan, another handler in the case. The requests were made by National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is probing the Pathankot attack case. The warrants were issued on the basis of evidence presented by the NIA before a Special court in the Jaish handlers like Jaan and Latif. Latif had spent over a decade in Indian prison before he was deported to Pakistan after completion of his sentence in the country. Interpol had earlier issued a Red Corner Notice against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf in connection with the Pathankot attack.

  • Gujarat Police Anti-terrorist Squad has arrested the main conspirator of Godhara Train burning case of 2002. Superintendent of Anti-Terrorist Squad of Gujarat Police Himanshu Shukla said that Farooq Bhana, the former councilor of Godhara municipality was arrested from Kalol town in Panchmahal district. Gujarat was engulfed in widespread riots after the gruesome incident of Sabarmati train burning on 27th February 2002. 59 people were charred to death in this gruesome carnage in which majority were women and children returning back from Ayodhya. This incident had sparked widespread violence in Gujarat which had also claimed many lives.
  • An Egypt Air Flight, from Paris to Cairo, crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 66 people, including the crew, were on board. The flight made sharp turns and plunged before dropping off the radar. It was last sighted in Greek airspace. Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister has said the possibility of a terror attack is stronger than the possibility of a technical failure.

  • In Nepal, hundreds of Madhesi joined fresh protests against the new Constitution, pressing for their demands relating to more rights, adequate representation and re-demarcation of provincial boundary. Other demands of Madhesis include proportionate representation of marginalized groups and ethnic minorities including the Madhesis, indigenous groups and dalits in all the state bodies.

  • Delhi High Court has directed Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to give a hearing to Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar. The wrestler has sought a selection trial to decide who will represent India in the men's 74 kg freestyle category at Rio Games. Sushil moved the Delhi High Court after his name did not figure in India's Rio preparatory camp. Narsingh Yadav has been staking his claim to represent India at the Olympics since last year when he secured a quota place at the World Championship in Las Vegas after winning a bronze in 74 kg. Sushil had missed the event due to a shoulder injury.

  • World governing FIFA has appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal as Deputy Chairman of its governance committee. The former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, who headed the IPL spot-fixing probe, said that he feels honoured as it is a big thing for Indian judiciary. Portuguese Luis Miguel Maduro, who is a former European Court of Justice Advocate General, will head FIFA's governance committee. Justice Mudgal and Maduro will also head FIFA's International Review Committee, which will assess all major decisions.
  • Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis have won the Rome Masters Women's Doubles Title. In the final in Rome, the World Number one pair defeated the 7th seeded Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-7, 10-3. For the Indo-Swiss duo, the win in Italy is their first title since February and their first ever on red clay. They have now won 14 titles as a pair, and their fifth of the season.

  • Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic on clay for the first time to win the Italian Open Men's Singles Tennis title. The third-ranked Murray defeated the top-ranked Djokovic 6-3, 6-3. It is Murray's first title in Rome. The only other British man to win the tournament was Pat Hughes in 1931. Earlier, Serena Williams ended a nine-month title drought with a 7-6, 6-3 win over Madison Keys in all-American women's singles final.

  • South Korean author Han Kang has won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for her novel 'The Vegetarian'. This novel is about a woman who wants to reject human brutality and gives up eating meat. Han Kang is the first South Korean to win Man Booker. The book was translated in English by Deborah Smith. The writer and her translator will share the prize money. The novel was picked unanimously by the panel of five judges, beating six other novels including 'The Story of the Lost child' by Italian sensation Elena Ferrante and 'A Strangeness in My Mind' by turkey's Orhan Pamuk.

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