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CURRENT AFFAIRS OF

INDIA

(April, May, June 2017)

Research and compilation by


Paradygmlaw ®

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CURRENT AFFAIRS OF INDIA

Contents April 2017

APPOINTED/ELECTED ................................................................................................................. 5
SPACE/DEFENCE ........................................................................................................................... 7
AWARDS/PRIZES ......................................................................................................................... 17
DAYS/CELEBRATIONS .............................................................................................................. 29
BOOKS ........................................................................................................................................... 40
JUDICIARY ................................................................................................................................... 43
EXECUTIVE/PARLIAMENTARY ............................................................................................... 47
DEVELOPMENT/ECONOMY ...................................................................................................... 67
NATIONAL NEWS........................................................................................................................ 74
INTERNATIONAL NEWS ............................................................................................................ 79
RATINGS/REPORTS..................................................................................................................... 96
CORPORATE NEWS .................................................................................................................. 105
SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY ......................................................................................................... 108
SPORTS ........................................................................................................................................ 112
MISCELLANY ............................................................................................................................. 120
OBITUARIES ............................................................................................................................... 127
For REFERENCE ......................................................................................................................... 131

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Contents May 2017

APPOINTED/ELECTED ......................................................................................................... 157


SPACE/DEFENCE ................................................................................................................... 165
AWARDS/PRIZES ................................................................................................................... 176
DAYS/CELEBRATIONS ........................................................................................................ 184
BOOKS ..................................................................................................................................... 190
JUDICIARY ............................................................................................................................. 192
EXECUTIVE/PARLIAMENTARY ......................................................................................... 199
DEVELOPMENT/ECONOMY ................................................................................................ 212
NATIONAL NEWS.................................................................................................................. 222
INTERNATIONAL NEWS ...................................................................................................... 230
RATINGS/REPORTS............................................................................................................... 234
MEDICAL NEWS .................................................................................................................... 239
SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY ..................................................................................................... 242
SPORTS .................................................................................................................................... 244
MISCELLANY ......................................................................................................................... 253
OBITUARIES ........................................................................................................................... 258
For REFERENCE ..................................................................................................................... 263

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Contents June 2017

APPOINTED/ELECTED/SELECTED/RESIGNED ................................................................ 300


SPACE/DEFENCE ..................................................................................................................... 307
AWARDS/PRIZES ..................................................................................................................... 317
DAYS/CELEBRATIONS ............................................................................................................ 326
BOOKS ........................................................................................................................................ 334
JUDICIARY ................................................................................................................................. 338
EXECUTIVE/PARLIAMENTARY ............................................................................................. 339
DEVELOPMENT/ECONOMY................................................................................................... 348
NATIONAL NEWS ..................................................................................................................... 357
INTERNATIONAL NEWS ......................................................................................................... 362
RATINGS/REPORTS ................................................................................................................ 373
CORPORATE NEWS ................................................................................................................ 377
MEDICAL NEWS........................................................................................................................ 380
SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY ........................................................................................................ 381
SPORTS ...................................................................................................................................... 385
MISCELLANY ............................................................................................................................. 392
OBITUARIES .............................................................................................................................. 395

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APPOINTED/ELECTED

Mukta Dutta Tomar appointed as India's Ambassador to Germany

Mukta Dutta Tomar has been appointed as India's Ambassador to Federal Republic
of Germany.Tomar succeeds Gurjit Singh. Tomar had also served as the Consul
General of India in Chicago.

Raman Roy appointed Chairman of NASSCOM for 2017-18

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has


announced the appointment of Raman Roy its Chairman for 2017-2018.Roy is the
Chairman and Managing Director of Quatrro.

Roy takes over the position from C P Gurnani, Managing Director and Chief
Executive Officer of Tech Mahindra.

The NASSCOM is a trade association of Indian Information Technology and Business


Process Outsourcing industry,established in 1988,registered under the Indian
Societies Act, 1860.It is a global trade body with over 2000 members.It facilitates
business and trade in software and services and encourages the advancement of
research in software technology.It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Geetha Johri takes over as first woman head of Gujarat’s police force

Indian Police Service officer Geetha Johri has ben appointed as the first woman
Director General of Police (DGP) of Gujarat. She will be taking over this position in
addition to her present post as Managing Director of Gujarat Police Housing
Corporation. The decision of Johri’s appointment comes in the wake of resignation
by her predecessor P P Pandey. Geeta Johri is the also first woman IPS officer of
Gujarat cadre.

Supreme Court had also appointed her to probe into the 2005 fake encounter cases

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of Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati. However, later on court’s order, the cases
were handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, in fact, had high-profile accused including
top IPS officers of Gujarat and Rajasthan along with the then Home Minister of
Gujarat, Amit Shah who was also later discharged from the case.

White House names Randolph Alles as new Director of Secret Service

The White House has appointed Iraq War veteran, Major General Randolph Alles as
the new Director of the Secret Service.Alles has been made to lead the agency at a
time when it is almost on the verge of collapse following a series of high-profile
embarrassments over the years.In his new position, Alles would be in charge of
more than 1,200 federal agents and over 550 aircraft and maritime vessels.

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SPACE/DEFENCE

Government clears proposal to procure Barak surface-to-air missiles for Navy

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has
approved the procurement of a fresh batch of Barak surface-to-surface missiles for
naval warships. This procurement will help to enhance India’s maritime capability.

During the meeting held in New Delhi, DAC has approved the capital acquisition
totalling over Rs 860 crore, including for the purchase of Barak missiles. As per
reports, the missiles will be procured under Buy Global category from Rafael
Advance Defense Systems Limited of Israel at an approximate cost of around 500
crore rupees.

Barak missiles are an Indian-Israeli surface-to-air missile (SAM). It was designed to


defend against any type of airborne threat like aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship
missiles, and UAVs. It can be used to defend against threats of cruise missiles and
combat jets. At present, Barak missiles are installed on most of the front-line
warships, including the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

Other deals for procurement include expendable Bathy thermograph systems for
the Navy. The system that will help the Navy to detect temperature changes under
water will be procured under as a repeat order with ‘buy global’ categorization
through the foreign military sales route from the US. The systems will be procured
at an expense of Rs 311 crore to counter mines in the sea.

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) is Defence Ministry's highest decision making


body for capital acquisition.

ISRO to improve India’s communication system by launching 5 satellites

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is going to launch five


communication satellites by the end of 2017,as confirmed by the organisation’s

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chairman, A S Kiran Kumar,with the main aim behind the launch being to improve
the communication system within the country. The specific use of the satellites
would be to improve the number of available transponders for communications.
The move is expected to significantly enhance India’s communication capability.

The ISRO chief also announced that ISRO along with the government has made it
mandatory for all aircrafts to have a GPS-aided Geo Augmented Navigation
(GAGAN) system by 2019 to ensure safety and precision landing.

Besides this, ISRO plans to make an inventory and site management plan for 4000
heritage sites in India.

The organisation has also helped India break the record for launching most
satellites from a single rocket by launching 104 satellites in one go in February
2017.

ISRO announces launch of South Asia Satellite on 5 May; Pakistan’s name


dropped

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching its 'South Asia
Satellite' on 5 May 2017. The launch aims to benefit all the countries in the region,
except Pakistan.The news was confirmed by ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar.

This communication satellite,also called as GSAT-9,will be launched on board the


space agency's rocket GSLV-09 from Sriharikota spaceport.

The launch of such a South Asian Satellite had been announced by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi during the 2014 SAARC summit that was held in Kathmandu,
Nepal.He had declared that the satellite will be India’s gift to its neighbours.

India successfully test-fires Agni-III ballistic missile

India has successfully test-fired the 3000 kilometre range Agni-III ballistic missile
from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast. The test was aimed at re-establishing
the operational effectiveness of the weapon system.The test was carried by the

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Strategic Forces Command with logistics support from Defence Research
Development Organisation (DRDO).
Agni-III’s first user successful trial had been carried out in September 2012.

This Surface-to-Surface nuclear capable intermediate-range Agni-III ballistic missile


can hit targets in the range of around 3000 km.

INS Darshak conductS joint hydrographic survey of Sri Lankan bay

The Indian Navy's hydrographic survey ship, INS Darshak which is on a two-month
deployment in the Sri Lankan waters, undertook a hydrographic survey of
Weligama Bay, jointly with the Sri Lankan Navy.The vessel is also equipped with an
integral Chetak helicopter,which was extensively deployed during the course of
the survey.

The vessel is fitted with the latest state-of-the-art survey equipment like multi-
beam system, side scan sonar and a fully automated digital surveying and
processing system.The vessel was built by Goa Shipyard Limited.

In 2015, the ship had conducted hydrographic survey in Seychelles for a period of 1
month concentrating off the coast of Port Victoria and in nearby areas.

In 2016, the ship completed a hydrographic survey of Tanga Port, Tanzania coast
for the Government of Tanzania. Later in the same year, the INS Darshak also
carried out survey work off the waters of Mauritius to prepare two new charts of
the Mauritian waters as per charting scheme agreed the two governments.

Indian Navy deploys INS Shardul for surveillance in the Indian Ocean

The Indian navy has deployed its warship Indian Naval Ship (INS) Shardul for two
months in the South Indian Ocean to provide surveillance support in the region.This
move has been made keeping in mind India’s national objective of ensuring a safe

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and secure regional environment to allow unobstructed social and economic
development in India as well as in the Indian Ocean Region.

In its initial phase of deployment, the warship has carried out joint Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance of Mauritius from 8-26 March 2017 in close
coordination with the National Coast Guard of Mauritius.

The surveillance was mainly aimed to deter illegal fishing and drug trafficking and
to ensure safe waters for the transit of mercantile traffic.The warship entered Port
Victoria on 6 April 2017 to assess the progress of the plan.

INS Shardul is a Landing Ship Tank of the Indian Navy whose primary role is to
transport troops, vehicles and armaments.

Its role also includes fulfilling all objectives of an amphibious operation that
includes landing of combat equipment and personnel to an Amphibious Objective
Area.The warship has the capability to launch and recover Marine Commandos
through the sea as well as by air, through helicopters.

Apart from this, the ship can also act as a ‘Hospital Ship’ with facilities provided in
containerised form as well as a ‘Fleet Tanker’ for limited missions.

Indian Navy dedicates its Largest Missile destroyer to Chennai

INS Chennai, a ‘P15A Guided Missile Destroyer’, was dedicated to the city of
Chennai,in the presence of Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister Edappadi K.
Palaniswami.Present at the event was Vice-Admiral HCS Bisht, the Flag Officer
Commanding-in-Chief of Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Command.

INS Chennai is the largest-ever destroyer to be built in India.It is also the third and
last Kolkata-class guided-missile destroyers built under Project 15A.It has state of

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the art weapons and sensors and stealth features.It is capable of fighting under
any type of situation including nuclear, biological and chemical warfare conditions.

It also has a strong expertise in missile technology and is loaded with the
supersonic surface to surface ‘BrahMos’ missiles and long range surface to air
‘Barak-8’ missiles.

Government clears proposal to procure Barak surface-to-air missiles for Navy

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has
approved the procurement of a fresh batch of Barak surface-to-surface missiles for
naval warships,which enhance India’s maritime capability.

The DAC approved capital acquisition totalling over Rs 860 crore, including for the
purchase of Barak missiles.The missiles will be procured under Buy Global category
from Rafael Advance Defense Systems Limited of Israel at an approximate cost of
around 500 crore rupees.

Other deals for procurement include expendable Bathy thermograph systems for
the Navy. The system that will help the Navy to detect temperature changes under
water will be procured under as a repeat order with ‘buy global’ categorization
through the foreign military sales route from the US. The systems will be procured
at an expense of Rs 311 crore to counter mines in the sea.

Indo-French naval exercise Varuna held

The Indian Navy held the joint maritime exercise Varuna with the French Navy at
the Mediterranean Sea. The week-long exercise concluded on 30 April 2017.The
joint maritime exercise focussed on strengthening the combat coordination
between the two navies.

Guided missile destroyer INS Mumbai, stealth frigate INS Trishul and fleet tanker
INS Aditya took part in the Varuna exercise.The ships are a part of the Indian
Navy's overseas deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and West Coast of Africa.The

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Varuna series of exercises which began in 2000 have evolved into an
institutionalised form of interaction between the two navies.

Indo-Mongolia Joint Military Exercise Nomadic Elephant 2017 conducted

The 14-day joint military training exercise of India and Mongolia was held in
Mizoram,during 5-18 April 2017.

It was the twelfth edition of the Indo-Mongolia joint military exercise.It was
conducted at the Indian Army’s elite Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare
School Vairengte in Mizoram.

The exercise was aimed at training the troops in counterinsurgency and


counterterrorism operations (CICT Ops) under the United Nations mandate, to
enhance the interoperability between the two armies in adverse operational
conditions.

Some of the recent joint exercises of the Indian Armed Forces are :-

The Indo-Nepal joint military exercise Surya Kiran XI held at Pithorgarh in


Uttarakhand.

The Indo-Oman joint military exercise Al Nagah-II 2017 held at Bakloh in Himachal
Pradesh.

The Indo-Maldives joint military exercise EKUVERIN held at Kadhdhoo in Maldives.

South Korea test-fires ballistic missile that can hit North Korea

South Korea has successfully test-fired a home-developed ballistic missile,with a


range of 800 km,long enough to hit any part of North Korea.The development

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comes just a day after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of
Japan, which many dubbed as a warning ahead of US President Donald Trump’s
meeting with China's leader Xi Jinping.
North Korea’s increasingly rebellious nuclear weapons programme is reported to be
one of the main points of discussion during the meeting. The latest missile could
serve as a strong deterrent to North Korea’s antics.The new missile has the
capacity to cover all of North Korea even when fired from the southern part of
South Korea.

South Korea, which is home to thousands of American troops, falls under the US
security umbrella.
In 2012 it reached an agreement with the US to almost triple the range of its
ballistic missile systems to protect itself against North Korea’s nuclear threats.The
country has since then focussed on developing long-range missiles.

NASA planning moon-orbiting space station to explore Mars

NASA is planning to build an astronaut-tended space station or "deep space


gateway" in the lunar orbit that would help prepare for missions to deep space
destinations including Mars. The project is scheduled to begin in late 2018. NASA
also aims to develop a deep space transport spacecraft for crewed missions to
deep space destinations such as Mars, by 2030.

NASA launches Super Pressure Balloon from New Zealand

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has successfully


launched its football-stadium-sized and heavy-lift Super Pressure Balloon (SPB)
from Wanaka, New Zealand.

The balloon will float for 100 or more days at 110000 feet (33.5 km) across the
globe in the Southern Hemisphere's mid-latitude band. It will observe a broad
swath of the Earth’s atmosphere to detect the UV fluorescence from the deep
space cosmic rays coming in from above. It is expected to circle the planet two or

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three times.
The Balloon was developed together by NASA and Columbia Scientific Balloon
Facility teams.

NASA’s Cassini enters the never before explored region in Saturn

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has ventured into its first dive into the never-before-
explored region between Saturn and its rings on 26 April 2017. No spacecraft has
ever ventured into the region before.To ensure no damage is caused to the
scientific instruments on the spacecraft by the potentially damaging particles in
the rings, the spacecraft’s dish-shaped high-gain antenna was manoeuvred face
forward as a protective shield.

The spacecraft lost contact with Earth as it began its dive due to the forward
orientation of the antenna. So, the result would be known only when it regains
contact with Earth towards end of April 2017.

If Cassini survives the first crossing then it would make 21 more before calling it a
day in September 2017.

The gap between Saturn and its rings is relatively narrow- 1900 km.

Cassini has been orbiting Saturn since 2004. The spacecraft was launched in 1997
and now that its fuel tank is almost empty, NASA decided to impose this last
dangerous but scientifically rich task on it.

NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson sets a new record for time in space

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Peggy Whitson has
set a new US record for most cumulative days spent in space.With this, Whitson
surpassed cosmonaut Jeff Williams’ record of 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes
aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

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With the recent extension of her stay at the ISS, the Expedition 51 commander has
five months to rack up another record.

Her first space mission was in 2002, with an extended stay aboard the ISS as a
member of Expedition 5.

Her second mission as the first woman commander of the ISS with Expedition 16
was launched on 10 October 2007.

In 2017, she became the first woman astronaut to command the International
Space Station twice.

She also holds the records for the oldest woman spacewalker, and the record for
total spacewalks by a woman.

China to launch 156 minisatellites for better internet

China will launch a network of 156 minisatellites to facilitate global broadband


coverage and commercial space development. The small low-cost satellites would
be placed in an orbit 1,000 km above Earth to form a network to improve internet
access. The project plans to send the first satellite before 2018, and all 156
satellites by 2025, Chinese news agency reported.

China's first home-built aircraft carrier launched

China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, transferring the ship
from a dry dock into open water in Dalian, a port city in China’s Liaoning Province,
three days after the 68th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which
fell on 23 April 2017.

The Aircraft carrier, temporarily named Type 001A, is China’s second aircraft
carrier after the Liaoning, former Soviet Union made carrier that was refurbished
extensively before being commissioned to the PLA Navy in 2012.

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Russia to build 1st-ever civilian nuclear-powered submarine

Russian scientists are developing the first-ever civilian nuclear-powered submarine


to conduct seismological surveys and search for natural resources under ice in the
Arctic region, Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects said. The project
is currently in its early design stage, officials added. Notably, Arctic is considered
a major source of hydrocarbons, minerals, fresh water and fish.

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AWARDS/PRIZES

President confers Jnanpith Award upon poet Sankha Ghosh

Sankha Ghosh, eminent Bengali poet and literary critic,was honoured with the
52nd Jnanpith Award by President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi.

He has also won a number of prestigious awards including the Narasimh Das
Puraskar(1977), Rabindra Puraskar(1989), Kamalkumari Award(1993), Saraswati
Samman(1998),Sahitya Akademi Award(1977) and Padma Bhushan in 2011.

Sankha Ghosh is regarded as a leading authority in his own right on the works of
Rabindranath Tagore.

Some of his greatest works include Murkho baro, samajika naya, Baborer
Prarthana, chapa srshti karuna and poems such as Dinaguli rataguli and
Nihitapatalachaya.

His poems have been translated into a number of Indian and foreign languages.

Legendary filmmaker Kasinathuni Viswanath wins Dadasaheb Phalke Award


2016

Renowned filmmaker and actor Kasinathuni Viswanath has won the Dadasaheb
Phalke Award for the year 2016. The award will be presented to him by President
Pranab Mukherjee on 3 May 2017 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

With this, Viswanath became the 48th recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award,
the highest recognition in Indian cinema. As a presenter of classical and traditional
art, music and dance, K Viswanath has been a guiding force in the Indian film
industry.

Kasinathuni Viswanath,as a director, has made over 50 films since 1965. His films
are known for their strong content, endearing narrative, honest handling and
cultural authenticity.

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He was awarded Padma Shri in 1992.He has also been awarded with 5 National
Awards, 20 Nandi Awards (awarded by the State Government of Andhra Pradesh),
10 Filmfare Awards including Lifetime Achievement Award.

His National Award-winning film Swati Mutyam was India's official entry to the
59th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category.
One of his most memorable films, Sirivennela was a sensitive story of a blind
flutist and a mute painter who fall in love with each other over the love of music
and their individual setbacks.
His another film Sankarabharanam is one of India's most memorable classics,
which was appreciated across the world.

About Dadasaheb Phalke Award


• Dadasaheb Phalke Award was introduced in 1969 by the Union Government to
recognise the contribution of film personalities towards the development of Indian
Cinema.
• The award prize consists of a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs 10
lakh and a shawl.
• The first recipient of the award was Devika Rani who was awarded in the year
1969.

President Pranab Mukherjee confers Padma awards on eminent personalities

President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the Padma awards on 44 people,in a Civil


Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Padma Vibhushan was conferred on three personalities - eminent Singer Yesudas,


spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Sunder Lal Patwa (posthumous), the
former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

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Padma Bhushan : Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt , Dr Devi Prasad Dwivedi ,Jainacharya
Vijay Ratnasundersuri Maharaja

Eminent Journalist Cho Ramaswamy (posthumous)

37 Persons were honoured with the Padma Shri award.Some of the awardees
include Wrestler Sakshi Malik ,Gymnast Dipa Karmakar ,Paralympian Mariyappan
Thangavelu ,Discus Thrower Vikas Gowda ,Renowned chef Sanjeev Kapoor, Media
magnate H R Shah , Film critic Bhawna Somaaya , Journalist Balbir Dutt ,Singer
Kailash Kher,and Surgeon Dr Mukut Minz (Director Fortis Hospitals)

First female MBBS doctor from Indore presented with Padma Shri

The 91-year-old gynaecologist, Dr. Bhakti Yadav was presented with the Padma
Shri award at her residence.

as she was unable to attend the function organised in New Delhi on 13 April where
the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee had given away the prestigious civilian
awards to the recipients. The award is in recognition of her selfless service
towards her patients, especially the ones from a poor background.She has also
treated over one lakh poor women free of cost during her medical practice.

Dawit Isaak awarded 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

Dawit Isaak, an imprisoned Swedish-Eritrean playwright, journalist and writer,was


chosen to receive the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize,in
recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.
The Prize will be awarded on 3 May 2017,on the occasion of the World Press
Freedom Day, to be hosted in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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The journalist was arrested in a crackdown on the media that occurred in
September 2001 and has been held in prison in Eritrea since 2001 without trial and
is considered a traitor by the Eritrean government.

He had moved to Sweden in 1987, where he later became a citizen and went into
self-imposed exile.After the independence of Eritrea, he returned to his homeland
to become one of the founders and reporters of Setit, the first independent
newspaper in the country.

Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience and has called for his
immediate and unconditional release.

For years, he was the only Swedish citizen held as a prisoner of conscience.He is
now joined by the Swedish citizen and publicist Gui Minhai who was abducted by
Chinese agents from Thailand in October 2015 and has been held prisoner in China
since that time.

About UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

• The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was created by


UNESCO’s Executive Board in 1997.

• The award honours a person, organization or institution that has made an


outstanding contribution to the defence and, or promotion of press freedom
anywhere in the world, and especially when this has been achieved in the face of
danger.

• The Prize is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist


who was assassinated in 1986.

Colson Whitehead's “Underground Railroad” wins Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

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2017 Pulitzer Prizes (The 101st year of prizes )were announced at Columbia
University in New York.

The awards were announced in 21 categories including Letters, Drama & Music and
Journalism.

The novel titled ‘The Underground Railroad’ authored by Colson Whitehead won
the Pulitzer Prize in the fiction segment. In 2016, the novel had received the
National Book Award of the US. This is for the first time in more than 20 years that
the same work has won the Pulitzer and National Book Award for fiction.

The novel Underground Railroad is about an escaped slave that combined


liberating imagination and brutal reality.
Breaking News Reporting award went to the Staff of East Bay Times, Oakland,
CA , for relentless coverage of the “Ghost Ship” fire, which killed 36 people at a
warehouse party, and for reporting the tragedy that exposed the city’s failure to
take actions that might have prevented it.

The Pulitzer Prize was established in 1917 is awarded for achievements in


newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the
United States.

It was established by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer who had made his
fortune as a newspaper publisher and is administered by Columbia University in
New York City.

Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories of which 20 winners are


awarded a certificate and a cash award.

The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded
a gold medal

Tim Berners-Lee wins 2016 ACM A M Turing Award

Sir Tim Berners-Lee was honoured with the 2016 ACM A M Turing Award "for
inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental
protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale".

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The computer scientist is one of the world’s most influential voices for online
privacy and government transparency.

Italian mayor Giuseppina Nicolini wins UNESCO Peace Prize

The UNESCO has awarded the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize to Giuseppina
Nicolini, the mayor of the Italian island of Lampedusa and to the nongovernmental
organization SOS Méditerranée (France).

Nicolini has been bestowed with the award for her commitment to saving the lives
of migrants and refugees. Since

becoming mayor in 2012, Nicolini has been recognized for her boundless humanity
and unwavering commitment to refugee crisis management and integration in
response to the arrival of thousands of refugees on the shores of Lampedusa and
elsewhere in Italy.The refugees and migrants constitute one of the crucial issues of
our day, notably in the Mediterranean where nearly 13,000 men, women and
children have perished in shipwrecks since 2013.

SOS Méditerranée is a European organization working for the rescue of people in


distress in the Mediterranean.

Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize is intended to honour living individuals and


active public or private bodies or institutions that have made a significant
contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace, in
conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of UNESCO.

• Past laureates of the Prize included French President François Hollande,Nelson


Mandela,Jimmy Carter and others.

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Social activist Prafulla Samantra selected for Goldman Environmental Prize
2017

Social activist Prafulla Samantra was selected for the Goldman Environmental Prize
2017 from Asia Region for his historic twelve year long legal battle that affirmed
the land rights of indigenous Dongria Kondh and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from
a massive aluminum ore mine.

He was among the six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize or Green Nobel
Prize. The other five winners for this year are: Mark Lopez (United States); Uroš
Macerl (Slovenia); Rodrigo Tot (Guatemala); Rodrigue Katembo (Democratic
Republic of Congo); and Wendy Bowman (Australia).

Samantara is only the sixth Indian to win the prize after Medha Patkar, M.C.
Mehta, Rasheeda Bi, Champaran Shukla and Ramesh Agrawal since 1990 when the
award was first instituted.

Kailash Satyarthi honoured with P C Chandra Puraskar 2017

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi was honoured with the P C Chandra Puraskar,for
his global crusade against child slavery and exploitative child labour.The 63-year-
old Satyarthi was handed over a citation, a trophy and a cheque of Rs 10 lakh at an
awards ceremony in Kolkata.

Kailash Satyarthi is a children's rights and education advocate.He has founded


the Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

He has struggled to protect the rights of more than 83000 children from 144
countries.It is mainly because of his work and activism that the International
Labour Organization adopted Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child
labour, which is now a principal guideline for governments around the world.

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In 2014, he was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with Malala
Yousafzai of Pakistan. He is the fifth Nobel Prize winner for India and only the
second Indian winner of the Nobel Peace Prize after Mother Teresa in 1979.

Aamir Khan receives Dinanath Mangeshkar Award 2017

Superstar Aamir Khan was honoured with the 75th Master Dinanath Mangeshkar
Award for his film Dangal, which was one of the biggest block-buster hits of 2016.
The award was bestowed upon him by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

By receiving the award in person, Aamir Khan broke his own record of not being
part of any awards functions. He had last attended an award show 16 years ago
when Lagaan film was nominated in the Best Film category at the Academy
Awards.
Legendary actress Vyjayanthimala Bali was also honoured with Master Dinanath
Vishesh Puraskar for her achievements in Hindi cinema.

Newton wins Best Film at Hong Kong Film Festival

Actor Rajkummar Rao-starrer film ‘Newton’ has won the best film honour at the
41st Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF).The film had its world premiere
at the 67th Berlin Film Festival where it won the International Federation of Art
Cinemas (CICAE) award in its Forum segment.

Directed by Amit Masurkar, Newton is a political satire. The movie revolves


around Newton Kumar, a rookie government clerk, who is sent on election duty to
a naxal-controlled town in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh. Faced with
the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of guerrilla attacks by
communist rebels, he tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the odds
stacked against him.

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The Hong Kong International Film Festival is Asia’s oldest international film
festival, founded in 1976.

Vani Jairam bags Ghantasala national award

Vani Jairam,71, the versatile playback singer in the South Indian film industry, was
presented with the Ghantasala national award.The award is instituted by the
Ghantasala National Art Academy in Andhra Pradesh.

The award is instituted in the memory of the legendary singer Ghantasala


Venkateswara Rao who ruled the Telugu film music industry for over three
decades.

The song from Telugu film ‘Sankarabharanam’ had won her the National Film
Award in Telugu in 1980. She was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime
Achievement award in 2012.

She has been a playback singer for over 1000 movies and has recorded over 10000
songs.

Besides Hindi and Telugu, she has sung in several other Indian languages including
Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Kannada, Gujarati and Bengali.

She has won the National Film award for Best Female Playback singer thrice and
has also received several state government awards from states such as Odisha,
Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

Vani Jairam is fondly called as Meera of modern India.

Saira Banu, Jackie Shroff gets Raj Kapoor awards

Veteran actress Saira Banu and actor Jackie Shroff were named for the prestigious
Raj Kapoor awards,by the Maharashtra Government.

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Saira Banu (72) will be awarded with the prestigious Raj Kapoor Lifetime
achievement award, while Jackie Shroff (60) was selected for the Raj Kapoor
Special contribution award.

Both the lifetime achievement awards carry a citation and cash of Rs five lakh
each, while both the special contribution awards carry a citation and Rs three lakh
cash.

Prominent films of Saira Banu includes "Junglee" (1961), "Purab aur Paschim"
(1970), "Victoria No. 203" (1972), "JwarBhata", "Padosan" and "Bairag" (1976).

Prominent films of Shroff include "Hero" (1983), "Teri Meherbaniyan" (1984),


"Sazish". He had won the Filmfare best actor award for his role in the film "Parinda"
(1990).

And the V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement award was bagged by noted Marathi
actor Vikram Gokhale

The awards will be presented at the upcoming 54th Maharashtra State Marathi Film
Festival.

Vasudevan’s ‘One Part woman’ wins Sahitya Akademi Award for translation of
Mathorubhagan

One Part Woman, a translation work of Perumal Murugan’s controversial Tamil


novel Maadhorubaagan,by Aniruddhan Vasudevan was chosen for 2016 Sahitya
Akademi’s award for translation in English.

Vasudevan will be felicitated with the award along with the winners of the Sahitya
Akademi award in 23 languages.

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The book ‘One Part Woman’ is a novel based on a possible ancient cultural
practice among people living around Tiruchengode. It is the story of a childless
couple, Kali and Ponna, with a strong desire of having a child. Hounded by taunts
and insinuations of others, all their hopes come to converge on the chariot festival
in the temple of Ardhanareeswara, the half-female god. Everything hinges on the
one night when rules are relaxed and consensual union between any man and
woman is sanctioned. This night could end the couples suffering and humiliation.
But it will also put their marriage to the ultimate test.

Earlier, the book was written in Tamil under the name Madhorubagan by Perumal
Murugan. The Tamil version of the book attracted controversy.

The title Madhorubagan describes Lord Shiva in his Ardhanari avatar, which is a
combination of a man and woman, came into debate/controversy after few groups
alleged that the book was portraying the Kailasanathar temple in Tiruchengode
and its women devotees in a bad light. They demanded that the book be should be
banned. The controversy came to an end after the 2016 Madras High Court
judgement, which favoured Murugan.

Srishti Kaur crowned Miss Teen Universe 2017

India’s Srishti Kaur was crowned Miss Teen Universe 2017,at the event held at the
Ruben Dario National Theatre in Managua, Nicaragua.Kaur succeeds Nieveles
Gonzalez from Puerto Rico,as miss Teen Universe. The Miss Teen Universe annual
beauty pageant for teens aged 15 to 19 is held by the Miss Universe Organisation.

Kaur emerged victorious among 25 other contestants from around the world

Canada’s Samantha Pierre and Ary Trava from Mexico were the runners-up in the
event.

Kaur, a resident of Noida, won the prize for best national costume. Xirelle Agustin
from the Philippines won in the Teen Popularity category, while Costa Rican Nicole
Obando won the award for Teen Charm.

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LV Revanth named winner of Indian Idol 9

LV Revanth from Andhra Pradesh was named the winner of Indian Idol 9. Former
cricketer Sachin Tendulkar handed over the trophy to Revanth, who also won a
car, ₹25 lakh prize money and a singing contract with a music label.

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DAYS/CELEBRATIONS

02 April : World Autism Awareness Day

The World Autism Awareness Day 2017 was observed across the world on 2 April
2017.

The 2017 theme for the day : Toward Autonomy and Self-Determination.

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognised day, encouraging all


the Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness
about children with autism throughout the world.

World Autism Day is also one of only four official health-specific UN Days.

What is Autism?

• Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first
three years of life.

• It results from a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain,
mostly affecting children and adults in many countries irrespective of gender, race
or socio-economic status.

• Autism is characterized by impairments in social interaction, problems with


verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted, repetitive behaviour,
interests and activities.

05 April : National Maritime Day

India on 5 April 2017 observed the 54th edition of the National Maritime Day.

Significance of the day

• On this day in 1919, navigation history was created when SS Loyalty, the first
ship of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, journeyed to the United Kingdom.

• It was a crucial step for India shipping history when sea routes were controlled
by the British.
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About National Maritime Day

• The National Maritime Day was first celebrated on 5 April 1964.

• India is strategically located in the Indian sub-continent and has about 7516
kilometres of coastline.

• The long coastline is serviced by a total of 182 ports, 12 of them under a special
status as Major Ports.

• At present, 90% of India’s international trade in terms of volume and 77% in


terms of value is moved by sea.

06 April : International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) was observed across
the world on 6 April 2017. The date commemorates the inauguration of the first
Olympic games of the modern era, in Athens (Greece) in 1896.

The adoption of the day for sports signifies that sports can have a positive
influence on the advancement of human rights and economic development.

Besides, the United States has also emphasised on the role of sports for social
progress in its Declaration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sports
also contributes in empowering women and young people, communities and
individuals as well as the health, education and social inclusion objectives.

07 April : World Health Day

World Health Day was observed on 7 April 2017 with theme 'Depression: Let's Talk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is leading a one-year global campaign on


depression which is the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide.The
goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the
world, both seek and get help.

As per a report of WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with
depression, which is an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015.

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At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death
among 15-29-year olds.

The World Health Day is being celebrated annually on 7th of April to mark the
anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization.

12 April : International Day of Human Space Flight

International Day of Human Space Flight was observed on 12 April 2017. The day is
an annual celebration of the anniversary of the first human space flight undertaken
by Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet citizen.

Yuri Gagarin carried out Vostok 1 space flight on 12 April 1961, making one orbit
around the Earth over 108 minutes in the Vostok 3KA spacecraft. The spacecraft
was launched by Vostok-K launch vehicle. This historic event opened the way for
space exploration for the benefit of all humanity. Yuri Gagarin became the first
human to orbit the Earth, opening a new chapter of human endeavour in outer
space.

The day is also observed as the Cosmonautics Day in Russia and some other
countries.

On 4 October 1957 the first human-made Earth satellite Sputnik I was launched
into outer space, thus opening the way for space exploration.

126th Birth Anniversary of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar observed nationwide on 14


April 2017

The 126th birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar, also known as
Ambedkar Jayanti , was observed across the India on 14 April 2017.

Dr Ambedkar was known as the father and architect of the Indian Constitution. He
was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the

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Modern Buddhist Movement.

To mark Ambedkar Jayanti 2017, the Union Government launched various


initiatives including a BHIM Aadhaar platform for merchants and few cashback and
bonus schemes for BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money).

17 April : World Hemophilia Day

The World Hemophilia Day was celebrated across the world on 17 April 2017 with
the theme “Hear Their Voices”. The main aim of this campaign is to unite the
community and show support for the millions of women and young girls affected by
bleeding disorders.

• The date 17 April was chosen to honor the founder of WFH, Frank Schnabel, as
his birthday falls on the same day.

• Hemophilia is a rare disease. About 1 in 10,000 people are born with it.

• It is generally an inherited condition in which bleeding is prolonged.

• In rare instances, the condition may develop later in life, affecting people above
the age of 50 years.

• Hemophiliacs have lower levels of clotting factor in the blood and so, the
bleeding continues for longer periods unlike in case of a normal person where
normal levels of clotting factor causes the blood to clot and stop the bleeding.

• It is observed every year to improve and sustain care for people with the
inherited condition across the world.

18 April : World Heritage Day

The 2017 World Heritage Day was observed across the world on 18 April 2017.

The theme for the year : Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism.The theme was
chosen in relation to the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism

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for Development and in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The day is aims at raising awareness of the importance of protecting and


preserving various sites around the world that have achieved world heritage status.

World heritage in India

• As of July 2016, there are 27 cultural, 7 natural and 1 mixed World Heritage Sites
in India that are recognised by the UNESCO.

• These sites are places of importance of cultural or natural heritage as described


in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.

• India’s first two sites inscribed on the list at the Seventh Session of the World
Heritage held in 1983 were the Agra Fort and the Ajanta Caves.

• The latest three sites to be added in the list in July 2016 were "Archaeological
Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University)" at Nalanda, Bihar, "Capitol
Building Complex – The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier" in Chandigarh and
"Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim."

• The International Day for Monuments and Sites has been traditionally called the
World Heritage Day.

20 April : United Nations Chinese Day


The United Nations Chinese Day 2017 was observed globally on 20 April 2017. The
Day is observed every year to promote the use of Chinese language in the United
Nations.

The Chinese language is one of the oldest languages in the world.

In the history of the United Nations, it was for the first time that the use
of Chinese as the official language of the United Nations was promoted through
this day so that people get to understand China's long civilization and splendid

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culture.

22 April: International Mother Earth Day

The International Mother Earth Day was observed on 22 April 2017 across the
world.

The theme for the year : Environmental & Climate Literacy.

This year's theme highlights the fact that education is the foundation for progress.
The world today needs a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change
and aware of its unprecedented threat to the earth. In addition, environmental
and climate literacy is the engine not only for creating green voters and advancing
environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green
technologies and jobs.

The International Mother Earth Day recognises that the Earth and its ecosystems
provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance.

It also aims to raise awareness that humans have a collective responsibility to


promote harmony with nature and to balance the economic, social and
environmental needs of present and future generations.

23 April : United Nations English Language Day


The United Nations English Language Day 2017 was observed globally on 23 April
2017.

The Day is observed every year on the date that is traditionally observed as both,
the birthday and the date of death of William Shakespeare, the greatest writer
ever-known in English language.

Background

• The day was established in 2010 by the Department of Public Information, as a


result of its efforts to establish language days for each of United Nation’s six
official languages.

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• The other five official languages of the international body include Arabic,
Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

• The main aim behind the move is to celebrate the multilingualism and cultural
diversity of the UN and to promote equal use of all six official languages
throughout the organization.

• Under the initiative, UN duty stations around the world have been dedicated to
one of the organization's six official languages and hence, celebrate six separate
days.

English Language Day aims to entertain as well as inform people about the culture,
history and achievements associated with the language.The day features book-
reading events, English quizzes, poetry and literature exchanges and other
activities that promote the language.

• Aside from being one of the UN’s six official languages, English is one of the two
working languages of the UN Secretariat.

• It is often referred to as a world language or the bridge language (common


language used by speakers of different languages) of the modern era because of its
widely spoken status.

• English has official or special status in at least 75 countries that have a total
population of over two billion.

23 April : World Book and Copyright Day

The World Book and Copyright Day was celebrated on 23 April 2017 across the
globe. To mark the occasion, special events were organised to promote reading,
publishing and copyright across the world including India.

The World Book and Copyright Day is an opportunity to highlight the power of
books to promote UNESCO’s vision of knowledge societies that are inclusive,
pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all citizens.

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To mark the World Book and Copyright Day 2017, the UNESCO released three books
– Reshaping Cultural Policies, Rethinking Education in a Changing World and
Reading in a Mobile Era.

23 April is considered as a symbolic date for world literature.In 1616, on this date
23 April, the great literary giants Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca
Garcilaso de la Vega died.

Yogi Adityanath inaugurated National Panchayati Raj Diwas function in Lucknow

24 April : National Panchayati Raj Diwas

The National Panchayati Raj Diwas was observed across India on 24 April 2017. The
day is observed every year to mark the passing of the Constitution (73rd
Amendment) Act, 1992, which came into effect on 24 April 1993.

The act helped in decentralization of political power to the grassroots level.

• It led to the institutionalisation of Panchayati Raj (PR) through the village,


Intermediate and District level Panchayats.

• The Union Minister of Panchayati Raj organises a National Conference every year
to commemorate the day.

• On the occasion, the best performing Gram Panchayats across the country were
conferred the Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Purskar by the Union Ministry of
Panchayati Raj.

Besides this, national awards including Deendayal Upadhyay Panchayat


Sashaktikaran Puraskar, Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar
are conferred upon Panchayati Raj Institutions and e-Panchayat Puraskars to the
State Governments.

25 April : World Malaria Day


World Malaria Day (WMD) 2017 was observed globally on 25 April 2017 with the

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theme Malaria prevention: let’s close the gap. With this theme, WHO is calling the
countries together for closing the gap in malaria prevention.

It is one of eight official global public health campaigns currently marked by the
World Health Organization (WHO).

World Malaria Report 2016


• As per the World Malaria Report 2016, the rate of new malaria cases fell by 21
per cent globally between 2010 and 2015.
• Malaria death rates fell by 29 per cent in the same 5-year period.
• In sub-Saharan Africa, case incidence and death rates fell by 21 per cent and 31
per cent respectively.
• Other regions also made substantial gains in their malaria responses, but the
disease remains a major public health threat.
• In 2015, the global tally of malaria reached 429000 malaria deaths and 212
million new cases. One child died from malaria every 2 minutes.
• Ninety-one countries reported ongoing malaria transmission in 2015.

Malaria elimination
• In recent years, 7 countries were certified by the WHO Director-General as
Malaria-free countries. These are- United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010),
Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011), Maldives (2015), Sri Lanka (2016) and
Kyrgyzstan (2016).
• This certification is granted by WHO when countries achieve at least 3
consecutive years of zero locally-acquired cases of malaria.
• In 2015, the WHO European Region achieved interruption of indigenous malaria
transmission and was declared malaria-free in 2016. The region maintained this
status since then.

26 April : International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day


The International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day 2017 was observed across
the world on 26 April 2017.

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The Day commemorates the explosion at the Ukraine's Chernobyl Nuclear Power
Plant in 1986 which spread a radioactive cloud over large parts of the Soviet Union,
now the territories of Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
Due to the explosion, nearly 8.4 million people in the three countries were
exposed to the radiation.

26 April : World Intellectual Property Day

The World Intellectual Property Day 2016 was on 26 April 2017 observed across the
world with the theme Innovation – Improving Lives.

The theme of the year explores how innovation makes lives healthier, safer and
more comfortable.

The World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated to spread awareness about the
role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs,
copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.

28 April : World Day for Safety and Health at Work


The World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2017 was observed across the world
on 28 April 2017 with the theme 'Optimize the collection and use of OSH data'.
This year, International Labour Organization ILO’s campaign focuses on the critical
need for countries to improve their capacity to collect and utilize reliable
occupational safety and health (OSH) data.

Why there is a need of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)?


• Every day, 6300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related
diseases which means that there are more than 2.3 million deaths per year.
• 317 million accidents occur on the job annually; many of these result in the
extended absences from work.
• The economic burden of poor occupational safety and health practices is
estimated at 4 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product every year.

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World Immunization Week 2017 (24 April to 30 April 2017)

World Immunization Week 2017 is being observed across the globe between 24
April and 30 April 2017.

The theme for the 2017 World Immunization Week is ‘VaccinesWork.’ The theme
aims to raise awareness about the critical importance of full immunization
throughout life, and its role in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

As part of the 2017 campaign, WHO aims to:

• Highlight the importance of immunization as a top global health investment


priority.
• Promote understanding of the action steps required to achieve the Global
Vaccine Action Plan.
• Showcase immunization’s role in sustainable development and global health
security.

The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) aims to prevent millions of deaths from
vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020 through universal access to immunization.

• Between 2010 and 2015, vaccines prevented at least 10 million deaths, and many
millions more lives were protected from the suffering and disability associated
with diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, whooping cough, measles, and polio.

• The global push to end polio has reached its final stages. Only 3 countries are
still working to eradicate polio.

• Successful immunization programmes enable national priorities, like education


and economic development, to take hold.

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BOOKS
The Flaming Tresses of Draupadi : by M Veerappa Moily
M Veerappa Moily,a senior Congress leader and the former Chief Minister of
Karnataka launched a book tracing the life of Draupadi,the wife of the five
Pandavas.The book was released by the President Pranab Mukherjee at the
Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The book traces the whole life journey of the legendary Mythological character,
right from her birth from the sacrificial fire to her marriage to the five Pandavas,
to losing all the fortune and even honour to the Kauravas in the midst of a
gambling game and finally the great war of Kurukshetra, which ends with the
victory of the Pandavas.

Originally the book has been written by Moily in Kannada and it has been
translated into English by D A Shankar.

The minister, who is currently representing the Chikballapur constituency as an MP


in the 16th Lok Sabha, has written several books prior to this in both Kannada and
English.His most ambitious piece till now has been "Shree Ramayana
Mahaveshanam", which received the Moortidevi Award of the Bhartiya Jnanpith.

Hope in a Challenged Democracy: An Indian Narrative : by


Ashwani Kumar
A book titled Hope in a Challenged Democracy: An Indian Narrative, authored by
Ashwani Kumar,was released by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New
Delhi.Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari was present on the occasion.

The book goes on to critically analyse the issues of fundamental importance in the
framework of the “dignitarian goals of the republic, the role of a ‘living
Constitution’, the necessity of equilibrium between executive, legislature and
judiciary, the role of media, importance of equitable growth, a responsive justice
system and a rising India’s engagement with the world.”

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Ashwani Kumar is an Indian politician and attorney.He formerly has served as a
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha representing the state of Punjab.He has
served as the Minister of Law and Justice and Minister of State in the Department
of Industrial Policy and Promotion and Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

At the age of 37, he was appointed one of the youngest Additional Solicitor
General of India.

As a legal counsel, he has argued important cases before the Supreme Court
including the Bhopal Gas Tragedy case.

Gandhi in Champaran : by Dinanath Gopal Tendulkar

Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting,released a book


titled Gandhi in Champaran at National Mahatma Gandhi Museum in New Delhi.

The book was launched on 10 April 2017 ,the day that marks the 100th year of
Champaran Satyagraha.

The book is authored by noted writer Dinanath Gopal Tendulkar,as an eight-volume


biography of Mahatma Gandhi,

In addition, the minister also released a book containing a collection of letters and
articles of the correspondence between Nobel laureate Romain Rolland and
Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi in Champaran offers a gripping account of Gandhi’s first Satyagraha on


Indian soil. The Satyagraha was his attempt to eliminate, by truthful and non-
violent means, the grievances and sufferings of the peasants at the hands of the
indigo planters.

Dinanath Gopal Tendulkar was an Indian writer and documentary film maker.His
most noted work is his Gandhi biography which was first published in 1951 with a
foreword by the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

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He was awarded the Padma Bhushan decoration by the then President of India,
Rajendra Prasad. However, the author refused the award and asked for a watch
instead.

His other notable works are: Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan – Faith is a Battle, 30 months
in Russia, Soviet Sanskriti, among others.

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JUDICIARY

SC restores trial against L K Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti in Babri Masjid
demolition case

The Supreme Court (SC) has restored the criminal conspiracy trial against senior
BJP leaders L K Advani, M M Joshi, Uma Bharti and other senior BJP leaders in the
Babri Masjid demolition case.
The ruling was made by a bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman.
The bench also ordered that separate trial courts at Rae Bareli and Lucknow should
be clubbed and conducted in the capital of Uttar Pradesh only and directed that
trials should be completed in two years.

The verdict came on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea challenging the
order of Allahabad High Court for quashing the conspiracy charge against Advani
and others in May 2010. The Allahabad High Court ruled in favour of the conspiracy
charges being dropped against the veteran BJP leaders.

CBI had charged Advani and 20 others under sections 153A (promoting enmity
between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration)
and 505 (false statements, rumours etc circulated with the intent to cause mutiny
or disturb public peace) of the IPC.Background

CBI had charged Advani and 20 others under sections 153A (promoting enmity
between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration)
and 505 (false statements, rumours etc circulated with the intent to cause mutiny
or disturb public peace) of the IPC.

SC directs Kerala government to reinstate TP Senkumar as DGP of Kerala

The Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Kerala government to reinstate T.P.
Senkumar as Director General of Police (DGP) of the state. The ruling was made by

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a bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta. The bench ruled that
Senkumar was dealt unfairly and arbitrarily .

This ruling of Supreme Court came as a major setback for Left Democratic Front
government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who transferred Senkumar to the
Kerala Police Housing and Construction Ltd and instead appointed Lokanath Behara
as the new DGP.

The court also set aside the rulings of the Central Administrative Tribunal and the
Kerala High Court which were in favour of the Kerala Government.

SC sets 25% of net salary of husband for maintenance to an estranged wife

The Supreme Court (SC) of India has set a benchmark for maintenance to be paid
by a husband to his estranged wife. The Court said that twenty-five percent of his
net salary should be paid for maintenance by a husband to his estranged wife. It
said that this twenty-five percent of his net salary might constitute a just and
proper amount as alimony.

According to media reports, a bench of Justice R Banumathi and Justice MM


Santanagoudar directed a resident of West Bengal to set aside twenty-five percent
as maintenance for his former wife and their son. The man who earns Rs 95527 a
month was directed to set aside Rs 20000 for the wife. The court also turned down
the man's plea that the amount was excessive.

The court said the amount of maintenance or permanent alimony must be


sufficient to ensure that a woman lived with dignity after separating from her
husband.

Supreme Court approves e-auction of Taj Mansingh Hotel in Delhi

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The Supreme Court (SC) has approved the e-auction of Taj Mansingh Hotel in Delhi.
A bench of Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman allowed New Delhi Municipal
Corporation (NDMC) to e-auction the property.

The bench rejected the claim of Tata group-owned Indian Hotels Co. Ltd (IHCL)
over the property. The auctioning the Taj Mansingh Hotel property was stiffly
opposed by Tata group-run Indian Hotels Company Ltd which manages the hotel.

In an earlier hearing, the Supreme Court asked NDMC to reconsider its decision for
the e-auction as the IHCL had approached SC against a Delhi High Court’s ruling
that allowed for the auction of Taj Mansingh Hotel.

However, on 27 October 2016 hearing, a division bench denied IHCL’s claim to


right of first refusal on the auction and called for the bidding. It allowed IHCL to
participate in the bid and also match the highest offer.

NDMC and IHCL had entered into an agreement in 1976 to construct and run a five-
star hotel in one of the prime locations of Delhi that is Mansingh Road. This licence
operated for a period of 33 years from late 1976 and concluded in 2011. However,
NDMC declined to renew the IHCL licence for 30 years.

Hospitals can't hold patients hostage for unpaid bills : Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court stated that the hospitals cannot hold patients hostage to
extract money for unpaid bills.

The ruling came in a habeas corpus plea moved by the son of the patient - a
former Madhya Pradesh policeman - who was admitted for treatment in a premier
private hospital in Delhi in February 2017. The patient's son had alleged that the
hospital was holding his father hostage to extract money from him towards
outstanding dues of 13.45 lakh rupees.

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While hearing the plea of the son, the High Court bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and
Justice Deepa Sharma said even if dues are outstanding, custody of patients cannot
be withheld to extract money towards unpaid bills of the hospital.

The court also directed the hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, to prepare the
discharge summary of the patient and allowed his son to remove his father
forthwith from the hospital.

Habeas Corpus Plea

Habeas corpus is recourse in the law whereby a person can report an unlawful
detention or imprisonment before a court, usually through a prison official or the
institution. A habeas petition proceeds as a civil action against the State agent
who holds the defendant in custody.

Privilege of the writ of habeas corpus : A writ of habeas corpus is a court order to
a person, who can be a prison warden or agency or institution that holds someone
in custody to deliver the imprisoned individual to the court issuing the order.

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EXECUTIVE/PARLIAMENTARY

Finance Bill gets President's nod, takes effect from April 1

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Finance Bill 2017, and the
provisions of the bill will come into effect from 1st April. This will give effect to
provisions like ban on cash transactions above ₹2 lakh. Further, this marks the first
time the annual Budget and taxation proposals have come into effect from the
financial year's first day.

Parliament clears decks for GST rollout from July 1

Rajya Sabha has passed all four supporting legislations of the Goods and Services
Tax (GST) Bill 2017. The four bills were passed by the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote
as all parties were on board. The four legislations are

i. The Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (The CGST Bill)
ii. The Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (The IGST Bill)
iii. The Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (The UTGST Bill)
iv. The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to the States) Bill, 2017 (The
Compensation Bill)
The passage in the upper house of the Parliament has cleared the decks for the
rollout of the historic GST Bill from 1 July 2017 and usher the one-nation-one-tax
regime.
With this passage in Rajya Sabha, the Bill will be sent to President Pranab
Mukherjee for the final nod. The bills will become the law after the President gives
his assent to them. The Bill was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha on 29 March
2017.Now, the States can pass the State GST Bill in their assemblies.
Jaitley informed that the Jammu and Kashmir government has agreed to bring the
legislation in its assembly to get its extension to that State.Jaitley also assured the
Rajya Sabha that agricultural produce will not be taxed under the new indirect tax
regime.The Finance Minister said, under the present system, there is a federal
arrangement which no party can unilaterally alter.On GST network, Jaitley said the
data is fully secured with an IT firewall.

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President Pranab Mukherjee gives assent to four GST related legislations

President Pranab Mukherjee on 13 April 2017 gave his assent to four supporting
legislations related to Goods and Services Tax, GST. The nod paves the way for the
roll out of one-nation-one-tax regime from 1 July 2017.
The four legislations are the Integrated GST Act 2017, GST (Compensation to
States) Act 2017, Central GST Act 2017 and Union Territory GST Act, 2017.
These GST bills were passed in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on 6 April 2017 and 29
March 2017 respectively.

What will GST do?

The GST, which is being termed as the biggest taxation reform since
independence, will create a uniform market across India by subsuming the central
excise, service tax and Value Added Tax (VAT) along with other local levies.

About the four legislations of the GST

• The Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017: It provides for the levy of the
Central Goods and Services Tax by the Union Government on the supply of goods
and services within the boundary of a state.

• Integrated GST Act, 2017: It deals with the levy of Integrated Goods and Services
Tax by the Union Government on the inter-state supply of services and goods.

• Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act, 2017: It provides for
compensation to the states for the loss of revenue (if any), which arises on account
of implementation of Goods and Services Tax.

• Union Territory GST Act, 2017: This legislation makes a provision for levy and
collection of tax on intra-state supply of services and goods or both by the Union
Territories.

Limitation of the GST bill

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The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier in Rajya Sabha said that the law
will not apply in Jammu and Kashmir due to Article 370 of the constitution that
gives special status to the state. For the purpose of being the law, J&K will have to
legislate its own law so that they can integrate themselves with the GST regime.

With this nod from the President, all eyes are on the meeting of the goods and
services tax (GST) council that will meet on 18 and 19 May 2017 in Srinagar to
discuss the tax rates under the new tax regime system. The meet on the GST rates
will be chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The GST council constitutes of the Union Finance minister and finance ministers
of states.

Earlier in Rajya Sabha in the second week of April 2017, Jaitley said that the GST
Council had agreed to take a decision on bringing real estate within the ambit of
the new tax regime within a year of its rollout. The council will also take decisions
on inclusion of petroleum products and alcohol in the GST network, one by one.
The inclusion will take place in the foreseeable future.

Union Cabinet approves the introduction of Constitution (123rd Amendment)


Bill 2017 in Parliament

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for introduction of
Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017 and National Commission for Backward
Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 in the Parliament. Moreover, the Cabinet also approved
retention of posts/incumbents and office premises that are held by the existing
National Commission for Backward Classes.

Provisions of the Constitution (One Hundred Twenty-third Amendment) Bill,


2017
• It calls for constitution of a Commission under Article 338B for socially and
educationally backward classes by name of National Commission for Backward
Classes.
• It provides for insertion of Clause (26C) under Article 366 with modified
definition of socially and educationally backward classes.

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Provisions of National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017
• It calls for repealing the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993
along with Savings Clause.
• It mentions the dissolution of the National Commission for Backward Classes with
effect from the date when the Union Government may implement it. The National
Commission for Backward Classes was constituted under sub-section (1) of Section
3 of the Act.
• It provides for appropriation of the sanctioned 52 posts of the existing National
Commission for Backward Classes in the proposed National Commission for
Backward Classes to be constituted under Article 338B.
• It provides for retention of the office premises of the existing National
Commission for Backward Classes at Trikut-1, Bhikaiji Cama Place, New Delhi by
the National Commission for Backward Classes to be constituted under Article
338B.

Comment
The proposed National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 is
necessary in view of setting up of the National Commission for Backward Classes by
insertion of Article 338B of the Constitution. It will certainly provide for overall
welfare of socially and educationally backward classes.

It will also enable effective continuity in the functioning of the National


Commission for Backward Classes under Article 338B.

Lok Sabha passes Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017

The Lok Sabha has passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Third
Amendment) Bill, 2017,with 360 MPs voting in favour and 2 against the bill.

The Bill seeks to give constitutional status to the National Commission for
Backward Classes.

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Objectives of the 123rd Amendment Bill, 2017

• The Bill seeks to insert a new Article 338B in the Constitution. The Article
provides for the National Commission for Backward Classes, its composition,
mandate, functions and various officers.

• The Bill also seeks to insert a new Article 342-A, which empowers the President
to notify the list of socially and educationally backward classes of a state/union
territory. In case of a state, President will make such notification after
consultation with the Governor.

• Under the new Article 342-A, the Parliament, by making a law, can include or
exclude the classes from the central list of backward classes.

About National Commission for Backward Classes

• The National Commission for Backward Classes is an Indian statutory body under
the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

• It was established on 14 August 1993.

• It was constituted pursuant to the provisions of the National Commission for


Backward Classes Act, 1993.

• The Supreme Court of India in its Judgement dated 16.11.1992 in Writ Petition
(Civil) No. 930 of 1990, Indra Sawhney & Others. Vs. Union of India and Others.,
reported in (1992) Supp. 3 SCC 217, directed the Government of India, State
Governments and Union Territory Administrations to constitute a permanent body
in the nature of a Commission or Tribunal for entertaining, examining and
recommending upon requests for inclusion and complaints of over-inclusion and
under-inclusion in the list of OBCs.

• At present, the Commission is responsible to look into the inclusion and exclusion
of backward classes only.

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Parliament passes Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill,
2017

Indian Parliament has passed the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order


(Amendment) Bill, 2017 after it was passed by Rajya Sabha. The Bill was already
passed by Lok Sabha in March 2017.

The Bill amends the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the
Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order, 1964.

Provisions of the Bill


• It seeks to modify the list of Schedule Castes for the state of Odisha. The castes
Sualgiri and Swalgiri will be introduced as synonyms to the Sabakhia caste in the
list of SCs for the state of Odisha.
• It modifies the name of the Union Territory of Pondicherry to Puducherry by
incorporating changes in the Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order,
1964.

Lok Sabha passes the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016

The Lok Sabha has passed a draft legislation to amend the Motor Vehicles Act to
impose stiffer penalties on traffic rules violations and to protect the Good
Samaritans from legal harassment.

The changes in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016, were approved by the
Union Cabinet on 31 March 2017.

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About Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016

• The Bill amends the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to address issues such as third
party insurance, regulation of taxi aggregators and road safety.

• Under the Act, the liability of the third party insurer for motor vehicle accidents
is unlimited. The amendment caps the maximum liability for third party insurance
in case of a motor accident at Rs 10 lakh in case of death and at five lakh rupees in
case of grievous injury. However, the Bill does not cap the compensation amount
that courts can award.

• The Bill provides for a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, which would provide
compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents.

• It defines taxi aggregators, guidelines for which will be determined by the Union
Government.

• The Bill also provides for: (i) amending the existing categories of driver licensing,
(ii) recall of vehicles in case of defects, (iii) protection of good samaritans from
any civil or criminal action, and (iv) increase of penalties for several offences
under the 1988 Act.

Parliament passes HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017

The Parliament has passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired
Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017.

The Bill provides for the prevention and control of the disease and protection of
human rights of those affected by it.

The Bill also prohibits any kind of discrimination against such people on ground of
treatment, employment and workplace.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome


(Prevention and Control) Bill was already passed on 21 March 2017 in the Rajya
Sabha.

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Key highlights of the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017

Prohibition of discrimination against HIV positive persons: The Bill sets various
grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons is prohibited. These
include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to
employment, educational establishments, health care services, residing or renting
property, among others.

Informed consent and disclosure of HIV status: The Bill requires that no HIV test,
medical treatment, or research will be conducted on a person without his informed
consent.

Role of the Union and State Governments: The Union and State Governments
shall take measures to prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS, provide anti-retroviral
therapy and infection management for persons with HIV or AIDS, facilitate their
access to welfare schemes especially for women and children, and others.

Role of the Ombudsman: An ombudsman shall be appointed by each state


government to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and the
provision of health care services.

Guardianship: A person between the age of 12 to 18 years who has sufficient


maturity in understanding and managing the affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected
family shall be competent to act as a guardian of another sibling below 18 years of
age.

Court proceedings: Cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed off by
the court on a priority basis. In any legal proceeding, if an HIV infected or
affected person is a party, the court may pass orders that the proceedings be
conducted (a) by suppressing the identity of the person, (b) in camera, and (c) to

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restrain any person from publishing information that discloses the identity of the
applicant.

Article 341 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President to specify the
Scheduled Castes in various states and UTs. Further, it permits Parliament to
modify this list.

PM Modi inaugurates India's longest road tunnel (Chenani-Nashri) in J&K

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India's longest road tunnel – the
Chenani-Nashri tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. The ₹3,720 crore-
tunnel is 9.28 km long and would reportedly reduce the distance between Jammu
and Srinagar by about 30 km and travel time by two hours. It is also expected to
result in fuel savings of ₹27 lakh daily.

PM Modi also announced the plans to invest around Rs 7000 crore in highways
projects in Jammu and Kashmir in the next two years. A ring road will be built
around Jammu at a cost of Rs 2100 crore and another one around Srinagar at a cost
of Rs 2200 crore.
The Zojila tunnel is also under construction between Leh and Ladakh at a cost of
Rs 6000 crores.

PM Narendra Modi launches UDAN scheme, flags off first UDAN flight on Shimla-
Delhi route

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the air regional connectivity scheme UDAN
(Ude Desh ka Har Nagarik) at Shimla.The first UDAN flight was flagged off on
Shimla-Delhi route.Simultaneously, PM Narendra Modi also launched the inaugural
UDAN flights on Kadapa – Hyderabad and Nanded - Hyderabad routes.

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Prior to the launch of this UDAN flight, Kingfisher was the only airline that
operated regular flights between Delhi and Shimla till September 2012.

Presently, the annual tourist arrival in Himachal Pradesh crosses 1.8 crore (18
million) in a year. The tourism sector contributes approximately seven per cent to
the State Gross Domestic Product.

PM Narendra Modi launches projects related to SAUNI Yojana at Botad

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Phase 1 (Link 2) of the Saurashtra
Narmada Avtaran Irrigation (SAUNI) Yojana to the nation.PM Modi also laid the
Foundation Stone of Phase 2 (Link 2) of the SAUNI Yojana.

The design of Phase 2 is to pump Narmada water in 17 dams spread across Botad,
Bhavnagar and Amreli districts of Gujarat. This is considered as a second milestone
of the Rs 12000 crore projects to pump Narmada water to the arid Saurashtra
region.

SAUNI Yojana’s Link 1 canal will take water to 30 dams in Jamnagar and
Devbhoomi Dwarka districts. In August 2016, PM Modi had dedicated Phase-I of the
Link-I canal to the nation.

About SAUNI Project

• The Saurashtra-Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojana has been launched to divert


one one million acre feet (MAFT) excess over flowing flood water of Narmada
allocated to Saurashtra Region.

• The excess over flowing flood water of Narmada will be distributed to 115
reservoirs of eleven districts of Saurashtra through total 1126 km long four link
pipelines benefitting 10.22 lakh acres of land.

• The project aims to utilize the floodwater, which otherwise overflows the
Narmada dam during monsoon and drains into the sea.

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• This scheme will help in providing water from the Narmada to Botad and other
surrounding districts.

• This entire project is divided into four phases to fill up 115 dams of arid
Saurashtra region with overflowing water of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam through
a web of the pipeline network.

PM Modi inaugurates many projects in Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated and launched a series of projects in


Gujarat. during his visit to Gujarat.

Maximum number of projects,out of these,were launched in all in Surat district of


the state, a district that is a hub of Patidar agitation for reservation in educational
institutes and government services.

The projects inaugurated by Prime Minister include 1) The Multi-speciality Hospital


at Katargam 2) High Tech Diamond factory at Ichchhapor and 3) Various plants at
SUMUL dairy in Bajipura

At Silvas,in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli,he distributed the
forest land rights to the tribals and LPG cylinders and cooking kits to the poor
families under the Ujjawala yojana.

PM stated that his upcoming visit to Israel will benefit the Diamond industries in
and around Surat. His visit to Israel will be the first visit by any Prime Minister of
India.

PM Modi inaugurates new units in Koradi thermal power station in Nagpur

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated various units of the thermal power plants
at Koradi, Chandrapur and Parli of Maharashtra to the nation. The total capacity of
these plants is 3230 Mega Watts.

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The dedicated power plants include

• Three super-critical units 660 MW each at Koradi

• Two of 500 MW each at Chandrapur

• One of 250 MW at Parli

The power station was inaugurated during Modi’s day-long visit to Nagpur.

Immediately after arrival at airport, he proceeded to sacred Deekshabhoomi and


paid rich tributes to the Architect of Indian Constitution Bharat Ratna Dr.
Babasaheb Ambedkar at the Central Memorial on his birth anniversary.
Deekshabhoomi is the place where Babasaheb Ambedkar and over 600,000
followers had embraced Buddhism on October 14, 1956.

He released two special commemorative postal stamps of five rupees denomination


:

a) One depicts Deekshabhoomi in its full glory

b) The other with twin pictures of Lord Gautam Buddha and Dr. Babasaheb
Ambedkar

Born on April 14, 1891, Babasaheb Ambedkar was the first Law Minister of the
Independent India, the principal architect of the Indian Constitution who dedicated
his life for the uplift of Dalits, women and labourers, and was posthumously
conferred the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1990.

PM Modi gives a big push to development of Nagpur

Giving a big push to the development of Nagpur as a modern educational hub,


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, laid the foundation stones for the buildings of Indian
Institute of Management (IIM), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Indian
Institute of Information Technology (IIIT).

PM Narendra Modi launches BHIM-Aadhaar Pay app


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PM Modi on 14 August 2017, the 126th birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar,
launched the BHIM-Aadhaaar app for merchants in Nagpur. In addition to this, he
also launched cash back and referral bonus schemes for BHIM and declared about
75 townships spread all over India as ‘less-cash townships’.

The initiatives were launched with an aim to further the digital payments
revolution in India. It also seeks to reinforce the vision of Baba Saheb for social
empowerment of all through financial inclusion.

About BHIM-Aadhaar platform

• BHIM-Aadhaar, the merchant interface of the BHIM App will pave the way for
making digital payments by using the Aadhaar platform.

• This will enable every Indian citizen to pay digitally using their biometric data
like their thumb imprint on a merchants’ biometric-enabled device which could be
smart phone having a biometric reader.

• Any citizen without access to smart phones, the internet, debit or credit cards
will be able to transact digitally through the BHIM Aadhaar platform.

With a view of achieving the target of 2500 crore digital transactions during the
financial year 2017-18, the Prime Minister will also announce about 75 townships
spread all over India as ‘less-cash townships’.

Besides, the Prime Minister also launched two new initiative schemes and they are
BHIM - Cashback and Referral bonus. These schemes have an outlay of Rs 495
rupees for a period of six months. These schemes will provide a major impetus to
the digital payment revolution in India.

• Referral bonus scheme: Under the scheme both the existing user who refers BHIM
and the new user who adopts BHIM would get a cash bonus credited directly to
their account. Per referral, the government will deposit Rs 10 to the account
holder. The scheme will run until 14 October 2017.

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• Cashback scheme: Under the scheme, the merchants will get a cash back on
every transaction using BHIM.

What is a less-cash township?

A less-cash township is one where the deployment of payment acceptance


infrastructure is complete and all the families in the township are covered under
training programmes. These townships are likely to generate over 1.5 lakh digital
transactions every day.

Before inaugurating these schemes and the app, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi
went to pray at Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur, a holy spot closely associated with Dr
Ambedkar. After which he inaugurated several units of Thermal Power Stations at
Koradi, Chandrapur and Parli.

Double-decker AC train to be launched on high-density routes

The Indian Railways will be launching a special rail service, Utkrisht Double-Decker
AC Yatri (Uday) Express in July 2017.

The over-night train would ply only on high-demand routes like Delhi- Lucknow and
its fare would be lower than that of the 3AC class in regular express trains.The
service, announced in rail budget 2016-17, is slated to run at a speed of 110 km
speed per hour on high-density routes.

First-ever train,in India, with glass roof coaches launched on Visakhapatnam-


Araku route

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged-off the first-ever train,in India, with glass
roof coaches on Visakhapatnam-Araku route through video conferencing from
Bhubaneswar.

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The see-through Vistadome coach on Visakhapatnam-Kirandul passenger train was
launched with an aim to provide a delightful travelling experience of the
picturesque Araku valley.

100TH DIGI DHAN MELA LAUNCHED IN BHEL,Dehradun

With a slew of initiatives being launched by the Central Government to encourage


the digital payments and a transition to less-cash economy across the country, the
100th Digi Dhan Mela was launched in BHEL Sector 4 community centre,Dehradun.

Different banks based in the city dwelt at length on the positive features of
the cashless transactions. Besides, Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapar
Yojana have been launched on the occasion with the same objective to boost the
cause of cashless economy across the country.

Haryana to provide ₹21,000 to families for third girl child

Haryana government will provide a one-time grant of ₹21,000 to all those families
whose third girl child was born after August 24, 2015, under the Aapki Beti, Hamari
Beti scheme. The eligible families will receive the amount irrespective of their
caste, creed, religion, income and number of sons, an official release issued on
Saturday said.

Haryana’s Ballabgarh renamed as Balramgarh

Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister of Haryana, announced the renaming of


Ballabgarh town in Faridabad as Balramgarh, after its founder King Balram
Singh.However, the process to change the name of the town in official records may
take a few months.In 2016, the Manohar Lal Khattar Government had
renamed Gurgaon as Gurugram based on the historic connection of the city with
Guru Dronacharya.

About Ballabgarh

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• Ballabgarh is a town in Faridabad District of Haryana.

• It is a part of the National Capital Region.

• The state was founded by Balram Singh in 1739.

• The town was a princely state, which was last ruled by Jat Raja Nahar Singh. He
was executed died for taking part in the 1857 war of independence in 1858.

• The town lies on the National Highway 2, a major portion of historical Grand
Trunk Road

Haryana government launches Operation Durga for women's safety

On the lines of the Anti-Romeo Squad of Uttar Pradesh, the Haryana Government
launched the 'Operation Durga' to ensure women safety in the state.On the first
day of its launch itself, the police teams nabbed 72 people from all the districts
for allegedly indulging in crimes against women including eve teasing.

The teams comprise woman personnel, including nine Sub- inspectors of Police, 14
Assistant Sub-inspectors, six Head Constables and 13 constables, besides other
police officers from each district.The teams will visit public places such as schools,
colleges, bus stands and railway stations.

The Haryana government has already constituted women police stations in all
districts to ensure safety of women and provide them with a safe place for lodging
complaints. However, on the contrary to expectations, it was observed that
women hesitated in reporting incidents involving such anti-social elements.

Therefore, the campaign Operation Durga was undertaken after identifying places
where such anti-social elements were indulging in eve teasing, vulgar comments,
stalking and other similar activities.

Uttar Pradesh government scraps Samajwadi pension scheme

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The present Uttar Pradesh government,under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has
scrapped the Samajwadi Pension Scheme, which was initiated by the previous
Akhilesh Yadav government.The government has also ordered a probe into the
selection of beneficiaries under the scheme.

The CM said that in future,the Mukhya Mantri Pension scheme will be introduced
and beneficiaries from most Dalit communities will also be included.

CM Yogi Adityanath said that a cabinet proposal will be prepared to enhance


pension amounts from Rs 500 to Rs 1000 being given to widows, handicapped and
old age people.

Also,the authorities were directed to chalk out a special welfare scheme for the
scheduled tribes of Sonebhadra and other districts of the state. He also said that
proper arrangements should be made for the education of tribal children.

UP Government renames Gorakhpur and Agra Airports

The Uttar Pradesh state government has renamed the Gorakhpur and Agra
Airports as well as the name of the Department of Welfare of the Differently-
abled.

The Gorakhpur Airforce Station was renamed after the name of Mahayogi
Gorakhnath, the founder of Nath monastic movement. Interestingly, the newly-
appointed Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is the Head Priest of the Gorakhnath
Mutt, which is a leading centre of the Nath monastic order.
The Agra Airport was renamed after RSS ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal
Upadhyay airport.

The Department of Disabled Welfare will now be known as Divyang Jan Vikas
Empowerment. Divyang is a term used for the differently-abled.

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Madhya Pradesh plans to introduce death penalty for rapists

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has stated that his government will
introduce a bill in the forthcoming monsoon session to award the death penalty to
rapists. He added the state might also have an anti-Romeo squad on the lines of
Uttar Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh witnesses an average of 12 rapes every day
according to latest data.

J&K bans polyethene manufactured below 50 microns

The Jammu and Kashmir government is taking all the possible measures to prevent
the state’s environment and ecology from being polluted. the Government has put
a blanket ban on manufacture and usage of polythene bag below fifty (50)
microns.The new guidelines and regulations, would facilitate proper recycling of
plastic waste, reducing its impact on the ecology. The government will also
organise awareness camps to educate masses about ill effects of non-
biodegradable products.

The manufacturer's name and address will now be required to be printed on the
bags, failing to which, strict action will be taken against them.

Puducherry farmers to get free power

The government of Pondicherry (Puducherry) announced that the small and other
classes of farmers in the Union Territory will be getting free power supply from
this month for pump sets used for irrigation purpose,starting from fiscal 2017-2018.

While around 960 farmers fall in the small farmer category that would benefit from
the scheme, almost 5911 farmers come under the others category.Overall, the
scheme is expected to benefit around 7000 farmers.

Telangana Government to increase quota for Muslims, STs in the state

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The Telangana Government announced its decision to increase the reservations
quota for the socially and economically backward Muslim population and the
Scheduled tribes in the state.

The decision was taken on the basis of a report presented by the State’s Backward
Classes Commission.

Key Highlights

• Presently, while the Muslim population who are referred to as BC-E in the state
enjoy 4 per cent reservation, the STs enjoy 7.5 per cent reservation.

• The exact raise in the percentage of the quota of both the groups would be
decided by the cabinet at its next meeting, which is scheduled to be held on 15
April 2017.

• Increasing the reservation quota of the BC-E and STs was one of the promises
made by the ruling Telangana Rastra Samithi party during its election campaign.

• The decision would be backed by a legislation in the name of Telangana State


Reservation Act that will be introduced at a special session of the state’s assembly
on 16 April 2017.

The Telangana government would be following a model similar to that of Tamil


Nadu in raising the quota up to 69 per cent, much above the constitutionally
approved limit of 50 per cent.

He also supported the cabinet’s decision by recalling the judgement of Supreme


Court in Indira Sawhney case after Mandal Commission protests, which stated that
the Central and State governments were free to exceed the 50 per cent cap on the
reservation quota if they had “quantifiable and impeccable” data about population
and social composition.

The SC, ST, BC and other minority groups amount to about 90 per cent of the
Telangana’s total population.

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‘Advanced Farming – Enriched Farmer’ scheme announced in Maharashtra

The Maharashtra Government has announced the ‘Advanced Farming – Enriched


Farmer’ scheme,which aims at increasing the income of farmers by cutting
production cost and increase in output.The scheme announced amidst demands for
waiver of farm loan in the state, will be launched in the upcoming Kharif season.
The government aims at doubling the income of farmers by 2022.

Apart from this, a campaign named farmer outreach campaign will be launched to
inform the farmers about the techniques that can be used for agriculture during
the Kharif season. The campaign will run between 25 May and 8 June 2017. The
state government has also announced that it would increase grants for construction
of green-houses, shade nets and onion shades among others.

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DEVELOPMENT/ECONOMY

Five associate banks, Bharatiya Mahila Bank merge with SBI

Five associate banks and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank merged with the State Bank of
India (SBI),thus placing the country's largest lender among the top 50 banks in the
world. With this, the total customer base of the bank will reach 37 crore. Further,
the bank will have a branch network of around 24,000 and nearly 59,000 ATMs.

SBI becomes India's most-valued Public Sector Company

The State Bank of India (SBI) on 18 April 2017 became India's most valued Public
Sector Company in terms of market valuation. The market cap of SBI stood at Rs
235307.51 crore as on 18 April 2017.

It surpassed the state-run energy major Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) as
its market cap was about Rs 2961.79 crore more than that of ONGC's Rs 232345.72
crore. ONGC once used to be the country's most-valued Public Sector Company in
terms of market valuation.

Among the top-10 most valued companies list, SBI is at the fifth position while
ONGC is seventh on the list. So far in Financial Year 2017-18, shares of SBI have
surged almost 16 per cent while ONGC's shares have fallen by over 4 per cent.

On the other hand, in Private Sector, IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
became the most-valued Indian company with a market cap of Rs 454902.85 crore,
followed by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) with Rs 445578.92
crore market cap.

TCS had replaced RIL as the most valued firm more than four years ago itself.
However, RIL witnessed a sharp growth in recent past on success of telecom
venture Jio.

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Union Minister launches ‘Nakshe’ portal to celebrate Survey of India’s 250
Anniversary

The Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Harsh Vardhan
launched a new web portal called ‘Nakshe’ in New Delhi on 10 April 2017. Swarna
Subba Rao, the Surveyor General of India was present on the occasion.The launch
commemorates the 250th anniversary of Survey of India (SoI).

Key Highlights of ‘Nakshe’


• The portal will offer Topographic maps or Open Series Maps (OSM) for free
download in a pdf format through Aaadhar enabled user authentication process.
• The move is in line with the Indian government’s Digital India programme.
• Topographic maps or Open Series Maps (OSM) comprise natural and man-made
geographical features including terrain or topography.
• The maps have been prepared by the SoI since its inception in 1767 and are
completely in accordance with the National Map Policy of 2005.

RBI clears proposal to introduce ₹200 notes: Reports

The board of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cleared a proposal to introduce
banknotes of ₹200 denomination, according to multiple reports. The decision was
reportedly taken at an RBI board meeting held in March. The process of printing
the new ₹200 notes is likely to begin after June, once the government officially
approves this new denomination, reports added.

Committee under chairmanship of Dinesh Sharma to study governing of Virtual


Currencies

The Union government has constituted a time-bound inter-disciplinary committee


to come up with an action plan for dealing with virtual currencies so as to fix the
regulatory gaps in the existing framework governing virtual currencies. The nine-
member inter-disciplinary committee will be chaired by Dinesh Sharma, special

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secretary in the economic affairs department.The committee is required to
submit its report within three months.

The circulation of virtual currencies, of late, has become a cause of concern. With
respect to the virtual currencies, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also cautioned
the users, holders and traders of Virtual currencies about the potential financial,
operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks.

Virtual Currencies, also called as digital/crypto-currencies, are a type of


unregulated digital money that is neither issued by a central bank/public
authority, nor is necessarily attached to a fiat currency, but is used and accepted
among the members of a specific virtual community. They are capable of being
transferred, stored or traded electronically. The examples of virtual currencies are
Bitcoin, Litecoin, Darkcoin, Peercoin, Dogecoin, Primecoin etc.

The committee is mandated to:

Take stock of the current status of Virtual Currencies both in India and globally;
Examine the present global regulatory and legal structures governing Virtual
Currencies; Suggest measures for tackling the issues related to Virtual Currencies
including issues like consumer protection, money laundering etc; Examine other
relevant issues related to Virtual Currencies.

Govt had aimed to build 15K km roads in 2016-17, but built only 8K km :
Reports

The government, which had aimed to build 15,000 km of roads in 2016-17, could
build only 8,200 km of roads. However, the construction figure is much higher in
comparison with previous UPA regime. While 6 km to 9 km of roads were built each
day between 2009-2014, 9 km to 22 km of roads were built per day between 2014-
2017.

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Tax evasion over ₹5 crore a non-bailable offence under GST

Tax evasion of over ₹5 crore under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime would
be non-bailable offence with the police having authority to make an arrest without
a warrant. The earlier threshold for treating tax evasion as a non-bailable offence
was proposed to be at ₹2.5 crore. The government is aiming for GST rollout from
July 1.

Education, healthcare to stay out of GST ambit

With an aim to not provide any shock to its citizens, the Union Government has
decided to keep education, healthcare and pilgrimages out of service tax under
the GST regime. At present, the government has set a target to roll out the GST
regime across the country from 1 July 2017.

With its rolling out the GST regime will subsume central excise, service tax, VAT
and other local levies and come up with something known as a national sales tax
that will be levied at the time of consumption of a product or service.

Till date, the GST Council has approved a four-rate tax structure and they are 5
per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent.

At present, some 17 items are kept in negative list of services on which service tax
is not levied. On top of that there are over 60 services which are exempt from
service tax and some of them are religious skill development, pilgrimage,
education, healthcare, journalistic activities among others.

Petrol, diesel prices to be fixed daily in five cities

State-owned fuel retailers, namely Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum
Corp. Ltd. (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL), have planned to launch

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a pilot scheme under which the fuel prices will be revised on a daily basis. IOC,
HPCL and BPCL own over 95 per cent (nearly 58000) fuel outlets in the country.

The rates will be decided in sync with the international rates, a practice of several
advanced markets. The idea is to reflect daily movements in international oil
prices and rupee-US dollar fluctuations on a daily basis instead of using the
fortnightly average.

The petrol price was freed from the control of the government in June 2010, while
the prices of diesel were deregulated in October 2014. This freedom means that oil
companies were allowed to revise the rates as per them instead of being guided by
the political regulations.

Reports suggest that initially the scheme will be launched in 5 Indian cities from 1
May 2017 and will be gradually extended across India.At present, the rates of the
fuel are revised on the 1st and 16th of every month in accordance with the
average international price in the preceding fortnight and the currency exchange
rate.

The five cities where the pilot scheme will be launched are Visakhapatnam in
Andhra Pradesh, Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, Udaipur in Rajasthan,Chandigarh, and
Puducherry.

I-T department launches 2nd phase of ‘Operation Clean Money’ to probe 60000
people

The Income Tax (IT) department has launched the second phase of 'Operation
Clean Money' to detect black money post-demonetisation. Over 60000 individuals
will be investigated in the second phase.

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The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy-making body of the
department, detected undisclosed income of over 9334 crore rupees between 9
November 2016 till 28 February 2017, that time of the Financial Year 2016-17 when
old currency notes were banned by PM Narendra Modi.

The identification of undisclosed income was done through use of advanced data
analytics, including integration of data sources, relationship clustering and fund
tracking. The high risk categories identified include businesses claiming cash sales
as the source of cash deposits and large cash deposits made by government
employees.

Highlights of the 2nd phase of Operation Clean Money


• As per CBDT, over 60000 people including 1300 high risk people were identified
for investigation into claims of excessive cash sales during the demonetisation
period.
• More than 6000 transactions of high value property purchase and 6600 cases of
outward remittances will be subjected to detailed investigations under the second
phase.
• All the cases where no response is received shall also be subjected to detailed
enquiries.

Background
• The Income Tax Department (ITD) had launched the ‘Operation Clean Money’
(OCM) on 31 January 2017 to leverage technology for e-verification of cash
deposits made during the demonetization period that is from 9 November 2016 to
30 December 2016.
• It is being conducted by the Income-tax Department (ITD) through use of
advanced data analytics allowing for optimization of government resources.
• The First Phase of Operation Clean Money involved e-verification of cash deposits
made in the banks. The entire phase was conducted online wherein 17.92 lakh
persons were identified and requested for on-line responses on such transactions.

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Aadhaar to be mandatory for getting driving licence

The Union Cabinet has decided to link issue of driving licences and vehicle
registration to Aadhaar as part of the amendments approved under the Motor
Vehicles Bill. The bill further proposes higher penalties for traffic offences,
including fine and three-year jail for parents of minors caught driving and causing
fatal accidents. Aadhaar was earlier made mandatory for filing I-T returns.

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NATIONAL NEWS
Delhi MCD Elections 2017 results

The results of the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) elections 2017-
North Delhi Municipal Corporation, East Delhi Municipal Corporation and South
Delhi Municipal Corporation- were declared .

The results of the 270 wards of the three Municipal Corporations election have
delivered a huge win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been ruling
the corporations for past 10-years. However, the results have triggered
introspection in AAP and Congress, which emerged at second and third position
respectively.

BJP was able to secure 184 seats, which were 46 more than its existing strength. In
2012, it had 138 seats in its kitty.
On the other hand, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that in 2015 won 67 of the 70 seats
in assembly elections came a distant second with only 46 seats in all the three
Delhi Municipal corporations. Congress was able to secure only 30 seats.

Justice Malviya Committee submits its report on draft Ganga Act

The Justice Giridhar Malaviya Committee, constituted to prepare the draft Ganga
Act, has submitted its report to the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River
Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

Justice Girdhar Malviya (Retd), who is associated with Ganga conservation


movement,is the grandson of the freedom fighter and founder of the Banaras
Hindu University (BHU) Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya.

The committee recognized the enormous challenges being faced to maintain the
wholesomeness of National River Ganga that was subjected to over stressed water
demand from agricultural, domestic and industrial sectors.
The draft Ganga Act introduces certain stricter provision to increase accountability
and responsibility for use of resources made available by National River Ganga.

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Shunglu panel points out gross abuse of power by AAP government

The three-member Shunglu committee in its report has pointed out the gross abuse
of power by the Delhi government. The committee was formed by the former
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung to look into the decisions taken by the
Aam Aadmi Party government.

Shunglu committee in its report also questioned several appointments, including


the appointment of Health Minister Satyendar Jain's daughter Soumya Jain in
Mohalla Clinic project and a number of purported AAP functionaries as advisors.

Government bans red beacons on all VIP vehicles, including PM’s, emergency
services exempt

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to ban the
use of red beacons symbols on the vehicles of VIPs. The decision says that Ministers
and officials in the Central government will not be able to use red beacons on their
official vehicles from 1 May 2017.

The ban does not exempt even vehicles of the country’s top dignitaries such as the
President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India. However, a certain
category of institutions is exempted from the ban and they are ambulances and
vehicles of the fire service, police, and army. They will be allowed to use blue
flashing beacons to cut through traffic.

During the cabinet meet the Rule 108 (I) and 108 (II) of the Motor Vehicles Act that
allows central and state governments to permit red beacons for dignitaries was
scrapped.

The move is aimed at eradicating VVIP culture in the country and was taken with
the spirit of new India where every Indian is special and a VIP.

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As per the existing norms, the President, Vice President and Prime Minister along
with several dignitaries like the Lok Sabha Speaker, Chief Justice of India, Chief
Ministers, Governors, Chief Justices of High Courts, Supreme Court judges and
Leader of Opposition were allowed red beacons.

Narendra Modi releases 23 volumes of Basavanna's Vachana on social reformer's


birth anniversary

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 29 April 2017, on the occasion of Basavanna’s


birth anniversary,unveiled the translated volumes of Vachanas, penned by 12th
century social reformer Basavanna and other saints in 23 Indian languages.

PM Modi also released the digital version of the work at the first ever celebration
of Basava Jayanthi at the national level in New Delhi.

The 23 Vachana volumes are edited by renowned literary scholar late M M


Kalburgi and translated by more than 200 people. The Vachanas were
commissioned by the Bengaluru-based Basava Samithi at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore of
which, the Karnataka Government contributed Rs 1 crore.

Arunachal Pradesh: Students Union protest against China's claim over renaming
places in state

All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) took out a protest rally against
China’s claim over the renaming 6 places in the state. During the protest rally held
in Itanagar, the Students’ organisation also burnt the effigy of the Chinese
President Xi Jinping.

The student union, AAPSU, said that Arunachal Pradesh was a part of India and will
remain a part of India. Hundreds of students and general public participated in the
protest rally.

The simmering issue of the China’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh gained
momentum with the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to the state in April 2017. Beijing
had opposed the visit of the Tibetan Spiritual leader to the state and warned the

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Indian government of serious consequences if it permitted him to do so.

Just after the weeklong tour of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal ended, China had
officially renamed 6 places in Arunachal Pradesh, including Tawang, which
according to them are part of Southern Tibet.

Pune director’s film ‘Avyakta’ makes it to Cannes

26-year-old Omkar Modgi’s maiden short film ‘Avyakta’ (Unexpressed) has been
shortlisted for the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. It is a 11 minute and 42 seconds
short film. It was made on a budget of little more than ₹1 lakh and was shot in
Rajgurunagar, on the outskirts of Pune. The film will be screened at Cannes in May
2017.

The film underlines the journey of Modgi’s own relationship with his father, how it
went from being an unexpressed obligation to a love-filled one without the need of
speaking regularly. It chronicles the evolution of a father-son relationship after
Aarti, the mother of a teenager-Aditya, passes away suddenly. The mother’s
passing not only leaves a void in both the boy and the father’s lives but it also puts
them at an awkward point, making them realise that she had been the bridge
between them in the house.

While noted theatre actor Aniruddha Khutwad essays the role of the father, child
actor Paarth Bhalerao of Bhootnath Returns fame plays the son.

Venkaiah Naidu inaugurates the 3-day National Children’s Film Festival

The three-day National Children’s Film Festival (NCFF) was inaugurated by the
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Urban Development, M
Venkaiah Naidu in Vishakhapatnam on 7 April 2017.

The festival, termed as the largest film festival for children in the country, is being

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jointly organised by the Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI) and the state
government of Andhra Pradesh. It is the largest film festival for children in the
country giving the audience quality and wholesome entertainment. The aim of the
film festival is to expose children to quality cinema and to introduce novel
elements beyond films.

While the screening opened with the film ‘Shanu- The Optimist’ directed by KNT
Sastry and produced by CFSI in 2016, many other popular CFSI films including
Akkineni Kutumba Rao’s ‘Amulyam’, ‘Bandu Boxer’, ‘Bhago Bhoot’, ‘Chota Sipahi’
were also be shown.

India's 1st transgender sub-inspector clears training in TN

India's first transgender Sub-Inspector of Police, Prithika Yashini (25), has cleared
the year-long course at the Tamil Nadu Police Academy. Born and raised as
Pradeep Kumar, Prithika underwent a sex change surgery.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS
India, South Korea sign MoU for Defence Industry Co-Operation in Shipbuilding

India and South Korea have signed an inter-governmental Memorandum of


Understanding (MoU) for defence industry co-operation in shipbuilding.

The MoU seeks to develop and strengthen defence industry co-operation between
India and South Korea.The MoU will be initially valid for a period of five years and
would be automatically extendable for further successive five year at a time.

Kulbhushan Jadhav sentenced to death in Pakistan

Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, has been sentenced to death by
a military court of Pakistan. He was accused of espionage and sabotage activities
in Pakistan, mainly Balochistan and Karachi.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan in a release said Jadhav was
arrested on 3 March 2016 in Balochistan’s Mashkel area for his involvement in
espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan.

Jadhav was awarded the death sentence after being tried under section 59 of the
Pakistan Army Act (PAA), 1962 and Section 3 of official Secret Act of 1923 by the
Field General Court Martial (FGCM).

Earlier, the Pakistani Army has also released a video in which Jadhav allegedly
confesses to his involvement in terror activities in Balochistan at his country's
behest.

About Kulbhushan Jadhav

• Jadhav an Indian Navy official was commissioned as the naval officer in 1991 and
retired from the services in 2013.

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• He was arrested by the Pakistani authorities allegedly for being associated with
the freedom fighters of Balochistan.

• Allegations are there that he was an active Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)
agent. However, the charge against him was denied by India. RAW is India’s
external intelligence agency.

• Reports suggest that Union Government says that Jadhav was a small
businessman and owns a cargo business in Chabahar, Iran. He has nothing to do
with RAW and was abducted from Iran.

It seems that the decision of the military court of Pakistan would escalate the
tensions between the two countries, namely India and Pakistan. On the day of
sentencing, the Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High
Commissioner Abdul Basit over the death sentence given by a Pakistani military
court martial.

Besides, the Amnesty International also blasted Pak military court system for
awarding of death sentence to Kulbhushan Jadhav, in Pakistan on the charge of
spying.The Amnesty International said that military courts are an inherently
abusive system that is best left to deal with issues of military discipline, not any
other crime.

Hijacked Indian ship ‘Al-Kausar’ released

The hijacked Indian Dhow ‘Al-Kausar’ was finally released along with its cargo and
two of its crew members. The remaining of its eight crew members were released
on 12 April 2017.

The vessel was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Socotra island on 1 April 2017.
It was then taken to the port of Hobyo, which lies on the eastern coast of Somalia.
All the ten crew members who were aboard the ship were held captive.

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To monitor the situation, the Indian navy had deployed its vessel operating in the
Gulf of Aden for Anti-Piracy Patrol to the eastern coast of Somalia. The ship was
also alerted to be prepared for any other emergency operation if required.

Scotland Yard ‘arrests’ Vijay Mallya in London

The Scotland Yard on 18 April 2017 arrested Vijay Mallya in London. Mallya, who is
accused of defaulting on loans worth crores, is expected to be produced in a
metropolitan court soon.

Mallya was arrested as a response to India’s request to the UK Government in


Februrary 2017 to extradite him in the wake of charges of money laundering and
several arrest warrants pending in the country.

Previously, in June 2016, Vijay Mallya was declared as a Proclaimed Offender by a


Special Court for the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Mumbai in a
loan diversion case.

The court issued proclamation under Section 82 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)
against Vijay Mallya.

The move came after the Enforcement Directorate (ED), an investigation agency
under the Union Finance Ministry, on 10 June 2016 filed a petition over a case
where Mallya is suspected to have diverted a 430 crore rupees loan given by IDBI
Bank Ltd to his Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.

Who is a proclaimed offender?

A person is termed as a proclaimed offender in a criminal investigation if the court


believes that the accused has absconded or is concealing himself, so that the
warrant cannot be executed.

According to the Section 83 of CrPC, the proclaimed offender is required to appear


before the PMLA court and the investigation agency within 30 days.

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Pakistan’s Gwadar port leased to China Overseas Port Holding Company for 40
years

The Pakistan Government has leased the operations of its strategic Gwadar port to
the China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) for a period of 40 years. COPHC
is a State-run Chinese firm.

The China Overseas Port Holding Company is slated to carry out all the
developmental work on the port situated in the Balochistan province of Pakistan.
The company took over the operations of the port in 2013.

As per the contract COPHC has 91% share of revenue collection from gross revenue
of terminal and marine operations and 85% share from gross revenue of free zone
operation. The provinces will not be given any share in the revenue collection.

Before COPHC, the control of the Gwadar port was with Singapore’s Port of
Singapore Authority (PSA) International.

How it will help China?

China can use the port to transport fuel into northwestern China. It will
transporting oil and gas from the port through pipelines that traverse Balochistan
and the federal agencies to feed into China’s Xinjiang province.

As the nation’s oil imports increase, it would prefer to insulate its energy
transports from the troubled waters of the Straits of Malacca and the South China
Sea.

A strong presence around the Gwadar Port would change the security dynamics for
China. The move will strengthen China’s objective to have an ideal staging ground
for its ships.

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However, handling operations of Gwadar port will be not easy for due to the
worsening security situation in Balochistan opposition from Baloch people. In
addition, turbulence in Afghanistan is also likely to affect it.

About Gwadar port

• The Gwadar Port is a warm-water, deep-sea port situated on the Arabian Sea at
Gwadar in Balochistan province of Pakistan.

• The port features notably in the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor plan.

• The port is considered to be a vital link between the ambitious One Belt, One
Road and Maritime Silk Road projects.

• The port’s potential to be a deep water sea port was first noted in 1954.

• Plan for construction of the port were not realised until 2007, when the port was
inaugurated by Parvez Musharraf after four years of construction, at a cost of 248
million US dollars.

• In 2015, it was announced that the city and port would be further developed
under CPEC at a cost of 1.62 billion US dollars.

• The port will also be the site of a floating liquefied natural gas facility that will
be built as part of the larger 2.5 billion US dollar Gwadar-Nawabshah segment of
the Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline project.

• In late 2015, the port was officially leased to China for 43 years, until 2059.

US drops ‘Mother of All Bombs’ on ISIS Caves in Afghanistan

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The United States has dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb ever deployed in
combat on an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan. The bomb was
dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, operated by the Air Force Special Operations
Command.

The spokesman of the Pentagon stated, “a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast
Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed Mother of All Bombs, was dropped on a tunnel complex
of ISIS-Khorasan, a regional affiliate of the terror group, in Achin district of
Afghanistan's Nanagarh province.”It was stated that the US took all precautions
necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral damage as a result of the
operation.

What is ‘Mother of All Bombs’?

• The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast is a large-yield conventional (non-


nuclear) bomb.

• It was developed for the United States military by Albert L. Weimorts, Jr. of the
Air Force Research Laboratory.

• At the time of development, it was touted as the most powerful non-nuclear


weapon ever designed.

• The bomb was designed to be delivered by a C-130 Hercules, primarily the MC-
130E Combat Talon I or MC-130H Combat Talon II variants.

• It is a 21600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America's most powerful non-


nuclear bomb.

US President Donald Trump signs executive order to tighten H-1B visa


programme

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US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order named “Buy American,
Hire American”. The order tightens the rules for technology companies seeking to
bring highly skilled foreign workers to the United States.

The executive order that targets the H-1B visa programme was signed during
Trump’s visit to the world headquarters of Snap-On Inc, a tool manufacturer in
Kenosha, Wisconsin. In short, the order aims at cracking down on skilled worker
visa abuse and forces the government agencies to buy more domestically produced
products.

Trump said that the order sends a powerful signal to the world that the United
States will defend its workers, protect their jobs and put America first.

The order directs US agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and
abuse in the programme. Agencies have also been asked to suggest changes so that
the H-1B visas are granted to the most-skilled or highest-paid applicants.

The White House said the programme undercuts American workers by bringing in
large numbers of cheaper foreign workers, which drives down US wages.

H-1B visas

• H-1B visas are intended for foreign nationals in speciality occupations that
generally require higher education, which according to US Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) includes, but is not limited to, scientists, engineers or
computer programmers.

• The government uses a lottery to award 65000 visas every year and randomly
distributes another 20000 to graduate student workers.

• According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the number of applications


for H-1B visas fell to 199000 in 2017 from 236000 in 2016.

Comment

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It seems that the order is Trump’s attempt to carry out his America First
campaign, which pledges to reform US immigration policies and encourage
purchases of American products in federal contracts.

Australia unveils major changes to citizenship process

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the migrants seeking
Australian citizenship will have to undergo tougher tests on their English language
skills and ability to demonstrate Australian values.

The move is being considered as a major overhaul of its migration process. The
move will make it difficult to gain citizenship.

Key fact and Changes include

• Under the new regime, the applicants seeking citizenship should have completed
four years as a permanent resident - three years longer than at present.

• The applicant will have to demonstrate his/her support for religious freedom and
gender equality

• Respect for women and children as well as domestic violence will not be allowed

• Stringent tests of English under which the applicant will have to undergo a test
of their ability to read, write, speak and listen English.

• They will have to provide evidence of integration into the community like school
enrolment, employment history or his/her membership of community
organisations.

• The applicants will be allowed to apply only three times for the citizenship and
those cheating during the test will be failed automatically.

Russia vetoes UN resolution condemning Syria chemical attack

Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that condemned
the use of chemical weapons in the rebel-held Syrian town, Khan Sheikhoun and
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demanded a speedy investigation into the details of the attack. This is the eighth
time that Russia has vetoed a resolution on Syria ever since the nation got
embroiled in its long-drawn civil war.

The resolution drafted by Britain, France and the United States aimed to bring
Russia’s ally Syria on the negotiating table. The western countries believe that
Bashar al-Assad-led Syrian government has a lot to do with the chemical attack, a
claim that is rejected by both Moscow and Syria.

The deadlock has left UN’s most powerful body struggling to tackle the use of
banned chemicals and the heating issue of Syrian civil war. It has also deepened
the division between Moscow and the western powers, raising concerns over future
clashes between the two sides.

What is the Veto Power?

The use of the veto in the UNSC refers to the power that enables the five
permanent members of the council- France, China, Russia, UK and the US -to
prevent the adoption of any substantive resolution.

German lawmakers approve package of security measures, partially ban burqa

The lawmakers of Germany have approved a package of security measures that


aims at preventing extremist attacks. In this regard the lawmakers also partially
banned the full-face burqa, the Islamic veil.The new law on facial coverings falls
short of a total ban in public places demanded by right-wing parties, like that in
effect in neighbouring France since 2011.

Key facts of the new laws

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· The prohibition will apply to public servants -- including election officials,
military and judicial staff -- performing their duties.

· People will also be required to remove facial coverings in order to match them
with their identity papers.

· It talks about the use of electronic ankle bracelets, if approved by a judge, for
people deemed a security threat, in federal police cases – like known Islamic
radicals considered potentially violent by security services.

Under another new measure, Germany will implement EU rules on the exchange of
flight passenger data to counter terrorism and serious crime. And physical attacks
on police, emergency services and military personnel on duty would in future be
punished more severely, with up to five years' jail.

Why the new laws came into existence?

The new laws follow several jihadist attacks, including a truck rampage through a
Berlin Christmas market that claimed 12 lives, and come ahead of September
elections. The incident that occurred on 19 December 2017 was claimed by the
Islamic State group.

Fukushima residents to return 6 yrs after nuclear disaster

Residents near Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant have started returning to their
homes, six years after the 2011 nuclear disaster deserted 70% of the area. This
comes after authorities lifted the evacuation orders for Namie town and two other
areas, while labelling some regions as "no-go zones". The nuclear disaster is
considered world's second worst, wherein around 8,000 people were killed.

Japan officially recognises Bitcoin as currency

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A new Japanese law that defines cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, Ripple,
Litecoin and others, as a legal payment method has come into force in Japan.
Japan officially recognized bitcoin and digital currencies as legal money with
effect from 1 April 2017.

According to the new law, all virtual currency exchanges are to be regulated by
the Japanese Financial Services Agency. They must also be registered with the
financial watchdog and must verify identities of customers opening accounts.

The recognition comes after implementation of a new law amending Banking Act in
Japan for legalizing these currencies. The step will facilitate integration of digital
currency into legal banking system through regulatory scrutiny.

What is bitcoin?

• Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and an electronic payment system.

• It was invented by an unidentified programmer, or group of programmers, under


the name of Satoshi Nakamoto.

• It was introduced on 31 October 2008 to a cryptography mailing list, and released


as open-source software in 2009.

• The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly,
without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and
recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as
its unit of account.

• As of February 2015, over 100000 merchants and vendors accept bitcoin as


payment.

Egypt declares three-month state of emergency after church attacks

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,the President of Egypt,announced a three-month state of


emergency following attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least 44 dead.

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The measure needs to be approved by parliament before it is implemented. Once
approved, it will allow the authorities to make arrests without warrants and search
people's homes.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is assumed to be behind the blasts in
Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday (9 April 2017).

Who are Coptic Christians?

• The Copts are an ethno-religious group that primarily inhabit the area of modern
Egypt.

• The Copts are the largest Christian denomination in the country.

• Historically, the group spoke the Coptic language, a direct descendant of the
Demotic Egyptian that was spoken during the Roman era.

• Copts in Egypt constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East, as
well as the largest ethno-religious minority in the region, accounting for an
estimated 10 per cent of the Egyptian population.

• Most Copts adhere to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

• The decline of the community started with the Arab invasions of the 7th century
and the progressive Islamisation of Egypt.

El Salvador becomes first country to ban metals mining

El Salvador has become the first country in the world to ban metal mining. The El
Salvador unicameral legislature passed the ban with support from a sweeping
coalition. The law was favoured by nearly 80 percent of the El Salvadorian
population.

The law bans "prospection, exploration, exploitation, extraction or processing of


metallic minerals in El Salvador."

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The law entered into force after being signed by President Salvador Sanchez
Ceren.

First rail freight service to China departs UK

The Government of China has launched a rail freight service between China and
London.

The train is loaded with whisky, soft drinks, vitamins and baby products. The train,
with thirty containers filled with UK-produced goods, set off on the 7500-mile
journey from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex. The train will reach its destination in 18
days.

It is the first direct rail link between China and Great Britain. The route of the
train will traverse from Beijing, across Asia and Europe, before terminating in
London.The route is a part of the old Silk Road through which Chinese silk caravans
carried garments to Europe and Africa.The train will go pass through the Channel
Tunnel. It will then cross France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and
Kazakhstan before heading into China.

The new rail route is cheaper than air freight and faster than sea freight, unlocking
new option for shippers.

The first train from China to Britain had arrived on 18 January 2017, filled with
clothes and other retail goods.

Royal agencies of Thailand brought under control of King Vajiralongkorn

The Parliament of Thailand has agreed to transfer the control of royal agencies
from the government to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

As per information, the organisations that will be transferred include the Royal
Aide de Camp Department, the Bureau of the Royal Household, the Office of His
Majesty's Principal Private Secretary, the Royal Guard Command and the Royal
Court Security Police.

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This step is being seen as another step to provide greater say to the King, who has
been reshaping the palace and has also shown himself increasingly assertive on
other fronts. The fronts include transfer of agencies that work for the monarch so
that they are grouped together and report to the king. Earlier, these agencies
were working under the prime minister and defence ministry.

Background

King Vajiralongkorn inherited the throne in 2016 following the death of his revered
father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej. His father reign spanned seven decades and was
punctuated by political turbulence.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, but King Bhumibol wielded great influence.


His son has shown himself to be increasingly assertive with the generals who
wrested power from an elected civilian government in a 2014 coup.

Earlier in January 2017, King Vajiralongkorn ordered sections of the country to


draft or rewrite a constitution in a way which was never seen by a monarch in
decades. The newly drafted constitution was voted overwhelmingly in the
Parliament.

Reports suggest that King Vajiralongkorn will be crowned by the end of 2017
following cremation of his father. His father will be created in October 2017.

Thai king Maha Vajiralongkorn signs new Constitution

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has signed a military-backed Constitution of


the country into a law, in a ceremony at Bangkok.The signing is an essential step
toward an election that would bring the country back to democratic rule.

Few provisions of the new Constitution

• The outgoing military government will have the right to appoint a senate that
will have a say in appointing the prime minister.

• It allows the King to travel abroad without appointing a regent. The king has
spent much of the past few years in Germany, where he has a son in school.

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• It removes a clause of giving power to the constitutional court and other
institutions in the event of an unforeseen crisis. Removing it underlined the King’s
role.

Key Facts

• The Junta that seized the power after the 2014 Coup has promised to restore
democracy in the nation. The 2014 coup was its 12th successful coup in some 80
years.

• The new constitution is the 20th constitution of the South-east Asian country
since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

The incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said that his government will
hand over his duties to the new government after it is formed. He took the charge
of the country after the 2014 Coup.

Besides, 6 April was a public holiday in Thailand as the day marks the
establishment of the Chakri dynasty 235 years ago. The current king is also known
as King Rama X in the dynasty.

Malala 6th person to receive honorary Canadian citizenship

Youngest Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai has become the sixth person to
receive honorary Canadian citizenship.

Malala, 19, was bestowed with the title during an honorary citizenship ceremony
held in Ottawa. The Pakistani activist was welcomed to the seat of Canada's
democracy by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. With this, she also became the
youngest person to receive the honorary Canadian citizenship.

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The privilege was previously granted to five others namely Nelson Mandela, the
Dalai Lama, Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, religious leader Karim Aga Khan IV and
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg (posthumously).

About Malala Yousafzai

• Born on 12 July 1997, Malala, a co-recipient of 2014 Nobel peace Prize, is mainly
known for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat
Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. She received the award along with Kailash
Satyarthi. The honour made her the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

• Earlier on 9 October 2012, she was injured after a Taliban gunman shot her in
the head on a school bus. She was shot for defending her right to attend school.
The event sparked national and international support for her.

• She was honoured with Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize in 2012.

• She had featured in the Time magazine as one of the most influential people
globally in its issues on 2013, 2014 and 2015.

• On 10 April 2017, she was named as a UN Messenger of Peace, the highest honour
awarded by the United Nation. She was honoured with the title for her work on
girls’ right to education worldwide.

• The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured her as one of the
most Influential people globally.

Malala Yousafzai designated youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has designated Malala


Yousafzai as a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girls’
education.Nobel Laureate Yousafzai is the youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace.
She is also the first one to be designated by Secretary-General Guterres since he
assumed office in January 2017.

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About UN Messengers of Peace

• The UN Messengers of Peace are distinguished individuals, who have agreed to


help focus worldwide attention on the work of the global Organization.

• They are selected from the fields of art, literature, science, entertainment,
sports or other fields of public life.

• These personalities volunteer their time, talent and passion to raise awareness of
UN’s efforts to improve the lives of billions of people everywhere.

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RATINGS/REPORTS
India becomes world’s fifth largest military spender

India has became the world’s fifth-largest military spender, as per the figures
released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). India has
spent around USD 55.9 billion for its military in the year 2016.

As per the data of SIPRI, the United States remains the world’s largest military
spender followed by China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia at 2nd, 3rd and 4th position
respectively. The other prominent military spenders are Japan, South Korea, and
Australia.

Highlights of the world military expenditure as per SIPRI


• Global military spending amounted to 2.2 per cent of the worldwide GDP.
• Military spending as a share of GDP was highest in the Middle East and was the
lowest in the Americas.
• In Asia and Oceania, military expenditure increased by 4.6 per cent in 2016,
which was the result of tensions in the region such claims of territorial rights made
by various countries in the South China Sea.
• The US is the top spender whose military expenditure grew 1.7 per cent between
2015 and 2016 to USD 611 billion.
• China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia stood at 2nd, 3rd and 4th position respectively in
the top 5 list of military spenders.
• Saudi Arabia, which was the third largest spender in 2015, is now ranked at 4th
position in 2016 with a spending of USD 63.7 billion.
• Pakistan did not figure in the list of top 15 spenders and it spent USD 9.93 billion
in 2016.
• Military expenditure in Western Europe rose for the second consecutive year and
was up by 2.6 per cent in 2016.

IISc Bangalore rated best university in India

The Indian Institute of Science Bangalore has been declared as the country's best
university in 'India Rankings 2017' released by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar.

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Jawaharlal Nehru University and Banaras Hindu University came second and third
respectively.

Further, Miranda House was declared as India's best college, followed by Chennai's
Loyola College and Shri Ram College of Commerce.

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar releases India Rankings 2017 for
Educational Institutions

Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister of Human Resource Development,has


released the India Rankings 2017 for the educational institutions,charted out by
the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).

Key highlights

• The India Rankings 2017 is the second edition of India Rankings.

• A total of 2995 institutions have participated in the rankings. This includes 232
Universities, 1024 Engineering Institutions, 546 Management Institutions, 318
Pharmacy Institutions and 637 General Degree Colleges, and others.

• The India Rankings 2017 ranked institutions in various disciplines/categories, and


also provided a common overall rank across all disciplines for those institutes
which either have more than 1000 enrolled students, or which are centrally
funded.

• The Rankings List includes 100 institutions each in the Overall, University,
Engineering and General College Categories, and 50 each in Management and
Pharmacy Disciplines.

List of top 5 India Rankings 2017

Overall:

1. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka


2. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu
3. Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (Mumbai), Maharashtra

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4. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal
5. Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, Delhi

Engineering:

1. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Tamil Nadu


2. Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (Mumbai), Maharashtra
3. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal
4. Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, Delhi
5. Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Management:

1. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Gujarat


2. Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, Karnataka
3. Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, West Bengal
4. Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
5. Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, Kerala

University:

1. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka


2. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Delhi
3. Banaras Hindu University
4. Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore,
Karnataka
5. Jadavpur University, Kolkata, West Bengal

Colleges:

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1. Miranda House, Delhi, Delhi
2. Loyola College, District Chennai, Tamil Nadu
3. Shri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi, Delhi
4. Bishop Heber College, District Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu
5. Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, New Delhi, Delhi

Pharmacy:

1. Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, Delhi


2. National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali, S.A.S.
Nagar (Mohali), Punjab
3. University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chandigarh, Chandigarh
4. Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, Maharashtra
5. National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Hyderabad,
Telangana

TIME releases list of 100 Most Influential People of 2017

The Time Magazine has released the annual list of 100 most influential people of
2017.
This year's list includes the names of Presidents and Prime Ministers, CEOs and
celebrities for the power of their inventions, the scale of their ambitions, the
genius of their solutions to problems that could not be solved before.

This year, only two Indians to feature on the list- Prime Minister Narendra Modi
and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

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Highlights of the 100 Most Influential People of 2017
• Oscar winner Viola Davis, Grammy winner John Legend, actor Riz Ahmed,
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and philanthropist Melinda Gates graced the five
different covers of this year’s list of 100 most influential people.
• US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime
Minister Theresa May featured on the new list of 100 most influential people by the
magazine.
• The list includes active opponents not only US President Donald Trump and North
Korea's leader Kim Jong Un but also the Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte and
his nemesis Senator Leila de Lima.
• There are several people on the list whose influence is the subject of heated
debate, from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to FBI Director James Comey to
White House adviser Stephen Bannon.
• PM Narendra Modi featured on the list as a political leader. He is described as a
maestro of the art of political seduction, playing on the existential fears and
cultural insecurities of people facing downward or blocked mobility.
• Another Indian Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm founder, also featured on the list.
His venture Paytm witnessed a huge growth by the end of 2016 with 177 million
users, compared with 122 million at the beginning of the year.

Amnesty International released Death Penalty Report 2016

The Amnesty International has released the Death Penalty Report 2016. As per the
report, at least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries in 2016. In 2015,
Amnesty International recorded 1,634 executions in 25 countries worldwide.

As per the report, most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and
Pakistan – in that order.

Highlights of Death Penalty Report 2016

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• The report concluded that China remained the world’s top executioner.
However, the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as
this data is considered a State secret.

• Excluding China, 87 per cent of all executions took place in just four countries –
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

• For the first time since 2006, the USA was not one figured in the Top 5
Executioners List. It fell to the seventh place behind Egypt. The 20 executions in
the USA were the lowest in the country since 1991.

• During 2016, 23 countries, about one in eight of all countries worldwide, are
known to have carried out executions.

• Belarus, Botswana, Nigeria and authorities within the State of Palestine resumed
executions in 2016.

• Chad, India, Jordan, Oman and United Arab Emirates –all countries that executed
people in 2015 − did not report any executions last year.

• In 2016, two countries – Benin and Nauru– abolished the death penalty in law for
all crimes.

A report,titled ‘Not For Sale’,about Illegal poaching released by WWF

Illegal poaching, logging and fishing takes place in nearly 30% of the world heritage
sites, driving endangered species to the brink of extinction and putting the
livelihoods and well-being of communities who depend on them at risk, said a new
report released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The report, ‘Not For Sale,’
stressed that illegal harvesting of species in world heritage sites degrades vital
social and economic benefits.

Known for their iconic beauty, geology, ecology and biodiversity, natural world
heritage sites across the globe support large populations of rare plant and animal

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species, including almost a third of the world’s remaining 3,890 wild tigers and 40%
of all African elephants.

TripAdvisor presents Bali with 2017 Travelers' Choice Awards

US-based travel reviewer website TripAdvisor presented its 2017 World's Best
Destination Award to Indonesia's resort island of Bali,based on results from its
traveller choice programme conducted over a 12-month period. As per the
TripAdvisor, Bali improved in three main categories from 2015 to 2016. They are
accommodation, tour attractions and restaurants.With this, Bali has become the
first Asian destination to earn the title.

In addition, TripAdvisor also put Lombok, a destination near Bali, as one of the
best 10 Asian destinations for the year.

The 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards were determined using an


algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings
for hotels, restaurants and attractions in destinations worldwide.

Connaught Place ranked world’s 9th costliest office location

Delhi's Connaught Place is the world's 9th most expensive office location with
annual rentals at ₹6,877 per sq ft, according to the American property consultant
CBRE. Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex is at 19th position while Nariman Point's
Central Business District is at 30th place. Hong Kong is the world's most expensive
office market with annual rentals at ₹17,197 per sq ft.

NITI Aayog's vision: Houses, vehicles, ACs for all by 2032

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NITI Aayog, the think tank of the Union Government, has come up with a vision
document 2031-32 that envisages a new India,where every Indian will have houses
with toilets, two-wheelers or cars, air-conditioners, power and digital connectivity
in next 15 years, that is, by 2032.

The glimpse of the Vision 2031-32 was presented by NITI Aayog’s Vice-Chairperson
Arvind Panagariya at the body’s governing council chaired by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi. The India 2031-32: Vision, Strategy and Action Agenda also
visualises a fully literate society with universal access to health care.

Key facts of NITI Aayog’s Vision 2031-32 document

• It talks about an India with modern and larger network of railways, roads, air
connectivity and waterways. It talks about a clean India where every citizen will
have an access to quality water and air.

• It says that the per capita income would go up by three fold to Rs 3.14 lakh in
2031-32 from Rs 1.06 lakh in 2015-16.

• It also talks about India where the gross domestic product or whose economy
would rise from Rs 137 lakh crore level in 2015-16 to Rs 469 lakh crore in 2031-32.

• It also increases the central and state expenditure from Rs 38 lakh crore in 2015-
16 to Rs 130 lakh crore in 2031-32, which is a rise of Rs 92 lakh crore.

Besides, the work on the Fifteen Year Vision and Seven Year Strategy document
spanning 2017-18 to 2031-32 is in progress. On the other hand, the Three Year
Action Agenda that covers a period from 2017-18 to 2019-20 was circulated to the
members of the Governing Council, which will be finalised in coming time.

As per reports, the vision presentation aims at realising Prime Minister Narendra
Modi's vision of a vibrant India by 2031-32.

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World's oldest person Emma Morano dies at 117

World's oldest person,Emma Martina Luigia Morano,an Italian, believed to be the


last known living individual to be born in the 19th century, passed away on 15 April
2017. She was 117.

She held the Guinness World Records titles for Oldest living person and Oldest
living woman as per research conducted by the Gerontology Research Group in May
2016.

According to a list kept by the Gerontology Research Group, Violet Brown from
Jamaica, who was born in 1900, is now the oldest living person.

About Emma Morano


• Born on 29 November 1899, Emma Morano was raised in Vercelli and later moved
to Verbania on the shores of Lake Maggiore, Italy.
• Morano was five years younger than the Oldest person ever Jeanne Louise
Calment, who lived 122 years 164 days, according to the Guinness World
Records.
• She lived through the World War I and World War II.
• In 2011, she was honoured with the Order of Merit Award by the Italian state.

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CORPORATE NEWS

Aditya Birla Nuvo to be merged with Grasim Industries

The shareholders of Grasim Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Nuvo Limited (ABNL)
and Aditya Biral Financial Services Limited (ABFSL) in April 2017 have approved the
Scheme of amalgamation of ABNL with Grasim.

Besides, the shareholders also approved demerger and listing of the Aditya Biral
Financial Services Limited, which is a part of the ABFSL.

The merged entity Grasim will have proforma consolidated turnover of Rs 59,766
crore, EBITDA of Rs 11,961 crore and a net profit of Rs 4,245 crore for the year
ended March 2016. It will be –

• Number 1 cement company in India with the largest selling brand

• Among the top 5 fund managers in India with funds under management of Rs
2,29,500 crore

• Among the top 7 private non-HFC NBFCs in India with a lending book of Rs
29,852 crore

• Among the top 4 private sector life insurers and asset management companies
in India

• A leading player in textiles and chemicals

• Third largest telecom operator in India

With all major approvals in place, the Scheme is subject to final approval from the
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the
National Stock Exchange (NSE).

Nokia partners with Airtel and BSNL to bring 5G Services in India

Finnish mobile giant Nokia has signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)


with Airtel and BSNL to work on 5G technology and connected devices in India.The

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MoU signed among the three involve introduction of 5G services in India, as well as
infrastructure development that would be required to set it up.

Highlights of the MoU


• Nokia and Airtel will together look at network evolution to 5G, exploring
operations, cost-effectiveness, quality and reliability.
• Nokia will work with BSNL by offering new products that plug into 5G technology
as proof-of-concept demonstrations for the Indian market.
• The MoU will help BSNL to draw a framework for transition from the current
network to a futuristic 5G network.

In addition to this, Nokia is setting up a 5G experience zone in Bengaluru in order


to assess the requirements of the technology.

Presently, there is a no deployment standard for 5G services. However,


International Telecommunications Union defined minimum requirements for 5G
technology which states that 5G offering will have peak download rate of 20Gbps
with a minimum of 1Gbps for workers on a single floor.
Further Reference Reading at the end of
the newsletter

Flipkart acquires eBay India business to fight Amazon

India’s largest online retailer Flipkart has raised a total fund of USD 1.4 billion
from China’s Tencent, US-based e-commerce firm eBay and software maker
Microsoft.

Moreover, it also acquired eBay’s Indian operations in a move to build a


‘mahagathbandhan’ of global tech giants to counter Amazon.

This new funding round valued Flipkart at USD 11.6 billion now. This is about 24
per cent lower than the USD 15.2 billion valuation it got in 2015 based on the funds
it raised at that time.

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Further Reference Reading at the end of
the newsletter

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SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY
Scientists have detected atmosphere around an Earth-like planet

Scientists have for the first time detected atmosphere around an Earth-like planet
beyond our solar system.

The planet, GJ 1132b, which orbits the dwarf star GJ 1132, is reported to be 39
light years away from Earth. The discovery is a significant step towards discovering
life beyond Earth.

The study has been published in the Astrophysical Journal .

Android overtakes Windows to become internet's most used OS

Google's Android has overtaken Microsoft's Windows as the internet's most used
operating system for the first time, according to web analytics company
StatCounter. During March 2017, Android users represented 37.93% of internet
activity against 37.91% for the Windows operating system. Apple's iOS remains the
third most used operating system to access the internet.

First Made in India industrial robot BRABO unveiled

TAL Manufacturing Solutions has unveiled India’s first conceptualized, designed


and manufactured articulated industrial robot called BRABO.BRABO stands for
“Bravo Robot”. It has been developed indigenously for micro, small and medium
enterprises (MSME) in India.

TAL Manufacturing Solutions is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Motors.

Further Reference Reading at the end of


the newsletter

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New version of Google Earth launched

Search Engine giant Google Inc. launched its new version of Google Earth during an
Earth Day event, held at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City.

The new version of the app was launched on Google’s Chrome and Android
software. The version customised for iOS devices and other Internet browsing
softwares will be released soon.This is the first that the app can be accessed
through a web browser unlike earlier when it could only be reached through
applications installed on devices.

New Features

• The re-imagined version of the free-mapping service includes a new ‘Voyager’


feature that will offer a whole new range of curated content.

• It will enable people who are digitally exploring the planet to be guided on
interactive stories narrated by experts and professionals from BBC Earth, NASA,
Jane Goodall Institute and Sesame Street.

• The artificial intelligence will be offered to the app users in the form of
“knowledge cards” that will enable them to dive deeper into the information
regarding any of their chosen virtual landmarks.

• It will also give suggestions on other locations that the explorers might be
interested in exploring based on their search history.

• The app also offers a new feature called ‘Feeling Lucky’ that will suggest
locations of hidden gems to users who wish to go on a scavenger hunt.

• Users will also be able to virtually fly around the world using a 3-D button and
see the places they wish.

• The online explorers will also be able to take pictures on their travels and send
their friends digital postcards.

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About Google Earth

• It is a geo-browser which accesses satellite and geographical data over the


internet and represents the same in a three-dimensional globe.

• It provides us with a clear view of Earth, of how its looks like naturally.

• It even allows the user to search for places of their choice and pan, rotate, zoom
and tilt the Earth.

• One can search for any area on Earth through the app and such a clear view of
Earth is possible because of the high-resolution image.

• It can even provide a link to Wikipedia articles about places that a user has
shown interest in.

• Even Google maps app includes some features of Google Earth.

Google introduces 'Copyless Paste' feature

Google has introduced the first code for its new feature ‘Copyless Paste’ in its
Chrome app running on Android OS.
The new feature is not yet fully functional now as it is still in its testing phase.

The Copyless Paste feature will take data from Chrome usage and use that to
improve the experience in other apps.

Copyless Paste feature will automatically copy the useful information and will
suggest it for pasting in apps where it might be relevant.

For instance, If a user is checking out a restaurant website and then switch to the
Maps app, the keyboard will automatically offer the name of that restaurant as a
suggestion to enter into the search bar.

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Further Reference Reading at the end of
the newsletter

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SPORTS
Sebastian Vettel wins 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel grabbed the first position in the 2017 Bahrain Grand
Prix.The victory is Vettel's second of the season after the four-time world
champion won the opener in Australia.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished second and third in the
race, respectively.

The 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix was won by Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg. He did not
compete in the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix as he had retired after the 2016 season.

Sebastian Vettwl is a four-time Formula One World Champion, having won the
championship in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 with Red Bull Racing.

• He is one of only four drivers to have won four or more drivers' titles.

• He became the youngest race winner at the time when he grabbed the first place
at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.

Further Reference Reading at the end of


the newsletter

Lewis Hamilton wins 2017 Chinese Grand Prix

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has won the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix ahead of
Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.

Ferrari driver Vettel came second, while Red Bull's Max Verstappen stood third in
the race.

Lewis Hamilton is a British Formula One racing driver.At present, he is racing for
the Mercedes AMG Petronas team.

He is a three-time Formula One World Champion. His 54 Grand Prix victories is the
second highest of all-time, behind only Michael Schumacher at 91.

2016 Chinese Grand Prix was won by Nico Rosberg.

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Further Reference Reading at the end of
the newsletter

Sania Mirza-Barbora Strýcová finish runners-up at Miami Open

India's Sania Mirza and her Czech women's doubles partner Barbora Strýcová
finished runners-up at the Miami Open after they lost to the unseeded pair of
Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan in the final. The Indo-Czech pair, seeded third,
lost 4-6, 3-6 to the Canadian-Chinese pair, who were playing their first tournament
together.

Federer beats Nadal to clinch third Miami Open title

Switzerland's Roger Federer defeated Spanish rival Rafael Nadal in straight sets to
clinch his third Miami Open title and his first since 2006. This was Federer's third
straight win over Nadal this season, following his wins over the Spaniard in the
finals of Australian Open and Indian Wells Masters. Federer now holds a 14-23 win-
loss record against Nadal.

Roger Federer is a Swiss professional tennis player.He had held the No. 1 spot in
the ATP rankings for a total of 302 weeks.He has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles,
the most in history for a male tennis player.

He has won seven Wimbledon titles, five Australian Open titles, five US Open titles
and one French Open title.

Rafael Nadal wins Monte Carlo Masters Men’s Singles title

Rafael Nadal on 23 April 2017 defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1 6-3 to win the
Monte Carlo Masters Men’s Singles title.

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With the win, Nadal became the first man in the Open era to win the same event
10 times. He had won eight Monte Carlo titles in a row from 2005 to 2012. He won
the title again in the year 2016.

Also, it is Nadal's first title of the season, having lost his previous three finals.

Rafael Nadal is a Spanish professional tennis player.He is called as "The King of


Clay".He has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, the 2008 Olympic gold medal in
singles, 29 titles in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, and 17 ATP World Tour
500 tournaments (a record tied with Roger Federer).

After Andre Agassi, he is the second male player to complete the singles Career
Golden Slam.

In 2011, he was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.

Further Reference Reading at the end of


the newsletter

Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas won Monte-Carlo Masters Men’s Doubles title

India’s Rohan Bopanna and Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas captured their first ATP World
Tour team title.The duo defeated seventh-seeded Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and
Marc Lopez 6-3, 3-6, 10-4 in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final.

Bopanna and Cuevas earned 1000 points in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings and
share € 253950 in prize money.

P V Sindhu wins India Open Super Series title

Rio Olympics silver medallist and the world number five Indian shuttler,PV Sindhu
defeated the Rio gold medal winner and Spanish shuttler Carolina Marin in straight
sets, by 21-19, 21-16, to clinch her maiden India Open title, at the Sirifort Sports
Complex.Notably, this was Sindhu's 4th win against the 23-year-old Spaniard in

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nine attempts.The Indian badminton player had last defeated Marin in the BWF
Super Series in Dubai in the year 2016.

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is an Indian professional badminton player.

• At the 2016 Summer Olympics, she became the first Indian woman to win an
Olympic silver medal.

• In 2013, she became the first ever Indian women's singles player to win a medal
at the Badminton World Championships.

• In March 2015, she was conferred with the Padma Shri.

PV Sindhu reaches career-best World No.2 ranking

The Indian Rio Olympics silver medallist, PV Sindhu reached her career-best
ranking of World no.2 in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings.

The 21-year-old’s new rank is just second to Saina Nehwal, who was named World
No. 1 in 2015. This feat also makes her the second Indian woman after Nehwal to
break into the top five of world rankings of women’s singles.

The top rank in the women’s singles chart is being currently held by Tai Tzu Ying of
Chinese Taipei with 87911 points.
Carolina Marin with 75664 points remained in the third spot.

None of the Indian male shuttlers have figured in the top 10 rankings list. Ajay
Jayaram, who holds rank 20, is the highest ranked Indian shuttler in men’s singles.

Sai Praneeth clinches 2017 Singapore Open Super Series Badminton

B Sai Praneeth defeated Kidambi Srikanth 17-21, 21-17, 21-12 to clinch his maiden
Super Series title in the Singapore Open final.

It was Praneeth's first appearance in a Super Series final, the biggest events of the
international badminton calendar.
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Before Praneeth, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Srikanth have won the coveted
crown.

B Sai Praneeth is the winner of the 2016 Canada Open Grand Prix Men’s Singles
title.

The winner of the 2016 Singapore Open was Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro.

Further Reference Reading at the end of


the newsletter

Pankaj Advani defeats Sourav Kothari to win Asian Billiards Championship

Pankaj Advani defeated Sourav Kothari 6-3 to win the Asian Billiards Championship
final held in Chandigarh.

It is Advani’s seventh Asian title.

Pankaj Arjan Advani is an Indian professional player of English billiards and former
professional snooker player.

• He has achieved a hat-trick of hat-tricks in English billiards, holding the World,


Asian, and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously, in three different
years: 2005, 2008 and 2012.

• He won the 2014 IBSF World 6-Red Snooker Championship, on his debut in that
discipline.

• He is the only player ever to win world titles in both the long and short formats
of snooker (15-red standard, and 6-red) and both formats of English billiards (time
and point).

• He is India's first world champion in 6-red snooker.

• On 14 August 2014, he helped win the first ever World Team Billiards
Championship held in Glasgow, Scotland, along with Rupesh Shan, Devendra Joshi
and Ashok Shandilya.

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• In 2004, he was honoured with the Arjuna Award. In 2006, he was awarded with
the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. In 2009, he was bestowed with the Padma Shri
award.

BCCI loses both revenue, governance vote at ICC meet

The members of the International Cricket Council (ICC),at the the ICC Board
meeting in Dubai,have voted in favour of a new revenue sharing model and a
change in governance structure, delivering a huge blow to the world’s richest
cricket body,BCCI that has been against the move.

While the new revenue-sharing model was approved by a 9-1 vote with only BCCI’s
Representative Amitabh Chaudhary voting against it, the proposal for changes in
governance structure was approved by an 8-2 vote, with Sri Lanka’s representative
Thilanga Sumathipala also opposing it alongside Chaudhary.

Key Highlights
• Under the revamped framework, the share of BCCI will come down to almost half
at under $300 million (Rs 1,920 crore) a year.
• The new proposals were introduced by former BCCI President and current ICC
Chairman, Shashank Manohar.

• The objective behind introducing the new revenue model is to drive a more
equitable distribution of ICC’s proceeds.
• The earlier model saw the ‘Big Three’ – India, Australia and England getting a
major chunk of the international body’s total revenue, among which India’s alone
was about $570 million.

Reports suggest a possibility of a strong action on the same from BCCI’s side. The
body out rightly rejected the offer of an extra $100 million pay-out in revenue by
Manohar over the initially proposed $290 million. The standoff between BCCI and

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the ICC could have a deep impact on the game, as a bulk of ICC’s revenue comes
from the cricketing body.

Virat Kohli named Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World for 2016

India’s ace batsman Virat Kohli has been named Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the
World for 2016,in the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, which is also often referred to
as the ‘Bible of the Cricket.’

Kohli also features on the cover of the 2017 edition of the Wisden Cricketers’
Almanack. It shows the cricketer playing a reverse sweep in a Test match.

Nita Ambani made Member of IOC's Olympic Channel Commission

Ms.Nita Ambani has been made a member of two important commissions of the
International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) governing body, the prestigious Olympic
Channel and the Olympic Education Commission.

She replaced International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven to be


one of the 16 members of the Olympic Channel Commission headed by United
States Olympic Committee Chairman Lawrence Francis Probst.

Ambani already holds the distinction of being India’s first woman IOC member.
She was elected as an individual member of International Olympic Committee in
the year 2016. She will serve the position till she turns 70.

• The Olympic Channel is a digital channel.

• It is estimated to cost about USD 600 million over the first seven years.

• It was launched in 2016 during Rio Games.

• It aims to promote Olympic sports and values all round the year.
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• The channel is based in Madrid, Spain.

Sagar Baheti becomes India’s first visually impaired runner to complete Boston
Marathon

India’s Sagar Baheti,31,became the first visually impaired Indian runner to


complete the historic 121st Boston Marathon.

Supported by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
(MABVI), Baheti completed a distance of 42.16 kilometres in just over four hours,
as one of 30000 runners.

Baheti is a businessman by profession. In 2013, he was diagnosed with Stargardt’s


disease, a type of macular degeneration that eventually leads to blindness.

About Boston Marathon

• The Boston Marathon is an annual marathon hosted by several cities in greater


Boston in eastern Massachusetts, United States.

• It is always held on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April.

• The marathon first began in 1897.

• It is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's best-
known road racing events.

• It also is one of six World Marathon Majors.

• The 2017 Boston Marathon has been recorded as the second hottest in a decade.

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MISCELLANY
India Post releases commemorative postage stamp on coffee as fragrance stamp

The India Post has released a Commemorative Postage Stamp on Coffee as a


Fragrance Stamp in Bengaluru,which would go a long way in promoting coffee for
which India is known as a major producer of specialised flavours of the beverage
bean. One lakh stamps in the denomination of Rs 100 have been printed.

The stamp was released by Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry
Nirmala Sitharaman .

Shah Rukh Khan becomes the first Indian actor to deliver a TED speech in
Canada

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan became the first Indian actor to deliver TED
speech in Vancouver, Canada.
He spoke on various issues beginning from his stardom to the changes world has
experienced with the introduction of the internet. He left the audience in splits
with his witty one-liners.
Shah Rukh Khan also partnered with TED to host the Hindi version of the famous
talk show.

A successful actor, businessman and a philanthropist, Khan is also a brilliant


speaker. Shah Rukh has also delivered some motivational and inspirational
speeches earlier when he was conferred with honorary doctorate from
the University of Edinburg and Hyderabad's Maulana Azad National Urdu
University.

About TED
• Founded in 1984, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.
• It is a media organisation dedicated to posting online talk shows under the
slogan of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.
• The annual TED conference takes place in Vancouver, Canada where speakers
are given a maximum time of 18 minutes to express their ideas in the most
innovative ways they can.

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• Some of the past Ted speakers include Bill Gates, Serena Williams, Pope
Francis, Bill Clinton, David Cameron and others.

1948 Mahatma Gandhi stamps sold for record 500000 pounds

A set of four rare stamps featuring the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi have ben sold
for a record 500000 pounds by listed stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons.The block of
four was sold to a private collector-investor in Australia for the highest ever price
for Indian stamps. The purple-brown stamps are inscribed with the word 'Service'
and were issued to the then Governor-General's Secretariat for official use.

The Indian stamps were particularly rare due to the fact they were in a set of four.
Presently, only 13 of the 1948 Gandhi 10-rupee Purple Brown and Lake Service
stamps are in circulation.
These thirteen stamps include the strip of four and a block of four in the Royal
Philatelic Collection owned by Queen Elizabeth II, which is believed to be the
world's largest and most valuable private stamp collection.

Stanley Gibbons had previously sold one of these singles for 160000 pounds to a
client in Uruguay in 2016.

Palladium Cinema site to be developed as heritage museum in Srinagar

The Palladium Cinema site at Lal Chowk of Srinagar will be developed as a heritage
museum soon. The cinema was once a popular hangout for movie buffs but fell
victim to militancy.

Palladium Cinema, which is located at the historic Lal Chowk, was closed down in
1989 after the eruption of militancy in the state. Later in 1990, the cinema was
gutted in a fire and it has also seen two fidayeen attacks. At present, the cinema is
occupied by security forces.

Lal Chowk

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• It is a city square (literally Red Square) in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir.

• It was named so by the Left-wing activists inspired by the Russian Revolution as


they fought Maharaja Hari Singh.

• It is a traditional place for political meetings,where eminent people like


Jawaharlal Nehru, the former Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah
and various other Kashmiri leaders have addressed the people.

• It is a place where the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the
national flag in 1948 and promised a referendum to Kashmiri’s under which they
were free to choose their political future. The pledge was supported by Maharaja
Hari Singh. However, the pledge was conditional under which Pakistan was
supposed to withdraw its troops from the then-Princely state.

Asia's largest tulip garden opens for tourists in Kashmir

The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, located in the foothills of Zabarwan hill
in Srinagar has opened for tourists. Overlooking the Dal Lake, it opens every year
for 15 days. Notably, there are reportedly over two million tulips of 46 varieties
planted in the garden that spreads over an area of 30 hectares. The garden was
formerly known as Siraj Bagh.

101-year-old Mann Kaur becomes world’s oldest person to complete Auckland


Sky Walk

The 101-year-old athlete, Mann Kaur, has become the oldest person to sky walk
around Auckland’s famous landmark Sky Tower.Having set a new world record on
the field, Kaur stepped out 192 metres above Auckland city to achieve the feat.

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The athlete from India held her 79-year-old son Gurdev Singh’s hand as she inched
along the narrow platform towering high above the city centre.

Apart from this feat,on 26 April 2017, Kaur broke the Guinness World Record for
javelin with a throw of 5 m 12 in her final competition at the Trusts Stadium in
Waitakere, west Auckland.

Vastu Shastra to be introduced in IIT Kharagpur

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur is all set to introduce Vastu Shastra
classes for its architecture students from August 2017.

The basics of Vastu Shastra will be introduced to the first and second-year
undergraduate architecture students. However, detailed grounding on the subject
will be imparted to the post graduate and research scholars in infrastructure.

The undergraduate students will be taught graded modules related to basic design
and history of architecture will be taught. At the postgraduate level, modules
imparting solar principles, sacred diagrams, 9 circuit placements or the nabagraha
mandal, sacred altars and design semiotics and semantics will be taught.

About Vastu Shastra

• Vastu Shastra is a traditional Hindu system of architecture.

• These are texts found on the Indian subcontinent that describe principles of
design, layout, measurements, ground preparation, space arrangement and spatial
geometry.

• The system includes traditional Hindu beliefs.

• The designs are intended to integrate architecture with nature, the relative
functions of various parts of the structure, and ancient beliefs utilizing geometric
patterns, symmetry and directional alignments.

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• Many historians suggested that Vastu Shastra developed between 6000 BCE and
3000 BCE.

China bans ‘Muhammad’, ‘Jihad’, and ‘Medina’ as baby names

The Chinese government has prohibited parents from choosing baby names like
Islam, Medina, Jihad and Quran for their children, thereby strengthening its hold
on Muslims living in western China.

The ban is a part of the government’s effort to curb religious fervor in the region.
Western China or the western region of Xinjiang is home to over 10 million
Uighurs, a Muslim minority group.

Key Highlights

• The government fears the region could breed Islamic extremism, violence and
separatist thought.

• The minority group on the other hand states that it is the government’s
restrictions and strict limits imposed on speech and worship that have led to the
rise of tension in the region.

• The list titled “List of Banned Ethnic Minority Names” includes over two dozen
names including Mujahid, Arafat, Muhammad, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam,
Saddam, Hajj and Medina.

• In case of a defiance, the parents would risk losing crucial benefits for their
children including education and health care.

Prior to this,the Xinjiang authorities had imposed new rules that prohibited people
from sporting abnormal beards or veils in public places and also imposed
punishments for refusing to watch state television or radio programmes.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate UN Vesak Day in Sri Lanka

Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Justice and Buddhasasana, has
announced that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the UN
Vesak Day, on 12 May 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

It will be Modi’s second official visit to Sri Lanka.In March 2015, he made the first
visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the island nation in nearly three decades.

About Vesak Day

• Vesak Day is also known as Buddha Poornima.

• It is a traditional holiday commemorated by Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhala


Buddhists.

• In the year 623 B.C., the Buddha was born on the Day of Vesak. It was also on the
Day of Vesak that the Buddha attained enlightenment, and it was on the Day of
Vesak that the Buddha passed away in his 80th year.

• The UN General Assembly, by its resolution 54/115 of 1999, recognized


internationally the Day of Vesak to acknowledge the contribution of Buddhism to
the world.

• The theme of the 2017 Vesak Day is Buddhist teachings for social justice and
sustainable world peace.

UN to celebrate International Yoga Day with special commemorative stamps

The United Nations will be issuing special commemorative stamps to celebrate the
International Yoga Day this year. The day is celebrated across the world on 21
June,as confirmed by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador
Syed Akbaruddin.
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The first International Yoga Day was commemorated at the UN in 2015.

Key Highlights

• The UN postal agency, UN Postal Administration (UNPA) will issue the new special
event sheet to commemorate Yoga Day that has been marked annually since 2015.

• The special sheet comprises stamps with images of the sacred Indian sound “Om”
and various yogic asanas.

• The UN stamps are issued simultaneously at UN offices in New York, Geneva and
Vienna.

• Each issue carries a design theme with different denominations for each office.

• Generally, six new commemorative issues are released each year and remain on
sale for 12 months only.

• The stamps illustrate the aims and achievements of the United Nations and the
other organisations affiliated to it.

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OBITUARIES
Renowned Hindustani classical vocalist Kishori Amonkar passed away

Kishori Amonkar, the renowned Hindustani classical vocalist, passed away in


Mumbai. She was 84.

Amonkar, one of the foremost singers in the Hindustani tradition, was an innovator
of the Jaipur Gharana. The Jaipur Gharana is a community of musicians sharing a
distinctive musical style.

She also was a playback singer for Geet Gaya Patharon Ne (1964) and the film
Drishti (1990).

She received a plethora of awards, including

a) The Padma Bhushan in 1987

b) The Padma Vibhushan in 2002

c) Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1985

d) Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2009

e) Dr TMA Pai Outstanding Konkani Award in 1991

Veteran actor Vinod Khanna passed away

Veteran hindi actor Vinod Khanna passed away in Mumbai. He was 70.Khanna was
reportedly battling with cancer for years.Vinod Khanna had acted in lead roles in
many superhit Bollywood movies.He is best remembered for his performance in
films like Mere Apne, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Gaddaar, Jail Yatra, Kuchhe
Dhaage, Amar Akbar Anthony, Rajput, Qurbani, Dayavan, and others.

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• He was popularly hailed as one of the most handsome lead actors ever in
Bollywood, along with Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna and Shammi Kapoor.

• At the peak of his film career in 1982, he temporarily quit the film industry to
follow his spiritual guru Osho Rajneesh.

• He was a receipient of the Filmfare award in the Best Supporting Actor category
for Haath Ki Safaai. In 1999, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement
Award.

• In 1997, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

• He was elected from Gurdaspur constituency in Punjab in the 1998 Lok Sabha
poll. In 1999, he was re-elected to the Lok Sabha from the same constituency.

• In July 2002, he became the Union Minister for Culture and Tourism. Six months
later, he was moved to the Union Ministry of External Affairs as Minister of State.

• In 2009, he lost out in the Lok Sabha poll. However, he was again elected for
16th Loksabaha from Gurdaspur constituency in 2014 general election.

Robert W. Taylor, creator of the modern computer and the Internet,passed


away

Robert W. Taylor, one of the most important figures in the creation of the modern
computer and the Internet, has died of Parkinson’s disease and other ailments.He
was 85.

Taylor’s name was not known to the public, but it was a byword in computer
science and networking, where he was a key innovator who transformed the world
of technology.

Taylor was a Pentagon researcher in the 1960s when he launched Arpanet, which
evolved into what we know today as the Internet.

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Later, he moved to Xerox’s legendary Palo Alto Research Center, where he
oversaw the engineering team responsible for such inventions as the personal
computer, Ethernet and the visual computer display.

Gilbert Baker, creator of gay rights flag, dies aged 65

Gilbert Baker, an openly gay American activist who created the rainbow flag
representing gay rights, died aged 65. Baker was stationed in San Francisco in the
1970s while serving in the army when the gay rights movement began. He made
gay rights banners at the request of Harvey Milk, California's first openly gay
person elected to public office.

Jonathan Demme, Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, passed


away

Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, passed
away,due to esophegal cancer..He was 73.

Robert Jonathan Demme was an American film director, producer, and


screenwriter.

He is best known for directing the movie The Silence of the Lambs, for which he
won the Academy Award for Best Director. It was one of only three films to win all
the major categories, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and
Best Actress.He later on directed the acclaimed films Philadelphia and Rachel
Getting Married.

Pioneering HIV/AIDS researcher Mark Wainberg passed away

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Renowned Canadian AIDS researcher and social activist Dr Mark Wainberg passed
away in Florida, USA. He was 71.

Wainberg is believed to have drowned while on holiday with his family in Miami.

• Mark A. Wainberg was a Canadian HIV/AIDS researcher and HIV/AIDS activist.

• In 1989, he and his collaborators were the first to identify the antiviral
capabilities of 3TC (also called also called lamivudine) and test the drug in
patients. 3TC became one of the first effective treatments for people who
contracted HIV.

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For REFERENCE

About Agni – III Ballistic Missile

• The two-stage solid-propelled missile has a length of 17 metres, 2 metres


diameter and its launch weight is around 50 tonnes.
• It can carry a warhead of 1.5 tonne which is protected by carbon all-composite
heat shield.
• It is equipped with the hybrid navigation, guidance and control systems along
with advanced on-board computer.
• It was developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development
Programme (IGMDP).
• The missile was inducted into the armed forces in June 2011.

About South Asia Satellite (GSAT-9)

• The satellite with a lift-mass of 2195 kilogramme would carry 12 ku-band


transponders.

• It has been designed for a mission life of more than 12 years.

• Earlier, the satellite was named as SAARC Satellite but was changed to South Asia
Satellite when Pakistan was dropped from the list of nations taking part in the
project.

• The satellite will be providing communication and disaster support as well as


connectivity among countries of South Asia region.

• It will be providing facilities like DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among
the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of
things.

• Each participating nation will have a potential of using a dedicated transponder


with a capacity of 36 to 54 Mhz for its internal use. They will be responsible for the
content generation and its use.

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About Barak missiles

Barak missiles are an Indian-Israeli surface-to-air missile (SAM). It was designed to


defend against any type of airborne threat like aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship
missiles, and UAVs. It can be used to defend against threats of cruise missiles and
combat jets. At present, Barak missiles are installed on the most of the front-line
warships, including the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.

About China’s Type-001A Aircraft Carrier

It is slightly larger than the Liaoning.While its length is 315 m, its width is 75 m
and it has a cruising speed of about 31 knots and a displacement of 70,000 tonnes.

China started developing the 50,000-ton carrier in November 2013.

It features new equipments and a more advanced operational concept including a


bigger hangar that has the capacity of holding more J-15 fighter jets.

It also has enough space on the deck for helicopters and other aircrafts.

This launch is going to be followed by the launch of China’s next generation


aircraft carrier Type 002, which would be sometime around 2021.

About Prafulla Samantra


Prafulla Samantra is a trained lawyer and has been involved in environmental
activism since the Jayprakash Narayan-movement.
He was an iconic leader responsible for rallying tribes in Niyamgiri region of Odisha
and made use of legal provisions to prevent mining-to-metals conglomerate
Vedanta from running the mine in the area. He even filed a petition against the
project before a Supreme Court panel on mining.

Vedanta was later forced to suspend plans to mine bauxite since then only after
the fruitful efforts of Prafulla Samantra.

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Moreover, he is also fighting against POSCO, the South Korean steel company
whose proposed iron and steel plant in Jagatsinhpur district of Odisha has run into
similar problems as of Vedanta's.

About Goldman Environmental Prize


• The Goldman Environmental Prize was created in 1990 to honour grassroots
environmentalists undertaking risk of their lives for the cause of protecting the
environment.
• The award is given to six persons every year- one each from six geographical
regions of the world, namely, Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations,
North America, and South & Central America.
• The prize is given by Goldman Environmental Foundation of San Francisco. The
prize is also known as the Green Nobel.

About Tim Berners-Lee

• Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee is an English computer scientist,best known as the


inventor of the World Wide Web.

• In November 1989, he implemented the first successful communication between


a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet.

• He is the holder of the founders chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial
Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

• In 2004, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work.

• He has also been named in Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Important People
of the 20th century.

About ACM A.M.Turing Award

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• The ACM A.M.Turing Award is an annual prize given by the Association for
Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical
nature made to the computing community".

• It is generally recognized as the highest distinction in computer science and is


considered as the "Nobel Prize of computing".

• The honour is named after Alan Turing, a British mathematician and reader in
mathematics at the University of Manchester.A logician and a cryptographer, Alan
Turing was responsible for breaking the Nazi Enigma code during World War II. His
work gave the Allies the edge they needed to win the war in Europe, and led to the
creation of the computer. Benedict Cumberbatch played the role as Alan Turing in
the movie “The Imitation Game.”

• From 2007 to 2013, the award was accompanied by a prize of USD 250000 with
financial support provided by Intel and Google. Since 2014, the award has been
accompanied by a prize of USD 1 million, with financial support provided by
Google.

• The first recipient of the award was Alan Perlis. The first female recipient was
Frances E. Allen, who was honoured in 2006.

First milestones in Space Exploration

• 12 April 1961: Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth.

• 16 June 1963: Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to orbit the Earth.

• 20 July 1969: Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the surface
of the Moon.

• 17 July 1975: Docking of Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft in space was the First
international human mission to space.

• 1984: Rakesh Sharma, the former Indian Air Force pilot, became the first person
of Indian origin to travel in space. He slew in the space aboard Soyuz t-11, which
was launched on 2 April 1984. He flew as part of the Intercosmos programme.

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• 1997: Kalpana Chawla, an Indian American astronaut, became the first woman of
Indian origin to be in space.

About Dr B R Ambedkar
• B R Ambedkar was born to a Mahar (dalit) caste family on 14 April 1891 in Mhow,
Madhya Pradesh (now known as Dr Ambedkar Nagar).
• He completed his school from Elphinstone High School and later pursued a degree
in economics and political science from Elphinstone College, University of Mumbai.
• With the help of a scholarship, he completed his Masters in Economics (Major) at
Columbia University and Doctor of Science in Economics from London.
• Throughout his life, he fought against untouchability and played a major role in
Mahatma Gandhi-led Harijan movement, protesting against social injustices faced
by people from backward castes.
• On 29 August 1947, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Constitution
Drafting Committee, where he was asked to write India's new Constitution, which
was adopted in November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly.
• Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet in 1951 following the stalling in parliament
of his draft of the Hindu Code Bill.
• Later, he pointed out that Hinduism is the foundation of the caste system. In
1956, he converted to Buddhism.
• He brought the reservation law in India for the lower caste communities.

Dr Ambedkar's Contribution to Indian Constitution


• Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar is referred to as the Father of Indian Constitution or
Architect of the Indian Constitution.
• He played a fundamental role in framing the Indian Constitution and basing it on
the high pedestal of socio-politico-economic equality that still holds relevance in
the context of issues currently faced by India.
• He was a strong advocate of the parliamentary democracy since the inception of
the Government of India Act, 1935. He also advocated a federal structure of the
Union and States.
• He was an ardent champion of fundamental rights which is enshrined in Part-III of

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the Indian Constitution. The text prepared by Ambedkar provided constitutional
guarantees and protections for a wide range of civil liberties for individual
citizens.
• He also framed Article 32, soul of the Constitution, in the constitution which is
very significant in the sense that it makes the fundamental rights justifiable. Any
violation of it can lead to Supreme Court to issue directions, orders or writs.

About Hemophilia

• There are two types of hemophilia:

- Hemophilia A: It is a more common type and is linked to low levels of clotting


factor VIII.
- Hemophilia B: It is rare and is linked with low levels of clotting factor IX.

• The condition is diagnosed by taking a blood sample and testing the levels of
clotting factor VIII & IX.

• The main symptom of the disorder is prolonged bleeding and it can range from
mild to severe.

• The bleeding is often internal but it can happen externally as well.

• Other symptoms include spontaneous bleeding, bleeding into the muscles or


joints, bleeding for a prolonged period after having surgery, having a cut or dental
work and big bruises.

• In very mild cases, bleeding may be for a shorter duration, arising only after an
injury or surgery.

• In severe cases, bleeding will be spontaneous, with more frequency and no


obvious cause. It may go into the joints and muscles of the body and cause
swelling, pain, stiffness or an ache in using the muscle or joint.

• Repetitive bleeding into a joint can also cause arthritis.

• If left untreated, severe cases of hemophilia can lead to a shorter lifespan.

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• The treatment for the condition involves injecting the missing clotting factor into
the bloodstream.

Thus, this campaign is not only educating more women about the rare disorder but
it is also creating a common united platform where people can interact, share
stories and support each other.

About the reinstatement of TP Senkumar as DGP of Kerala


Kerala Government removed and transferred TP Senkumar by citing his ineffective
performance due to the delay in investigation in the Jisha murder case and the
Puttingal fire tragedy.

Following the transfer, Senkumar approached the Kerala High Court, but failed to
get a favourable verdict. He then approached the Supreme Court and defended
himself by mentioning that his transfer was an outcome of his investigations of
political murders in the state in which the ruling party members were allegedly
involved.

Moreover, Senkumar’s lawyers senior advocate Dushyant Dave and Prashant


Bhushan argued that the transfer violated the Supreme Court’s 2006 ruling which
restricted the government’s powers in transferring top cops.

Highlights of the SC orders in the Babri Masjid demolition case


• It ruled that there will be no fresh trial because of framing of conspiracy charges
against senior BJP leaders.
• However, Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, who enjoys Constitutional immunity,
can be tried only after he ceases to hold the office.
• The trial will proceed on a day-to-day basis and will not be adjourned on any
ground. Moreover, the judges presiding over the case will not be transferred till
the trial is concluded and judgment is pronounced.
• The adjournment would take place only if the trial court judge feels that it was
impossible to proceed and fix the next date of hearing after recording the reasons

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for the adjournment.
• It also directed probe agency CBI to ensure that prosecution witnesses appear on
each and every date for recording of evidence in the case and the trial court
should start the proceedings within one month.

The bench had earlier reserved the order on April 6 after the CBI and other
petitioners had sought the restoration of conspiracy charge against the senior
Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders.

Comment
At first, there were two sets of cases relating to the Babri Masjid demolition on 6
December 1992. The first involved unnamed 'karsevaks', the trial of which is taking
place in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relate to the BJP leaders
in a Rae Bareli court.

The Lucknow court is hearing the case against unknown 'karsevaks' who were in and
around the Babri Masjid when it was pulled down.

The Supreme Court’s stand on the maintenance to the estranged wife

In his plea to the Supreme Court, a man from West Bengal challenged an order of
the Calcutta High Court in which he was directed to pay Rs 23000 per month to his
former wife.

The apex court in its direction said that there was nothing wrong in the order of
the high court; however, it reduced the sum by Rs 3000 on the ground that the
man had remarried and was responsible for his new family.

Reports suggest that the former couple has been fighting a legal battle over
maintenance since 2003, the year when the district court fixed the amount at Rs
4500. Later the high court enhanced the amount to Rs 16000 per month and Rs
23000 per month in 2015 and 2016. The sum was increased as the former husband’s
salary went up to Rs 95527 from Rs 63842 per month.

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Earlier in its 2016 judgement, the Supreme Court had pronounced that "A Hindu
woman's right to maintenance is a personal obligation so far as the husband is
concerned, and it is his duty to maintain her even if he has no property. It is well
settled that under the Hindu Law, the husband has got a personal obligation to
maintain his wife and if he is possessed of properties then his wife is entitled to a
right to be maintained out of such properties".

It seems that the decision of the apex court has an inclination towards protecting
the claims of women in matrimonial disputes that affects the financial status of
the couple.

Education, healthcare to stay out of GST ambit

With an aim to not provide any shock to its citizens, the Union Government has
decided to keep education, healthcare and pilgrimages out of service tax under
the GST regime. At present, the government has set a target to roll out the GST
regime across the country from 1 July 2017.

With its rolling out the GST regime will subsume central excise, service tax, VAT
and other local levies and come up with something known as a national sales tax
that will be levied at the time of consumption of a product or service.

Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia in an interview to PTI said, “Besides making a


strong case to the GST Council for not touching services that are out of tax net
currently, the union government will also pitch for keeping concessional rate for
services like transport at the current level”.

Adhia said the approach for the GST rollout would be to avoid any shock in the first
year and any review for inclusion of a service or change in rate could be done in
the second or third year of the implementation based on revenue realisation.

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He also said that the endeavour would be to maintain the current tax incidence on
a commodity or service at the same level in the new Goods and Services Tax (GST)
regime.

As per reports, the GST council chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is
scheduled to meet in Srinagar on 18 and 19 May 2017. The council comprises of the
union finance minister and representatives of all states. During the meet, they will
decide on rates of various good and services which will be charged in the new
indirect tax regime.

Till date, the GST Council has approved a four-rate tax structure and they are 5
per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent.

At present, some 17 items are kept in negative list of services on which service tax
is not levied. On top of that there are over 60 services which are exempt from
service tax and some of them are religious skill development, pilgrimage,
education, healthcare, journalistic activities among others.

Tax evasion over Rs 5 crore will be non-bailable offence under new GST regime

Tax evasion of over Rs 5 crore under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime
would be a non-bailable offence. The new regime also empowers police to make
an arrest without warrant.The Central GST (CGST) Act has defined offences related
to taxable good or services. The act provides that if the offences will be
cognizable and non-bailable when the taxable goods and/or services where the
amount of tax evaded or the amount of input tax credit wrongly availed or the
amount of refund wrongly taken exceeds Rs 5 crore.

The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) in its 223-page frequently asked
questions (FAQ) on GST said other offences under the act are non-cognizable and
bailable. FAQ suggests that cognizable offence means the serious category of
offences in respect of which a police officer has the authority to make an arrest
without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a
court.
Safeguards mentioned in the FAQ

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• FAQ that outlines the safeguards to be taken during arrest says that is a person is
arrested for a cognizable offence, he must be informed in writing of the grounds of
arrest and he must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.
• In the case of arrest for a non-cognizable and bailable offence, the person can be
released on bail by the Deputy/ Assistant Commissioner of CGST/SGST. The person
will be subject to the same provisions as an officer-in-charge of a police station
under section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
• In case the person fails to appear before the CGST/SGST officer when summon is
issued against him then he will be liable to pay a penalty of up to Rs 25000. Issued
guidelines say that summon can be issued as a last resort where the assessees are
not co-operating and this should not be used for the top management.
• The FAQs also mentions guidelines for the tax department in which it asks to
ensure that summon provisions are not misused by field officers.
• The guidelines suggest that the summons should not be harsh and legal which
may cause unnecessary mental stress and embarrassment to the receiver.
• In the case of senior management officials like CFO, CEO, General Managers of
PSUs and large companies the summons should not be issued at the first instance.
However, the summons can be issued to them when the investigations indicate
about their involvement in the decision-making process which led to the loss of
revenue.
• Interesting fact about the summons is that superintendents can issue summon
only after obtaining a written permission from an officer not below the rank of
Assistant Commissioner. The permission letter must include the reasons for the
issuance of summons to be recorded in writing.
The government has set a target date of 1st of July for rollout of the GST, which
will subsume central excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies.
The Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST) Act have empowered the officers
from Police, Railways, Customs, village officers, and any other government officers
to assist CGST and SGST officers under the GST regime.

Highlights of the India’s longest Chenani-Nashri tunnel


• This 9 km long all-weather tunnel between Udhampur and Ramban in Jammu &
Kashmir is not only India’s longest highways tunnel but also Asia’s longest bi-

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directional highways tunnel.
• Built at an elevation of 1200 metres on one of the most difficult Himalayan
terrains, the tunnel will cut the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by two
hours, bypassing about 41 kms of road length.
• It will also ensure an all weather passage on a route that often sees heavy traffic
jams and disruptions due to landslides, snow, sharp curves, breakdown of vehicles
and accidents.
• The structure of the tunnel consists of a 9 km long two-laned main tunnel with a
parallel escape tunnel of same length. The two tunnels are connected by 29 cross
passages at regular intervals.
• These cross passages can be used for evacuation of vehicles and commuters in
case of breakdown or any other emergency.
• There are two minor bridges on the south and north sides and 4-lane approach
roads with Toll Plazas on both ends of the tunnel.
• The Traffic Control System in the tunnel has green and red lights, the speed limit
signs and others to control traffic condition inside the tunnel.
• The tunnel has an Incident Detection Systems under which if any accident
happens, the control team will get to know before the victim contacts through the
SOS call box.
• The maximum height permitted in the tunnel is 5 meters and for checking the
height, special sensors have been installed just before the toll points at both
ends.
• The tunnel is a part of the 286 km long four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar
National Highway.
• The tunnel has an efficient ventilation system. There are inlets bringing fresh air
at 8 metre intervals and outlet for exhaust every 100 metres.

Comment
The Chenani-Nashri tunnel is an environment-friendly project. The construction of
the tunnel avoided large-scale deforestation. Moreover, it will save much time on
the Jammu- Srinagar route that will further result in fuel saving of approximately
Rs 27 lakhs per day.

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The Chenani-Nashri tunnel will also have a very positive impact on the state
economy. The project provided employment to over 2000 unskilled and skilled
youth of Jammu and Kashmir as 94 per cent of the work force was from the state
itself.

Highlights of the UDAN flight on Delhi -Shimla route


• This UDAN flight will be a regular flight, which will operate five days in a week.
• The airfare for this 1-hour journey of around 500 km or the airfare for 30 minute
journey on a helicopter will be capped at Rs 2500.

Highlights of the UDAN Scheme


• The UDAN Scheme is a key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy
(NCAP) which was launched in June 2016.
• UDAN is a first-of-its-kind scheme which aims to stimulate regional connectivity
through a market-based mechanism.
• Under the scheme, 24 airports in the western region, 17 in the northern region,
11 in the southern region, 12 in east and six in north-eastern parts of the country
will be connected under this scheme.
• The government will also connect 45 unserved and under-served airports with
the scheme.
• The operators are Air India subsidiary Airline Allied Services, SpiceJet, Air
Deccan, Air Odisha and Turbo Megha. They would be operating 19-78 seater
aircraft.
• Operators will have to provide 50 per cent of the flight capacity with a cap of Rs
2500 per hour and a minimum of five and a maximum of 13 people on helicopters
with the same price cap.
With the regular plying of UDAN flight on Delhi - Shimla route, the tourism industry
of the state is expected to get a boost.

Key Highlights of Double-decker AC Trains

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• The aim of the double-decker service is to provide better amenities to
passengers in a lesser fare.

• The 120- seater AC service would have large automatic vending machines in each
coach, which would dispense pre-cooked hot food and tea/ cold drinks

• The train would also be equipped with large LCD screens in every coach along
with wi- fi speaker system.

• It would also be equipped with bio-toilets.

• Its interior would sport an aesthetically designed modern look.

• The introduction of the service will help the public transporter clear the rush in
high demand routes, as the train would have 40 per cent more carrying capacity in
comparison to other trains.

However, in spite of being an overnight train, it would not have sleeper berths but
it would though have added facilities such as comfortable seats and adequate leg
space to ensure travellers a comfortable and smooth journey.

Highlights of the Vistadome coach on Visakhapatnam-Araku route train


• This specially-designed Vistadome air-conditioned coach is claimed to be a first-
of-its-kind on Indian Railways.
• It has large glass windows and an observation lounge that offer passengers a
panoramic view of the sites along the 128-km rail route from Visakhapatnam to
Araku valley hill station.
• A unique feature of this Rs 3.38 crore 40-seat coach is the double-wide reclining
passenger seats that can be rotated 360 degrees for a better sightseeing
experience.
• The coach also has a glass-domed ceiling, automatic sliding doors and a multi-
tier luggage rack.
• Coaches also feature LED lights, rotatable seats, GPS based info system, etc.
• Tourists will get to experience the breath-taking Anantagiri ghat section,
Lambasingi, Borra caves and the tunnels along the route from the Vistadome

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coach, unlike the crammed train compartments.
• Currently, only one coach is attached to the train on a trial basis while one more
will be attached later.

Key facts of the Advanced Farming – Enriched Farmer’ scheme in Maharashtra

• Under the scheme, each tehsil of the state will be declared as a unit. These units
will be used on planning for agri-development

• Tasks to be undertaken under the scheme includes

a) Raising production of major crops (up to the level of its genetic yield potential)

b) Diversification of crops

c) Introduction of marketing techniques

d) Uniting farmers through farm producers’ companies

e) Making them (farmers) financially stable

• In addition to it, the government will be spending 60 per cent more fund for
mechanisation of farming on tractors, transplanters, power tillers, machines for
polishing, grading and packing of the produce. The grant will be deposited in
farmers’ bank accounts linked to Aadhar.

Besides, a resolution of government that was published in the second week of April
2017 said, each tehsil will be given a target for production of crops. The targets
will be set with an aim under which the produce is sold at a price where money
received by the farmers is more than the loan that was obtained by them. The
resolution also said that target for production will be 20 per cent more for farmers
who are receiving more money than the loan that was obtained.

About the Survey of India


• It is India’s National Survey and Mapping Organization and comes under the
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Department of Science & Technology.
• It was set up in 1767 and so, this year the organisation is celebrating its 250th
anniversary.
• It is not only the oldest scientific department of the government of India but also
one of the oldest survey establishments in the world.
• As the country’s Principal Mapping Agency, the department bears a special
responsibility to ensure that the country's domain is explored and mapped suitably.
• The foundation for the scientific survey and mapping of the country was laid with
The Great Trignometric Survey (GTS), which was conducted on 10 April 1802.
• World renowned surveyors, Col. Lambton and Sir George Everest had played a
huge role in the survey. They had surveyed and mapped each and every part of the
country.
• The maps created as a result of their research have played a pivotal role in
India’s nation building process and in creating the foundation of almost all major
developmental activities of modern India.

Key highlights of the Shunglu panel report

• The committee reviewed 404 files of the Delhi government and found several
irregularities with various appointments.

• The panel in its report has said that the decision to allot land to AAP to build a
party office should be considered null and void.

• It also questioned the allotment of residence to DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal.

• Among other issues, the report raised questions on the government posting
officers to the Anti-Corruption Branch, its decisions on transfer and appointments
of officers, foreign travel undertaken by ministers without the LG's sanction and
appointment of lawyers.

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The Committee, headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General VK Shunglu,
was set up in August 2016 after the Delhi High Court gave primacy to the LG in
Delhi administrative affairs in August 2016. The committee submitted its report to
the Lieutenant-Governor in November 2016. But the report was not made public
by the government or the Lieutenant-Governor's office.

The Shunglu Committee report was made public on 6 April 2017 by the Delhi
Congress president Ajay Maken, who earlier obtained a copy of the report through
a Right to Information query. He filed the RTI application on 22 February 2017.

The Shunglu panel report suggests that the conflict between the government and
LG began in April 2015, when the chief minister Arvind Kejriwal directed officers
of all departments to take decisions on all subjects without consulting the Lt
Governor that is transferred to the Delhi Assembly under the Article 239AA(3)a of
the Constitution of India.

Article 239AA(3)a reads, “Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the


Legislative Assembly shall have power to make laws for the whole or any part of
the National Capital Territory with respect to any of the matters enumerated in
the State of List or in the Concurrent List in so far as any such matter is applicable
to Union territories except matters with respect to Entries 1,2, and 18 of the State
List and Entries 44, 65 and 66 of that List in so far as they relate to the said Entries
1,2,and 18.”

Who was Basavanna?

• Basavanna was a 12th-century philosopher, statesman, Kannada poet and a


social reformer.

• He lived during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I in Karnataka.

• He spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanas.

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• He rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals such as the
wearing of sacred thread. However, he introduced Ishtalinga necklace, with an
image of the Shiva Linga, to every person regardless of his or her birth, to be a
constant reminder of one's devotion to Shiva.

• As the Chief Minister of his kingdom, he introduced new public institutions such
as the Anubhava Mantapa (hall of spiritual experience). The Anubhava
Mantapa welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to
discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life in open.

• His literary works include the Vachana Sahitya in Kannada Language.

Why America used Mother of All Bombs?

• Following the bombings on Afghanistan, US President Trump said that he does


not know if this sends a message to North Korea. He said that North Korea is a
problem and it will be taken care of.

• Perhaps, the US signals the North Koreans and the Syrians that the US can deploy
such weapons against their bunker systems.

• Also, it is in American and Afghan interests for the US to stay in Afghanistan so


that it does not transform into Iraq of 2014, when Taliban controlled much of the
country while hosting a strong presence of ISIS.

About El Salvador banning metal mining

• After the Salvadoran Civil War (15 October 1979 to 16 January 1992), the
government began trying to rebuild the large-scale mining industry.

• The country received a flurry of exploration permit applications, when global


gold prices began to climb in the early 2000s.

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• The Pacific Rim Mining Corporation proposed plans for a mine named El Dorado
to be built in the basin of the Rio Lempa–El Salvador’s primary source of drinking
water.

• In the 1990s, rapid industrialization and population growth in the country caused
extreme environmental degradation.

• By the early 2000s, more than 90% of the country’s ground water was chemically
contaminated and no amount of boiling, filtering or chlorination would make it
potable.

• Later, anti-mining movement began in the country which resisted the El Dorado
mine and mining in general. Local and international groups united to form The
National Roundtable Against Metal Mining in El Salvador.

• In May 2007, the El Salvadorian Catholic Church joined the country’s anti-mining
movement. The Catholic Church publicly denounced mining, claiming “no material
advantage can be compared to the value of human life.”

• In March 2008, NRA President Antonio Saca instituted a nationwide moratorium


on metal mining permits.

Why the revival of ancient Silk Route?

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the idea of creating a new Silk Road
through Russia and Ukraine into Europe. Under the title One Belt, One Road, this
plan is China's new national vision to improve its connectivity to Europe, Asia, and
Africa.

The first freight train as a part of this strategy linked China to Tehran.

About ancient Silk Route

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• The Silk Route was an ancient network of trade routes that were central to
cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West
and East from China to the Mediterranean Sea.

• It derived its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its
length, beginning during the Han dynasty. The Central Asian sections of the trade
routes were expanded around 114 BCE by the Han dynasty, largely through the
missions and explorations of Chinese imperial envoy, Zhang Qian. The Chinese took
great interest in the safety of their trade products and extended the Great Wall of
China to ensure the protection of the trade route.

• Trade on the Silk Route was a significant factor in the development of the
civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa
and Arabia, opening long-distance, political and economic relations between the
civilizations.

• In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road served as a means of carrying out
cultural trade among the civilizations along its network.

Comment

A direct rail link between China and Western Europe enables manufacturers to
explore new means to lower transport costs.On the other hand, an expanded
Chinese economic role within central Asia will enhance the country’s political
influence over an increasingly important global region.

About Grasim Industries Limited

• It is a conglomerate having leadership positions in cement, viscose staple fibre


and chemicals businesses.

• Its subsidiary UltraTech Cement Ltd is the largest Indian cement manufacturer
with a capacity of 69.3 million tons per annum and is also the largest in the white
cement and ready mix concrete segment.

About Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd

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• It is a conglomerate with leadership positions across its businesses.

• Its Financial Services Business ranks among the top 5 fund managers in India.

• Its telecom venture, Idea Cellular, is among the top 3 cellular operators in
India.

• Recently, it received a license from RBI to commence Payments Bank


operations in a joint venture with Idea Cellular.

Comment on Nokia partnering with BSNL and Airtel


The aim of this partnership is to upgrade the existing 4G network in India to make
way for better 5G services in the country. This would be the jump off point for
Nokia as the 5G technology is expected to commercially roll out between 2019 to
2020.

This move will also open up the country to the potential of extreme high-speed
wireless broadband and the ability to support the future network demands of
connected devices associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities.

Highlights of the funding of Flipkart


• Tencent will be a strategic investor for the company, bringing experience in
linking social networking and e-commerce. Tencent will lend significant expertise
to Flipkart as it seeks to bolster its leadership position in India’s e-commerce
market.
• Earlier in February 2017, Microsoft had announced a strategic partnership with
Flipkart where Flipkart adopted the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform.
• On the other hand, eBay’s investment is accompanied by a strategic commercial
agreement, eBay will make a USD 500 million cash investment and sell its eBay
India business to Flipkart. Flipkart and eBay also entered into an exclusive pact in
which they will jointly pursue cross-border trade opportunities.
This funding deal is expected to give Flipkart leverage to counter Amazon, the
world’s largest online retailer. Amazon has pledged to invest USD 5 billion in India

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in the next few years.
This latest investment adds to an existing group of investors of Flipkart that
include Tiger Global Management, Naspers Group, Accel Partners and DST Global.

Key highlights of BRABO

• The robot was designed and manufactured at the TAL’s Pune factory.

• It is mainly developed to complement the human workforce.

• It also developed to repeatedly perform high volume, dangerous and time-


consuming tasks ranging from handling of raw materials to packaging of finished
products.

• Other than the motors and drives for the Robo-arm, which are sourced from
Italy, all the other parts of the robot were indigenously manufactured in India.

• The robot has four patents registered in its name. TAL has also applied for an
intellectual property certification for the robot.

• The robot is easy to install, use, program and maintain. It needs only one-time
calibration. It does not require any many calibration in case of maintenance.

• It comes with low-cost power transmission system.

• It will be able to work on single phase power supply suitable for MSMEs in the
country.

• It has an inbuilt programmable logic controller and comes with additional


software like CAT2Motion, which can input 3D drawings and convert into the
BRABO programme.

• The robot can also act as a virtual controller for simulation.

• BRABO will be priced at Rs 3 Lakh for 2kg payload, and Rs 6 Lakh for 10kh
payload.

How BRABO will help MSMEs in India?

• BRABO is around 30-40 per cent cheaper than any international industrial robot
with similar applications.
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• The robot can be used for varied applications for tasks like pick and placement
of materials, assembly of parts, machine and press tending, as a sealing
application, and camera and vision-based jobs.

• Being an industrial robot, it will help in cost reduction, improved quality,


increased production, and improved workplace health and safety.

Key Highlights of the Earth-like planet

• The planet is reported to have a radius of about 1.4 times that of the Earth and
mass of about 1.6 times that of the Earth.
• The researchers initially called the planet a potential Venus twin considering its
rocky world with a high surface temperature.
• The recent discovery shows that the planet also has a thick atmosphere. Though
Venus has a thick atmosphere as well, the atmosphere of the two planets may be
made up of different compositions.
• While Earth's atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen with a large oxygen
component, Venus' is a thick veil of
carbon dioxide.
• According to the researchers, the new planet’s atmosphere is likely to be rich in
water vapour or methane.

While this is not the first instant that the scientists have discovered an atmosphere
around a planet, as they have previously detected atmospheres around large
Jupiter-like gaseous bodies and on the even larger super-Earth, this is the first
time that they have detected it around an exoplanet that is almost close to Earth’s
size.

Scientists can use a planet’s atmosphere to identify potential traces of life on it or


to determine if it is suitable for life, as we have on earth.

About Bahrain Grand Prix

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• The Bahrain Grand Prix is a Formula One Championship race in Bahrain.

• The first race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on 4 April 2004. It
made history as the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held in the Middle East.

• The race is usually the third race of the Formula One calendar. However, in
2006, Bahrain swapped places with the traditional opener, the Australian Grand
Prix, which was pushed back to avoid a clash with the Commonwealth Games.

• In 2014, the race was held as a night event under floodlights to commemorate
the tenth anniversary of the first staging of the Bahrain Grand Prix. In doing so, it
became the second Formula One night race after the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008.

About Chinese Grand Prix

• The Chinese Grand Prix is a round of the Formula One World Championship.

• It is currently held at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai. The circuit


is designed by Hermann Tilke.

• When completed in 2004, the circuit was the most expensive Formula One circuit
facility, costing USD 240 million. Abu Dhabi became the most expensive at USD 6
billion when it opened in 2009.

About Miami Open

• The Miami Open is an annual tennis tournament for men and women.

• The tournament is also known as the Miami Masters.

• It is an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event on the men's tour and a Premier
Mandatory event on the women's tour, played on hard courts.

• In 2010, a record 300000 visitors attended matches at the 12-day Sony Ericsson
Open, making it one of the largest tennis tournaments outside the four Majors. In
2011, 316,267 visitors attended the Open.

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• The 2017 Miami Open Women's Singles title was won by United Kingdom’s
Johanna Konta.

• Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo won the 2017 Miami Open Men’s Doubles title.

• Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan won the 2017 Miami Open Men’s Doubles title.

About Monte Carlo Masters

• The Monte-Carlo Masters is an annual tennis tournament for male professional


players.

• It is held in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.

• The tournament is part of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 on the Association of
Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour.

• It is played on clay courts.

• The championship was first held in 1897.

• It became an "Open" event in 1969.

• The 2017 Monte-Carlo Masters was the 111th edition of the annual Monte Carlo
Masters tournament.

• The 2017 Monte-Carlo Masters Men’s Doubles title was won by Rohan Bopanna
and Pablo Cuevas.

About India Open Super Series

• The India Open is officially titled as the Yonex-Sunrise India Open.

• It is an annual badminton event, which has been held in India since 2008.

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• Its inaugural edition was to be held in Hyderabad in 2007; however, it was
cancelled due to the 25 August 2007 Hyderabad bombings.

• Its first three editions were designated as Grand Prix Gold events.

• In 2011, the tournament was upgraded to the BWF Superseries tournament. Since
then, the competition has been held annually at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in
New Delhi.

• The Men's singles title of the 2017 India Open was won by Viktor Axelsen.

• The Men's Doubles title of the 2017 India Open was won by Marcus Fernaldi
Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.

• The Women's Doubles title of the 2017 India Open was won by Shiho Tanaka and
Koharu Yonemoto.

• The Mixed Doubles title of the 2017 India Open was won by Lu Kai and Huang
Yaqiong.

About Singapore Open Super Series Badminton

• The Singapore Open is a badminton event that has been held in Singapore
annually since 1987.

• The competition is now a part of the BWF Super Series tournament that began
2007.

• As Aviva Open Singapore, the tournament restarted in 2004, officially organised


by the Singapore Badminton Association.

• In 2007, Aviva Open Singapore achieved a milestone by elevating its status after
being the first event to offer qualifying points for the 2008 Olympic Games in
Beijing.

• The total prize purse is USD 350000.

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Key highlights of the 2017 edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack

• Two Pakistani cricketers, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, have been named in
the list of the five Cricketers of the Year. It is the first time since 1997.

• The other Cricketers of the Year are Ben Duckett, Toby Roland-Jones, and Chris
Woakes.

• Ellyse Perry was named the Leading Woman Cricketer in the World.

• The other honourees included AJ Woodland, the left-hand opening batsman who
scored 1200 runs across formats for St Edward’s School, Oxford who was chosen as
the Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year.

• Emma Johns book Following On was named Wisden Book of the Year.

• Saqib Majeed, won the Wisden-MCC Cricket Photograph of the Year award, also
found a feature in the Almanack.

About Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack

• Wisden Cricketers' Almanack is a cricket reference book published annually in the


United Kingdom.

• It is considered the world's most famous sports reference book.

• In October 2013, an all-time Test World XI was announced to mark the 150th
anniversary of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.

• An Indian edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack was launched in the year 2012.

APPOINTED/ELECTED

Emmanuel Macron elected as President of France

Pro-European centrist leader Emmanuel Macron has been elected as President of


France after winning 20.7 million votes in the elections. Macron defeated his far-

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right opponent Marine Le Pen, who took about 10.6 million votes in the
Presidential elections’.

Thus,the 39-year old former investment banker, who has never held an elected
office, has become the youngest President and occupant of the Élysée Palace.He
is France's youngest leader since Napoleon Bonaparte.

V K Saraswat appointed as Chancellor of JNU

Eminent scientist V K Saraswat has been appointed the Chancellor of Jawaharlal


Nehru University (JNU). He succeeds former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan.
V K Saraswat will serve five years term at JNU. He is currently serving as the
Member of NITI Aayog.

V K Saraswat had played a very significant role in the development of the country’s
first liquid propulsion engine- Devil.
He is credited with the development of other rocket engines such as Prithvi,
Dhanush and Prahaar.
He has served as the Director General of Defence Research and Development
Organisation.
He has held the posts of Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, and secretary
to the Department of Defence (research and development).
V K Saraswat was awarded the Padma Shri in 1998 and Padma Bhushan in 2013.

Manipur Governor, Najma Heptulla appointed as Jamia Chancellor

Incumbent Governor of Manipur, Najma Heptulla, has been appointed as the


Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia .The 77-year-old Heptulla will be succeeding Lt
Gen (Retd) MA Zaki, who completes his five-year term this month. She would also
be serving a term of five years.

Najma Heptulla is the grand-niece of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

She had served as the General Secretary of Congress during 1986 with the
additional responsibility of youth activities of the All India Congress Committee
and the National Students Union of India (NSUI).

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She joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2004.She is a five-time member of the
Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament. She has also served as the
Deputy Chairman of the House for sixteen years.

Mallikarjun Kharge appointed as Chairman of Public Accounts Committee

Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, has been appointed the
Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament.Kharge
replaces his party's K.V. Thomas,whose term has ended recently.

Apart from Kharge, the PAC has 14 members from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya
Sabha.

• The Public Accounts Committee is a committee of selected members of


Parliament for the auditing of the revenue and the expenditure of the Government
of India.

• It is formed every year with a strength of not more than 22 members of which 15
are from Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament, and 7 from Rajya Sabha,
the upper house of the Parliament. None of the 22 members shall be a minister in
the government.

• The term of office of the members is one year.

• The Chairman of the PAC is appointed by the Speaker of Lok Sabha.

• Since 1967, the chairman of the committee has been selected from the
opposition. Earlier, it was headed by a member of the ruling party.

• The PAC’s main function is to examine the audit report of Comptroller and
Auditor General (CAG) after it is laid in the Parliament.

Vinay Mohan Kwatra named India’s new ambassador to France

Seasoned diplomat Vinay Mohan Kwatra, currently a joint secretary in the Prime
Minister’s Office, has been appointed as the next ambassador to France.Kwatra
will succeed Mohan Kumar, who is retiring.

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Centre appoints five members to the National Commission for Minorities

The Union government has appointed five members to fill the vacant seats in the
National Commission for Minorities (NCM).The NCM, which is responsible for
protecting the interests of the minority communities, was left with no members
after all its seven members appointed by the previous UPA-II government retired
during the last two years.The centre was facing a lot of criticism for not making
any appointment to the commission till now.

• Social activist Gayarul Hasan from Uttar Pradesh will reportedly be made the
new chairperson of the commission.

• The other newly appointed members include Vada Dasturji Khurshed, chief priest
of Udvada Athornan Anjuman, BJP leader from Kerala George Kurian, Jain
representative from Gujarat Sunil Singhi and former Maharashtra minister Sulekha
Kumbhare.

• The process to appoint the remaining two members of the panel is still on.

• It is the first time that a Jain member will be a part of the panel. The
community was categorised as a minority in January 2014.

• All the panel members will be serving a term of three years each unless they get
an extension.

• It would be the first time that all the panel members are social activists.

• Till now, the panel had a retired judge or bureaucrat as its chairperson or
member.

The National Commission for Minorities

• It was set up by the Union government under the National Commission for
Minorities Act, 1992 to look into complaints from members of five religious
communities -Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis)-that
have been notified as minority communities.

• The Jain community was notified as a minority community on 27 January 2014.

• The panel has seven members, including the chairperson and vice chairperson.

• Besides NCM, 15 states including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh,
West Bengal, Manipur, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Assam, have set up their own State Minorities
Commissions.

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• The function of these Commissions is to safeguard and protect the interests of
minorities provided in the Constitution and laws enacted by Parliament and the
State Legislatures.

Shobana Kamineni is the new CII President

Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice-chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise and a


member of its founding family, assumed office as the president of industry body
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), for the year 2017-18.

She took over from Naushad Forbes, Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall Limited.

Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda resigns

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' has resigned on 24 May
2017, barely nine months after coming to power. Prachanda belongs to the CPN
(Maoist Centre) party of Nepal.

It was his second term as the Prime Minister. He was elected as the 39th prime
minister of Nepal on 3 August 2016 after forging an alliance with the Nepali
Congress.

His resignation is an outcome of the power-sharing pact that was signed in August
2016 between Prachanda and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba.

As per the pact, Prachanda will serve the term as PM for nine months and will
thereafter resign to pave way for Deuba to become the next Prime Minister. The
pact was to run the Nepal Government on a rotational basis until elections to the
parliament are held in February 2018.

Moon Jae-in sworn in as President of South Korea

Liberal politician Moon Jae-in has been sworn in as the President of South
Korea,in a ceremony at the National Assembly,Seoul.

Moon Jae-in won the presidential election in South Korea's,with a victory that ends
nearly a decade of conservative rule.

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The liberal’s victory will end months of political turmoil that led to parliament's
impeachment of conservative former President Park Geun-hye over an extensive
corruption scandal, which a court upheld in March 2017. With this, Park became
the first democratically elected leader in South Korea to be removed from office.

Socialist Lenin Moreno sworn in as President of Ecuador

Lenin Moreno,from Ecuador's Socialist Party,was sworn in as the President of


Ecuador following a tight electoral race in Ecuador's Presidential Elections 2017.
He defeated the conservative party leader Guillermo Lasso,who fetched 48.8 per
cent of the ballots. Engineer Jorge Glas will continue to serve as the Vice President
of Ecuador.

With this, Moreno, a renowned disability rights activist, became the first disabled
individual to take office as President of Ecuador. He became paraplegic after being
shot in the back during a robbery in 1998.

Hassan Rouhani re-elected as President of Iran

Hassan Rouhani was re-elected as the President of Iran after winning the Iranian
presidential elections 2017.
This will be his second term as Iran's President. In 2013, Rouhani had been
elected as President of Iran. Rouhani won his second term by presenting himself as
the candidate of change and social freedoms that ended many sanctions.Rouhani
was first elected as Iran's President in 2013. He won 2013 elections by pledging to
end Iran’s isolation and improve civil rights. During his term, Iran reached a
landmark deal in 2015. Rouhani was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with
the world powers in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

This year, Iran witnessed a heavy turnout in votes as more than 70 per cent of
Iran’s 56 million voters casted ballots.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus becomes first African to be elected as WHO


Director-General

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The World Health Assembly has elected Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of
Ethiopia as the new Director-General of the World Health Organisation
(WHO).Ghebreyesus will begin his five-year term on 1 July 2017.

Ghebreyesus will succeed Dr Margaret Chan, who has been serving as WHO’s
Director-General since 1 January 2007.

The World Health Organization, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland,is a


specialised agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international
public health,established on 7 April 1948.

It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.

Amitabh Bachchan appointed as WHO’s goodwill ambassador for hepatitis

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has appointed Amitabh Bachchan as its
goodwill ambassador for Hepatitis in South-East Asia region to boost awareness
and intensify action to arrest the epidemic.it is expected to strengthen the
international body’s efforts in reducing the high numbers of premature deaths and
illnesses caused by viral hepatitis.

The virus kills over 4,10,000 people annually in the region,including


India.According to the data released by WHO in 2017, nearly 90 million people
suffer from chronic liver diseases, which are driving the rates of liver cancer and
cirrhosis in the region.

As per the national immunisation schedule of countries in the region, a dose of


hepatitis B vaccination within the first 24 hours of birth followed by three doses in
the first six months would provide protection to the new born and prevent the
transmission of the disease from mother to child.

Bachchan has previously served as the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Polio in
India. The actor also has been supporting various other health related issues in the
country including childhood immunisation programme, tuberculosis and Clean India
campaign.

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SPACE/DEFENCE

South Asia Satellite successfully launched

Indian Space Research organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched the South Asia
Satellite. The communication and broadcasting satellite was launched by the
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV F-09 from the Satish Dhawan
Space Centre at Sriharikota.

The South Asia Satellite was launched after a 28-hour long countdown that started
on 5 May 2017 at 12.57pm.
Participating nations: Six of India’s neighbours including Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
Bhutan, Nepal, Srilanka and the Maldives were the participants of the space-
based regional communication project.

Pakistan is not a part of this regional communication satellite project because it


declined to be a part of the project.

Earlier, the project was named as SAARC satellite project but was later changed
into the South Asia Satellite after Pakistan pulled off itself from the project.

India's own Global Positioning System NavIC to be operational from 2018

India's homegrown Global Positioning System (GPS), the Indian Regional Navigation
Satellite System (IRNSS), alternatively named NavIC, is slated to be operational
early in 2018.

At present, NavIC is being tested for its accuracy and is most likely to be available
in the market for public use early next year.The testing of the system includes
ground verification and calibration of NavIC data so as to calculate its accuracy. In
fact, many academic institutions across India are involved in the testing and
calibration of data.

The Indian system is expected to be significantly more accurate than the GPS
powered by American satellites. The American GPS with 24 satellites in a
constellation has wider reach and covers the entire world, while NavIC with seven
satellites covers only India and its surroundings.

With the NavIC system, India joins the elite group of the United States of America,
Russia, and the European Union.

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• NavIC, which means sailor in Sanskrit, is capable of providing terrestrial, aerial
and marine navigation, including vehicle tracking and fleet management, disaster
management, visual and voice navigation.

• NavIC also stands for NAVigation with Indian Constellation.

• The system consists of a constellation of 3 satellites in Geostationary orbit


(GEO), 4 satellites in Geosynchronous orbit (GSO), approximately 36000 kilometres
altitude above earth surface, and two satellites on the ground as stand-by, in
addition to ground stations.

India test-fires surface-to-air missile ‘Spyder’

India has test fired a surface-to-air missile ‘Spyder’ from a test range in Odisha as
part of missile launch practice of a series of tests of the short-range quick
reaction. Spyder was test fired from a mobile launcher at the Integrated Test
Range (ITR) at Chandipur,targetting a pilot-less target aircraft.

About Spyder
• Spyder (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) is an acquired missile system from
Israel which is a short-range, quick reaction surface-to-air missile.
• It comprises two missiles- Python and Derby, with an active onboard radar which
makes the Spyder system more lethal. Both the missiles are smokeless which
makes it harder to detect them visually.
• It can neutralise enemy targets up to a distance of 15 km and at heights between
20 and 9000 metres.
• Besides aircraft and UAVs, it can also neutralise low-level cruise missiles.
• It is an all-weather missile which has an automatic process of engaging an
aggressive aircraft or missile.
• Spyder is shorter than India’s indigenously developed surface-to-air ‘Akash’
missile, which has a strike range of 25 km.

Spyder deal was inked by the India Air Force with Rafael and Israeli Aircraft
Industries (IAI) in 2008. Though the supplies were supposed to start in three to four
years, but the process got delayed due to the non-availability of Czech- made
Tatra trucks, which got involved in a bribery allegation controversy.

Indian army successfully test fires Block-III version of BrahMos cruise missile

Indian Army has successfully test fired Block-III version of BrahMos supersonic
cruise missile in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.The land-to-land configuration of

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BarahMos Block III version was launched from a Mobile Autonomous
Launcher (MAL). This was fourth successive successful launch of the missile.

It was tested for its full-range in order to demonstrate the weapon’s unmatched
lethalness in hitting the centre of a designated target with ‘bull’s eye’ precision.
India is also set to conduct the maiden test of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile’s
air version soon.

LCA Tejas successfully test-fires air-to-air missile

Tejas, the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft of India,successfully fired


a Derby Air-to-Air BVR missile in RADAR guided mode, demonstrating an Air-to-Air
Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile firing capability. The Derby test was conducted
on a Manoeuvrable Aerial Target at the Interim Test Range (ITR), Chandipur.

The flawless launch was demonstrated with all onboard systems performing up to
the mark and the missile scored a direct hit on the target, completely destroying
it.

ISRO set to launch India’s heaviest rocket ‘Fat Boy’

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching the heaviest
rocket ever made by India, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III
(GSLV Mk- III) on 5 June 2017.

The rocket, called the ‘Fat Boy’, reportedly weighs as much as 200 full-grown
Asian elephants. It is not only capable of carrying the heaviest satellites but it
could also enable India to send manned missions to space, making it only the
fourth nation in the world to be able to do so.

Presently, only three countries—US, Russia and China—have the capability of


sending manned missions to space.

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• The rocket is called Fat Boy, as it is the country's heaviest (weighing 640 tonnes)
but smallest rocket (43 metres).

• It will have a new and advanced indigenous cryogenic engine to lift it off to the
geostationary orbit.

• It will help India become self-reliant for launching satellites as it would be


capable of placing 4-tonne class geosynchronous satellites into orbit.

• ISRO is prepared to launch the new vehicle after conducting over 200 tests on its
various components.

• The launch vehicle made its first test flight on 18 December 2014, as the LVM3-
X/CARE mission from Sriharikota, Barrier Island located off the coast of Bay of
Bengal in Andhra Pradesh.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurates Aeronautical Test Range at


Chitradurga

Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurated the newly built Aeronautical Test
Range (ATR) of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) at
Chitradurga in Karnataka.The ATR will help in creating conditions for research
which will in turn develop efficient human resource in the country in the field of
aeronautical testing.
It will also contribute to the development of the region in which Chitradurga is
located.

• The ATR is the first of its kind range in the country exclusively meant to conduct
flight-tests of indigenous unmanned and manned aircrafts like Light Combat
Aircraft, the unmanned air vehicles- Rustom-I and Rustom-II (Tapas); parachutes
and aerostats, etc.
• This outdoor testing and evaluating facility was set up by the Aeronautical
Development Establishment (ADE), one of the premier laboratories of the DRDO.
• Spread across 4029 acres, the 28 kilometre perimeter strategic test range will
also have a two kilometre runway soon

India plans to replace its research station in Antarctica

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India has decided to replace its Maitri research station in Antarctica with a new
one in the next three to four years. It is also stated that India is poised to expand
its research activity in the coldest continent and a new ship, with a special ice-
cutting facility, will be procured for the purpose.Further,India is also drafting its
own laws to safeguard its interest in Antarctica, as it is currently governed by
international laws.

• The Indian Antarctic Program is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional program


under the control of National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Ministry of
Earth Sciences, Government of India.

• It was initiated in 1981 with the first Indian expedition to Antarctica.

• The program gained global acceptance with India's signing of the Antarctic Treaty
and subsequent construction of the Dakshin Gangotri Antarctic research base in
1983.

• Gangotri base was superseded by the Maitri base from 1990.

• Bharati is the newest base that was commissioned in 2015, constructed out of
134 shipping containers.

India has carried out over 30 scientific expeditions to the Antarctic as of 14


October 2010.

ISRO and NASA collaborate to build Earth-imaging satellite NISAR

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) have collaborated to make a satellite called NISAR
(NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar). The satellite will help scientists monitor
the Earth like never before.

NISAR is scheduled to be launched in 2021.The estimated cost of the radar is over


1.5 billion dollars and it could possibly be the world’s most expensive Earth
imaging satellite.

The aim of the mission is to observe Earth and establish a pathway for future joint
missions for Mars exploration.

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NASA names bacterium found on ISS after APJ Abdul Kalam

A team of scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


have named a new organism after A P J Abdul Kalam, a former President of India.

The new organism is a bacterium, which has been found only on the International
Space Station (ISS) and has not been found on Earth.

The bacterium has been named as Solibacillus kalamii to honour the late
president, who was also an aerospace scientist.

Indian Army gets M777 howitzers 30 years after Bofors scandal

After a 30-year wait for new artillery guns since the Bofors scandal, the Indian
Army,in May 2017,has received the first two M-777 A-2 (Indian) ultra-light
howitzers (ULH) from BAE systems of the US.

This is a part of an order for 145 long-range guns which would be mostly deployed
on borders. The M-777 A-2 (Indian) ultra-light howitzers (ULH) having a maximum
range of 30 km were being taken to Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan for test
firing.

Navy ships Karwar, Kakinada decommissioned after over 30 yrs of service

Indian Naval Ships,the minesweepers INS Karwar and INS Kakinada were
decommissioned at a ceremony in Mumbai,with the Navy chief admiral Sunil Lanba
being the chief guest. These, belonging to the Flotilla, were decommissioned

INS Karwar (M67), was the first of the ‘Natya’ class minesweepers acquired from
the erstwhile USSR.

INS Kakinada (M70), was the second of the same class and also commissioned at
Riga in1986.

Joint HADR Exercise held at Naval Station Karwar

The Annual Joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise was
held from18 May to 20 May,2017, at the Naval Station Karwar.

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Named as 'Karavali Karunya', the exercise was conducted by Indian Navy’s Western
Naval Command,in collaboration with Central Armed Police Forces and civil
administration. It involved both professional exchange and actual disaster response
mechanisms,set in a Tsunami disaster scenario.

Karavali Karunya means 'assistance to the coast of Karnataka'. It saw the armed
forces, central government agencies and state government departments working
together to provide relief in a post-tsunami scenario.

29th edition of CORPAT between India and Indonesia held at Port Blair

The Navies of the India- Indonesia held the 29th series of the India- Indonesia Co-
Ordinated Patrol (CORPAT) at Port Blair under the aegis of Andaman and Nicobar
Command.

The closing ceremony of the 2-week long CORPAT was held at Belawan, Indonesia
from 22 to 25 May 2017.

The two navies have been carrying out Coordinated Patrolling (CORPAT) along the
International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) twice a year since 2002 with the aim
of keeping this vital part of the Indian Ocean Region safe and secure for
commercial shipping and international trade.

The CORPAT has strengthened understanding and interoperability between the


navies, instituting measures to prosecute vessels engaged in unlawful activities and
conducting Search and Rescue as well as pollution control.

Simbex-17, bilateral naval exercise between India and Republic of Singapore,


held

Simbex-17, a week-long bilateral naval exercise between India and Republic of


Singapore was held between 18-24 May 2017,in the South China Sea. The Simbex-
17 is the 24th in the series and is aimed to increase interoperability between the
RSN and IN as well as develop common understanding and procedures for maritime
security operations.

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Indian naval ships Shivalik, Sahyadri, Jyoti and Kamorta and one P8-I Maritime
Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft participated in the excercise. This
year, the thrust of exercises was on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), integrated
operations with Surface, Air and Sub-surface forces, Air Defence and Surface
Encounter Exercises.

Pentagon successfully tests ICBM defence system

The United States of America has successfully conducted the first-ever test of its
defence system against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The US Missile
Defence Agency (MDA) stated that a ground-based interceptor was launched at a
California air base and it successfully shot down a mock ballistic missile.

• The U.S military fired an ICBM-type missile from the Kwajalein Atoll in the
Marshall Islands towards the waters just south of Alaska.

• It then fired a missile to intercept it from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in
California.

• Experts compare the exercise to hitting a bullet with another bullet. The
enormous distance involved further added to the complexity of the test.

• It was the first live-fire test against a simulated ICBM for the Ground-Based
Missile Defense, which is managed by Boeing Co.

The move comes at a time when tensions are at the peak with North Korea,
especially after the country defying UN sanctions conducted its ninth missile test
recently.

THAAD missile defence system operational in South Korea

The United States (US) Military's missile defence system THAAD has become
operational in South Korea.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) reached an initial intercept
capability to defend against North Korean missiles. However, THAAD would not be
fully operational for a period of next few months.

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What is the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD)?
• THAAD missile defence system is designed to intercept and destroy ballistic
missiles.
• It shoots down short and medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of
their flight.
• It uses hit-to-kill technology - where kinetic energy destroys the incoming
warhead.
• It has a range of 200 km and can reach an altitude of 150 km.

How THAAD works?


• Thaad radar system detects the launch of missile which is relayed to command
and control.
• It then command and control instructs the launch of an interceptor missile.
• The interceptor missile is fired at the enemy projectile which is destroyed in the
terminal phase of flight.
• The launcher trucks can hold up to eight interceptor missiles.

The deployment of THAAD comes,even as tensions soar on the Korean Peninsula


following a series of missile launches by North Korea.

Till date, North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests in the past 11 years and is
believed to be making progress on building a missile capable of delivering a
warhead to the US. The country's foreign ministry also warned that it was prepared
to carry out a nuclear test at any time and at any location.

This move of North Korea has fuelled the tensions between US and North Korea.
Following these acts of North Korea, US and South Korea are together forging
ahead with the anti-missile defence system despite staunch objections from China.
China fears THAAD will weaken its own ballistic missile capabilities and its regional
security balance.

The US currently has six THAAD batteries worldwide. US has previously deployed it
in Guam and Hawaii as a measure against potential attacks from North Korea.

NASA's Juno Mission reveals Jupiter's deep secrets

The first science results from Nasa's Juno Mission were revealed on 25 May 2017 by
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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Juno has captured the images which portray Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar
System, as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world with Earth-sized polar cyclones,
plunging storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant.

The images show that both of Jupiter's poles are covered in Earth-sized swirling
storms that are densely clustered and rubbing together. Juno’s initial observations
of Jupiter's powerful auroras, that is its northern and southern lights, indicate
that the process seems to work differently at Jupiter than at Earth. MAG data also
indicates that the magnetic field greatly exceeded expectations at 7.766 Gauss,
about 10 times stronger than the strongest magnetic field found on Earth.
Measurements of the Jupiter's magnetosphere from Juno’s magnetometer
investigation (MAG) indicate that Jupiter’s magnetic field is even stronger than
expected, and more irregular in shape.

These early results will help NASA scientists to better understand Jupiter.

Juno was launched on 5 August 2011. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in


Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for NASA.

Juno is taking longer to complete its mission than originally planned because of a
glitch with two engine valves that has kept it looping around Jupiter every 53 days.
The spacecraft has completed 5 of 32 planned science fly-bys and the next one will
occur on 11 July 2017 where it will be over Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

China to install a cabin on Moon!

China initiated its second attempt to test its simulated space cabin- Yuegong-1- in
Beijing to strengthen its knowledge of what would be required for humans to
remain on the moon for medium and long durations.The development indicates
that the country is clearly planning to send its first lunar explorers for a longer
stay on the space body.

• The experiment, which has been code-named "Yuegong-365," is Beihang's second


experiment to see how the cabin’s Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS)
works in a moon-like environment.

• Eight Chinese volunteers will be living in the space cabin for the next year.

• The first successful trial was conducted in 2014 for the duration of 105 days.

• Yuegong-1 is a Chinese research facility for developing a moon base.

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AWARDS/PRIZES

President Pranab Mukherjee presents the 64th National Film Awards

President Pranab Mukherjee presented the 64th National Film Awards in New
Delhi.

Some of the awards announced are :

Best Feature Film : Kasaav (Marathi)

Best Film on social issue : Pink

Best Children's Film : Dhanak

Best Direction : Rajesh Mapuskar for Ventilator

Best Actor : Akshay Kumar for Rustom

Best Actress : Surabhi C.M for Minnaminungu - the Firefly

Best Supporting Actress : Zaira Wasim for Dangal

Kasinadhuni Viswanath honoured with Dada Saheb Phalke Award

President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award on
the veteran filmmaker Kasinadhuni Viswanath with at the 64th National Film
Awards ceremony in New Delhi.

Viswanath is the 48th recipient of the Phalke award, the highest recognition in
Indian cinema.

• Kasinadhuni Viswanath is an Indian audiographer turned director, screenwriter,


and character actor known for his works in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi cinema.

• He is a recipient of five National Film Awards, six state Nandi Awards, ten
Filmfare Awards South, and a Bollywood Filmfare Award.

• In 1992, he received the Andhra Pradesh state Raghupathi Venkaiah Award, and
the civilian honour Padma Shri for his contribution to the field of arts.

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• He has directed award-winning films such as "Sankarabharanam", "Sagara
Sangamam", "Swati Mutyam", "Saptapadi", "Kaamchor", "Sanjog" and "Jaag Utha
Insaan," and many others.

About Dada Saheb Phalke Award

• The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is India's highest award in cinema.

• It is presented annually at the National Film Awards ceremony by the Directorate


of Film Festivals.

• The recipient is honoured for their "outstanding contribution to the growth and
development of Indian cinema."

• The award comprises a Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) medallion, a shawl, and a
cash prize of Rs 10,000,00 (Rs.Ten Lakhs).

• The prestigious award was first presented in the year 1969.

• The award was introduced by the Government of India to commemorate


Dadasaheb Phalke's contribution to Indian cinema.

Renowned biologist Purnima Devi Barman nominated for Whitley Awards

Renowned wildlife biologist, Dr Purnima Devi Barman,has been nominated for the
prestigious Whitley Awards,for her relentless efforts and campaigns for the
conservation of the Greater Adjutant Stork locally known as Haargila in Assam.

The wildlife biologist has been working with the Dadara, Pachariya and Hingimari
villages of Kamrup district to save the Greater Adjutant Stork. She is associated
with Aaranyak, a Guwahati based NGO, which works for wildlife conservation.

About Whitley Awards

• The Whitley Awards are given annually by the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN).

• Also known as Green Oscars, it is given to recognize and celebrate effective


national and regional conservation leaders across the globe.

• The awards are worth £ 35,000 and are now amongst the most high profile of
conservation prizes.

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• The awards particularly seek to recognize contributions to wildlife conservation
made from outside the developed world, and to bring to international attention
the work of deserving individuals committed to precipitating long-lasting
conservation benefits on the ground.

Satyabrata Rout honoured with Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar

Satyabrata Rout, a professor from the Department of Theatre Arts, S N School of


Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad,was selected for the Sangeet
Natak Akademi Puraskar for the year 2016.

Rout has directed a number of plays, participated in national and international


theatre festivals and conducted numerous theatre workshops across the globe.

About Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar

• The Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar is an award given by the Sangeet Natak
Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama.

• It is the highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists.

• The award carries purse money of Rs. 1 lakh, along with a citation, an
angavastram (a shawl), and a tamrapatra (a brass plaque).

• The awards are given in the categories of music, dance, theatre, other
traditional arts and puppetry, and for contribution to performing arts.

India's Prashant Ranganathan wins Intel International Science Award 2017 in


USA

Prashant Ranganathan, an Indian,has won the world’s largest pre-college science


competition 'The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2017'
in the United States. In all, more than 1700 students from across the world
participated in the week-long event,comprising of several topics. ISEF this year
brought together students from 78 countries, regions and territories.

Prashant Ranganathan hails from Jamshedpur city of Jharkhand, India.

Ranganathan received the award in the Environmental Engineering category for his
project ‘Biodegradation of Chlorpyrifos using native bacteria’.

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His project will help farmers in biodegrading the pesticide which is plaguing the
country.In almost all the states of India like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar
and Jharkhand, there is extensive farming. Using excessive amounts of pesticides is
affecting the health and the environment around them.

In such a scenario, Prashant's innovation for fighting against pesticide and getting
rid of its side effects through biodegradable use could be of great help.

Indian-American student Pranay Varada wins 2017 National Geographic Bee


Competition

Pranay Varada, 14-year-old Indian-American student, won the prestigious National


Geographic Bee competition 2017, an annual geography contest sponsored by the
National Geographic Society. The National Geographic Bee is The competition
allows students of fourth to eighth grade to participate in American schools.

As a National Geographic Bee champion, he gets USD 50,000 in scholarship and


other prizes.

He was declared the winner as he won the first tie breaker question when he
correctly identified the Kunlun Mountains as the 1200 mile range that separates
the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau.

Veda Bhattaram another Indian-American from New Jersey finished third at the
finals, while Thomas Wright from Wisconsin was declared the runner up.

By winning the competition, Varada has maintained the dominance of the Indian-
American community in the contest as for the past one decade. National
Geographic Bee has been dominated by Indian-Americans.

In 2016, Rishi Nair, a sixth grader from Florida,had won the contest. Varada was a
runner up in 2016 National Geographic Bee.

The National Geographic Bee competition is being held every year since 1989.

Global Icon Priyanka to be honoured with Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Award

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International icon Priyanka Chopra will be receiving the prestigious Dadasaheb
Phalke Academy Award on 1 June 2017 in an awards ceremony to be conducted in
Mumbai.

The star would be given the award under the newly introduced category-
'Internationally Acclaimed Actress' for her great work on the International
platform.

Priyanka’s mother Madhu Chopra will also be honoured at the occasion with the
‘Best Film’ award for her maiden production Ventilator – a Marathi family drama,
which won trophies in three categories at the National Awards earlier this year.

About Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Awards

• Founded in 2000, the awards ceremony has been honouring talent from the Hindi
and regional film industry.

• It acknowledges 22 different crafts of the industry right from make-up artists to


spot boys.

• It is organised by a non-monetary foundation and Academy for films and acting.

• The awards were last held in 2014 when veteran actor Jeetendra was honoured
with a Phalke Ratna award.

• This year, the event will be held at Bhaidas Hall, Vile Parle West in Mumbai.

Konkona Sen Sharma bags Best Director and Best Actress awards at New York
Indian Film Festival

Konkona Sen Sharma has grabbed the top honours at the 2017 New York Indian Film
Festival (NYIFF).

Konkona won the Best Director award for her directorial debut ‘A Death in the
Gunj’ and the Best Actress award for ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ at 2017 NYIFF.

A Death in the Gunj is a drama thriller, which stars Kalki Koechlin, Vikrant
Massey, Jim Sarbh and Tanuja. The film also features one of the last performances
by veteran actor Om Puri, who passed away in January 2017.

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Konkona Sen Sharma,an Indian actress and director,is the daughter of veteran
filmmaker and actress Aparna Sen.

She debuted as an adult in the Bengali thriller Ek Je Aachhe Kanya in the year
2000.

She first gained attention with the English-language film Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, for
which she received the National Film Award for Best Actress.

For the film Omkara, she won a second National Award under the Best Supporting
Actress category.

She is the first recipient of the Best Actress award at the Filmfare Awards East for
her work in the Bengali film Goynar Baksho.

The New York Indian Film Festival, founded by Aroon Shivdasani and the Indo-
American Arts Council, is an annual film festival.

Indian Origin Scientists elected as Fellows of UK Royal Society

Three Indian Scientists - Krishna Chatterjee, Subhash Khot and Yadvinder Malhi -
have been elected as the Fellows of The Royal Society, a premier scientific
academy of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, for their outstanding
contributions to science. The Royal Society is headed by Nobel prize winner Venki
Ramakrishnan.

Krishna Chatterjee from Cambridge University was recognised for his discoveries of
genetic disorders of thyroid gland formation, regulation of hormone synthesis and
hormone action. He was responsible for the development of Clinical Research
Facilities at the University of Cambridge.

Subhash Khot of New York University was credited for throwing insight into
unresolved problems in the field of computational complexity. He is a theoretical
computer scientist who is known for his definition of the “Unique Games”
problem.

Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosystem ecologist from Oxford University who is recognised


for his works on understanding the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems and its
response to the pressures of global change, including climate change, degradation
and loss of large animals.

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• The First Indian to get elected as a Fellow of the UK Royal Society was Ardaseer
Cursetjee, an engineer, in 1841 and the second one was Srinivasa Ramanujan,
autodidact mathematician in 1918.

• The Royal Society is a self-governing fellowship society of the world’s most


distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, medicine and engineering.
• The Royal Society elects eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the
United Kingdom and the Commonwealth as the Fellows every year.
• It was established in 1660 and since its foundation, around 8000 Fellows have
been elected till date.

Chanda Kochhar receives Woodrow Wilson Award

ICICI Bank CEO and Managing Director Chanda Kochhar has become the first Indian
woman to receive the Woodrow Wilson Award for Global Corporate Citizenship,
given away by the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington.

The earlier awardees include former President APJ Abdul Kalam and Infosys co-
founder NR Narayana Murthy.

Two Indian peacekeepers honoured posthumously with UN medal

Two Indian peacekeepers, Brijesh Thapa and Ravi Kumar were among the 117
military, police and civilian personnel who were honoured with a prestigious UN
medal, awarded posthumously for courage and sacrifice in the line of duty.

While Rifleman Brijesh Thapa served with the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Private Ravi Kumar was
deployed with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Both the martyrs received
the Dag Hammarskjold Medal at a solemn ceremony conducted to observe the
International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, India's Permanent Representative to the UN received


the medal on the behalf of the martyred Indian peacekeepers.The ceremony was
presided over by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who laid a wreath to
honour all the fallen peacekeepers.

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The Dag Hammarskjold Medal award was established in July 1997 by the UN
Security Council. The first medals were awarded in October 1998.

It is named after Dag Hammarskjold, the second UN Secretary General, who had
died in a mysterious plane crash in September 1961. He was posthumously awarded
a Nobel Peace Prize the year he died.

Emma Watson conferred first ever 'genderless' award

Harry Potter fame star, Emma Watson was conferred the first ever ‘Genderless
Acting Award’ for Best Actor category,at the annual MTV Movie and TV Awards
ceremony held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.

• The 27-year-old actress beat Taraji P. Henson, Daniel Kaluuya, Hugh Jackman
and Hailee Steinfeld to take home the award for Best Actor in Film and TV for her
performance as Belle in the 'Beauty and the Beast.'

• Watson’s film 'Beauty and the Beast' directed by Bill Condon also went ahead to
win the 'Movie of the Year' title at the 2017 MTV awards.

• The film, which is a musical romantic fantasy and an adaptation of Disney's 1991
animated classic, earned the honour above the likes of other great movies
including 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story', 'The Edge of Seventeen,' 'Logan’ and ‘Get
Out’.

Though ‘genderless’ as a concept has invited its fair share of criticism with critics
questioning if this means the end of gender altogether, the move definitely is
a step towards creating a gender-neutral world where no person will feel
disadvantaged or be persecuted or marginalised due to their gender.

Further, the revolution aims to do away with the social stigma attached to a
particular gender and free people from being forced to identify with the gender
they were born with and instead give them an option to live their life in the way
they choose, dress the way they like, use the washroom they wish and tick in the
box they identify with the most!

David Letterman wins Mark Twain Prize 2017 for American humour

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David Letterman, who was the longest-running host of late-night TV shows in the
United States, was awarded the Mark Twain Prize 2017 for American humour.With
this, Letterman became the 20th humorist to receive the prize. He is also a past
recipient of Kennedy Centre Honours for his influence on American culture.

Letterman has hosted over 6000 late-night shows in 33 years on the air. He won 10
Emmy Awards while hosting NBC's "Late Night" and then "The Late Show" on CBS.
His final show in May 2015 drew an audience of 13.8 million people.

About Mark Twain Prize


• Established in 1998, the Mark Twain Prize is granted annually by the John F
Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts.
• The Twain prize is given annually to a humorist whose impact on American
society is reminiscent of Mark Twain (also known as Samuel Clemens), the 19th-
Century novelist, satirist and social commentator.
• Previous winners of the Mark Twain Prize include Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Jay
Leno, Carol Burnett and Ellen DeGeneres.

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DAYS/CELEBRATIONS

01 May : International Labour Day

International Labour Day 2017 observed globally

International Labour Day 2017 was celebrated across the world on 1 May 2017. The
day is also known as International Worker's Day and May Day.The day is celebrated
by the working classes and is promoted by the international labour movement,
socialists and communists.

• The International Labour Day is celebrated to commemorate the happenings of 4


May 1886, the Haymarket affair (Haymarket Massacre) in the Chicago.
• It was a big event as workers were on the general strike for their eight-hour
workday and police were doing their job of dispersing the general public from the
crowd. Suddenly, a bomb was thrown over the crowd and then police started firing
over the workers and four demonstrators were killed.
• It was due to the sacrifice of these workers that eight-hours was declared as the
legal time for the workers in the National Convention at Chicago in 1884 by the
American Federation of Labor.
• To commemorate this event, the Second International, a pan-national

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organization of socialist and communist political parties, marked 1 May as the
International Labour Day in 1891.

02 May : World Asthma Day

The World Asthma Day 2017 was observed across the world on 2 May 2017 with the
theme 'Asthma: Better Air, Better Breathing'.This year’s theme highlights the
resurging environmental pollution and its hazardous impacts on health.

World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma
(GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. The Day was
established in the year 1998.

As per latest reports by World Health Organization, over 235 million people suffer
from asthma across the globe.

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes breathing problems. It is a long


term chronic disease which is characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness
and wheezing, which varies in severity and frequency from person to person.Its
symptoms are breathlessness, coughing and difficulty in catching a breath.
Symptoms become worse during physical activity and at night.

A Few Signs of Asthma Attack:


• Difficulty in breathing • Chest tightness or pressure • Difficulties in
speaking or coughing
• Feeling anxious and distressed • Lips may begin to turn blue • Pale and
sweaty face

How can asthma be treated?


For such a chronic disease, it becomes important to get an appropriate medical
treatment to help avoid severe episodes of breathlessness.However, there is no
defined cure of Asthma till date. Asthma patients usually resort to inhalers to
prevent and relieve the symptoms.Moreover, it is generally advised to seek
immediate medical help, if attack becomes severe.

03 May : World Press Freedom Day

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World Press Freedom Day was observed worldwide on 3 May 2017 with the theme
‘Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and
inclusive societies’.

The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Ceremony,2017 was


jointly organised by UNESCO and the Government of Indonesia,along with the Press
Council of Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia.UN Secretary-General António Guterres
called for an end to all crackdowns against journalists, as a free press can advance
peace and justice for all. He also stressed on the importance of having leaders who
will defend the free media,to counter the prevailing misinformation.

• The day marks the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, a statement of press
freedom principles put together by African newspaper journalists, which was
produced at a UNESCO seminar that was held from 29 April to 3 May 1991.

• The main objective behind establishing the day is to celebrate the fundamental
principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom throughout the
world, defend the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to
journalists who have lost their lives while being on duty.

• Imprisoned Eritrean-Swedish journalist, Dawit Isaak has been chosen to receive


the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

• This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the World Press Freedom prize. It
was created in 1997.

• The prize is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was
assassinated in front of his newspaper’s office in Bogota on 17 December 1986.

11 May : National Technology Day of India

The National Technology Day 2017 was observed in India with the
theme Technology for inclusive and sustainable growth.The day commemorates the
anniversary of Pokhran nuclear tests of 1998. It also marks India's scientific
prowess and technological advancements.

India had successfully conducted first among the five nuclear tests in Pokhran
under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee,on this date in 1998,thus showcasing
India's strength to the entire world. India became the sixth country to join the top
notch nuclear powered countries.

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• Hansa, India’s first designed and produced at home aircraft, was tested on the
same date in Bangalore. It was a two-seater aviator plane meant for flight training.
• Test firing of Indian made short range missile Trishul,developed by the Defence
Research and Development Organisation,was conducted on the same date.

15 May : International Day of Families

The International Day of Families was observed on 15 May 2017 with the
theme “Families, education and well-being”.

The day is observed annually on 15 May to provide an opportunity to promote


awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social,
economic and demographic processes affecting families.In particular, the Day is to
raise awareness of the role of families in promoting early childhood education and
lifelong learning opportunities for children and youth.The day also focuses on good
practices for work-family balance to assist parents in their educational and
caregiving roles.

17 May : World Telecommunication and Information Society


Day

The 2017 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) was
observed on 17 May 2017.

The theme for WTISD-17 is Big Data for Big Impact. The theme focuses on the
power of Big Data for development and aims to explore how to turn imperfect,
complex, often unstructured data into actionable information in a development
context.

The theme for WTISD-17 is in line with ITU's work highlighting the technological
developments that have facilitated the emergence of Big Data, developing
standards related to Big Data and identifying sources and uses of Big Data,
including use of Big Data technologies for developing and monitoring improvements
in information societies.

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22 May : International Day for Biological Diversity

The International Day for Biological Diversity was celebrated globally on 22 May
2017 with the theme “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism”.

The theme was chosen as it coincides with the observance of 2017 as the
International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and also to contribute
to ongoing initiatives like the Sustainable Tourism Programme.

The observance of the day aims to raise awareness of the important contribution
of sustainable tourism to economic growth as well as to the conservation of
biodiversity.

While the diversity in species, ecosystems and landscapes plays a huge role in
attracting tourism and promoting economic growth, a well-structured tourism
sector can help reduce threats to wildlife population and in turn maintain and
increase the biodiversity through the revenue obtained from tourism.

23 May : World Turtle Day

The World Turtle Day 2017 was observed across the world on 23 May 2017 with an
aim to protect the turtles and tortoises and their rapidly disappearing habitats
across the world. The day was sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue (ATR).

The World Turtle Day was proclaimed by American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) in the
year 2000. Since then, it is celebrated every year to create awareness about
turtles and tortoises, the world’s oldest living reptiles in the world.

Founded in 1990, American Tortoise Rescue is a nonprofit organization that works


to provide protection to all species of tortoise and turtle. Till now, ATR has placed
about 4000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes.

Turtles and tortoises have been around for 200 million years, yet they are rapidly
disappearing as a result of smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat
destruction, global warming and the cruel pet trade. ATR’s ultimate goal is to stop
the illegal trade of turtles and tortoises around the world.

ATR asks the pet stores and reptile shows to stop the sales of hatchling tortoises
and turtles as these stores do not provide proper information to the buyers.

For instance, many people find infant sulcata tortoises adorable and don't even

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give a second thought before buying them as pets. However, they are not provided
with the information that these sulcata tortoises can grow to 100 pounds or more
and needs constant heat throughout the year.

ATR also assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles are
confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick,
neglected or abandoned turtles.

Moreover, ATR educates people and schools about the real risk of contracting
salmonella infection from the water turtles.

29 May : International Day of UN Peacekeepers

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers 2017 was observed on 29


May 2017 with the theme Investing in Peace around the world.

The Day offers a chance to pay tribute to the uniformed and civilians personnel’s
invaluable contribution to the work of the Organization. The Day also honours
more than 3500 peacekeepers who have lost their lives serving under the UN flag
since 1948, including 117 in the year 2016.

While the official International Day of United Nations Peacekeeper’s Day is on 29


May, UN Headquarters in New York celebrated the day on 24 May 2017. On the
occasion, the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal was awarded posthumously to the
peacekeepers who fell while serving in the cause of peace. Two Indian
peacekeepers, Brijesh Thapa and Ravi Kumar, were among the 117 military, police
and civilian personnel who were honoured with the prestigious medal.

31 May : World No Tobacco Day

The World No Tobacco Day 2017 was observed across the world on 31 May 2017
with the theme Tobacco – a threat to development. This year's theme focuses on
measures that the governments and public should take to promote health and
development by confronting the global tobacco crisis.

The theme was chosen by WHO to highlight that how tobacco threatens the
development of nations worldwide and also to press the need for implementing
some strong tobacco control measures such as banning marketing and advertising

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of tobacco, promoting plain packaging of tobacco products, raising excise taxes
and making public places smoke-free.

Around 80 per cent of premature deaths occur in low- or middle-income countries


from tobacco.

Tobacco use leads to more than 7 million deaths every year and it is predicted by
WHO that figure may grow to more than 8 million a year by 2030 without
intensified action.

Facts about tobacco and tobacco control


• Tobacco use costs national economies enormously through increased health-care
costs and decreased productivity. It worsens health inequalities and exacerbates
poverty.
• Tobacco plantation requires large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, which
can be toxic and pollute water supplies. Each year, tobacco growing uses 4.3
million hectares of land, resulting in global deforestation between 2 per cent and 4
per cent.
• By increasing cigarette taxes worldwide by USD 1, an extra USD 190 billion could
be raised for development.
• High tobacco taxes contribute to revenue generation for governments, reduce
demand for tobacco, and offer an important revenue stream to finance
development activities.
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BOOKS
Kiren Rijiju unveils world's first philosophical novel on God

Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, has unveiled a
philosophical novel on God titled “Confessions of a dying mind: The blind faith of
atheism,” in New Delhi.

The book, touted as world’s first philosophical novel on God, is penned by IAS
officer Haulianlal Guite.

Haulianlal Guite, from Manipur, is hailed as the first civil servant to write on
Philosophy after John Stuart Mill’s work titled “On Liberty” published in 1858.

• The book explores interesting arguments against atheism.

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• It looks into the nature of science, religion, evidence and love in light of latest
findings of modern science and the solid theories in philosophy.

• The book’s story revolves around an atheistic journalist, Albert Dyers, who
undergoes a life transforming near-death experience.

• The book is presented as a series of novelized discussions between Mr Dyers who


is in a coma and experiencing the effects of a near-death experience and a
mysterious Mr Walker.

• Mr Walker is either a figment of his imagination, or a divine figure sent by some


force unrevealed or a distillation of his own inner contemplations, to teach Mr
Dyers the meaning of life and religion rest.

• All the arguments and questions in the novel are presented through stories
woven into the plotline of the novel itself.

• The unveiled book is the first part of the three volumes.

President Pranab Mukherjee receives first copy of book ‘Metaphysics, Morals


and Politics’

The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee,received the first copy of book


‘Metaphysics, Morals and Politics’ in Kolkata, West Bengal.The book is authored by
Professor Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay.

His thesis was published in a book titled ‘The Ethics of Obedience’.He decided to
bring out his original thesis contradicting and elaborating some of his earlier
arguments. Now, the book has come with a new title ‘Metaphysics, Morals and
Politics’ and the thinking behind the philosophy of social liberalism,by English
philosophers like Thomas Hill Green

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JUDICIARY
SC allows Salman Khurshid to assist as amicus curiae in hearing of 'triple talaq'

The Supreme Court of India has allowed the former union minister Salman Khurshid
to assist it as an amicus curiae in hearing of pleas challenging the constitutional
validity of 'triple talaq', 'nikah halala' and polygamy among Muslims.

The permission was granted by a Supreme Court bench comprised of Chief Justice
J S Khehar, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice S K Kaul.

Khurshid, who is a senior advocate, was also allowed to file his written submissions
in the case.Khurshid was appointed as the amicus curiae after he informed the
court that he wanted to assist the court in the matter.

A five-judge constitution bench would commence hearing to decide a batch of


petitions challenging 'triple talaq', 'nikah halala' and polygamy from 11 May 2017.
These five judges of five different religions are Chief Justice JS Khehar (Sikh),
Justice Kurian Joseph (Christian), Justice Rohinton Nariman (Parsi), Justice Uday
Lalit (Hindu) and Justice Abdul Nazeer (Muslim).

The court will be hearing a number of pleas filed by several Muslim women who
are challenging the practice of triple talaq under which men can divorce wives just
by uttering the word Talaq thrice. The bench cumulatively will hear seven petition
relating to the issue of triple talaq, with the lead petition titled as 'Quest for
Equality vs Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind'.

• The bench will examine the issue to give an authoritative pronouncement on the
constitutional and legal validity of triple talaq, nikah halala, and polygamy
practices among Muslims.
• It will also examine the extent to which the court can interfere in the Muslim
personal laws if they are found to be violative of the fundamental rights of citizens
enshrined in the Constitution.

The petition was started by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), an Islamic
organisation affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The
organisation in its plea, which carries signs of more than a million Muslims across
India, has demanded an end to the process of triple talaq. Other six petitions were
filed by Khuran Sunnath Society, Shayara Bano, Aafreen Rehman, Gulshan Parveen,
Ishrat Jahan and Atiya Sabri.

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The pleas have urged the top court to have its say in the practice of triple talaq,
nikah halala and polygamy in accordance with India’s obligation to the
international treaties and agreements where it is a signatory.

Earlier, the court asked centre to have its opinion in regard to the issues and the
centre in its reply said, “Triple talaq, 'nikah halala' and polygamy violate Muslim
women's right to equality and dignity and are not protected by the right to profess,
practise and propagate religion under Article 25(1) of the Constitution”.

An ‘Amicus Curiae’ can be a person or group that is not a party to a lawsuit but
has a strong interest in the matter. He/she or the group seeks a permission to
submit a brief in the action with the intent of influencing the court’s direction.

Why Triple Talaq case holds importance?


Triple Talaq case became a matter of importance when the Allahabad High Court
in April 2017 in its verdict pronounced the practice of triple talaq as unilateral
and bad in law.

The High Court verdict came while dismissing a petition filed by Aaqil Jamil whose
wife had filed a criminal complaint against him alleging that he had tortured her
for dowry and when his demands were not met, he gave her triple talaq.

She challenged the practice of triple talaq in which her husband used to pronounce
talaq thrice in one go quite often and sometimes even by phone or text message.

Can women be given option of saying no to Triple Talaq ? : SC to AIMPLB

The Supreme Court (SC) has asked the All India Muslim Personal Law Board
(AIMPLB) that whether a woman can be given option to deny Triple Talaq at the
time of execution of 'Nikahnama' - the Islamic marriage contract.
The Supreme Court also asked that if 'Qazis' can be asked to include this condition
at the time of marriage.

The questions were raised by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief


Justice J S Khehar during the hearing on petitions challenging Triple Talaq,
Polygamy and 'Nikah Halala'.

On 16 May 2017 hearing of the Triple Talaq case, AIMPLB has told the Court that
triple talaq is a matter of faith being practiced by Muslims for the last 1400 years
and hence the question of constitutional morality and equity did not arise.

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It also equated the Muslim's belief of triple talaq with the Hindu belief that Lord
Rama was born at Ayodhya. It was also asserted that the source of triple talaq can
be found in Hadith.

2012 Delhi gang rape case : SC confirms death sentence for four convicts

The Supreme Court has confirmed the death penalty for the four convicts of the
2012 gang-rape and murder of Nirbhaya.

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok
Bhushan was hearing an appeal filed by the four convicts - Akshay, Pawan, Vinay
Sharma and Mukesh, who challenged the Delhi High Court's ruling of confirmation
of death sentence handed to them by a trial court in 2013.

Nirbhaya rape-cum-murder case is the rarest of rare case. The brutal, barbaric,
and demonaical conduct of the convicts shook the conscience of humanity.

The 2012 Delhi gang rape case


On 16 December 2012, 23-year old para-medical student Damini or Nirbhaya was
gang raped and brutalised with an iron rod on a moving bus in Delhi. Nirbhaya lost
her battle for life in Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore on 29 December 2012.

She was raped in the moving bus by six men, one of which included a minor. Of the
six accused, Ram Singh hanged himself in prison, while another, who was a
juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted in August 2016 and will serve the
maximum sentence of three years in a reform home.

However, this gang rape case led to massive protests across the country. Following
this, Former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir inaugurated the first fast-track
court in Delhi on 2 January 2013 for dealing with the crimes against females.

This court was set up as 'The District Court of Saket' and its first case was 2012
Delhi gang rape case itself. The court pronounced the sentence of death penalty to
the four convicts namely Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh and Pawan
Gupta.

Justice Karnan is the first High Court judge to be sentenced to jail by SC

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A seven-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by Chief
Justice J S Khehar, on 9 May 2017 sentenced Justice C S Karnan, the Calcutta High
Court judge, to six months of imprisonment.

Justice Karnan has been sentenced for imprisonment for repeated incidents of
contempt of court.

It is the first time that the Supreme Court has sent a high court judge to jail on
charges of contempt.In addition, the bench, comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J
Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph, prohibited
media, both print and electronic, from publishing any further orders if any passed
by Justice Karnan.

Background

The Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, in February
2017 issued a contempt notice to Justice C S Karnan.

Justice Karnan was accused of contempt after he named 20 "corrupt judges" of


India earlier in 2017 and sought an investigation alleging corruption in the
judiciary. He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging an inquiry.

On 1 March 2017, the SC ordered the Calcutta government hospital to constitute a


medical board to examine the medical condition of Justice Karnan and submit a
report to the court.

However, Justice Karnan refused to undergo medical tests in compliance with


courts’ orders. He even turned away a team of psychiatrists who had arrived along
with the police for a medical examination ordered by the apex court.

Instead, he sentenced eight judges of the Supreme Court to five years of “rigorous
imprisonment” and imposed a fine of Rs 100000 each under the Scheduled Castes
and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 and the amended
Act of 2015.

RJD Chief Lalu Prasad to be tried in all cases separately in multi-crore fodder
scam case

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The Supreme Court has ordered initiation of criminal conspiracy charges against
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in the Rs 900 crore fodder scam case. The
other accused persons in the case will also face separate trials.

The others accused in the case include Jagannath Mishra and ex-top bureaucrat
Sajal Chakraborty. The court also directed to complete the trial within nine
months.

The order was passed by the apex court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra while
hearing the appeal filed by the CBI that opposed the dropping of criminal
conspiracy charges by the Jharkhand High Court against the former Bihar Chief
Minister.

The CBI had registered a number of cases against Lalu Prasad and others for
embezzlement of funds on the pretext of buying fodder for the cattle. The
Jharkhand High Court in 2014 had given relief to the convicts by dropping the
charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and prevention of
corruption. The High Court had quashed the cases on the grounds that a person
convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases based on same witnesses
and evidence.

However, the CBI had gone on appeal in the Supreme Court and contended before
it that though the cases have arisen from the fodder scam, they are different in
nature as different amounts were involved from different treasuries. The Supreme
Court, while announcing the verdict also said Jharkhand High Court should have
been consistent in its findings and should not have given different views for
different sets of accused in a case.

PM Modi launches integrated case management system of Supreme Court

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi launched the integrated case
management system of the Supreme Court at a function in New Delhi.The
inaugural event was attended by the Chief Justice of India, Union Law Minister
Ravi Shankar Prasad and judges of the apex court.

• The Integrated Case Management System will be connected with the Supreme
Court website.

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• This move is the apex court’s first step towards becoming a paperless, digital
court.

• The new digital system will enable the litigants to access their data and retrieve
any information required online.

• Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar has proposed to integrate the system
with all the 24 high courts and subordinate courts in the country.

• Such a system will help bring in more transparency in the system, reduce
manipulation and make the litigant aware about the progress of the case on a real
time basis.

• The system will also enable each central and state government department to
know if they have been made party to the case and help them prepare accordingly.

• The total fee incurred of the court, as well as the process, would be calculated
online itself, which will help the litigant know about the cost involved.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) stays Kulbhushan Jadhav's hanging

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has stayed the execution of Indian national
Kulbhushan Jadhav who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for
alleged spying.The Hague-based ICJ said Pakistan must take all necessary measures
to ensure that Jadhav is not executed. It also directed Pakistan to inform it about
the action taken.

ICJ passed the official order a day after India approached the court against the
death sentence that was given to Jadhav, who is a former naval officer. India, in
its appeal, had said Pakistan was denying consular access to Jadhav, despite
repeated requests, which is a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular
Relations.

Besides, India also informed the court that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran, the
country where he was involved in business activities after he retired from the
Indian Navy. Pakistan, however, claims to have arrested him from Balochistan.
India had also said, it was not informed of Jadhav's detention until long after his
arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the accused of his rights.

Note : The President of ICJ is Judge Ronny Abraham

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EXECUTIVE/PARLIAMENTARY
Union Cabinet approves modifications in 7th CPC recommendations

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the
modifications in the recommendations of 7th CPC (Central Pay Commission) on pay
and pensionary benefits in the course of their implementation.

Earlier, in June 2016, the Union Cabinet had approved implementation of the
recommendations of 7th Pay Commission with an additional financial expenditure
of Rs 84933 crore for 2016-17 including the arrears for 2 months of 2015-16.

The benefit of the proposed modifications will be calculated with effect from 1
January 2016, the date of implementation of 7th CPC recommendations.

The 7th Pay Commission was set up in February 2015 to revise the remuneration of
over one crore central government employees and pensioners. The commission,
headed by Justice AK Mathur, submitted its report to the Union Finance Minister
Arun Jaitley in November 2015.

Union Cabinet approves National Steel Policy 2017

The Union Cabinet, presided by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has give its
approval for National Steel Policy (NSP) 2017.The Policy embodies the long term
vision of the Government to give impetus to the steel sector. It seeks to enhance
domestic steel consumption and ensure high quality steel production and create a
technologically advanced and globally competitive steel industry.

The NSP 2017 aims to achieve 300 million tonnes of steel-making capacity by 2030.

Union Cabinet approves issuing ordinance to resolve NPAs of banks

To eliminate the problem of bad loans, the Union Cabinet has approved an
ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act for dealing with the non-
performing assets (NPAs) in the banking system.

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The measures include the promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the Banking
Regulation Act to give more powers to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and its
committees to act on behalf of banks while deciding on NPAs.

Reports suggest that the ordinance seeks to amend Section 35A of the Banking
Regulation Act. This section of the act empowers the Reserve Bank to issue
directions to the banks in the public interest and depositors.

Currently, the Public Sector Banks (PSBs) are saddled with non-performing assets
or bad loans to the tune of a staggering Rs 6 lakh crore.

A Non-Performing Asset (NPA) means a credit facility with respect of which the
interest/instalment on the principal has not been paid for a specific period of
time. In most cases, debt is classified as non-performing when loan payments have
not been made for a period of 90 days.

NPA is used by financial institutions that refer to loans that are in jeopardy of
default.

President gives assent to ordinance for resolution of non-performing asset crisis


in banking system

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to an ordinance to amend the
Banking Regulation Act for resolution of the non-performing asset (NPA) crisis in
banking system.

The new ordinance passed by the President Mukherjee will be known as Banking
Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017. The ordinance amends the Section 35A
of the Banking Regulation Act 1949 and provides greater powers to the Reserve
Bank to tackle mounting bad loans. The amendments to the Act will help in
effectively resolving the bad loans problem.

Key Facts of the Ordinance


• Section 35AA of the Banking Regulation Act 1949 : As per the new rules RBI is
entitled to issue directions to any banking company or banking companies to
initiate insolvency resolution process in respect of a default under the provisions of
the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

• Section 35AB : As per the new rules, the RBI can issue directions to the banking
companies for resolution of stressed assets.

Bad loans have ballooned in the system over the past few years, with gross NPAs
for state-owned banks at 6.07 lakh crore rupees at the end of December 2016.The

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government has enacted insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to consolidate and
amend the laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution of companies,
partnerships firms and individual.

Union Cabinet approves abolition of Foreign Investment Promotion Board

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the
proposal to phase out the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

The proposal entails the abolishing of the FIPB and allowing administrative
Ministries and Departments to process applications for Foreign direct investment
(FDI) requiring government approval.

Hereafter, the work related to the processing of applications for FDI and approval
of the Government thereon under the FDI Policy and FEMA, shall now be handled
by the concerned Ministries in consultation with the Department of Industrial
Policy & Promotion(DIPP), Ministry of Commerce. The proposals related to security
will require the approval of Home Ministry.

DIPP will also issue the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing of
applications and decision of the Government under the extant FDI policy.

Those proposals which are presently pending before the FIPB will be sent back to
the concerned ministries. The FDI proposals above Rs 5000 crores will continue to
come under the purview of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
The decision of the Union Cabinet to phase out FIPB may result in more inflow of
FDI in the country as Foreign Investors may find India more attractive destination
for FDI.The move is also expected to provide ease of doing business and will help
in promoting the principle of Maximum Governance and Minimum Government.

Union Cabinet approves setting up of AIIMS in Kamrup, Assam

The Union Cabinet, presided by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its
approval for the establishment of new All India Institute of Medical Sciences
(AIIMS) at Kamrup in Assam.

The institute will be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana
(PMSSY). The estimated cost of the project is Rs.1123 crore.

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The new AIIMS will be completed in a period of 48 months from the date of the
approval of Government of India.

The establishment of AIIMS at Kamrup will serve the dual purpose of providing
super speciality health care to the population while also help create a large pool of
doctors and other health workers in the region.

Key highlights of the new AIIMS

• The new AIIMS will consist of a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds and trauma
center facilities.

• The medical college will have a capacity of intake of 100 MBBS students per year,
nursing college with an intake of 60 B.Sc. (Nursing) students per year.

• It will also comprise residential complexes and allied facilities/services, broadly


on the pattern of AIIMS, New Delhi.

• The hospital will have 22 Speciality/Super-Speciality Departments including 16


Operation Theatres.

• It will also have an AYUSH department with 30 beds for providing treatment
facilities in traditional system of medicine.

About Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana

• The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana aims at correcting the imbalances
in the availability of affordable healthcare facilities in the different parts of the
country in general.

• It also seeks to augment facilities for quality medical education in the under-
served States in particular.

• The scheme was approved in March 2006.

• The first phase in the PMSSY has two components: setting up of six institutions in
the line of AIIMS, and upgradation of 13 existing Government medical college
institutions.

• Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal,


Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress.
Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur, Maharashtra, Kalyani, West Bengal and Mangalagiri in

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Guntur, Andhra Pradesh have been sanctioned in 2015 and two AIIMS have been
sanctioned at Bathinda and Gorakhpur in 2016.

Union Cabinet approves amendment of the Public Premises Act, 1971

The Union Cabinet has approved the amendment in Section 2 and Section 3 of the
Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.Chaired by PM
Modi, the Cabinet gave its approval for the following amendments:

• Insertion of the definition of 'residential accommodation occupation' in a new


clause in section 2 of the Act.

• Insertion of provisions relating to eviction from residential accommodation


occupation in a new sub-section 3B below sub-section 3A of Section 3 of the Act.

Key Details

• The amendments would enable the Estate officer to apply summary proceedings
for evicting unauthorised occupants from residential accommodations allotted to
them for a fixed term or for a period they hold office.

• Non-vacation of such residences leads to unavailability of houses for those who


assume the new office.

• Now, the Estate officer could make an order for the eviction of such persons
immediately following the newly proposed procedures instead of adhering to the
previous elaborate procedures.

• If the concerned people fail or refuse to comply with the said order of eviction,
the Estate Officer may evict them from the premises and take possession, using
force if required.

The amendment will thus smoothen and quicken the process of evicting
unauthorised occupants from government residences and reduce the waiting period
for the new incumbents.
The beneficiaries of the amendment include the Central government employees
who are eligible for General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA) and waiting
for the maturity of their turn.

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PM Modi inaugurates India's longest bridge Dhola-Sadiya in Assam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated India's longest river bridge- the
Dhola- Sadiya Bridge in Assam.
This three lane 9.15 kilometre bridge has been built over river Lohit, a tributary of
the Brahmaputra, that links Dhola to Sadiya in Assam.

• The total length of the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge project, including the approach roads
on each side, is 28.50 km. The length of the bridge itself is 9.15 Km.

• It was constructed on BOT Annuity basis at a total cost of Rs 2056 crore, as a part
of the Arunachal Package of Roads and Highways.

• It will ensure 24X7 connectivity between upper Assam and Eastern part of
Arunachal Pradesh.

• The bridge will reduce the distance from Rupai on NH- 37 in Assam to
Meka/Roing on NH-52 in Arunachal Pradesh by 165 KM.

• The travel time between the two places will come down from the current six
hours to just one hour. This will result in saving of petrol and diesel worth Rs 10
Lakh per day.

• It will provide efficient road connectivity to remote and backward areas which
have poor road infrastructure.

• This bridge will also give a major boost to overall economic development of the
areas north of Brahmaputra in upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The bridge is expected to fill a huge connectivity gap that has existed for long in
this region. Till now, the only means to cross the Brahmaputra at this location was
by ferry only in day-time and even this was not possible during floods.
It will also cater to the strategic requirements of the country in the border areas
of Arunachal Pradesh, besides facilitating numerous hydro power projects coming
up in the state.

The last bridge that was built over the Brahmaputra was the Kalia Bhomora Bridge
at Tejpur.

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PM Modi inaugurates a series of projects in Gujarat

PM Modi has inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for various projects of the
Kandla Port in Kutch district of Gujarat.

The projects include construction of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Convention Center,


14th and 16th Cargo berths, Railway Bridge at Sal junction, Mechanised fertiliser
handling facility and purchase of two mobile harbour crane.

The PM stated that the Chabahar port, being developed with Indian participation in
Iran, would further spur the growth of Kandla Port. He also suggested the Kandla
Port Trust, the largest cargo handling port in India, be renamed as "Deendayal Port
Trust - Kandla." This can be done as a tribute to Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay, whose
centenary year is being celebrated across India.

The PM also inaugurated at Bhachau a pumping station built on Narmada branch


canal for the Kutch region. The pumping station will provide irrigation to about 2
lakh 80 thousand acre farm lands of 182 villages, while it will also provide drinking
water to 877 villages and 14 towns of the region.

Gadkari inaugurates country’s 1st bio refinery plant

Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has inaugurated
India’s first biorefinery plant that produces ethanol from a variety of biomass in
Pune,Maharashtra.

The project is located at Rahu, a village in Daund Taluka in Pune District of


Maharashtra.

The newly set up plant is capable of producing one million litres of ethanol per
annum by processing a variety of agricultural residue including rice and wheat
straw, cotton stalk, cane trash, corn cobs with superior product yields.

A Biorefinery is a facility that integrates biomass conversion processes and


equipment to produce fuels, power, heat, and value-added chemicals from

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biomass.The concept is similar to today's petroleum refinery, which produces
multiple fuels and products from petroleum.

Typical applications of Biorefinery are in the production of bio-fertilizers and bio-


pesticides.

Significance

• Biofuel (fuels derived from biomass) is cost-effective and pollution-free.

• The most common Biofuel crops include Corn, Rapeseed/Canola, Sugarcane,


Palm Oil, Jatropha, Soyabean, Cottonseed, Sunflower seeds, Wheat, Sugarbeet,
Cassava, Algae, Coconut, Jojoba and Castor Beans.

• Globally many countries including India have resorted to ethanol blending to


reduce harmful emissions from vehicles.

• Ethanol blending is the practice of blending petrol with ethanol.

• The inauguration of the refinery paves the way for a 20 per cent increase in
ethanol blending program and can reduce the import burden of crude petroleum.

Real Estate Act (RERA) comes into effect, 13 states notify rules

The Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016, the landmark realty law
that aims to protect home buyers from deceitful developers came into effect on 1
May 2017. The move ends a nine-year long wait.The implementation of the act
means regulation of the real estate sector, which hosts over 76,000 companies
across the country.

Background

• The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016 was passed by the
Parliament in March 2016.

• The act partially came into force in May 2016 with 59 of its 92 notified sections
put to force.

• Now, all the 92 sections of the Act have come into effect.

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• The states were given the task of notifying to the realty rules and set up a Real
Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) by 30 April 2017, without which the law will
not become operational.

• Till now, 13 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Madhya Pradesh,
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Daman and
Diu have notified the rules.

It is expected that the act would herald the beginning of a new era making the
buyer the King,while the developers benefit from the confidence of the King in the
regulated environment.

The act is expected to bring with it the much-desired transparency, accountability


and efficiency in the sector, as it defines the rights and obligations of both the
buyers and developers.

Provisions of the Act

• Buyers and developers of real estate property can seek relief by approaching
Real Estate Regulatory Authorities against violation of the contractual obligations
and other provisions of the Act.

• The act provides for the mandatory registration of projects and real estate
agents.

• The act mandates depositing of 70 per cent of the funds collected from buyers in
a separate bank account in case of new projects and 70 per cent of unused funds in
case of ongoing projects.

• The funds could be withdrawn only for construction purposes.

• It also mandates the registration of projects with a plot size of minimum 500 sqm
or 8 apartments with the Regulatory authorities.

• The act also prescribes penalty on developers in case of delay in the project. The
developers would be required to disclose the project details on the website of the
regulator and provide quarterly updates on construction progress.

• According to the act, the developers would be accountable for any structural
defect in the real estate for five years.

• The act also prescribes imprisonment up to three years for developers and up to
one year for agents and buyers in case of violation of orders of Appellate Tribunals
and Regulatory Authorities.

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• The Regulatory authorities would also be required to dispose of complaints in 60
days and Appellate Tribunals would be required to adjudicate cases in 60 days.

Overall, the act would not only enhance consumer confidence but also benefit the
sector as a whole, as along with attracting more investments it may also open
doors for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). It will also ensure effective
implementation of housing projects such as ‘Housing for All by 2020’ and ‘Smart
City’.

The Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation : M Venkaiah Naidu

Union Environment Ministry bans sale of cattle for slaughter

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has come up with new regulations
that ban the sale of all kinds of cattle for slaughter across India.The rules were
issued under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It requires anyone
purchasing cattle to provide an undertaking that the animals are bought for
agricultural purposes and not slaughter.

The definition of cattle includes bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers,
calves and camels.

The new rules will be implemented in the next three months.

Odisha’s ‘Sabakhia, Sualgiri, Swalgiri’ communities notified as Scheduled Castes

Odisha’s Sualgiri and Swalgiri communities were notified as Scheduled Castes


following President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent to the Constitution (Scheduled
Castes) Order (Amendment) Act, 2017.The Rajya Sabha in April 2017 had passed
the bill on it after it was cleared by the Lok Sabha in March 2017.

The Scheduled Castes category status will entitle these communities to reservation
in government jobs and admission in educational institutions, along with other
financial benefits.

As per the modified list for Odisha, the “Sabakhia, Sualgiri, Swalgiri” are the
notified Scheduled Castes.

Provisions of the new law

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• It modifies the list of Schedule Castes for the state of Odisha. The castes Sualgiri
and Swalgiri will be introduced as synonyms to the Sabakhia caste in the list of SCs
for the state of Odisha.

• It also modifies name of the Union Territory of Pondicherry to Puducherry by


incorporating changes in the Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order,
1964.

• Article 341 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President to specify the
Scheduled Castes in various states and UTs. Further, it permits Parliament to
modify this list.

Madhya Pradesh becomes the 1st state to shift to January to December


financial year

Madhya Pradesh has become the first state in India to switch to the January-
December financial year from existing April-March cycle. The plan to switch the
financial year was endorsed by the state cabinet, in Bhopal.

The move and endorsement of the plan will break a 150-year old tradition of
adopting the financial year from April to March,which was adopted in 1867 by the
British Government.

For a smooth transition of the new financial year the state government will try to
conclude the current financial year by December 2017.

In order to bring into effect the new financial year, the next budget session will be
held in December-January.

Reports suggest that any change or shift of the financial year will require
amendments to different statues and tax law during the transition period, like tax
assessment year, changes in infrastructure and more.

Background

The move is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of shifting the financial
year to January-December from the existing April-March period. The idea was put
forward by the Prime Minister during the NITI Aayog’s governing council meet in
Delhi on 23 April 2017.

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Earlier, the union government had also constituted a high-level committee to
examine desirability and feasibility of having a new financial year. The committee
was constituted under the chairmanship of former Chief Economic Advisor
Shanker Acharya. The report hasn’t been made public yet.

MP Government bans Sand Mining in Narmada River

The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan,has ordered an


indefinite ban on sand mining in Narmada River.He stated that the ban on sand
mining in river Narmada will hold till a government-appointed committee of
experts submits its report on scientific mining in the river.

Key Highlights

• The government-appointed committee would be led by Rajendra Shukla, the


state’s Minister for Mineral Resources, Commerce and Industry.

• It would be working along with experts from the Indian Institute of Technology
(IIT-Kharagpur) in developing a blueprint for scientific ways of mining in the river.

• Its report would determine how much sand can be safely mined from the river
without causing any damage to it.

• The committee is expected to take at least four to six months to come up with
its suggestions for scientific mining.

• Only after the submission of the committee’s report, the government would be
taking the decision on lifting the ban on sand mining in the Narmada.

Recently,PM Modi had unveiled the Union government’s comprehensive action plan
to conserve river Narmada at its origin point in Amarkantak in the Anuppur district
of MP.The river, which originates from Amarkantak and travels over 1000 km
across 16 districts of MP, is considered the lifeline of the state.

Besides this, the state’s CM has imposed a blanket ban on the use of all kinds of
machines for mining from the remaining rivers in the state. To deal with the
resulting sand scarcity, the government has decided to promote the use of
manufactured sand, which can be made by crushing stone.

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Madhya Pradesh CM inaugurates the world level weapon production unit in
Bhind district

The world level weapon production unit “Punj Lyod Defence System” was
inaugurated in Malanpur Industrial Area of Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh,by
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The state government claimed that it is the first small weapon manufacturing unit
in private sector in the country. It has been set up in the joint partnership of
India’s Punj Lyod and Israel Weapon Industry under the Make in India Programme.

The joint venture company, Punj Lloyd Raksha Systems, will help the armed forces
in replacing their weapons with sophisticated and high precision products.

Key facts

• This manufacturing unit will supply world class weapons to the armed forces in
sync with the country’s defence indigenisation programme.

• It will produce four products, namely Galil sniper rifle, X95 carbine and assault
rifle, Tavor assault rifle and Negev Light Machine Gun (LMG).

The plant was commissioned few days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit
to Israel. Reports suggest that numerous mega defence deals would be signed
between the two nations during this visit.

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DEVELOPMENT/ECONOMY
GST Council fixes 4-tier tax slab for services

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has finalised a four-tier structure for
taxation of services in line with the tax slab for goods. This four-tier tax slab is as
follows - 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent.

The bulk of services will fall in the 18 per cent bracket, including financial services
such as banking and insurance, telecom, information technology, government
services such as auction of resources including spectrum, and restaurants that have
air-conditioning or serve liquor.

GST Services Exemptions


Rates

5% Transport services, Cab aggregates like Ola and Education


Uber, Restaurants with Rs 50 lakh annual turnover,
Healthcare
AC rail travel, Economy Air tickets
Third Tier Railway Travel
12 % Non-AC restaurants that don’t serve liquor, Hotels
with room tariffs below Rs 2500, Business class air Metro Travel
travel, Work contracts
Local Train
18 % Hotels with Rs 2500-5000 room rents, Telecom and Religious Travel
Financial Services, AC Restaurants with liquor (including Hajj)
license

28 % Five-Star Hotels, Movie Tickets, Racing, Betting on


Racing, Casinos

GST Rates for Services


• Education, Healthcare and Third Tier Railway Travel will be exempted from GST.

• Goods transport and Cab aggregates like Ola and Uber will attract a 5 per cent
GST. This low GST is due the reason that there is no input tax credit for their key
input 'fuel'. However, the tax will go up once petrol and diesel are brought under
the GST.

• Hotels and restaurants, depending on their services, will attract different tax
rates.

• Non-AC restaurants and those that don’t serve liquor will attract 12 per cent
GST. Smaller restaurants with less than Rs 50 lakh annual turnover can avail of the
composition scheme with 5 per cent GST.

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• As for the hospitality industry, those with room tariffs below Rs 2500 will face 12
per cent GST, those with Rs 2500-5000 rents will face 18 per cent GST and five-star
hotels will face 28 per cent GST.

• Business class air travel will attract 12 per cent GST while economy tickets will
face 5 per cent GST.

• In the case of railways, AC rail travel will face 5 per cent GST with the facility of
input credit of services, while sleeper, metro ticket and seasonal passes will
remain exempt.

• Railway freight will face 5 per cent tax with input tax credit for services.

• Work contracts that now attract 6 per cent service tax plus state taxes of 1-2 per
cent without any input tax credit, will now face 12 per cent with input tax credit.

• Telecom and Financial Services will attract 18 per cent GST, which is the
standard rate for services.

• A peak rate of 28 per cent will be charged on five services including five-star
hotels, movie tickets, racing, betting on racing and casinos.

• Tax on e-commerce was fixed at 1 per cent.

GST Council announces GST Rates of 1211 items

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on 18 May 2017 has fixed the GST rates
for specific products which may lead to lower prices for a majority of products of
mass consumption.
The GST Council also fixed the deadline for rolling out the GST on 1 July 2017 to
create a single national market.

GST Rates of 1211 items were finalised by the GST council with 81 per cent of
them facing a levy of up to 18 per cent. However, GST Council has still to decide
on the GST levy on gold, biscuits, packaged and branded cereals, footwear, bidis
and textiles.

Key Highlights
• Foodgrains, cereals and milk will cost less from 1 July as the GST Council decided
to exempt these daily-use commodities from the GST levy.

• Common use products like hair oil, soaps and toothpaste will be charged with
GST of 18 per cent instead of present 22-24 per cent tax incidence.

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• Milk and curd will be exempted from taxation when the Goods and Service Tax.

• 'Mithai' or sweets will attract 5 per cent GST levy.

• Daily-use items like sugar, tea, coffee (barring instant coffee and instant tea)
and edible oil will attract the lowest tax rate of 5 per cent, almost the same as
current incidence. Instant tea and coffee are expected to be in a separate bracket.

• Automobiles will attract 28 per cent GST, with luxury vehicles facing an
additional cess of 15 per cent.

• Small petrol cars will face 1per cent GST, while diesel-powered small cars will
attract 3 per cent GST.

• In addition, bikes with engine capacity of over 350cc, which are seen as luxury
goods, will see a new cess of 3 per cent.

• For coal, there will be reduction of tax from 11.69 per cent to 5 per cent,
helping lower the cost of power.

• Similarly, the burden on those buying refrigerators or washing machines will


come down from around 31-32 per cent to 28 per cent.

GST Rates of Various Commodities

• Jaggery is exempt under GST.

• Cane sugar, beet sugar Bio gas plant, wind mills, kerosene lantern and coal are in
the 5 per cent GST slab.

• Mobile phones, fountain pen ink, tooth powder, incense sticks, feeding bottles,
Braille paper, children’s colouring books, umbrellas, pencil sharpeners, tractors,
bicycles, contact lenses, spectacle lenses, utensils, sports goods, fishing rods,
combs, pencils and hand paintings are placed under the 12 per cent tax rate under
GST.

• Goods under 18 per cent tax rate include helmets, LPG stoves, nuclear reactors,
clocks, military weapons, electronic toys and plastic buttons.
b The items in the highest tax slab of 28 per cent include aerated drinks,
perfumes, after-shave lotions, deodarants, clothing of furskin, razor blades, cars,
revolvers and pistols.

Comment
Of all 1211 items, 7 per cent of the items fall under the exempt list, while 14 per
cent fall in the lowest tax bracket of 5 per cent. Another 17 per cent items are in
12 per cent tax bracket, 43 per cent in 18 per cent tax slab and 19 per cent of
goods fall in the top tax bracket of 28 per cent.

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The only concern is that 19 per cent GST items which are over 200 would be kept
under 28 per cent, which was initially meant for only few commodities such as
luxury cars, aerated beverages etc.

GST regime is expected to unify the whole of the country by subsuming Central
and State levies such as excise duty, additional duties of customs, service tax,
value added tax, central sales tax, entry tax, octroi and luxury tax.

India becomes the second largest steel producer in the world

As per the data released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) in May
2017, India has overtaken Japan to become the second-largest steel producer in
the world in 2016.

India’s stainless steel production rose to 3.32 million tons for 2016. The data
showed a growth of about 9 per cent over 3.0 million tons achieved in 2015.

As per the data, the top producer of the steel of the world in the year 2016 is
China.

• Founded in 1996,The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) is a non-profit


research organisation.

• The body serves as the world forum on various aspects of the international
stainless steel industry.

India’s first underwater rail tunnel completed ahead of schedule

India’s first underwater rail tunnel, that was being constructed under the Hooghly
river for establishing metro link between Howrah and Kolkata, got completed on 23
May 2017, ahead of the scheduled deadline July 2017.

For the construction of tunnel, a giant tunnel-boring machine (TBM)


named 'Rachna' was deployed to dig the underwater tunnel that will run a length of
502 metres under the river. The machine was brought from Herrenknecht AG plant
in Schwanau in Germany.

The construction of the tunnel was jointly undertaken by Afcons Transtonnelstroy

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and Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Ltd, who are tasked for implementing the
East West Metro Project. Afcons Transtonnelstroy is an Indo-Russian joint venture.

Highlights of the East West Metro Project


• The entire project is 16.6 km long, out of which 10.8 km runs under the ground.
• Of this 10.8 km, 502 metres is under the water.
• The project connects Howrah to the west and Salt lake to the east.
• The stretch of 16.6 km will have 12 stations, six of which will be under the
ground, while the remaining six stations will be on elevated tracks.
• The total project cost is around Rs 5000 crore.
• The final commissioning of the project is expected by December 2019, following
which it will be operational.

India’s first Electric Mass Transport Project launched in Nagpur

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has inaugurated India’s first Electric
Mass Transport Project in Nagpur.
The pilot project envisages a fleet of 200 electric-powered public transport
vehicles which will run on Ola Cabs' app platform in Nagpur.

Out of these 200 electric-powered vehicles, 100 e2o Electric Taxis were
manufactured by Mahindra & Mahindra group’s Mahindra Electric while Kinetic
Green Energy and Power Solutions has supplied 100 e-rickshaws, Kinetic Safar.

Mahindra & Mahindra’s total investment in technology, products, and plants of e-


vehicles was over Rs 600 crores. All these electric-powered public transport
vehicles will be fully owned by cab aggregator Ola.

India imposes anti-dumping duty on glasses and Chinese radiators

India has imposed anti-dumping duty on certain types of glasses from Iran and
aluminium radiators from China in order to protect the domestic industry from
cheap imports.

While an anti-dumping duty of about USD 55.59 per tonne has been imposed on
clear float glass, duty of about USD 22.89 has been slammed on imports of
aluminium radiators.

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The anti-dumping steps are not taken to restrict imports or cause an unreasonable
increase in the cost of products but instead to ensure fair trade and to provide a
level-playing field to the domestic industry.

Clear float glass is used in construction, refrigeration, mirror and solar energy
industries. The product is a superior quality of glass.

Anti-dumping duty imposed on imports of chemical, aluminium foil from China

India has imposed an anti-dumping duty on a Chinese chemical used in the pharma
industry and aluminium foil to protect domestic industry from cheap imports.

While an anti-dumping duty of up to 1.63 US Dollar per kg was imposed on


aluminium foil, up to 8.71 US Dollar per kg duty was slapped on imports of
amoxicillin, used in pharmaceuticals.

The duty on both the products would be effective for a period of five years.

Gadkari lays foundation stone for 8 connectivity projects worth 1117 Cr at


JNPT

The Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari laid the
foundation stone for eight connectivity projects at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust
in Mumbai.The projects worth Rs 1117.03 Cr aim to enhance connectivity of the
hinterland to the Port Trust.

Port Connectivity is among the four pillars of Ministry of Shipping’s flagship


Sagarmala programme.

Huge investments are expected under the Sagarmala programme, which will lead
to better infrastructure and creation of new jobs besides giving a big push to
Indian exports. A lot of companies have shown interest in acquiring land for setting
up factories in the JNPT SEZ zone and this, in turn, would help boost demand for
skilled manpower.

These new initiatives are aimed at increasing efficiency and boosting development
in and around the port areas.

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About Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT)

• Formerly known as the Nhava Sheva Port, the JNPT was commissioned on 26th
May 1989.

• It is the second youngest and one of the most modern major ports of the country.

• Though it was initially planned to be a ‘satellite port’ to the Mumbai Port with
the purpose of decongesting its traffic, eventually it was developed into an
independent port.

• The construction project of the port is considered to be one of the technical


marvels in the country.

• It was completed in a record time of just three-and-half years on the marshy


soil.

• The management used sophisticated instruments to do away with rock blasting in


order to maintain the beauty of the nearby historical Elephanta Caves and other
surroundings.

• It is currently the country’s largest container port.

• The total land area in possession of the JNPT measures to about 2,987 hectares
with enough back-up area for developing additional facilities for future maritime
requirements of the country.

Union Government launches Swachh Bharat App

The Union Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma has launched the Swachh Bharat App
with an aim to involve people actively to become part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
(Clean India Movement),at National Museum, Delhi.

Highlights of the Swachh Bharat App


• When one is in the monument or Museum, the app will deliver the message about
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and will ask the user to report the garbage around him.

• All one need to do is to enable the Bluetooth of his or her mobile device.

• Even if the App is not installed in the device, still there will be a message
delivered by Google about the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Google will also give the
link to install the App.

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• Once the App is installed and opened, it will ask the user to take photograph of
the garbage and write the comment and just submit.

• The user's submission will be reported to the authority at the backend.

• Presently, the Swachh Bharat App will be available for android mobile phone
users and can be downloaded from Google Play Store.

• The App will be monitored by the Union Ministry of Culture and will play an
important role in cultivating the significance of cleanliness to the citizens.

Indian flights to soon provide in-flight Wi-Fi Net access

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sent a revised proposal that will
enable in-flight access to voice, data and video services. India’s industry body
Assocham had stated in a letter addressed to PM Modi in 2016 that the facility
would only help substantially improve safety of airlines as it enables flight tracking
in near real-time, streaming of flight data recorder of the aircraft in real-time and
facilitating real-time intervention for safety and security based on flight data
monitoring.

• In order to provide on-board Wi-Fi services, the union government would have to
amend the Telegraph Act, 1885 as well as the related Indian Telegraphy Rules.

• Currently, passengers –both domestic and international- are unable to use in-
flight Internet services over Indian airspace.

• Even the International airlines that offer the service have to discontinue it while
the aircraft is flying over the Indian airspace.

Several countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal permit the
use of Internet on flights. Presently, domestic airlines such as Vistara and Jet
Airways provide pre-loaded in-flight entertainment content on some of their
flights.

Paytm launches Payments Bank

Digital payment wallet service Paytm has launched its Payments Bank operations
by launching its first physical branch in Noida.

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Paytm Payments Bank will be the first bank in the country to offer cashbacks on
deposits. The bank will now be expanded to 31 branches and 3000 customer
service points in the first year.

With this launch, there are now three payments bank operational in the country,
the other two being Airtel Payments Bank Ltd and India Post Payments Bank Ltd.

• As a Payments Bank, Paytm will be able to accept deposits up to Rs 1 lakh per


customer in savings or current accounts.

• Customers will also be offered zero charges on all online transactions and no
minimum balance requirement.

• For Savings Accounts, it will offer an interest of 4 per cent per annum in line
with the interest rates of all leading commercial banks. It will also offer current
accounts to its millions of merchants.

• It will offer Rs 250 cashback to customers depositing Rs 25000 to Payments Bank


account.

• It will also offer other services like Debit Cards, Online Banking and Mobile
Banking.

• It cannot offer financial products of its own, but can partner with other banks to
offer such services.

Paytm Payments Bank accounts will initially be available on an invite only basis.
Paytm customers can request an invite by going to www.PaytmPaymentsBank.com
or on the Paytm iOS app.

In the first phase, the company will roll out its beta banking app for its employees
and associates.

What will happen to Paytm Wallet?


Paytm Wallet will now move to the Paytm Payments Bank Limited. However,
customers can continue to use the Paytm Wallet as before without any changes.
There will be no impact on cashflows or the mode of accepting payment.

The wallet will not accrue any interest unlike money in the savings bank account.
To earn interest, customers will need to open a Paytm Payments Bank savings
account.

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Ministry of Earth Sciences to launch ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ by January 2018

To improve India’s position in ocean research field, the Union Ministry of Earth
Sciences (MoES) has decided to launch ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ by January 2018.

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NATIONAL NEWS
World’s highest Railway Bridge,taller than Eiffel Tower,to be built over Chenab
River

The Railways Ministry has announced that it would build the world's highest railway
bridge over the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir in about two years from now.
This railway bridge is expected to be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower of
Paris. The massive arch-shaped structure of bridge is already under constructed at
a cost of around Rs 1100 crore in hostile terrain.

The bridge forms a crucial link in the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal,
which is part of the Udhampur- Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.

Designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 260 km per hour, the bridge will
connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar).

- The construction of the bridge is the most challenging part of the Kashmir rail
link project and once completed, it will be an engineering marvel. It will surpass
the record of the Beipan river Shuibai railway bridge (275 m) in China.

- The bridge will be made of 63mm thick special blast-proof steel as the Jammu
and Kashmir region is prone to frequent terror attacks.

- The massive arch-shaped structure, being constructed at a cost of around Rs1,100


crore in hostile terrain, will use over 24,000 tonnes of steel and will rise 359 m
above the river bed.

Chitale Committee recommends several measures for Desiltation of Ganga

The Chitale committee constituted to prepare guidelines for desiltation of river


Ganga from Bhimgauda (Uttarakhand) to Farakka (West Bengal),has submitted its
report to Ministry of Water Resources.

The committee in its report has recommended a slew of measures like a study of
reach wise sediment transport processes along with establishing annual sediment
budgets to guide de-silting activities.

It also recommended the preparation of annual reports (Sand registry) describing


the previous de-silting/dredging activity and a technical institute may be entrusted
to conduct the sediment budget, morphological and flood routeing studies that
would examine and confirm the necessity of the de-silting of the reach under
consideration.

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About the Chitale committee

In July 2016, the Ministry of Water Resources River Development and Ganga
Rejuvenation constituted a committee,under the chairmanship of Sri.Madhav
Chitale (Expert Member, NGRBA), to prepare guidelines for desiltation of river
Ganga from Bhimgauda (Uttarakhand) to Farakka (West Bengal). It was asked to
establish a difference between desilting and sand mining and also to establish the
need for desilting for ecology and e-flow of the river Ganga.

Delhi Metro's Heritage Line inaugurated

The Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu flagged off the first train of
the Delhi Metro's Heritage Line,now open for public.

This 5.17-km-long corridor Heritage Line has four stations- Kashmere Gate, Dilli
Gate, Jama Masjid and Lal Quila. The Heritage Line is essentially an extension of
Delhi Metro Violet Line that runs between Faridabad and ITO presently.

With this, the residents of the densely-populated area of Old Delhi or


Shahjahanabad will now have direct access to commercial centres such as
Connaught Place, Janpath, offices in Central Secretariat and the satellite town of
Faridabad.

The newly-launched Heritage line of the Delhi metro is like a blessing for people
commuting daily to Old Delhi or the 'Walled City' of Shahjahanabad. The line
connects Kashmere Gate with Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Sunehri Masjids,
Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, the Fatehpuri mosque, the
Akbarabadi Masjid and many other.

The area between Delhi Gate and Kashmere Gate is the Heritage Region that gives
the line its name.

The 'Walled City' of Shahjahanabad with the Red Fort, a Heritage site, as its
crowning glory, was founded by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the mid 17th
century.
Shahjahanabad is also a spiritual landscape as it reflects every major faith of India.
On one hand it has Jama Masjid, Fatehpuri Masjid, and Sunehri Masjid and on other
it also has Shivalayas of the Katra Neel. It also homes St Stephens Church and
Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib apart from Digambar Jain Lal Mandir.

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Kochi Metro Rail Ltd offers jobs to members from the transgender community

Kochi Metro Rail Ltd has announced that it would employ 23 members from the
transgender community. This is the first time in the history of India that a
government owned company has formally appointed members of the transgender
community.They have been provided with training in soft and technical skills.

These 23 transgender workers will be a part of the 530 Kudumbasree workers to be


employed at 11 stations in Kochi Metro’s Aluva-Palarivattom corridor. The first
phase of the metro project covering a 13.4 km distance from Aluva to Palarivattom
is set to become operational soon. The Kochi Metro is an under-construction metro
project which will cater to the needs of Kochi in Kerala on completion.

It may be recalled that the Union Government in July 2016 had approved The
Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 to protect transgenders from
discrimination. The bill calls for social, economic and educational empowerment of
the transgenders.

PM Modi attends International Day of Vesak celebrations in Colombo

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sri Lanka to attend the celebrations of
the International Day of Vesak,held in Colombo from 12 May to 14 May. The
festivities included an International Buddhist Conference, which witnessed
participation from over 400 delegates from more than 100 countries across the
world.

Buddha Purnima or "Vesak", the day of the Full Moon was observed globally on 10
May 2017. The day of full Moon, ‘Vesak’ in the month of May, is the most sacred
day to millions of Buddhists around the world. On the Day of Vesak, Buddhist
followers not only commemorate the Buddha’s birth but the day he attained
Nirvana and his passing.

The day marks the birth of Gautam Buddha, who was born two and a half millennia
ago in the year 623 B.C.It was on this day that the Buddha attained enlightenment

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under the Mahabodhi tree at Bodh Gaya and it was on the day of Vesak that
Buddha passed away.

PM Modi inaugurates Patanjali Research Institute in Haridwar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the Patanjali Research Institute at
Haridwar,Uttarakhand,which has been established with an aim to globally establish
the Vedic knowledge of Ayurveda of ancient India's saints and sages.

Yoga Guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved Ltd has managed to secure a place for itself
in India as well as in abroad. Patanjali is a fast growing Fast-moving consumer
goods (FMCG) whose net sales for the financial year 2015-16 stood at Rs 5000
crores.
The company now aims to win over multinational firms manufacturing consumer
products in the near future.

Assam declared as ‘Disturbed Area’ Under AFSPA for 3 More Months

Assam state was on 6 May 2017 declared as a 'Disturbed area’ under the Armed
Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) for another 3 months. The entire state of
Assam besides the bordering areas of Meghalaya were declared as “Disturbed
Areas”.

Additionally, the Union Government also placed three districts of Arunachal


Pradesh- Tirap, Changlang and Longding and other areas falling under 16 police
stations bordering Assam as 'disturbed' area under the AFSPA.

The decision was taken after the government observed various violent activities
carried out by certain insurgent groups like ULFA, NDFB and others in these areas.

Assam was initially placed under AFSPA in November 1990.

About Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA)


AFSPA is collective name of several acts passed by Indian parliament for providing
special powers to the Indian Armed Forces and to provide army officers and jawans
legal immunity for their actions in disturbed areas.

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Indian Constitution gives power to Governor of the State and Central Government
to declare any part of any state as disturbed area if it is necessary to prevent
terrorist activity or any such activity that might disrupt the sovereignty of India or
cause insult to the national flag, anthem or India’s Constitution.

Section 4 of the AFSPA gives special powers to army officers in disturbed area to
shoot (even if it kills) any individual who violates law / or is suspected of violating
law (this includes assembly of five or more people, carrying of weapons) etc.
The only condition is that the officer has to give warning before opening fire.

Ahmedabad to host a mega-event to celebrate International Yoga Day

The city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat would be hosting the biggest ever International
Yoga Day event on 21 June 2017.

as announced by Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev,The event is likely to witness


participation from over 5 lakh people.

Key Details

• The event would be hosted at the city’s GMDC and AES grounds, with a total area
of 28 lakh square ft.

• The event is expected to see in attendance saints and spiritual leaders from
across the country including leaders from Art of Living, Arya Samaj and
Bramhakumaris.

• Yoga as an ideal life pattern has received overwhelming support from over 170
countries including Islamic, communist and Christian ones.

• In fact, this year Singapore will be hosting its first edition of 'International Day of
Yoga' at about 50 locations across the country.

• To further encourage the adoption of yoga as a way of life, Ramdev’s brand


Patanjali would be initiating11 lakh Yoga classes across the country in coming
days.

India Mobile Congress 2017 to be held in September in New Delhi

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Union Minister for Communications Manoj Sinha made the formal announcement of
organising India Mobile Congress 2017 (IMC 2017). The three-day IMC will be held
from 27 to 29 September 2017 in New Delhi. The Ministry also launched the logo of
India Mobile Congress 2017.

IMC will be India’s first and biggest platform to bring together all stakeholders
from the domain of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and take the
Indian telecom industry at par with its international counterparts.

• This is the first time India is all set to host its own mobile mega show.
• India Mobile Congress will be the biggest event of the telecom industry and it will
bring together all stakeholders from the industry and government on a common
platform.
• The event will be organised by Department of Telecommunications along with
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and other stakeholders.
• IMC will witness participation of government bodies, Telecom Service Providers
(TSPs), telecom equipment manufacturers, handset manufacturers and app
providers.
• It will showcase exciting new products & innovation and share the India story.
• Besides the stalwarts of the Indian telecom industry, IMC will also see
participation of various top notch international players who would be exploring
avenues for investment in the country.

The Indian telecom market is the second-largest in the world after China. India has
a total subscriber base of over 1.18 billion subscribers.

Presently, India is undergoing a digital revolution and its telecom industry is


gradually evolving as a mix of voice and data services. With the favourable
regulation policies and 4G services hitting the market, the Indian
telecommunication sector is expected to witness a fast growth in the coming
years.

Amitabh Bachchan led Toilet Usage Campaign, ‘Darwaza Band’, set for national
launch

Union Government launched a new campaign called ‘Darwaza Band’,led by


Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan,on 30 May 2017 for the promotion of toilet usage
in the rural areas across the country.

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The aggressive new campaign of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation
called Darwaza Band seeks to promote toilet usage across the villages of India.

The campaign was inauguratedin the presence of Narendra Singh Tomar, Union
Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis,Amitabh
Bachchan and other dignitaries. Bollywood’s star Anushka Sharma is also an
integral part of the campaign and will be seen encouraging women to stand up for
the issue in the villages.

Bachchan has been a major supporter and ambassador for the Swachh Bharat
Mission and is already associated with its ongoing campaigns. The term ‘Darwaza
Band’ stands for shutting the door on open defecation.

• The Darwaza Band campaign has been supported by the World Bank.

• It is being rolled out countrywide immediately after the launch.

• It is designed to encourage behaviour change in men who have toilets but are not
using them.

What is Darwaza Band?

About Swachh Bharat Mission

- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement) is a campaign that was launched
by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 2 October 2014 at Rajghat, New Delhi.

- The campaign seeks to clean the streets, roads and infrastructure of the country's
4041 statutory cities and towns. Behaviour change has been the focus of Swachh
Bharat Mission, which is being pursued through a countrywide comprehensive IEC
(Information-Education-Communication) programme.

- Communication campaigns have been taken up both, at the central and state
levels, for promoting sustained use of toilets and for sustaining the Open
Defecation Free status achieved.

- Objectives of Swachh Bharat are to reduce or eliminate open defecation through


the construction of individual, cluster and community toilets.

- Under the campaign, the government aims to achieve an Open-Defecation Free


(ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma
Gandhi.

- For the purpose, it has a plan to construct 12 million toilets in rural India, at a
projected cost of Rs 1.96 lakh crores (US$30 billion).

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS
India boycotts China’s OBOR forum meet

India boycotted China's high-profile Belt and Road Forum,The ‘One Belt,One Road’
(OBOR) initiative, taking its protest over a controversial economic corridor
traversing through Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (PoK) to a new level despite
Beijing's overtures to ensure New Delhi's participation. India skipped the
meeting,held in Beijing during 14-15 May 2017, due to its sovereignty concerns
over the USD 50 billion CPEC, which passes through PoK.

No Indian official of any level was present at the elaborate opening ceremony
attended by 29 heads of state and government along with top officials of the world
bodies like the UN, the World Bank and the IMF.

In the run-up to the forum, China had sought to allay India's concerns over the
CPEC, saying that the project has no bearing on its stand on the Kashmir issue
which should be resolved between India and Pakistan through dialogue.

Construction begins on world's largest telescope in Chile

The Construction activities have begun on the European Extremely Large Telescope
(ELT), which when completed will be the world's largest optical telescope. The
telescope will be located in Chile's Atacama Desert.

The ELT, conceived by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), will be around
five times larger than the top observing instruments in use today.

Located on a 3000 meter-high mountain in the middle of the Atacama desert, it is


due to begin operating in 2024.

Key highlights of the Extra Large Telescope

• The main mirror of the ELT will measure some 39 meters.

• It is also designed to be an adaptive telescope and has the ability to correct


atmospheric turbulence.

• Oxford University scientists are playing a key role in the project. They will be
responsible for the design and construction of its spectrograph; HARMONI, an

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instrument designed to simultaneously take 4000 images, each in a slightly
different colour.

• The visible and near-infrared instrument will harness the telescope's adaptive
optics to provide extremely sharp images.

• 'HARMONI' will enable scientists to form a more detailed picture of the formation
and evolution of objects in the Universe.

Japan’s Cabinet approves bill to allow Japan’s first abdication of emperor in


200 years

Paving the way for the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in nearly two
centuries, Japan’s Cabinet has approved a bill that would allow Emperor Akihito
to step down. the Bill will be sent to the Parliament for a passage by the
lawmakers.

The approval will allow Emperor Akihito to hand over the Chrysanthemum Throne
to Crown Prince Naruhito, 57.

Under the existing Imperial House Law abdication is not possible for the Emperor
as the law allows posthumous succession.

• The bill is one-off legislation that would allow only Akihito to step down, with no
provisions for future emperors.

• It also makes no reference to the controversial issue of changing the system to


allow women to inherit the throne, or to stay in the imperial family upon
marriage, Japanese media said, although political parties are discussing a separate
resolution on the topic.

The enactment of the bill will make Emperor Akihito the first emperor to abdicate
since Emperor Kokaku, who relinquished the throne in 1817. Historically,
abdication of Japanese emperors was common, with about half of the 125
emperors having abdicated.

As per reports, the government envisions December 2018 as the possible timing for
his abdication, the time when the Emperor will turn 85 years old. It also says that
the abdication will also mark nearly 30 full years on the throne for the emperor.

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UK: 19 killed in suspected terror attack following pop concert in Manchester

Nineteen people have been killed and about 50 injured in a blast at Manchester
Arena in the United Kingdom,Two big bangs were reportedly heard in the foyer
area of Manchester Arena, after a pop concert by Ariana Grande.

The cause of the explosion is unknown but the North West Counter Terrorism Unit
is treating it as a possible terrorist incident.

Egypt's President Sisi approves controversial NGO law

Making it harder for charities to operate in Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
has signed into law a contentious new bill that regulates non-governmental
organisations (NGO).

The measure restricts NGO activity to developmental and social work and
introduces jail terms of up to five years for non-compliance and fines up to one
million Egyptian pounds (more than $55000).

• Under the new law, foreign non-governmental groups will have to pay up to
16500 dollars to start working in Egypt and renew their permit on a regular basis.

• It has also a provision of a national authority including army and intelligence


representatives to oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian non-governmental
organisations and the activities of foreign non-governmental organisations.

• The new law says that no organisation will be allowed to carry out or publish the
results of a study or survey without prior permission from the state.

Background

The law came into force on 30 May 2017 in Egypt after being published in the
official gazette. It was approved by the President, six months after it was passed
in the Parliament.

Reports suggest that with this approval Prime Minister Sherif Ismail will have two
months to issue the implementing bylaws. IN addition to this, all NGOs or any other
entity engaged in social work will have one year from 30 May 2017 to register in

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accordance with the still to be formed National Authority for the Regulation of
Non-Governmental Foreign Organizations.

The new law signed by President Sisi was criticised by the United Nations and New
York-based Human Rights Watch. A human rights lawyer said that the law
eliminates civil society in Egypt, whether human rights or development
organisations.

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RATINGS/REPORTS
India expected to achieve 7.1% growth in 2017: UN ESCAP report

A United Nations (UN) has released its annual flagship report titled 'The Economic
and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2017'. The report was released by UN
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The report says India is expected to achieve 7.1 per cent economic growth in 2017
as re-monetisation restores consumption and infrastructure spending increases.
The report said India's growth would edge up to 7.5 per cent next year. These
targets will be met by higher private and public consumption and increased
infrastructure spending.

At the same time, the report also warns India by saying that the country faces
heightened risks related to the concentration of bad loans in the public sector
banks.

Other highlights of the projection

Inflation – It was projected to be between 5.3 per cent to 5.5 per cent in 2017 and
2018, which means it will be above the official target of 4.5 per cent to 5 per
cent.

Bad Loans - The report also highlights that the concentration of the bad loans in
the public sector banks carries a risk in the financial sector as it reached almost 12
per cent in 2016, which points to the need for bank recapitalization.

Swachh Survekshan 2017 Rankings released; Indore is the cleanest city

Union Urban Development Miniser M Venkaiah Naidu has announced the results of
Swachh Survekshan 2017 survey.

The Swachh Survekshan 2017 aimed at capturing the outcomes on ground of the
ongoing efforts to make urban areas Open Defecation Free and to improve door-to-
door collection, processing and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste.

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Under the Swachh Survekshan 2017, 434 cities and towns were surveyed for
cleanliness and categorized based on the marks scored by each of them.Out of the
434 cities and towns, Indore in Madhya Pradesh was adjudged as the cleanest
city. Gonda in Uttar Pradesh was adjudged as the least clean city.

Key highlights

• 25 towns from Uttar Pradesh are ranked among the bottom 50 cities, followed by
Rajasthan and Punjab with five cities each, two cities in Maharashtra and one city
each from Haryana, Karnataka and Lashadweep.

• Varanasi improved its rank from 418 in 2014 to 32 in 2017 to become the Fastest
Big City Mover in the North Zone.

• Faridabad in Haryana improved its rank from 379 in 2014 to 88 in 2017. It has
been awarded for being the Fastest Mover among cities with a population of above
one million each.

• Mysuru in Karnataka which topped the ranks in 2016 and 2014 and ranked five in
the 2017 survey.

Criteria and Methodology for Swachh Survekshan 2017

Criteria and weightages for different components of sanitation related aspects


used for the Survey are:

• Solid Waste Management including Door-to-Door collection, Processing and


Disposal
• Citizen feedback
• Independent observation

The survey was conducted by the Quality Council of India. It deployed 421
assessors for on the spot assessment of 17500 locations in 434 cities and towns.
Another 55 persons regularly monitored the survey process in real time.

Kerala is the best-governed state in India : 2017 Public Affairs Index (PAI)
Report

For the second year running, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have maintained their
positions as the states with the best governance in the country, according to the
2017 Public Affairs Index (PAI).

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The PAI aims to rank the states of India objectively in the field of governance
based on various focus subjects and indicators and is an initiative of the Public
Affairs Committee (PAC).

Followed by Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, these states were at the
top of the governance spectrum as seen from a wide range of important
parameters such as Essential Infrastructure, Support to Human Development,
Social Protection, Women and Children, Crime, Law & Order, Delivery of
Justice, Environment, Transparency & Accountability, Fiscal Management and
Economic Freedom, as per the report.

Bengaluru tops list of most affordable tech cities worldwide

Bengaluru has been named the world’s most affordable tech city in the new Savills
Tech Cities Index. The Indian technology hub is the most affordable out of 22
cities that were graded on different parameters. While the per-week rent is $236
(roughly Rs 15,000) in the city as compared to the global average of $368 (almost
Rs 24,000), the city ranked 20th overall losing points on time taken for commuting.

The city which ranked first overall was Austin, Texas while New York ranked as
the best in “business environment”.

India’s Taj Mahal ranked 5th among top 10 global landmarks

One of the most iconic wonders in the world, the Taj Mahal has become the only
Indian monument to figure in the world's top 10 Travellers' Choice awards for
Landmarks.The historic monument was ranked at the fifth position in the list. The
top spot was clinched by the world’s largest religious monument- Angkor Wat in
Cambodia.

Key Highlights

• The other iconic landmarks to feature in the top ten included Sheikh Zayed
Grand Mosque Center in Abu Dhabi at 2nd rank, Spain’s Mezquita Cathedral de
Cordoba at the 3rd and St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City at the 4th rank.

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• While the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St Petersburg, Russia and the
Great Wall of China were ranked 6th and 7th respectively, Incan city of Machu
Picchu in Peru was ranked 8th.

• The final two positions were taken up by Plaza de Espana in Spain and Duomo di
Milano in Italy, which were ranked 9th and 10th respectively.

India’s ivory-white marble mausoleum however, was ranked 2nd in the Asia list,
only after Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, which topped the list yet again.

The other monuments featured in the Asian list included the Great Wall of China at
rank 3, Thailand’s Temple of the Reclining Buddha at rank 4, Fushimi Inari in
Kyoto, Japan at rank 5 and Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers at rank 6.

India ageing gradually; every 5th person to be 60+ by 2050

The PFRDA-CRISIL report titled 'Financial security for India's elderly - The
imperatives’ has been released.The report said that India will transform gradually
from young to a 'greying' country and by 2050 every 5th Indian will be in the 60s as
against every 12th at present.Flagging the demographic transition, the report said
it is important that the development of the under-penetrated pension market in
India be initiated now when the situation is ripe.

Facts of the 'Financial security for India's elderly - The imperatives' report

• The PFRDA-CRISIL repost says that demographically, India will transition slowly
from a ‘young’ to a ‘greying’ country, where persons above the age of 60 would
increase from 8.9 per cent of the population now to 19.4 per cent by 2050.

• The report also suggests that the population of people above 80 is likely to
increase from 0.9 per cent to 2.8 per cent by 2050.

• Almost 90 per cent of the population was below the age of 60 years and the
working age population proportion stood at 44 per cent in 2015.

• It suggests that the government must focus on the financial awareness of pension
products in the country.

• The report suggests that it is imperative to have a well-developed, self-


sustaining pension system is the country where inter-generational support within
families is declining.

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• A developed pension sector will not only have a stabilizing effect on the economy
by promoting long-term savings combined with long-term investments but it also
reduces the fiscal burden on the exchequer.

• Secondly, this affordable and efficient pension system will also involve a great
deal of inter-ministerial, inter-state, inter-regional and inter-institutional decisions
and co-ordination.

China to Launch its Own Encyclopaedia as a Rival to Wikipedia

China plans to launch its own online encyclopaedia next year, hoping to build a
“cultural Great Wall” that can rival the Wikipedia as a go-to information source
for Chinese Internet users.Beijing fears that the Chinese Internet users are being
corrupted by foreign influences.

China is under pressure to write its own encyclopaedia so it can guide the public
thought,in line with its policies.

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MEDICAL NEWS
Brazil declares an end to the Zika emergency

Brazil declared an end to the public health emergency for the Zika virus after
about 18 months of fight against this mosquito-borne virus.The Zika virus
emergency was declared in Brazil when the country was preparing to host the 2016
Olympics, fuelling the concerns that Rio Olympics could spread the virus.

In response to the outbreak, Brazil launched a mosquito-eradication campaign


which resultantly helped to dramatically reduce cases of Zika. From January till
mid-April 2017, Brazil recorded 95 percent fewer cases than during the same
period in 2016 when there were 170535 cases. The number of cases of
microcephaly fell as well.

In November 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) lifted its own
international health emergency status for Zika.

However, the end of the emergency does not signify the end of providing
assistance. Moreover, measures to reduce the number of Aedes aegypti
mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus, dengue and chikungunya, will also remain
in place.

Comment
Zika Virus was not considered a major health threat until the 2015 outbreak of it
which revealed that Zika could lead to severe birth defects like microcephaly
which causes babies to be born with skulls much smaller than expected.

The virus was reported in dozens of countries and many travellers cancelled their
trips to Zika-infected places. Even pregnant women were also recommended to
avoid travelling affected areas.

The concern spread even more widely when health agencies found out that Zika
virus could also be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.

Zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Researchers discover first Human Antibodies to fight Ebola viruses

A team of scientists from the United States have discovered a possible cure for all
the five known Ebola viruses, one of which ravaged West Africa in recent years.The
research has been published online in journal Cell as 'Antibodies from a human
survivor define sites of vulnerability for broad protection against Ebola viruses' .

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After analyzing the blood of a survivor of the 2013-16 Ebola outbreak, a team of
scientists discovered the first natural human antibodies that can neutralize and
protect animals against all three major disease-causing Ebola viruses.

The findings could lead to the first broadly effective Ebola virus therapies and
vaccines. These antibodies can be used as a single therapy to treat all Ebola
viruses.

Ebola viruses infections are usually severe and often fatal. There are no vaccines
or treatments approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for these viruses.

Some two dozen Ebola virus outbreaks have occurred since 1976, when the first
outbreak was documented in villages along the Ebola River in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). The largest outbreak in history was the 2013-
16 Western African epidemic.

The deadly virus has killed more than 11000 people out of the nearly 29000 people
who became infected in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Australian state Victoria considers assisted suicide for terminally ill patients

Victoria, a state of Australia, is considering a legislation that will legalise assisted


suicide for terminally ill patients. Patients suffering from ailments like Motor
Neurone Disease (MND), Parkinson's disease or Multiple Sclerosis (MS) could be
eligible for the assisted death. However, Patients suffering from dementia would
not be able to request an assisted death due as they don’t have the ability to make
decisions.

A ministerial advisory panel is reportedly drafting the historic legislation which will
make assisted death available to those suffering from terminal illnesses.

Main highlights of the report

• Under the committee's proposal, the request for assisted death would have to
come from the patients themselves and must be repeated three times, one of
which would be a formal written request.

• Two independent doctors with specialist training and at least five years'
experience would have to approve the request before it could be approved.

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Suresh Raina launches GRF foundation dedicated to wellness of Mother and
Child

Indian cricketer Suresh Raina has launched the Gracia Raina Foundation (GRF),
which is dedicated to creating awareness and work closely with mothers and
children who require help ranging from physical and mental issues.

The announcement was made by the cricketer along with his wife Priyanka on the
occasion of his daughter, Gracia Raina’s first birthday.

• The foundation aims to work towards physical wellness of mother and child by
providing the mother with knowledge and information about pregnancy, child care
post birth and nutritional needs to keep them physically healthy.

• It also aims to impart skills to the underprivileged mothers in order to enable


them to earn a livelihood for sustainable living.

• Besides this, it also aims to provide the pregnant women with a community
where they can share their problems and get guidance from when needed, thus
helping them in their mental wellness.

• It also aims to empower women to make informed decisions about themselves


and their children.

• The foundation believes the best way to unlock human potential is through the
power of creative collaborations.

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SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY

B’luru startup to help build Hyperloop pod for competition

Hyperloop India has tied up with a city-based Workbench Projects to build the
prototype pod that will feature in the global design competition for the super fast
transportation system using magnetic levitation technology. Hyperloop India team
has partnered with US to build the prototype pod in Bengaluru by the end of July.
The building work will start from May 22. This will mark India’s entry into the
international Hyperloop race.

Hyperloop India to participate in SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition II

SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services


company, will organise Hyperloop Pod Competition II in August 2017 at its
headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The competition will see the participation
of 24 teams from across the world including a team from India’s BITS Pilani.

BITS Pilani’s team will be participating in the competition with the name
Hyperloop India.

The Hyperloop system is proposed by inventor-businessman Elon Musk of SpaceX.

About the Indian team Hyperloop India

Reports suggest that the Indian team constitutes of 25 student participants from
premier colleges of India. Each participant of the Hyperloop India team, mostly
engineering and management students, will put their heads together to build the
pod that would meet the high-speed norms of the futuristic transport system
Hyperloop.

They have started their work on the project in May 2017 at the Bengaluru-based
facility, hosted by Bengaluru-based fabrication facility,Workbench Projects.

Under the project they will develop OrcaPod, a prototype for speeds of up to 460
kilometres per hour by 1 August 2017, a deadline set by them. The concept
envisages a pod-like vehicle being propelled through an evacuated tube, under
reduced pressure in vacuum-like conditions. The Budget for the Indian
Prototype,OrcaPod is Rs 75 lakhs.

Hyperloop India is the only team in the country to have reached the final design
stage.

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Sibesh Kar is the team lead and founder of Hyperloop India. He is pursuing MSc in
Physics as well as B.E. Mechanical Engineering degree at BITS Pilani. Anupama
Gowda is the co-founder of Workbench Projects.

About the Hyperloop Pod Competition II

The Pod Design Competition to be held in August at Hawthorne, California by the


company SpaceX, is the second in the current year. The idea is to have a scaled-
down pod prototype that can traverse a one mile long evacuated tube in a vacuum
and seat only one passenger.

SpaceX in its details says that the competition, which is the first of its kind
anywhere in the world, seeks to accelerate the development of functional
prototypes and encourage innovation by challenging teams to design and build the
best high-speed pod. Hyperloop Competition II focuses on a single criterion :
Maximum Speed.

World's largest aircraft Airlander 10 completes successful test flight

The world's largest aircraft, Airlander 10, has successfully completed a test flight,
flying for a total of 180 minutes,to test its handling, improved landing technology,
It was only the third flight of the Airlander 10. This brings the helium-filled
behemoth one step closer to commercial use.

The hybrid aircraft dubbed the Airlander 10 merges technology from airplanes,
helicopters and airships. The aircraft is designed to stay aloft at altitudes of up to
20000 feet for up to five days when manned. At a massive 302 feet long, it is the
largest aircraft currently flying.

The Airlander 10 also known as Hybrid Air Vehicles HAV 304 is a hybrid airship
designed and manufactured by British manufacturer HAV.

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SPORTS
Sebastian Vettel wins 2017 Monaco Grand Prix

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has won the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix at the Circuit de
Monaco, La Condamine and Monte Carlo, Monaco.The second place in the race was
secured by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, while the third place was secured by Red
Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

• Sebastian Vettel is currently driving in Formula One for Scuderia Ferrari.

• He is a four-time Formula One World Champion, having won the championship in


2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 with Red Bull Racing.

• The Monaco Grand Prix is a Formula One motor race held each year on the
Circuit de Monaco.

• Run since 1929, it is widely considered to be one of the most important and
prestigious automobile races in the world.

• The race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, with many
elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel.

• It is the only Grand Prix that does not adhere to the FIA's mandated 305-
kilometre minimum race distance.

• Lewis Hamilton was the winner of the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton wins 2017 Spanish Grand Prix

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton surged to a stunning victory in the 2017 Spanish Grand
Prix by defeating Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.It was Hamilton’s second win of the
season.

• Lewis Hamilton is a British Formula One racing driver, racing at present for the
Mercedes AMG Petronas team.

• He is a three-time Formula One World Champion.

• He won his first title with McLaren in 2008 before moving to Mercedes, where he
won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.

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• His 54 Grand Prix victories is the second highest of all-time, behind only Michael
Schumacher at 91.

• The Spanish Grand Prix is a Formula One race.

• It is currently held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona.

• It is one of the oldest in the world still contested.It celebrated its centenary in
2013.

• Max Verstappen was the winner of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 to win its 13th FA Cup

Arsenal won its 13th FA Cup with a 2-1 victory over Chelsea, the reigning Premier
League champions, at the Wembley Stadium in London, England.

Just 4 minutes into the match and Arsenal were in the lead with Alexis Sanchez’s
right-footed shot going past Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The goal, which
was incredibly controversial, was the fastest ever FA Cup final goal.

Aizawl FC becomes first north-eastern club to win 2016-17 I-League

Aizawl FC defeated Shillong Lajong FC to grab the 2016-17 I-League in Shillong,


Meghalaya.

With this, Aizawl FC became the first ever north-eastern club to win the title.

The 2016-17 I-League was the 10th edition of the I-League held at the Jawaharlal
Nehru Stadium in Shillong.

About I-League

• The Hero I League is an Indian professional league for men's association football
clubs.

• At present, it is contested by 10 clubs.

• It operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the I-League 2nd


Division as well as a system of direct-entry.

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• It was formed in 2007 as the ONGC I-League. It is a successor to the previous
National Football League.

• Since the league inception, a total of five clubs have been crowned champions of
the I-League.

• Bengaluru FC was the winner of the 2016-16 I-League.

Bengaluru FC beat Mohun Bagan to lift Federation Cup

The Bengaluru FC defeated Mohun Bagan 2-0 to lift the Federation Cup at the
Barabati Stadium in Cuttack.

• Bengaluru Football Club, formed in July 2013,is an Indian professional football


club based in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

• The club participates in the I-League, India's top-tier football league. It is the
first ever club to have won the I-League in its debut season.

• The team is currently owned by Mumbai-based company, JSW Group.

• The Federation Cup,having started in the year 1977, is an annual knockout style
club football tournament in India.

• From its inception, until I-League was started in 1997 (then called NFL), it was
the most prestigious national level club football tournament in India.

• The winning club of the Federation Cup gets a chance to compete in the
continental level in AFC Cup.

Justice Mukul Mudgal appointed as Chairman of FIFA Governance Committee

Justice Mukul Mudgal, retired judge of Delhi High Court, has been elected as the
Chairman of FIFA Governance Committee,at the world football governing body’s
67th Congress at Manama, Bahrain.

Mudgal, who until now served as the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, will take
the office for four years effective immediately.

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Justice Mudgal was the first choice for the FIFA Council and his name was proposed
for the vacant position after Miguel Maduro was removed as the chairman.Maduro
allegedly played a role in blocking Russian World Cup official Vitaly Mutko from
retaining his seat on ruling council.

The FIFA Governance Committee deals with, and advises and assists the Council on
all FIFA governance matters.

• Justice Mukul Mudgal is a retired Indian judge of Delhi High Court.

• He had served as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court from 2009
to 2011.

• In 2014, he headed the Mudgal Committee, which included Additional Solicitor


General of India L Nageswara Rao and senior advocate and former cricket
umpire Nilay Dutta, appointed by the Supreme Court to conduct an independent
inquiry into the allegation of corruption, betting and spot-fixing in 2013 Indian
Premier League.

Mumbai Indians beat Rising Pune Supergiant to win 2017 IPL

Mumbai Indians defeated Rising Pune Supergiant by 1 run to clinch the tenth
edition of the Indian Premier League. It is the third time that the Mumbai Indians
have emerged as the IPL winners.

With this win, Mumbai Indians have become the first team to win three IPL titles.

Krunal Pandya of Mumbai Indians was declared the Man of the Match.

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s David Warner was termed the leading runscorer of the
tournament with 641 runs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar of Sunrisers Hyderabad was the
leading wicket-taker of the tournament with 26 wickets.

• The Mumbai Indians is a franchise cricket team in the Indian Premier League.

• The franchise is owned by India's biggest conglomerate, Reliance Industries,


through its 100% subsidiary IndiaWin Sports.

• The team won its first IPL title in 2013 by defeating Chennai Super Kings by 23
runs in the final. They won their second IPL title on 24 May 2015 by defeating the
Chennai Super Kings by 41 runs in the final.

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• The Indian Premier League is a professional Twenty20 cricket league in India.

• The league was founded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

• It is the most-attended cricket league in the world and ranks sixth among all
sports leagues.

• In 2010, the IPL became the first sporting event in the world to be broadcast live
on YouTube.

International Cricket Council hikes Prize Money for Champions Trophy

The International Cricket Council has announced that the upcoming ICC Champions
Trophy would carry a total prize money of US$ 4.5 million.

The winner of the eight-team tournament will take home a cheque of $ 2.2
million.The runner-up of the tournament will get a cheque of USD 1.1 million,
while the other two semifinalists will get USD 4,50,000 each.Teams finishing third
in each group will take home USD 90,000 each, while the teams finishing last in
each group will get USD 60,000 each.

The eighth edition of the tournament sees an increase of USD 5,00,000 in prize
money from the 2013 edition.

The upcoming ICC Champions Trophy will be played in England and Wales from 1
June to 18 June 2017.

• The ICC Champions Trophy is a One Day International cricket tournament


organised by the International Cricket Council.

• The tournament is second in importance only to the Cricket World Cup.

• It was inaugurated as the ICC Knock Out Tournament in 1998 and has been played
approximately every two years since. Its name was changed to the Champions
Trophy in 2002.

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Jhulan Goswami becomes highest wicket taker in Womens One Day
Internationals

Indian women's team fast bowler Jhulan Goswami has become the highest wicket-
taker in the history of Women’s One-Day Internationals.Jhulan Goswami has broken
the decade-long record Australian Cathryn Fitzpatrick’s 180 wickets from 109
matches.

Goswami dismissed South Africa's Raisibe Ntozakhe in an ongoing Women's


Quadrangular Series in South Africa to claim her 181st victim in the 50-over
format.

- Jhulan Nishit Goswami is an all round cricketer who plays for the India national
women's cricket team.

- She also plays for Bengal Women, East Zone Women as well as the Asia Women XI
women's cricket team.

- She won the ICC Women's Player of the Year 2007.

- In 2011, she won the M.A. Chidambaram trophy for Best Women Cricketer.

Ashwin wins International Cricketer of the Year award

Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was conferred the much-acclaimed


International Cricketer of the Year award at the CEAT Cricket Rating (CCR)
International awards,2017.

The award was presented by former Indian Cricket Captain Sunil Gavaskar and
Chairman of RPG Enterprises Harsh Goenka at a function held at the Cricket Club
of India in Mumbai.

The award is the player’s second one, as he had won the ICC Cricketer of the Year
award in 2016 as well. With this, he has joined the ranks of Rahul Dravid and
Sachin Tendulkar, the only two other Indian cricketers to have received the
honour.

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Also, the young Indian batsman Shubhman Gill has won the Young player of the
year award for his superb performance during the India-England U-19 ODI series,
which was played in Mumbai.

Shashank Manohar to complete his full term as ICC Chairman

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed that Shashank Manohar will
continue to function as the Independent Chairman of ICC till June 2018.
With this, the uncertainty looming large over Shashank Manohar's tenure as ICC
chairman came to an end.

In March 2017, Manohar resigned as the Chairman of the International Cricket


Council stating personal reasons. However, he was persuaded by overwhelming
support from ICC Directors.

Manohar joined ICC as a Chairman in May 2016. He had signed a two-year term
with the ICC that began with immediate effect after he stepped down as the
President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

• Shashank Manohar is a prominent Indian lawyer who has served twice as the
President of BCCI, first from 2008 to 2011 and then from November 2015 to May
2016.
• During his tenure as President of BCCI, India won the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup
defeating Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in the final.
• In June 2010, he took the much-praised decision of suspending Lalit Modi, the
then Chairman of Indian Premier League and Vice-President of BCCI.
• As a Chairman of ICC, Manohar acted as a driving force behind decentralising the
power held by ‘The Big Three’ - Cricket Australia (CA) of England, Wales Cricket
Board (ECB) and BCCI in the decision-making processes of the ICC.

Joshna Chinappa becomes the 1st Indian to win Asian Squash title

Joshna Chinappa became the first player from India to win the senior title when
she beat Dipika Pallikal Karthik in an intensely fought five-game final in the 19th
Asian Individual Squash Championships,held in Chennai.

Earlier,in the men’s final, top seed Max Lee of Hong Kong kept his tryst with glory,
winning his maiden title beating the second-seeded Saurav Ghosal of India.

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South Korea beat China to win 2017 Sudirman Cup Badminton

South Korea defeated China to lift their fourth Sudirman Cup Badminton title at
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

South Korea’s women shuttlers played an impeccable game to beat 10-time


champions China with a 3-2 win in the final played at the Gold Coast Sports and
Leisure Centre in Australia. It was the first time that the event was hosted outside
Asia and Europe since its establishment in 1989.

South Korea’s other victories in the Sudirman Cup were in 2003, 1993 and 1991.

• The Sudirman Cup is the world mixed team badminton championship.

• The Cup is named after Dick Sudirman, a former Indonesian badminton player
and the founder of the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI).

• The tournament takes place every two years (Biennial event).

• There are five matches in every round: men and women's singles, men and
women's doubles and mixed doubles.

• The first Sudirman Cup tournament took place in Bung Karno Stadium, Central
Jakarta, Indonesia on 24 May– 29 May 1989.

• There is no prize money in Sudirman Cup. The players play for their respective
countries and to earn BWF world ranking points and national prestige.

• The winner of the 2015 Sudirman Cup was China.

Alexander Zverev beat Novak Djokovic to clinch Italian Open Men’s Singles title

German professional tennis player,Alexander Zverev defeated the World No. 2


Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open. The final was held in Rome, Italy.

With this win, Zverev became the youngest Masters 1000 title winner,since the
times a 19-year-old Djokovic had won the 2007 Miami Open.

• The 2017 Italian Open Women’s Singles title was won by Ukraine’s Elina
Svitolina.

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• After the French Open, the Italian Open is one of the most prestigious red clay
tennis tournaments in the world, with the men's competition being an ATP World
Tour Masters 1000 event on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour, and
the women's competition being a Premier 5 event on the Women's Tennis
Association (WTA) tour.

• The tournament is also known as the Rome Masters and the Italian
Championships.

• Rafael Nadal has won the title a record seven times.

• The 2016 Italian Open Men’s Singles title was won by Andy Murray.

Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem to win 5th Madrid Open title

Spain’s Rafael Nadal has won the Madrid Open title of Tennis. In the final match at
Madrid, the Spaniard defeated a determined Dominic Thiem of Austria in straight
sets.

By this win,Nadal has clinched his third consecutive clay-court crown, after
winning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona in April 2017. For the 14-times Grand Slam
Winner, it was also the 72nd tournament win of his career.

With this, Nadal, who defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-
final, also won his 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. His 30 World Tour
Masters 1000 titles is a tie with Serbia’s Djokovic.

Reports suggest that with this win, Nadal will move into the world's top four list.

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MISCELLANY
UNESCO screens Indian short film during World Press Freedom Day celebrations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)


screened the Indian short film ‘Azaad’ as a part of the World Press Freedom Day
celebrations.

The event, which celebrated the principle of freedom of press,took place in


Jakarta,Indonesia during 1 May -4 May 2017. The event was jointly organised by
the UNESCO, the Government of Indonesia, and the Press Council of Indonesia.

The theme for the 2017 World Press Freedom Day was “Critical Minds for Critical
Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies“.

• The movie Azaad is written and directed by Rahul V. Chittella, who was
mentored by filmmaker Mira Nair for the film.

• The movie revolves about the dysfunctional relationship between a father and his
son.

• It talks about the freedom of expression in current times.

Humans must colonise another planet in 100 years to survive: Stephen Hawking

Renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that Humans will need to
leave Earth and colonise another planet within the next 100 years to escape from
asteroid strikes, overpopulation and drastic effects of climate change.

Hawking along with his former student Christophe Galfard will be travelling the
world to find out how humans could survive in outer space in a documentary called
‘Expedition New Earth’, a part of BBC’s new science season Tomorrow’s World.

Dubai police recruits world’s first Robocop

The Dubai police have officially inducted the world's first operational robot police
officer 'Robocop' into the force at the 4th Gulf Information Security Expo and
Conference (GISEC).The launch of the world’s first operational Robocop is a
significant milestone for the United Arab Emirates' vision to be a global leader in
smart cities technology adoption.

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World’s first Robocop

• The Robocop is over 5 feet tall and weighs 100 kg. It has a facial recognition
software with which it can identify offenders.

• The robot is capable of speaking six languages and people can use its built-in
tablet device to access various police services.

• Through its tablet, it can also communicate with people, respond to public
queries, shake hands and can do a military salute.

• It features an emotion detector through which it can recognize a person’s


gestures and body language from nearly five feet away. It can identify hand
gestures from a distance of up to 1.5 metres.

• The Robocop can tell when you are happy, sad or even smiling and will itself
respond accordingly.

• More importantly, when it comes to fighting crime, the robot uses the internet of
things, artificial intelligence and other smart technologies to spot offenders.

• It can live stream video footage to police officers in the force’s command and
control centre via an inbuilt camera.

• Its navigation skills enable it to map out areas and travel on its own.

• Its in-built integrated system will have it connected to social media and other
applications.

• It doesn't need a visa, medical insurance or hours of training.

Dubai becomes the first city in world to get its own Microsoft Font

Dubai on 1 may 2017 became the first city in the world to get its own Microsoft
Font.The Dubai Font was launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al
Maktoum, Dubai's Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council.
The Executive Council of Dubai also enabled individuals to download the font from
the website: www.dubaifont.com and integrate it into the system for free.

• Dubai Font is the first typeface developed by Microsoft for Dubai.


• The font is available in three styles as 'Dubai', 'Dubai Medium' and 'Dubai Light'
and can be in Italics, Underlined and Bold.

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• The font is now available to more than 100 million users of Microsoft Office 365
around the world.

• Dubai Font is designed for more than 180 countries and 23 languages integrating
Arabic and Latin typefaces and will expand over the next phase to include more
languages.
• It is aimed at reflecting the city's symbols of tolerance, happiness and respect,
enabling people to express, communicate and connect.
• It’s also available as a free download in Open Type and Webfont formats for both
Windows and Mac OS platforms.

Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan in January 2016 had directed the General
Secretariat of the Executive Council of Dubai to work on the design of a package of
electronic fonts bearing the name of Dubai to include a distinctive font for the
Emirate in both Arabic and English.

Following this, Nadine Chahine, Type Director and Legibility Expert at Monotype
UK, led the design team of six who worked on developing the font.

Andhra Pradesh’s Banganapalle mango gets Geographical Indication (GI) tag

The Banganapalle mango in the first week of May 2017 received a Geographical
Indication (GI) tag. This makes the Andhra Pradesh government as the registered
proprietor of the GI tag for Banganapalle mangoes, often hailed as “the king of
fruits”. It is a variety of mango known for its sweetness. Banganapalle mango is
also known as Beneshan, Baneshan, Benishan, Chappatai and Safeda.

What is a GI tag?

• A geographical indication is a name or sign used on certain products, which


corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin.

• The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999


came into force with effect from 15 September 2003.

• GIs have been defined under Article 22(1) of the WTO Agreement on Trade-
Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights(TRIPS) Agreement as: "Indications
which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or a
locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the
good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin."

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• The tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorised users (or at
least those residing inside the geographic territory) are allowed to use the popular
product name.

• Darjeeling tea was the first GI tagged product in India.

Baahubali 2 becomes first Indian film to collect Rs 1000 crore worldwide

SS Rajamouli's Baahubali 2 : The Conclusion became the first Indian film to cross
the RS 1000 crore mark with its worldwide collections. Reports suggest that trade
analysts have reported that the film has made over Rs 800 crore in India and more
than Rs 200 crore in the international markets.

The two films in the series namely Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The
Conclusion had a budget of around Rs 450 crore.

The film that stars Prabhas, Rana Daggubatti, Ramya Krishna, Anushka Shetty and
Tamannaah in lead roles and released in four languages not only succeeded in India
but also drew audiences from abroad.

Four languages in which the film was released include Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and
Malayalam.

The film has not only shattered the records of a collection of films like Aamir
Khan’s Dangal and PK but has also outperformed the lifetime collection of its
predecessor in the series, Baahubali: The Beginning.

About Baahubali 2: The Conclusion

• The film co-written and directed by SS Rajamouli and produced by Tollywood


studio Arka Media Works is the continuation of Baahubali: The Beginning.

• The film was released worldwide on 28 April 2017.

• It is the first Telugu film to be released in 4K High Definition format.

• Earlier, it became the first Indian film to get a worldwide gross of more than Rs
500 crore in all languages in just three days.

• Baahubali 2 became the highest grossing Indian film ever with the worldwide
gross of approx Rs 900 crore in all languages in just seven days, surpassing PK
worldwide gross of 792 crores.

• On the 9th day, Baahubali 2 became the first Indian film ever to collect Rs 1000
crore.

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OBITUARIES
First Woman Chief Judge of State High Court Justice Leila Seth passes away

Justice Leila Seth, the first woman judge of Delhi High Court, passed away in Uttar
Pradesh. She was 86.

Seth was the first woman to have topped the London Bar exam, first woman Judge
of the Delhi High Court and also the first woman Chief Justice of a State High
Court of Himachal Pradesh.

She was one of three members of Justice Verma Committee which was
constituted in 2012 to recommend amendments to Criminal Law so as to provide
for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing
sexual assault against women, post 2012 Delhi gang rape case.

An eminent jurist, she was also an acclaimed author.Her autobiography 'On


Balance' was a bestseller.In 2014,Seth had also authored 'Talking of Justice
People's Rights in Modern India', which talked of several critical issues faced by her
in her legal career spanning over 50 years.

Justice Leila Seth was a member of the 15th Law Commission of India from 1997 to
2000.
She was also the Chair of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) for
several years.

Veteran filmmaker Dasari Narayana Rao passes away

Veteran Telugu filmmaker and former Union minister Dasari Narayana Rao passed
away. He was 75.
Rao was known for directing movies with legendary actors like NT Rama Rao and
Akkineni Nageswara Rao. He was also an active politician in the Congress party and
served as a Union Minister during the UPA regime.

Dasari Narayana Rao had launched the popular Telugu daily Udhayam in 1984 to
counter the influential Eenadu of Ramoji Rao. He had worked in many films as a
dialogue writer, lyricist and actor.
• Some of his major films are Sardar Paparayudu, Bobbili Puli, Shivaranjani,
Katakatala Rudrayya, Bali Peetam, Premabhishekam, Gorintaku, Rangoon Rowdy.
• His film ‘Meghasandesam’ (1983) was one of his high points as it was screened at
the Cannes and Moscow film festivals.

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• Dasari also etched his name in the Limca Book of Records for directing the
highest number of films (151 films).
• He won many prestigious awards including the National Award, the Filmfare and
received honours from the Andhra Pradesh government.
• In the UPA-2 government led by Manmohan Singh, he became the Union Minister
for Coal. But, his tenure ended on a highly controversial note as he faced
corruption charges and ended up being named and probed in the multi-crore coal
scam.

Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill passes away

Kanwar Pal Singh Gill,82, former Director General of Police (DGP) for the state of
Punjab, passed away in New Delhi.

Gill, one of India’s most celebrated cops, was popularly known as the ‘Lion of
Punjab’ and ‘Super Cop’.

Kanwar Pal Singh Gill is credited with having brought the Punjab insurgency under
control. However, he and the forces under his command had also been accused of
human rights violations "in the name of stamping out terrorism."

• He was the Director General of Police for two tenures, from 1988 to 1990 and
1991 to 1995. He retired from the Indian Police Service in 1995.

• In May 1988, during Operation Black Thunder, he truly grabbed national and
international attention. Without censoring out the media, he carried out the 1988
operation, with very little damages to the Golden Temple, while causing heavy
casualties to the militants.

• He was also an author, editor, speaker, consultant on counter-terrorism.

• He also served as the President of the Institute for Conflict Management and
president of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).

• In 1989, he was honoured with a Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian


honour, for his work in the civil service.

Kannada film producer Parvathamma Rajkumar passes away

Parvathamma Rajkumar, Kannada film producer and wife of the late Kannada
superstar Rajkumar, passed away in Bengaluru.She was 78.

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• Parvathamma Rajkumar was the only woman producer-distributor-exhibitor of
Kannada films.

• The two companies founded by her, Vajreshwari Combines and Poornima


Enteprises, have produced many films starring her husband Rajkumar and sons
Shivarajkumar, Raghavendra Rajkmar and Puneet Rajkumar.

• She was a producer of over 80 films.

Veteran actress Reema Lagoo passes away

Veteran actress Reema Lagoo died at Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai.She was 59.

Reema Lagoo had acted in several Hindi and Marathi films and also in numerous
television shows like Tu Tu Main Main and Shrimaan Shrimati.

Reema Lagoo had established her presence on the Marathi stage for nearly four
decades.

She had played the role of a mother in several Bollywood films like Maine Pyar
Kiya, Aashiqui, Saajan, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Vaastav, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Aruna Raje's Rihaee, Gumrah, Jai Kishen, Gumrah and
Hum Saath-Saath Hain.

Controversial godman Chandraswami passes away

Controversial godman, Chandraswami, passed away in New Delhi. He was 66.

Chandraswami, whose real name was Nemi Chand, exerted enormous power during
the regime of former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.

• Chandraswami was a tantric, often called as godman by some people.

• He had lived for some time in the jungles of Bihar where he spent time in
meditation. He also claimed to have extraordinary powers called siddhis.

• He is also said to have dispensed spiritual advice to the Sultan of Brunei, Sheikh
Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain, actress Elizabeth Taylor, British PM Margaret
Thatcher, arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, crime Lord Dawood Ibrahim and 'Tiny'
Rowland.

• He rose to prominence as a result of his association with P V Narasimha Rao.


Chandraswami was said to have been the former PM’s spiritual adviser.

• Soon after Rao became Prime Minister in 1991, Chandraswami built an ashram
known as Vishwa Dharmayatan Sanathan in Delhi's Qutub Institutional Area.

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• In 1996, the godman was arrested on charges of defrauding a London-based
businessman of US$ 1,00,000.

• He has also faced charges for repeated violation of the Foreign Exchange
Regulation Act. An income-tax raid on his ashram is reported to have uncovered
original drafts of payments to Adnan Khashoggi of USD 11 million.

• The Jain Commission, in its report, dedicated a volume to Chandraswami’s


alleged involvement in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

• In May 2009, the Supreme Court granted him permission to travel abroad, lifting
a ban on overseas travel imposed as a result of his alleged involvement in the
assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

Famous climber Ueli Steck dies in a tragic accident near Mount Everest

One of the world’s most renowned climbers, Ueli Steck, a Swiss rock climber and
mountaineer,died in an accident in Nepal near Mount Everest.He was 40.

Steck died after falling to the foot of Mount Nuptse, a smaller peak in the area.
The accident happened when he was doing an acclimatizing climb for an attempt
of the never-repeated Hornbein route on the West Ridge of Everest without
supplemental oxygen.Steck was planning to climb 8850-metre Mount Everest and
nearby Mount Lhotse in May 2017.

• Ueli Steck had won two Piolet d'Or awards, in 2009 and 2014.

• He was famous for his speed records on the North Face trilogy in the Alps, which
earned him the nickname “Swiss Machine.”

• He achieved the 9th difficulty rating (UIAA) in climbing at the age of 17.

• In June 2004, he and Stephan Siegrist climbed the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau
within 25 hours.

• He set his first speed record on the North Face of the Eiger in 2007, climbing it in
3 hours and 54 minutes. The record was later lowered by Steck himself to 2 hours
47 minutes 33 seconds.

• In 2014, he made the first solo ascent of Mt.Annapurna, and won his second
Piolet d'Or.

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James Bond actor Roger Moore passed away at 89

Former James Bond star Roger Moore passed away in Switzerland after a brief
battle with cancer. He was 89.

• Roger Moore played the iconic role of James Bond after Sean Connery announced
that he would no longer be playing the part.

• Moore became the longest-running Bond, as he acted in seven films between


1973 and 1985 including in ‘Live and Let Die’ in 1973 and ‘A View to a Kill’ in 1985.

• He also played Simon Templar in television series ‘The Saint’ between 1962 and
1969.

• He was also very passionate about his humanitarian work with the UNICEF. He
was introduced to the charity work by late Audrey Hepburn.

• He became the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991and worked mainly to


protect children’s rights.

• He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for services to charity.

• He was also appointed as a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by
the French Government in 2008.

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For REFERENCE

About the South Asia satellite

• The South Asia Satellite, also known as the GSAT-9, is a geosynchronous satellite
and will be used for broadcasting, telecommunication, disaster management,
telemedicine and a host of other development purposes.

• It involves space diplomacy for regional cooperation and serves as an example for
the application of space technology for collective development goals.

• The satellite weighing 2230 kilogramme during lift-off and carrying 12 Ku-Band
transponders w

has been developed at a cost of about 235-crore rupees.

• The total cost of the project including the launch is said to be about 450-crore
rupees.

• The intended operational life of the satellite is more than 12 years.

The national space agency ISRO used the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage in this
flight of the GSLV for the fourth time. It was the 11th flight of the GSLV.

In short, as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is a satellite sans


frontiers, for the nations to grow together. in his recent radio address to the
nation, “Mann ki Baat”, Prime Minister Modi said that this South Asia Satellite is
India’s gift to the region and this will go a long way in addressing the economic and
development priorities of the nations in the region.

Highlights of the BrahMos cruise missile


• BrahMos is a multi-stage missile having a solid propellant in the first stage and
the ramjet liquid propellant in the second stage.
• It can be launched from land, sea, sub-seas and air.
• It operates on ‘Fire and Forget Principle’ by adopting varieties of flights on its
way to the target.
• It approaches the enemy target with a top speed of Mach 2.8.
• The missile has been developed by the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited and
was a joint venture between the Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroeyenia and
India's DRDO.
• The missile derives its name from the names of two rivers, namely the
Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

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Key highlights of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System

• It was developed because access to foreign government-controlled global


navigation satellite systems is not guaranteed in hostile situations, as happened to
the Indian military in 1999 when it was dependent on the American Global
Positioning System (GPS) during the Kargil War.

• The project to develop the system was approved by the Indian government in
May 2006.

• The system will cover the entire country, Indian Ocean and its surroundings, with
a reach till eastern parts of Arabian Peninsula in the west and up to some parts of
China in the east. In the south, the system’s signals will work till Malaysia.

• It will provide standard positioning service to all users with a position accuracy of
5 metre.

• Unlike the GPS, NavIC system has dual frequency (S and L bands) allowing use of
high and low frequency signals.

• The system will provide two levels of service, the standard positioning service
will be open for civilian use, and a restricted service (an encrypted one) for
authorized users (including the military).

Main features of GSLV Mk- III (The Fat Boy)

• It is 43.43 metres in height, 4 metres round and has a lift-off mass of 640 tonnes.

• Unlike GSLV Mk II, which can only place 2 tonne class of satellites in space, GSLV
Mk III will be able to place 4-tonne class satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer
Orbits.

• The indigenous cryogenic stage LVM 3 placed in the satellite also makes it
capable of placing heavy payloads into Low Earth Orbits of 600 km altitude.

• The vehicle’s new indigenous cryogenic engine is India’s largest cryogenic engine
that has been designed and developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre of
ISRO.

• A cryogenic engine provides more thrust for every kilogram of cryogenic


propellant (liquid hydrogen or liquid oxygen) that it burns.

• It can store 27 tonnes of such propellant, with a thrust of 186 kiloNewton.

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• The LVM 3 also has two Solid Rocket Boosters, S200, which will provide a huge
thrust that is required for the lift off. They require a burn time of 130 seconds and
have a thrust of 9316 kilo Newton.

About Howitzers and Bofors Guns

After firing tables are ready, three more guns will be received in the second stage
in September 2018 for training. Thereafter, induction will commence from March
2019 onwards at the rate of five guns per month till complete consignment is
received by mid-2021.

While 25 guns will come in a fly-away condition, the rest will be assembled in India
by the BAE Systems in partnership with Mahindra Defence. The 155 mm, 39-calibre
guns will fire Indian ammunitions.

The Indian Army is in urgent need of ULH so it had proceeded through a


government-to-government deal with the US in November 2016 for the supply of
the 145 howitzers at a cost of nearly Rs 5000 crore. India had last procured
howitzers in the mid-1980s from Swedish defence major Bofors.

Swedish Bofors was the last modern artillery gun that was inducted into the Army
in last 1980s and start of 1990s, when late Rajiv Gandhi led Congress was in power
in the country. Later the deal with Swedish arms giant AB Bofors was caught in
corruption of kickbacks of about Rs 1500 crore.

Key highlights of NISAR,the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar

• The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar will provide an unprecedented detailed


view of Earth by using advanced radar imaging.

• The satellite is designed to observe and take measurements of some of the


planet's most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet
collapse, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and
landslides.

• Under the terms of the agreement, NASA will provide the mission's L-band
synthetic aperture radar (SAR), a high-rate communication subsystem for science
data, GPS receivers, a solid state recorder, and a payload data subsystem. On the
other hand, the ISRO will provide the satellite bus, an S-band synthetic aperture
radar, the launch vehicle and associated launch services.

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• Data collected from the ambitious mission will unfold information about the
evolution and state of Earth's crust. It will also help scientists better understand
our planet's processes and changing climate, and aid future resource and hazard
management.

• The satellite design will make use of a large deployable mesh antenna and will
operate on dual L band and S band.

• NISAR will be 3-axis stabilised and is planned to be launched into a Sun-


synchronous dawn to dusk orbit with a mission life of 3 years.

Key highlights of Solibacillus kalamii

• Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California discovered the


new bacterium on filters installed on the ISS.

• The filter on which the new bug was found remained on board the ISS for 40
months. The high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter is a component of
the routine housekeeping and cleaning system. The filter was later analysed at
JPL.

• The discovery was published by Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a senior research


scientist at the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at JPL, in
the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology in 2017. His
main job is to monitor the environment of the station so that harmful bugs do not
proliferate. He heads the microbial observatory on the ISS, which studies
microorganisms associated with compartments owned by the US.

• Even though S. kalamii has not yet been found on Earth, it is not an
extraterrestrial lifeform.

About Yuegong-1

• Yuegong-1 is a Chinese research facility for developing a moon base.

• Yuegong-1 is a self-contained closed facility where occupants can live for a long
duration with no outside inputs other than power and energy.

• It includes a vegetation area of two cabins, a living area with 3 bedrooms, dining
room, bathroom and a waste disposal chamber.

• The space cabin was designed by Liu Hong of the Beijing University of
Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA).

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• It is a type of a Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS), the first one ever
built in China and the third in the world.

• The facility was unveiled on the Chinese New Year on 31 January 2014 and was
commissioned just before the first mission in February 2014.

What is a Bioregenerative Life Support System?

It is an artificial ecosystem where animals, plants and microorganisms co-exist.

It is the most advanced life support technology and can provide a habitation
environment similar to the Earth's biosphere for space missions with extended
durations.

The system enables the production of food internally and regeneration of oxygen
through the vegetation compartment.

It also enables recycling of water and the crew’s waste is in turn used as a
fertilizer for the growth of vegetation.

About Indians in UN Peace-keeping Missions

• Currently, more than 96000 uniformed personnel from 124 troop and police-
contributing countries serve under the UN flag.

• These personnel are joined by more than 15000 international and national
civilian staff and nearly 1600 United Nations Volunteers.

• India is the largest cumulative troop contributor. It has provided almost 200000
troops in nearly 50 out of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the past six
decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions.

• So far, around 168 Indian personnel have sacrificed themselves while serving in
UN missions.

• Currently, over 7600 Indian military and police personnel are deployed in the UN
peace operations in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti,
Lebanon, Liberia, the Middle East, South Sudan, Sudan and the Western Sahara.

Highlights of the revision of recommendations of 7th Pay Commission


• The modified formulation of pension revision will lead to an additional benefit to
the pensioners and an additional expenditure of approximately Rs 5031 crore for
2016-17 over and above the expenditure already incurred.

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• It will benefit over 55 lakh pre-2016 civil and defence pensioners and family
pensioners.
• Revision of pension based on information contained in the Pension Payment
Order (PPO) issued to every pensioner. The revised procedure of fixation of
notional pay is more scientific, rational and implementable in all the cases.
• Retention of percentage-based regime of disability pension implemented post
6th CPC, which the 7th pay commission had recommended to be replaced by a
slab-based system.
• The decision of retaining the percentage based regime will benefit existing and
future Defence pensioners. It would also entail an additional expenditure of Rs 130
crore per annum.

Key features of the National Steel Policy 2017

• Create self-sufficiency in steel production by providing policy support & guidance


to private manufacturers, MSME steel producers, CPSEs

• Encourage adequate capacity additions

• Development of globally competitive steel manufacturing capabilities

• Cost-efficient production

• Domestic availability of iron ore, coking coal and natural gas

• Facilitating foreign investment

• Asset acquisitions of raw materials

• Enhancing the domestic steel demand

Key highlights of the Policy:

• It seeks to increase consumption of steel and major segments are infrastructure,


automobiles and housing. It also seeks to increase per capita steel consumption to
the level of 160 Kgs by 2030 from existing level of around 60 Kg.

• It stipulates that adoption of energy efficient technologies in the MSME steel


sector will be encouraged to improve the overall productivity and reduce energy
intensity.

• Steel Ministry will facilitate research and development in the sector through the
establishment of Steel Research and Technology Mission of India (SRTMI).

• The Union Ministry through policy measures will ensure availability of raw
materials like iron ore, coking coal and non-coking coal, natural gas and more at
competitive rates.

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About Iron and steel industry in India

• During 2014 and 2015, India was the third largest producer of raw steel and the
largest producer of sponge iron in the world.

• The industry produced 91.46 million tons of total finished steel and 9.7 million
tons of pig iron.

• Most iron and steel in India is produced from iron ore.

• Most of the public sector undertakings market their steel through the Steel
Authority of India (SAIL).

• The iron and steel industry in India is organised into three categories: main
producers, other major producers and secondary producers.

About Deep Sea Mission

The program on Polymetallic nodules was initiated at CSIR-NIO with the collection
of the first nodule sample from the Arabian Sea on board the first Research Vessel
Gaveshani on 26 January 1981. India was the first country in the world to have
been given the Pioneer Area for exploration of deep-sea mineral viz. Polymetallic
nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin in 1987. This was based on the extensive
surveys carried out by the scientists of CSIR-NIO, on several research ships leading
to the allocation of an area of 150000 sq km to the country with exclusive rights
under the UN Law of the Sea.

Subsequently, Environment Impact Assessment studies for nodule mining by CSIR-


NIO, development of metal extraction process by CSIR-National Metallurgical
Laboratory, Jamshedpur and CSIR-Institute for Minerals and Metals Technology,
Bhubaneswar and development of mining technology by National Institute of Ocean
Technology, Chennai, have been taken up under the national program on
Polymetallic nodules funded by Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Based on the resource evaluation, India has now retained an area of 75,000 sq km
with an estimated resource of about 100 million tonnes of strategic metals such
Copper, Nickel, Cobalt besides Manganese and Iron. A First Generation Mine-site
(FGM) with an area of 18000 sq km has been identified. Latest technologies for
extraction of metals from the minerals have also been developed under the
programme. Detailed environmental data has been collected for compliance with
International Seabed Authorities requirements. Besides identifying the mineral

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resource and developing technologies for mining and extraction, the programme
has also resulted in high impact research as well as manpower development.

Highlights of the Chitale Committee report

• The report says erosion, sediment transport and siltation are very complex
phenomena.

• It is impossible to apply a “one-size-fits-all‟ approach to sediment management


and control because the issues involved are frequently very regionally-specific.

• Local factors such as topography, river control structures, soil and water
conservation measures, tree cover, and riparian land-use or land disturbance (for
example agriculture, mining, etc.) can have a large impact on sediment loads in
rivers.

• River control structures (such as reservoirs), soil conservation measures and


sediment control programmes can cause downstream sediment loads to decrease,
while factors such as land disturbance (clearing of vegetation, for example) or
agricultural practices can cause increased sediment loads.

• At the same time, indiscriminate de-siltation works may result in more harm to
ecology and environment flow. Thus, there is a need to evolve Guidelines, better
broad principles, which should be kept in mind while planning and implementing
de-silting works.

• According to the report erosion, sediment transport and siltation in large rivers
like Ganga are very complex phenomena and their estimation has inherent
limitations and uncertainties.

• A reconnaissance of Main River Ganga on Google earth map reveals that different
reaches are in a dynamic equilibrium phase.

• Sedimentation is mainly seen downstream of Bhimgauda barrage and near the


confluences of tributary rivers with Ganga.

• The discharge congestion, large-scale sediment deposition and its negative


effects are mainly seen downstream of the confluence of Ghagra and beyond.

• The river floodplain drastically widens beyond the confluence of Ghagra and is
estimated to be around 12 to 15 km.

The committee says though de-siltation works can improve the hydraulic
performance of the river and this itself can justify undertaking de-siltation, these
have no direct role in improving environment flow in the river. On the other hand,

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indiscriminate de-silting or sand mining would cause adverse impacts on river e-
flow.

Key Details of Anti-dumping duty

• The imposed fine on both products would be effective for a period of five years.

• Clear float glass is a superior quality glass that is used in construction,


refrigeration, mirror and solar energy industries.

• In a separate probe, the Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties


(DGAD) had concluded that these products were dumped into India and have
caused material injury to the domestic industry.

• Three companies including Saint-Gobain India had filed the application for
dumping probe of this product.

• The other two producers of this glass in India are- Asahi India Glass Ltd and
Gujarat Guardian.

• Similarly, Banco Products (India) had filed the application for dumping probe of
aluminium radiators from China.

Countries initiate an anti-dumping investigation in order to determine if the


domestic industry has suffered from the flow of below-cost import and as a
counter-measure, they come up with duties under the multi-lateral WTO regime.

About Patanjali Research Institute


• The Patanjali Research Foundation, a part of Patanjali Yogpeeth, was founded in
August 2010.
• The institute is named after the great Indian sage Patanjali who first compiled
the numerous writings on yoga in a way which can be understood by people.
• It will evaluate indigenous systems of medicine, particularly yoga and ayurveda.
• It will study the scientific basis for ancient practices used in various areas of life
like farming and architecture so that these ancient practices can be better
understood.
• The main motive of the institute is to evaluate the use of home remedies through
scientific studies so that these methods of healing may be integrated into
contemporary healing practices.
• The institute aims to conduct research work on Drug Screening, pharmacognosy,
drug discovery, pharmacology, chronic disease study and more.

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How Delhi’s Heritage Line will be beneficial for trade?
Old Delhi is not only the tourism and cultural hub of the city but it also homes
some big wholesale markets of Meena Bazaar and Daryaganj.

The Heritage Line connects Meena Bazaar in the old city which evokes a medieval
charm and elegance. This line also connects to Asia's largest wholesale spice
market Khari Baoli, a market that has been operating since the 17th century. It
offers all kinds of spices, nuts, herbs and other food products.

With this line, vendors, who buy things from Old Delhi wholesale markets, will now
be connected to the metro network through the Violet line. It will not only make
the transport of goods easier, but also reduce the cost of transportation.

Comment
The Heritage line is expected to reduce the considerable load of Chandni Chowk
and Chawri Bazaar stations of Yellow Line. It would help in de-congesting not only
Rajeev Chowk, but will also help in reducing the traffic in the old Delhi area.

It will make easier for people to reach Delhi Gate, Daryaganj, Jama Masjid, Matia
Mahal, Red Fort and parts of Chandni Chowk that are closer to Red Fort.

This new line also makes Kashmere Gate as the first and the biggest station of
Delhi metro to have three interchanges - yellow, red and violet.

Key highlights of the new regulations banning sale of cattle for slaughter

• The cattle trade is permitted only among farm land owners across the nation.

• Cattle can only be sold to a person possessing documents that he/she is an


agriculturist. A trader has to submit five copies of proof of sale at the local
revenue office, the local veterinary doctor in the district of the purchaser, animal
market committee, apart from one each for seller and buyer.

• The new regulations state that cattle bought cannot be resold within six months.
It also states that young and unfit animals cannot be traded.

• Animal markets cannot be set up within 50 kilometres of an international border


and 25 kilometres of a state border.

• Transporting cattle outside of India will require special approval of the state
government nominee.

• All animal markets will have to seek the approval of district animal market
committee to be headed by a magistrate. The committee will also have two
representatives from government-approved animal welfare groups.

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• The new regulations state around 30 norms for animal welfare in markets, like
water, fans, bedding, ramps, non-slippery flooring, veterinary facility and separate
enclosure for sick animals among others. The owner of the animal has to bear the
cost of its upkeep in a shelter. In case, the owner is unable to pay, the cost would
be recovered as land arrears. The state government will specify the costs every
year on 1 April.

Comment

• The new rules do not amount to a wide ban on cattle slaughter or its trade.
However, they will constrict supplies to India’s meat industry, which sources about
90 per cent of its requirement from animal markets.

• Also, the rule of cattle not being resold for six months will hurt the business of
cattle traders. Farmers will also be hit because they will be deprived of a
traditional source of income from selling non-milch and old cattle. Farmers who
cannot take care of their cattle will have to pay for their upkeep in shelters.

• The new regulations have also introduced a lot of paperwork for cattle traders,
who are predominantly illiterate and poor.

• It is also speculated that the new rules might introduce inspector raj as it
mandates veterinary inspector to certify proper loading and unloading of animals.

India’s concerns over China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative

The First One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Summit concluded on 15 May 2017 in Beijing,
China. The Summit, showcased China’s plans to build a network of trade routes
under the One Belt, One Road initiative to the representatives of 57 participating
countries.

As a founding-member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is


a financial arm of the OBOR, India is supposed to participate in the summit.
However, it has boycotted the summit by raising three concerns, which are related
to sovereignty, procedures and leadership.

While boycotting the OBOR, India said, "No country can accept a project that
ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity".

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Against this backdrop, it is pertinent to understand the features of One Belt One
Road initiative, its scope and benefits and reasons behind India’s concerns over
OBOR.

What is One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative?

• For the first time, China’s top economic planning agency, the National
Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), on 28 March 2015 released an action
plan for One Belt, One Road initiative.

• Primarily, the initiative seeks to establish new routes linking three continents -
Asia, Europe and Africa by 2049.

• As the name, One Belt, One Road, suggests, the initiative has two parts – Silk
Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

• Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB): It seeks to link China to Europe by cutting
through mountainous regions in the Central Asian Region.

• The word Belt is referred as a planned network of overland road and rail routes,
oil and natural gas pipelines, and other infrastructure projects.

• This network stretches from Xi’an in Central China, through Central Asia, and
ultimately reach as far as Moscow, Rotterdam, and Venice.

• Its focus is on jointly building a new Eurasian Land Bridge and developing China-
Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia and China-Indochina Peninsula
economic corridors by taking advantage of international transport routes.

• Though the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Bangladesh-China-India-


Myanmar Economic Corridor are not part of the OBOR, they are closely related to
it.

• 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR): It is the maritime equivalent of SREB and
seeks to link China's port facilities with the African coast and then pushes up
through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea.

• It is a network of planned port and other coastal infrastructure projects that dot
the map from the South and Southeast Asia to East Africa and the northern
Mediterranean Sea.

• It is designed to go from China's coast to Europe through the South China Sea and
the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China's coast through the South China Sea
to the South Pacific in the other.

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What is the Scope of the plan?

• The scope of the OBOR extends well beyond infrastructure construction. It also
includes efforts to promote greater financial integration and use of the Renminbi,
Chinese Currency, by foreign countries.

• The plan will further extend to create an Information Silk Road linking regional
information and communications technology networks, and lower barriers to cross-
border trade and investment in the region, among other initiatives.

• New regional institutions, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
and New Silk Road Fund (NSRF) are also designed in part to complement and
support the OROB initiative.

• Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB): Its primary objective is to finance


infrastructure projects in Asia. Following a 15 month participatory process, the
USD 100 billion fund started functioning on 16 June 2016.

• At present it has 53 members, including India, which is a founding-member of the


AIIB.

• In June 2016, AIIB approved first loans for projects in four countries – Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Indonesia – which are worth USD 509 million.

• In May 2017, the AIIB approved USD 160 million loan for a power project in
Andhra Pradesh, the first credit from the bank for an Indian project.

• New Silk Road Fund (NSRF): The objective of the NSRF is to foster increased
investment in countries along the One Belt, One Road. So far, China has pledged
USD 40 billion for the fund and it has become operational on 29 December 2014.

What are the benefits of OBOR?

Benefits to China

• Many of the infrastructure projects proposed under the OROB run through some
of China’s poorest and least developed regions and is expected to provide stimulus
to help cushion the effects of the deepening slowdown of China.

• The OROB initiative will improve China’s internal economic integration and
competitiveness and spur more regionally balanced growth.

• The construction is intended to help make use of China’s enormous industrial


over capacity and ease the entry of Chinese goods into regional markets.

• The plan would strengthen China’s importance as an economic partner for its
neighbors and, potentially, enhance Beijing’s diplomatic leverage in the region.

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• Increased investment in energy and mineral resources, particularly in Central
Asia, could also help reduce China’s reliance on commodities imported from
overseas, including oil transiting the Strait of Malacca.

Benefits to the Region

• As per the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Belt and Road
Initiative represents a powerful platform for economic growth and regional co-
operation.

• It touches the lives of more than 4 billion people in 68 countries, many of whom
live in developing countries.

• The augmented infrastructure facilities will also help developing and developed
countries in the region in achieving the goals set by the 2030 Sustainable
Development Agenda.

• Resources of the energy rich countries in the Central Asia Region will help
emerging economies like India and China in meeting their energy demands.

• As per the NDRC, the principles of shared interests, destiny and responsibility
will help in achieving mutual political trust, economic integration and cultural
inclusiveness.

What are India’s concerns?

• As per the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), which is funded by
the Ministry of Defence, the OBOR initiative doesn’t pose an open threat to India’s
national security.

• However, as per the IDSA, unravelling the details of the OBOR suggests subtle
security concerns and challenges for India.

• In terms of challenge from the SREB, the biggest comes from the China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC).

• The CPEC project is meant to connect Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Province with
the strategic port of Gwadar in Pakistan. India has always been concerned about
the China-Pakistan understanding over the Gwadar Port.

• The CPEC project runs through the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan
Occupied Kashmir (POK), an integral part of India. It portends that China may
emerge as a ‘direct party’ in the Kashmir dispute in future.

• Even though China has maintained a somewhat ‘neutral’ position on the Kashmir
issue in recent years particularly since the Kargil war, terming it mostly as a

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‘bilateral historical dispute’, the Chinese pursuit of the CPEC project may impel it
to revisit its position on Kashmir in future.

• As for the MSR, it poses two broad challenges to India –

• First, to India’s presence as a maritime power in the context of the South China
Sea and India’s dominance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

• Second, to the maritime understanding evolving in the IOR between India and
other powers such as the United States (US), Australia and Japan.

• The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) today expects India to play a
larger role. The US too has been urging India to pursue a more active policy in the
ASEAN region under its Pivot to Asia Policy. The MSR will certainly be testing
India’s maritime influence in the region and the Act East Policy in the coming
years.

Conclusion

Since 2015, the Chinese president Xi Jinping has made the One Belt, One Road a
centerpiece of both his foreign policy and domestic economic strategy.
Undoubtedly, China’s efforts to implement this initiative will have an important
effect on the region’s economic architecture—patterns of regional trade,
investment, infrastructure development—and in turn have strategic implications
for other countries including India.

Given the context, the litmus test for the Indian policy makers lies in the ability to
‘get the most out of this initiative’ without allowing any disruption to India’s
interests in the region.

ESCAP Report’s views on Demonetisation

The annual report from ESCAP said that the economic conditions were weighed
down in late 2016 and early 2017 due to an unexpected removal/withdrawal of the
two biggest banknotes from the market in November 2016. These banknotes were
subsequently replaced with the new currency. It says, this withdrawal led to a
liquidity crunch, which in result delayed payments of wages and purchase of inputs
in the industrial sector.

The report says, the impact of demonetization on the economy is expected to be


transient as a slower-than-expected recovery would particularly diminish the
outlook for cash-intensive sectors and supply chains for agricultural products. In
regard to the same, the report also talks about the budget 2017-18 that calls for
measures that will seek to mitigate the large temporary adverse shocks on income

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and wealth, such as expanding a low-cost housing scheme and providing more
relief to the agricultural sector and credit support for small enterprises.

Notwithstanding its short-term disruptions, one of the medium-term benefits of


the demonetization that took place was to help expand banking sector liquidity.
The country's medium-term economic development will also benefit from recent
reforms that are aimed at easing domestic supply bottlenecks, such as the
implementation of the goods and services tax, amendment of a bankruptcy law and
opening up of the pharmaceuticals, defence and civil aviation sectors.

Other facts highlighted by the PFRDA report

• The report says that "having personal finance and retirement planning a part of
the formal education curriculum can aid in achieving the overall objective of
financial literacy". It made a case for sufficient incentivisation of intermediaries to
increase penetration.

• India is a grossly under penetrated financial market in terms of retail


participation. The most that investors prefer investing in is bank fixed deposits
(FDs), which account for more than 44 per cent of the financial savings in the
market.

• Provident and pension funds form just 14 per cent of the savings and are
primarily fed by the organised section of the society.

As per the report, increasing the penetration of pension products via voluntary
pension schemes is the biggest hurdle the Indian pension industry faces today,
especially given the gargantuan size of the unorganised sector.

Citing a case study of government's flagship Atal Pension Yojna, the report said of
the 47 lakh subscribers, almost 49 per cent have subscribed for Rs 1000 pension
and about 37 per cent of Rs 5000, the top bracket.

"Though the pension amounts seem low, it can be inferred that people are not able
to afford even these contributions," the report said.

About the Ministerial Advisory Panel in Victoria State,Australia

The panel was arranged after a parliamentary inquiry in 2016 that recommended
legalising euthanasia in Victoria for adults of sound mind in the final weeks of life.
Despite the inquiry's recommendation, the panel is considering defining a patient's
"end of life" timeframe as six, 12, 18 or 24 months.

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The panel has received more than 300 submissions from around the state in order
to develop the framework around who would qualify for assisted suicide. "There
was a strong consensus that 'enduring and unbearable suffering' be determined
according to the person's own perception, not by anyone else," Brian Owler, the
chairman of the panel, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The report - which is based on submissions to a panel investigating a potential


framework for an assisted dying bill - reached no conclusion about when terminally
ill people might be able to opt for an assisted death.

Current/Existing law in Victoria

In 1967, suicide was decriminalised in Victoria, however, the process of inciting or


aid or abet to suicide was kept illegal.
Reports suggest that despite the ban offenders including medical practitioners
have been assisting people to die by breaking the law. The events existed for all
these years even after they knew about the criminal charges they may face like
manslaughter, murder or aiding, inciting and abetting suicide.

But they always succeeded in protecting themselves by invoking the doctrine of


double effect as a legal defence to charges relating to a patient’s death from
excessive pain relief.

In addition to this, the medical practitioners also defended themselves by


administering pain relief with the intention of relieving pain rather than hastening
death. This practice is supported by the Code of Ethics of the Australian Medical
Association that states that medical practitioners should provide treatment for
pain and suffering ‘even when such therapy may shorten a patient’s life’.

What is the doctrine of double effect?

This doctrine means a process that states that it is lawful for medical practitioners
to provide adequate pain relief, even though it has the unintended consequence of
ending a patient’s life. This doctrine of double effect is legalised in Western
Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

Key Details about Stephen Hawking’s views on survival for humans

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Hawking claims in the series that time is running out for humanity on the Earth and
that they would have to leave the planet in order to survive.

Hawking has previously warned of drastic effects of the aggressive instincts of


humans, especially with the fast pace of growth in technology. He warned of the
chances of a nuclear or biological war and added that only a world government
would have a chance of preventing this impending doom.

Hawking also noted that humans may lack the skills as species that are required for
survival.

In fact, billionaire Elon Musk who is hoping to establish a settlement on Mars within
the next few decades through his aerospace firm SpaceX, also stated in 2016 that
history suggests the possible occurrence of a doomsday event in the future that
will make survival on earth almost impossible.

The BBC show Tomorrow’s World would be returning to television after 14 long
years. The show had been on air for almost 38 years.

The new season will mainly aim to find Britain’s greatest invention and for the
same, it will be taking the public’s vote on the innovation that has been the most
influential in their lives. Two of its episodes would also explore the science of
changing gender and whether it is possible to cure a psychopath.

Detailed Reading on Selected Topics

Triple Talaq and Uniform Civil Code


The Allahabad High Court in its order said that triple talaq is 'unconstitutional' and
its a grave injustice to women's right. The High Court also observed that triple
talaq practice, under which men can divorce their wife by saying "Talaq" three
times, is cruel to women and found it absurd.
The court said that personal law of any community is not superior to constitution.
Earlier, the central government also took a firm position against triple talaq and
said to Supreme Court that it violates the fundamental rights of women.

Recent Triple Talaq Controversy

Concept of Triple Talaq :


The talaq is endorsed by several scholars of the Sunni theology, and some in the
Zaydi theology.
It consists of the husband saying the phrase "I divorce you" (in Arabic, talaq) to his
wife, three times. Shia and Sunnī have different rules to engage a talaq. The talaq
has three steps:

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1.Initiation
2.Reconciliation
3.Completion

Triple Talaq is a Muslim practice in which a Muslim man can legally divorce his
wife almost instantaneously by uttering the Arabic word for divorce, talaq, three
times in a row, or by indicating his intention to end the marriage in similar ways,
for example, by saying “I reject you”. And presently supreme court of Indian is on
process that whether to declare this practice unconstitutional or not. Supreme
court asked government about its stand on triple talaq and government came out
in support of the view that such practices should be abolished from a democratic
state.Amid the ongoing debate over ‘Triple Talaq’,government’s stand is of the
clear view that personal laws should be constitutionally compliant and in
conformity with norms of gender equality and the right to live with dignity. And
again many objections are being made against this view of the government and
supreme court by orthodox set of the society. And their views are basically based
on the presumption that the law written in their religious books can never be
altered and amended. By citing this argument The All India Muslim Personal Law
Board has filed an counter affidavit in the supreme court. And the whole matter is
yet to be reached at a clear conclusion. Our founding fathers deemed
constitution a supreme authority. And religious laws of any community can not be
placed above the constitution. And the uniform civil code holds the true spirit
of secularism which is a very essential part of a democratic nation. So the
legislation of uniform civil code would be a big step in the direction of gender
justice and equality in India which will only strengthen our democratic values.
In the backdrop of this, the Union Law Ministry has asked the Law Commission to
examine in detail all issues pertaining to the Uniform Civil Code and submit a
report to the government. The Legislative Department has made a reference to the
Law Commission for an in-depth examination of “matters in relation to Uniform
Civil Code”.

An emotive issue:
 The government’s request to the Law Commission for a report on the uniform
civil code comes on the trail of many related developments over the past several
years. „
 Last year the Supreme Court had said that divorced Muslim women were legally
entitled to maintenance from their former husbands under Indian law. The
Supreme Court had also nudged the Centre, asking it to take a quick decision on
the code. „
 In 2011 the Delhi High Court had turned down a Muslim man’s appeal that he
could not be compelled to pay maintenance to his former wife because the law
in question did not apply to the Muslims. „
 These developments are to be seen in the overall context of the Constitution’s
Directive Principles of State Policy, which enjoin upon the State to have a
uniform civil code (Article-44).
 When the Constitution came into force, while separate electorates were
abolished in pursuance of the goal of national integration, enough safeguards
were kept for protecting religious and linguistic minorities and their religious and
cultural rights. With that in view, successive governments at the Centre
remained aloof from this. „

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 Another thing to be kept in mind is that having the uniform civil code does not
concern the largest minority, the Muslims, alone. There are other communities
that have their own civil laws and customs on marriage, divorce, adoption,
maintenance and succession. „
 But now there are visible signs of change, with advocacy groups of religious
communities asking for a uniform civil code. Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, a
Muslim women’s advocacy group, has been campaigning against triple talaq. „
 The government, however, should move cautiously in the matter because this is a
touchy subject and so can be emotive.

Why India needs a uniform civil code? „


 First, a secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than
differentiated rules based on religious practices. „
 There is a second reason why a uniform civil code is needed: gender justice. The
rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim.
The practice of triple talaq is a classic example. „
 It is unfortunate that the demand for a uniform civil code has been framed in the
context of communal politics. Too many well-meaning people see it as
majoritarianism under the garb of social reform. „
 Even the courts have often said in their judgements that the government should
move towards a uniform civil code. The judgement in the Shah Bano case is well
known, but the courts have made the same point in several other major
judgements. „
 The government will have to work hard to build trust, but more importantly,
make common cause with social reformers rather than religious conservatives. „
 Rather than an omnibus approach, the government could bring separate aspects
such as marriage, adoption, succession and maintenance into a uniform civil code
in stages.
 The civil law in Goa derived from the Portuguese Civil Procedure Code of 1939—
could be a useful starting point for a national debate. The coastal state
continued with its practice of treating all communities alike even after its entry
into the Indian Union. „
 The government would also do well to complement the overdue move towards a
uniform civil code with a comprehensive review of several other laws in the
context of gender justice. „
 The underlying principle should be that constitutional law will override religious
law in a secular republic. „
 It is now 66 years since the Constitution came into force. It is high time there
was a decisive step towards a common civil code. If not now, then when?

Code and Effect


 India has separate sets of personal laws for each religion governing marriages,
divorce, succession, adoption and maintenance.
 Hindu law was modernised in the 1950s, but those for Christians and Muslims are
colonial-era relics.
 If a uniform civil code is enacted, all personal laws will cease to exist.
 It will do away with gender biases in Muslim law, Hindu law and Christian law
that have been often challenged by women on the ground that they violate the
right to equality.

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 Polygamy, triple talaq and other such practices that are heavily biased against
women will become history.

Constitutional Tangle
 Article 44 says the state shall work towards securing a uniform civil code across
the country replacing personal laws of various religious communities.
 The provision is a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy that are not
enforceable by any court.
But according to Article 37, the government is dutybound to apply these principles
in making laws.

The personal law:


 Most people believe that we do not have common civil laws in this country. The
reality is, all civil laws are common, except one law, namely the personal law
which varies with the religious groups. The personal law relates to marriage,
divorce, succession and inheritance, maintenance, custody of children and
adoption. „
 By tradition, the personal law is treated as religious, though religion has nothing
to do with it.
 One cannot deny the desirability of a uniform personal law consistent with
human rights and the principles of equality, fairness and justice. In fact, these
norms have to be observed in all human transactions in any civilized society. „
 The question is of the appropriate method to be adopted for enacting the law. „
 Child marriages, the absence of basic rights for deserted and divorced women
and the status of fatherless and abandoned children among all religious
communities including the prohibition of widow remarriage among vast sections
of the Hindus even today is the burdensome baggage of human hardships that this
country has to bear in the 21st century. „
 The triple talaq practised by Indian Muslims is no doubt not consistent with
morality, rationality or human rights, and needs to be done away with as early as
possible. Many Muslim countries have modified the provisions of the personal law
prohibiting bigamy and divorce by voicing talaq, talaq, talaq. No doubt, Muslim
women also have a similar right which is known as khulla; this practice comes
with restrictions, and in an overall situation dominated by patriarchy, it is as
good as ineffective.
 There is no doubt that all personal laws have to be just and equitable to both
men and women and, hence, the good from all personal laws has to be accepted
and the bad to be discarded. „
 Hence the uniform code, if and when enacted, will have to be a different one
from the personal laws of all religious communities. It will have to be framed by
consensus among all the religious groups and will have to conform to the norms
of modern values of freedom, equality, rationality, justice and humanism, for
both men and women. „
 It is true that if a rational common personal law is enacted, it will help eradicate
many evil, unjust and irrational practices prevalent across the communities, and
will also strengthen the unity and integrity of the country.

UCC
 As per Article 44 of the Constitution, the state shall “endeavour to secure
for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India”. „

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 The direction, notably, is not for Parliament to enact such a code straight
away but for all organs of the state to make efforts to “secure” uniformity
in civil laws. „
 The apex court of the country has repeatedly reminded the government of
this policy directive but has always respected its nonjusticiable nature and
refrained from issuing any direction. „
 The note of caution in the apex court’s Sarla Mudgal judgment “the
desirability of uniform civil code can be hardly doubted but it can concretise
only when social climate is properly built by the elite of the society and the
statesmen, instead of gaining personal mileage, rise above and awaken the
masses to accept the change” merits serious thinking by all stakeholders.

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Taxing Agricultural Income In India
NITI Aayog has suggested that agriculture income should be brought under the
purview of personal Income Tax in a bid to curb tax evasion.
During the discussion at the Governing Council meeting, the Aayog said that non-
agricultural entities sometimes are used as a blanket relief to evade taxes.
At present, all agricultural income is exempted from Income Tax irrespective of its
size. The main purpose of the provision is to protect farmers, but sometimes it is
used by non-agricultural entities to evade taxes by declaring agriculture as the
source of their income. So plugging of these loopholes would mitigate the
generation of black money. And it can be done by meticulously taxing the
agriculture income.
For instance, in the assessment year 2014-15, nine of the top 10 claimants for tax
exemption of agricultural income were corporations; the 10th was a state
government department.
Apart from it, numerous irregularities were found in agricultural income in 2011-12
and 2012-13. So it becomes important to think about taxing agricultural income.
Why to Tax Agriculture?
The data released by the RBI shows that there were about 225 million households
in India of which roughly 66 percent were in rural India. But rural India is clearly
out of the purview of all personal income taxation. But ideally there should be no
artificial distinction of rural and urban, so whatever is the parameter on personal
Income Tax on urban side, must be same on rural side.
The Aayog has also planned to reduce fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2018-19
and the revenue deficit to 0.9% of the GDP by 2019-20.
Taxing agricultural income should be just like any other economic activity: if
individuals and companies can be taxed, so should farmers, provided they go
beyond the exemption limit.
All other reasons given in support of not taxing farmers are more emotion-based.
Mostly they argue that the majority would be classified as socially and
economically deprived. But, this argument can be given for other sections too
which are being taxed, especially at the lower-income level.
It is very important to be realized that if agriculture has to be taxed, it would be
done by the States as our federal structure would not permit the Centre to do so.
To identify eligible individuals for taxation is a major problem because many of
them own small pieces of land or are landless laborers.
The latest data on tax collections reveals that of the 42 million-odd people in the
organized sector around 17 million are salaried and pay taxes.
And there are 56 million workers in the unorganized sector and 18 million pay
taxes. Particularly in the case of agriculture, there is around 120 million potential
assesses it will be difficult to identify them.

History of Tax reforms in Agriculture in India


In 1925, the Indian taxation inquiry committee observed that there is no historical
or theoretical justification for the continued exemption from the income tax of
income derived from agriculture. There are, however, administrative and political
objections to the removal of the exemption at the present time. Almost a century
later, both parts of that observation still hold true.
In India, six states presently have agricultural tax legislation on the books. They
are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. But the

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implementation varies substantially, from taxes not being levied at all to being
levied only upon income from plantations.
A number of other states such as Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have reversed their
policies on the issue over the decades, introducing and then rolling back
agricultural tax.
The reform attempts go as far back as 1947. Then the report of the expert
committee on financial provisions to the Constituent Assembly advised consulting
with the states to address the issue quickly.
In 1972, the Raj committee on taxation of agricultural wealth and income gave its
report which is considered perhaps the most comprehensive report on agricultural
taxation.
In 2002, the Vijay Kelkar committee had also addressed the issue, noting that
states should be persuaded to pass a resolution authorizing the Centre to pass a
tax on agricultural income that would then be assigned to the respective states.
In present, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conference with tax administrators in
June 2016 is the latest attempt in this line, when tax administrators brought up
the issue of taxing agricultural income.
How to Implement
The implementation of the taxation on agricultural income will demand something
out of the box. Theoretically, in the case of large farmers parameters for
exemption can be decided for specific crops.
For this, an assumed cost of production would be required to set which goes into a
unit of the produce and can be extrapolated to the proper level of income which
merits a tax.
The government will have to make the use of biometric impressions for all sale
transactions in the mandi and data can be recorded and aggregated leading to
subsequent taxation beyond the limit.
In this case, it is likely that proxy impressions will creep in so mandatory
registration of farmers at mandis will be helpful.
Once the National Agricultural Market attains a reasonable level in India, then
tracking such persons with large transactions becomes easier, and tax can be
imposed at source.
In the developed countries farming is done in an organized way so it becomes easy
to tax agricultural income. But in developing countries, farming is very
unorganized, the information systems are not satisfactory and even crop estimates
are based more on satellite imaging combined with arrivals which do not give the
full picture.
Apart from it, the sellers in mandis are mostly not the farmers as the crop goes
through an irregular network of intermediaries before entering the market. This
makes identification of the farmer difficult as the intermediary would be the
‘face’, who could be paying tax even today.
So it can be said that agricultural taxation in India is a definitely politically
sensitive issue with several vested interests involved. The Government will have to
be bold enough to operate the National Agricultural Market which breaks the
traditional stronghold.
When it would be accomplished then the next step would be to start reforms in the
direction of taxes so as to bring about greater accountability in the system while
plugging the lacuna.
Conclusion

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It is clear that the government is willing to treat agriculture on a par with other
sectors. But the government must also show equal care and urgency in addressing
the structural issues facing the agricultural sector. One of these cares is reform
the broken agricultural supply chain that still puts farmers at the mercy of
middlemen cartels.
Such reforms are significant if the government wants to make farming a
sustainable enterprise in the long run. Otherwise, tax on high-income farmers will
result only in taking resources away from agriculture into other sectors.
And without creating opportunities for poorer farmers who are stuck in agriculture,
their problems would remain unsolved. In this context, the historical transition of
labor and other resources from agriculture into other sectors is especially
important to keep in mind.
The rate of such transition has been very slow in India. The data show that the size
of the farm workforce increased by 28.9 million between 2001 and 2011. This
increase happened due to a combination of factors. Among the other reasons, this
is an important reason that the difficulty agricultural workers face in finding jobs
in other more advanced sectors. So, policymakers are expected to tread carefully
as they move forward on a long overdue fiscal and tax reform in the agriculture
sector.

Real Estate Regulation Act: A Positive Move


The Real Estate Act 2016 came into force from 1 May 2017. It promises of
protecting the right of consumers and bringing about transparency in the real
estate sector in India.
The government describes the implementation of the consumer-friendly Act as the
inception of an era where the consumer is the king.
Real estate sector has also welcomed the implementation of the Act. Real estate
sector thinks that it will bring a paradigm change in the way the Indian real estate
sector functions.
The legislation made by the government has brought in changes in the laws related
to real estate industry which will be helpful to protect home buyers and encourage
genuine private players.
Important Provisions in RERA
The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016, was passed by the
parliament in March 2016 and all the 92 sections of the Act came into effect from
1 May. Here are some important provisions which are explained in the bill:
Important Provisions in RERA 2016

1. According to the act the promoter of a real estate development firm is required
to maintain a separate escrow account for each of their projects.The investors and
buyers are required to deposit a minimum 70 per cent of the money. This money
can only be used for the cost borne towards the land and the construction of the
project. And, developers are required to keep their buyers informed of their other
ongoing projects.
2. RERA makes it mandatory for builders to submit the original approved plans for
their ongoing projects and the alterations that they made later.
They are also required to furnish details of revenue collected from allottees, the

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timeline for construction, how the funds were utilized, and delivery that will need
to be certified by an practicing Chartered Accountant /Engineer/Architect.
3. The Act makes it the responsibility of each state regulator to register real estate
projects and real estate agents operating in their states. The details of all
registered projects will be put up on a website for public access.
4. RERA has provisions which talk about the quality of construction in projects.
Over the last few years, buyers have protested about poor of flats. The regulator is
responsible to ensure protection to buyers in this matter for five years from the
date of possession. If any issue is raised by buyers in front of the regulator in this
period including the provision of services and quality of construction, the
developer will have to rectify the same in a matter of 30 days.
5. Developers can’t invite, sell, advertise, market or book any plot offer,
apartment, investment in projects, house, building, without first registering it with
the regulatory authority. And, after registration, all the advertisement inviting
investment will have to bear the unique RERA registration number. The
registration no. will be provided project-wise.
After registering the project, developers will have to furnish details of their
financial statements, legal title deed and supporting documents.
6. In case, when the promoter defaults on delivery within the agreed time, they
will be required to return the entire money invested by the buyers along with the
pre agreed interest rate mentioned in the contract based on the model contract
given by RERA.
If the buyer chooses not to take the money back, the builder will have to pay
monthly interest on each delay month to the buyer till they get delivery.
7. RERA mandates that when developers register with the regulator, a web page
will be created for the builder on the regulatory authority’s website. The
developer will be given login credentials using which it will upload all the
information regarding the registered projects on the regulator’s website. The
number, type of apartments, plots and projects and their completion status will be
updated at a maximum quarterly basis.
8. In order to add further security to buyers, RERA mandates that developers can’t
ask more than 10 per cent of the property’s cost as an advanced payment booking
amount before actually signing a registered sale agreement.
9. The regulator is given the power to imprison and fine builders based on a case
by case basis. The imprisonment can go up to a period of three years for a project.
Real State Data in India
The industry data shows that in India, real estate projects in the range of 2,349 to
4,488 were launched every year between 2011 and 2015, amounting to a total of
17,526 projects with investments of Rs13.70 lakh crore in 27 cities, including 15
state capitals. In real estate industry, abbout ten lakh buyers invest every year
with the dream of owning a house.
There are around 76,000 companies in the Indian real estate sector across the
county. Besides mandatory registration of projects and real estate agents, RERA
includes that the builders will have to deposit 70% of the funds collected from
buyers in a separate bank account for construction of the project. This will ensure
timely completion of the project as the funds could be withdrawn only for cons.
Impacts of RERA
RERA will have positive impacts on real estate industry. When applied effectively it
will help in solving myriads of problems faced by the buyers in India. It will go a
long way in assisting upstanding developers. The most important positive thing it

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will do is that it will ease the burden on innocent home buyers who put their life’s
savings into a real estate investment in the hope of having a roof over their head
but often face their dreams come tumbling down.
Another impact of RERA would be it will increase transparency in the sector and
boost confidence of both domestic and foreign investors.
There will be some “teething problem” initially in implementation of this law.
And, initially, supply will dip during this year but demand will improve as buyers
will have increased confidence about investing in the property market. The real
estate prices will remain stable now but rates could rise by 10% in the next six
months.
Conclusion
Finally, it can be said that the new legislation is a welcome enactment. Eventually
the benefit of any statute is based on its effective implementation.
Till now, only a few States have notified their rules despite a model set of rules.
The biggest responsibility lies on States to formulate rules and timely establish the
regulatory authorities.
If an existing authority is designated to take additional charge as the real estate
regulator, it will make the Act ineffective as that would affect the timeliness
prescribed under the Act. So the whole process ought to be started in a fresh way.

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MAY 2017

UNESCO to screen this Indian short film during World Press Freedom Day
celebrations
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will
screen short film ‘Azaad’ as a part of the World Press Freedom Day celebrations.
The event, which will celebrate the principle of freedom of press, will take place
in Jakarta from 1 May -4 May 2017. The event will be co-organised by the UNESCO,
the Government of Indonesia, and the Press Council of Indonesia.
The theme for the 2017 World Press Freedom Day is “Critical Minds for Critical
Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies“.
What ‘Azaad’ is about?
• The movie Azaad is written and directed by Rahul V. Chittella, who was
mentored by filmmaker Mira Nair for the film.
• The movie revolves about the dysfunctional relationship between a father and
his son.
• It goes on talk about freedom of expression in current times and what better way
to share this with journalists across the globe.
About World Press Freedom Day
• Every year, 3 May is celebrated as World Press Freedom Day.
• It celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom as well as evaluates
the freedom of press around the globe.
• The international day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993
following a recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO's General
Conference in 1991.

The Government has formed two separate committees to prepare draft of Ganga
Act, which aims at expediting implementation of Namami Gange programme and
lay down guidelines to rid the holy river of silt.
A committee under Justice (Retd) Girdhar Malviya has been entrusted with
responsibility of preparing the draft act that should have provisions to ensure
cleanliness and uninterrupted e-flow of Ganga, an official statement said.
79-year-old Malviya is chairman of Ganga Mahasabha, which was formed by his
grandfather and Banaras Hindu University founder Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.

Ex-secretary of Legislative Department VK Bhasin, IIT-Delhi Professor AK Gosain


and IIT Roorkee Professor Nayan Sharma are the other members of the panel which
will also have National Mission for Clean Ganga director Sundeep as the member
secretary.
The committee’s tenure is of three months, which may be extended by as many
months if need be, the statement said.

Similarly, a four-member committee has been floated under chairmanship of


Madhav Chitale, member of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) to
prepare guidelines for de-silting the river stretch between Bhimgauda
(Uttarakhand) and Farakka (West Bengal).

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Secretaries of Ministries of Water Resources and Environment, Forest and Climate
Change will be members of the panel, besides Central Water and Power Research
Station (Pune) director Mukesh Sinha.
“The committee has also been asked to establish difference between de-silting and
sand mining and also to establish need for de-silting for (ensuing) ecology and e-
flow of the river Ganga.
“The tenure of the committee would be for a period of three months,” the
statement said.
Both the committees have been formed in line with statements made by Union
Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti to this regard during NGRBA’s sixth meeting
on July 4 here.

Instant Triple Talaq Controversy: What & Why


The Supreme Court of India in March 2017 decided to form a five-judge
constitution bench to rule on the constitutional validity of the instantaneous
triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy among Muslims.
Accordingly, a constitution bench consisting of five judges belonging five
different religions - Chief Justice JS Khehar (Sikh), Justice Kurian Joseph
(Christian), Justice Rohinton Nariman (Parsi), Justice Uday Lalit (Hindu) and
Justice Abdul Nazeer (Muslim) – began hearing the pleas and final arguments on 11
May 2017 over the Islamic practices including the controversial triple talaq.
The bench was formed by the apex court while hearing seven petitions relating to
the issue of triple talaq with the lead petition titled as 'Quest for Equality Vs
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind'.
Other six petitions were filed by Khuran Sunnath Society, Shayara Bano, Aafreen
Rehman, Gulshan Parveen, Ishrat Jahan and Atiya Sabri.
The bench concluded the hearings on 17 May 2017 and reserved the verdict on the
issue.

What is triple talaq and why has it become controversial?


• Unlike in Hinduism and Christianity, in which marriage is treated as a religious
sacrament and covenant respectively, marriage is a social contract among
Muslims. Since it is a social contract, the Muslim Sharia (Islamic Law) provides the
ways to terminate marriage in the form talaq.
• The term talaq derives from an Arabic verse which means 'freeing or undoing the
knot' that refers to a divorce. The message from Sharia leans more toward
safeguarding marriage than dissolving it abruptly.
• As per the Sharia, a talaq (divorce) is a two way process. Man can pronounce
talaq to women and women can also seek talaq from husband, which is called as
khulla.
• Triple Talaq: It is called as triple talaq, as a “Divorce, accompanied by a number
expressly or implied, shall count only as a single divorce and such a divorce is
revocable except when three talaqs are given, one in each menstrual cycle.”
• In simple words, to give divorce, the husband must say the phrase "I divorce you"
(in Arabic, talaq) to his wife, three times over a period of three consecutive
months. The idea behind prescribing the course of the three month period for the
three month period is to check decisions based on impulse and give time for
reconciliation.

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• Instant Triple Talaq: During the time of Prophet Mohammed, talaq was given in
a staggered manner as prescribed and more importantly, it was allowed only when
living together has become impossible.
• However, the tradition of triple talaq being pronounced at a single instance
came to be accepted under special circumstances during the time of the second
Caliph of Islam - Umar ibn Al-Khattab. Over the years, the practise has been
institutionalized.
• Triple Talaq Controversy: The practise of instant triple talaq has become
controversial in recent decades, as it has been misused by married men to ‘get rid
of’ of one’s wife even for petty reasons. Sometimes, it has also been found that,
modern means of communications such as text messages and emails were used
to divorce by husbands.
• This kind of triple talaq in an impulsive manner and without giving a chance for
the reconciliation has raised concerns in the community and led to litigations in
various courts across the country.
• In various instances, the judiciary has been sympathetic towards suffering Muslim
women and more recently, in December 2016, the Allahabad High Court declared
the instantaneous triple talaq as unconstitutional.
• In 2002, in the Shamim Ara Vs State of UP case, the Supreme Court placed
explicit measures to check the practise of instant triple talaq by laying the down
test of “reasonable cause” and “prior reconciliation”.
• In the present instance, the apex-court asked the Union Government, the All
India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the amicus curiae Salman Kurshid and
the other petitioners to spell their stand on the issue.
Government’s stance on the issue
• In a written submission to the court in April 2017, the Union Government spelt
out its stand on the issue in the following way.
• The instant triple talaq is a social practise (not a religious practise) and,
hence, not protected under the Article 25 of the Constitution, which grants
religious freedom to the citizens of the country.
• Gender equality and the dignity of women are overarching constitutional values
and there is no compromise on this.
• The practices of instant triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy (all are viewed
as social practices only) impact the social status and dignity of Muslim women.
And, they render them unequal and vulnerable vis-à-vis men in their own
community, women from other communities and Muslim women outside India.
• Though only a few women are directly affected by these practices, the fact is
that every woman lives under constant fear of these practices and in turn impacts
her status, her choices, her conduct and her right to a life with dignity as granted
by the Article 21 of the Constitution.
• In a nutshell, the Government explicitly communicated its stance against instant
triple talaq, nikah halala (remarrying a divorced husband without an intervening
marriage with another man) and polygamy and prayed for the quashing these
pernicious practices.
• This stance is in tune with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-headed NDA
Government’s explicit stance against the practise since October 2016 and the
following consultations with the stakeholders on the issue.
AIMPLB’s viewpoint on the Issue

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• In Ocobter 2016, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) declared its
intention to boycott the stakeholder engagement questionnaire on the uniform
civil code (UCC) released by the Law Commission of India.
• In the questionnaire, the Commission sought the public opinion on the practise of
triple talaq including its abolition in toto and retaining with suitable amendments.
• The board spelt out its opposition to any proposed changes in Muslim personal
laws and the apex court’s involvement in the issue had been viewed as a judicial
overreach into the matter of religion, which is based on faith and historical
practise. However, the board was open for the amendments to personal law
through legislature.
• The AIMPLB further argued that Art 372 (which allows for continuous
enforcement of laws that are in force before the commencement of the
constitution) as a protecting shield for the Muslim personal laws that allow the
historical practise of triple talaq.
• However, in a submission made by the Board to the apex court in early May 2017,
it seems that there change in the stance of the board.
• In the affidavit, the AIMPLB had said that those who pronounce three talaqs at
one go would face social boycott and an advisory would be issued to the Qazis that
they should tell the grooms that they would not resort to such a form of divorce.
The qazi will further advise the bridegroom and the bride to incorporate a
condition in Nikahnama (marriage contract) to exclude resorting to pronouncement
of three talaqs’ at one go.
In order to resolve the differences amicably, the board suggested the following
three step process.
Step 1: If the couple has differences they should first try to mutually resolve the
issues by keeping in mind the provisions of the Shariat and try to overlook the
mistakes of others.
Step 2: If the dispute is not resolved mutually and no desired results are achieved,
then there may be a "temporary withdrawal".
Step 3: In case of failure of the first two steps, then senior members of both
families should try to reconcile or one arbitrator may be appointed from each side
for resolution of the differences.
If the dispute still remained unresolved, the husband may pronounce one divorce
during the period of purity of his wife and leave his wife till the time her waiting
period (iddat) ended.
If a favourable situation arises during the waiting period, the husband must retain
his wife and then both of them should live as spouses. If the husband does not
retain his wife during the waiting period, then the marriage will be automatically
dissolved after the lapse of the waiting period.
The above three step process was suggested by the AIMPLB to strike a balance
between the provisions of Sharia Law and the broader tradition of Islam which
respects equality between men and women.
Salman Kurshid’s opinion on the Issue
• The amicus curiae (Advisor to the Court) Salman Kurshid submitted the following
view points to the court.
• Islam recognised both men and women as equal and as a result, both husband
and wife are held equally responsible for the acts.
• The controversial Islamic divorce system cannot be justified whatsoever. And the
practice cannot be validated constitutionally.

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• The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is the best body to guide the
court on the varying philosophies of schools of Islam about instant triple talaq.
• He differed with AIMPLB which has contended that though sinful and undesirable
triple talaq was a matter of faith for Muslims.
• Kurshid suggested that the court should harmonise different views on the issue so
that it becomes acceptable for all the stakeholders.
What is the situation abroad?
Many Islmaic countries either totally banned the practise or reformed it by
inserting certain provisions like arbitration. For instance, Pakistan abolished the
instant triple talaq after recommendations by a 7-member commission on marriage
and family laws in 1956 and stipulated that the husband must pronounce talaq in
three successive menstrual cycles. This order was based on Egypt model.
In Indonesia, every divorce can only be executed by a court decision. An
agreement to divorce between the husband and wife will not be constituted as a
divorce unless it is authorized by a court.
Similarly, Muslim majority countries like Iraq, Turkey, Tunisia and
Bangladesh made suitable amendments to the divorce process to minimize the
sufferings of women.
What is the way forward?
The preamble of the Constitution explicitly states that India is a secular and
democratic country. No doubt, a plural society like India has to face lots of pulls
and pressures and difficulties in maintaining a proper balance between religious
freedom based on the faith and securing democratic rights to its citizens.
It is high time the political and administrative institutions and the civil society at
large come together to find a meaningful solution to the instant triple talaq
problem so that Muslim women will achieve more social and economic progress in
the future.

Modi@3: Key Initiatives, Achievements & Challenges in Economy


Narendra Modi completed three years as the Prime Minister of India on 25 May
2017. The ascendance of Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic
Government (NDA) to power is of significance for the Indian politics because of two
reasons -
i. The NDA II Government came into power at a juncture where India needed a
decisive leadership that is free of corruption, policy paralysis and coalition
compulsions.
ii. High expectations from the single party-ruling. It was for the first time in the
last three decades that a single party could garner majority seats in the Lok Sabha.
Previously, Rajiv Gandhi won 404 seats in the 1984 elections that were conducted
in the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
Against this backdrop, it is pertinent to examine the key initiatives, achievements
and challenges before the Modi Government in the economic sector.
When the government came to power in May 2014, reviving the staggering
economy was high on the agenda. The major focus was on improving ease of doing
business, augmenting foreign investments into the country and simplification of
rules and procedures. Most important initiatives in this sector are -
Budgetary reforms: Reforms in the fiscal policy are crucial for achieving and
sustaining high growth rates. Towards this end, three major changes were initiated
to the Budget Cycle starting from the FY 2017-18. The three changes are –
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i. Merger of Railway Budget with General Budget
ii. Advancement of date of presentation of General Budget by one month to 1
February
iii. Discarding Plan and Non-Plan expenditure classification
These changes were brought in to improve the efficiency, economy and
effectiveness of the Indian Railways by shielding it from populist demands and
making funds available to schemes and programmes at the beginning of the
financial year i.e. 1 April.
Ease of Doing Business: From the beginning, the government is of the view that
improving ease of doing business conditions is crucial for attracting investments,
(especially in the form of FDI and FII), which alone facilitates transfer of
technology and best management practices from the developed countries.
Towards this end, initiatives like Goods and Service Tax (GST), scrapping of the
Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and e-filing of Income Tax Returns
(ITRs) were undertaken.
Black Money: Beginning with the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT)
on black money (under Justice MB Shah) in its first Cabinet meeting, the
government has taken a number of steps to curb the menace of black money. Some
of the important steps are –
• On 8 November 2016, Narendra Modi announced that 1000 and 500 rupees
notes would cease to be legal tender. This measure was primarily aimed at curbing
illegal and unaccounted money.
• The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Act, 2015 to
penalize the concealment of foreign income by replacing the Income Tax (IT) Act,
1961.
• Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016 was brought in to
provide effective regime for prohibition of benami transactions by replacing the
Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988.
• Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 was amended in 2015 to plug the
loopholes in the parent Act.
• Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 was amended through Finance
Act, 2015 to provide for seizure and confiscation of value equivalent, situated in
India, in case any person is found to have acquired any foreign exchange or
immovable property abroad through illegal means.
• A new Income Disclosure Scheme is formulated for domestic black money.
• Economic infrastructure: High quality economic infrastructure like roads, ports
and electricity play a key role in leveraging the potential of an economy. To
augment the economic infrastructure the following steps were undertaken.
• Smart Cities Mission was launched in June 2015 to improve urban infrastructure
with an outlay of Rs 48000 crore by 2020.
• Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Development (AMRUT) Yojana was
launched in June 2015 to develop infrastructure in 500 towns and cities with an
outlay of Rs 50000 crore by 2020.
• Shyama Prasad Mukherjee National Rurban Mission was launched in February
2016 to develop smart village on the line of smart cities and reduce the burden of
migration to the cities through adopting ‘cluster approach’.
• Setu Bharatam Project was launched to make national highways free of railway
crossing with an outlay of Rs 10200 crore by 2019.

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• In March 2015, the Sagaramala Programme was launched with a view to
achieve the broad objective of promoting port-led economic development with an
outlay of Rs 70,000 crore.
• Independent India’s first comprehensive policy on civil aviation - National Civil
Aviation Policy – was unveiled in June 2016. The Objective of the policy is to
create an eco-system to make flying affordable for the masses.
Achievements in Economy: Compared to growth rates of 4.5% and 4.7% in FY
2012-13 and FY 2013-14 respectively, the growth rates in FY 2014-15 and 2015-16
were 7.3% and 7.6% respectively.
The achievements of the government as given in the Economic Survey 2016-17 are

• The rate of inflation was in the declining path and was pegged between 4% and
5%.
• The Current Account Deficit (CAD) of the Balance of Payments (BOP) is less
than 1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) along with the dollar-rupee
exchange rates convincingly stable.
• India is receiving one of the largest inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI)
due to FDI reform measures were taken in the last couple of years. As the
proportion of GDP, the FDI inflows have grown from 1.7 per cent in 2015-16 to 3.2
per cent in the Second Quarter of 2016-17.
• India's share in the world manufacturing exports is rising because the country
has remained competitive despite high capital inflows and inflation.
• The internal mobility of goods given by the interstate trade in India is about 54
per cent of GDP or 1.7 times the international trade.
• Considering all the strengths, the Indian economy has the potential to grow at
8 to 10 per cent of GDP in real terms over the medium to long run. This makes the
real returns on investments in India most attractive among all comparable and
competing countries at present.
Challenges before Indian Economy: The following issues have to be addressed by
the Modi Government in the short to medium turn in order to achieve inclusive
growth.
• Raising income inequalities: In a report titled ‘An Economy for the 99 per
cent’, the Oxfam pointed out rising income inequalities in India in recent years. As
per the report released in January 2017, India's richest one per cent now hold a
huge 58 per cent of the country's total wealth, which is higher than the global
figure of about 50 per cent. This situation is alarming and government should
initiate proactive measures to bring down income disparities.
• Unemployment: As per the Labour Bureau figures, the rate of unemployment
grew steadily from 3.8% in 2011-12 to 5% in 2015-16. Moreover, India added just
1.35 lakh jobs in eight labour-intensive sectors in 2015, compared to the 9.3 lakh
jobs that were created in 2011. To remedy the situation, the government has to
announce measures to encourage labour intensive and small scale industries.
• Non Performing Assets: Despite various measures announced by the Reserve
Bank of India (RBI), the issue of Non Performing Assets (NPAs) is still plauguing the
economy. The Union Ministry of Finance and the RBI should initiate more co-
ordinated measures with the banks to minimize the problem of NPAs.
Conclusion
As per the World Economic Outlook 2017 of the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
India remains one of the fastest growing emerging markets in the world. However,
as per the economists, the increasing overall prosperity is not reaching the

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disadvantaged sections of the society. Hence, it is high time the Modi Government
must initiate pro-active measures to achieve much faster, sustained and inclusive
economic growth.

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Amendment in Banking Regulation Act and its Impact
The Union cabinet has decided to amend the Banking Regulation Act to expedite
the resolution of the Rs9.64 trillion stressed assets choking the Indian banking
system.
The details pertaining to the amendment are still awaited but the markets have
welcomed the move with banking stocks gaining as much as 6% when trading
opened on the day when amendment became clear
What Is Banking Regulation Act?
The banking regulation act is a set of rules which govern the banking sector in
India. This act was legislated in 1949. It empowers the Reserve Bank of India to
license banks and work as a banking regulator in India. Two new sections (viz.
35AA and 35AB) are inserted in the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance,
2017.
Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, this act enables the Central
Government to authorize the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to direct banking
companies to resolve specifically stressed assets by conducting insolvency
resolution process, where required.
This ordinance also empowers the RBI to issue other directions for resolution, and
approve or appoint or for appointment, authorities or committees to advise
banking companies for stressed asset resolution.
Why there is a need to amend the Act?
Indian bank has been suffering from NPA, Bad loans, and stressed assets problem
from many years. This problem has been worsening with the time despite several
efforts made by the banks and the government of India.
In the starting stages of the problem, the reasons for this problem were attributed
to the so-called policy paralysis with many big projects being stuck because of raw
material supply and land acquisition problems.
India economy saw a downturn in last five years this reduced the demand which
led to surplus capacity in many industries, thus finally impairing debt servicing
capacity.
Before 2008, many banks had been extravagant in lending without adequate checks
and safeguards during the boom days leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
Apart from it, data suggest that Indian public sector banks have a whopping Rs9.64
trillion stressed assets which are strangulating the development and growth in
Indian banking sector.

The RBI’s December Financial Stability Report 2016 said that large borrowers (the
central bank defines these as debtors to whom lenders have an exposure of at
least Rs5 crore) account for 56% of bank debt and 88% of their NPAs.
In India, the stressed assets or NPA problem is mostly confined to 50 large loan
defaulters with the help of this ordinance the RBI can effectively ask banks to sit
down with defaulters and reach a settlement as part of the package. Even finance
minister Arun Jaitley had mentioned that focusing on 40-50 big corporate
borrowers would be enough to solve the crisis quickly. And, according to Credit
Suisse estimates, about 40% of debt lies with companies with an interest coverage
ratio of less than 1.
Despite a number of schemes launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), this
growing stock of toxic debt still continues to elude resolution.
After the amendment, the Centre Government will have a direct impact on the

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effective resolution of stressed assets, particularly in a consortium or multiple
banking arrangements, as the RBI will be empowered to intervene in specific cases
of resolution of non-performing assets, to bring them to a definite conclusion.
While falling debt servicing ability is seen across the board, for Indian banks, a
quick resolution would mean focusing on large companies.
Impacts of the Amendment
The amendment in the banking regulation act which is being prepared by the
government will empower the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to directly intervene in
settling bad loan cases.
After this, the central bank will be able to directly ask banks to sit down with
defaulters and reach a settlement as part of the package.
Presently, there is a provision for an oversight committee consisting of “eminent
persons under the Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A)
which is recommended by the Indian Banks’ Association in consultation with RBI.
Under this ordinance, the Section 35 of the Banking Regulation Act, will be
amended which currently deals with powers of inspection for RBI.
Now the RBI will prepare a timeline of 6-9 months for banks to deal with their big
bad loan accounts.
The scheme will be started off with banks being told to resolve the top 40-50
cases.
Under the amended act or the ordinance, if banks aren’t able to find a solution to
the problem by the specified time, the central bank will step in directly.
The RBI will be given some punitive powers to ensure that banks act quickly on
these bad loans.
There is a common perception among the banks and investors that the government
takes an implicit guarantee to bear the cost of defaults and losses. The amended
act will try to correct that perception.
This new ordinance will also empower The RBI to help bankers overcome concerns
about their decisions being probed by vigilance agencies. The new framework will
raise the bar for questioning business decisions of the bankers by vigilance
authorities but there would be no explicit protection to bankers from the vigilance
authorities.
Conclusion
This amendment can be considered a progressive step and gives huge enabling
powers to RBI which would play a key role in solving the existing problems related
to bad loan and stress assets. Apart from Amendments to the Banking Regulations
Act, amendments to the SARFAESI and Debt Recovery Tribunal Acts, and the
enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code indicate the Government’s firm
determination to find a satisfactory solution to the NPA resolution problem.
The Ordinance amending the Banking Regulation Act will fasten the NPA resolution
process by empowering the RBI in giving specific directions to banks. It will also
protect bankers from any investigative counterblast in future as the resolution
process will have the support of Oversight Committees certified by the RBI.

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APPOINTED/ELECTED/SELECTED/RESIGNED
R S Katheria appointed chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes
(NCSC)

Ram Shankar Katheria, a BJP MP from Agra, has been appointed as the new
chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) for a period of
three years. The post has been lying vacant since the retirement of the previous
chairman PL Poonia in 2016.

Terms of Attorney General,Solicitor General extended

Ranjit Kumar is the present Solicitor General of India, whose tenure has been
extended by the Government of India (GoI). Beside this, the terms of Attorney
General Mukul Rohatgi and five other senior law officers have also been extended.
The Additional Solicitor Generals who have been given extension for an indefinite
period are Pinky Anand, Maninder Singh, P S Patwalia, Tushar Mehta and P S
Narsimha. The Attorney General, along with the Solicitor General and Additional
Solicitor General, represents the government in various courts and tender legal
advice on complex issues.

S S Vempati appointed as CEO of Prasar Bharati

Shashi Shekar Vempati, a former principal architect of Infosys


Technologies,currently serving as a Part Time Member of the Prasar Bharati
Board,has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Prasar Bharati.
He will have a tenure of five years. The appointment comes 7 months after the
earlier CEO Jawhar Sircar resigned from the post.

He has also authored many books namely ‘Broadcasting Technologies in India’,


‘National Digital Security Architecture in India’, ‘Creating a Global Media Platform
out of India’ among others.

Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind resigns

Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind resigned from his post on 20 June 2017. His
resignation came following his nomination as the NDA’s Presidential Candidate.
His resignation was accepted by President Pranab Mukherjee.
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Subsequently, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi was assigned the
responsibility to serve as the Governor of Bihar, in addition to his own duties.

Ram Nath Kovind was declared as the NDA candidate for upcoming Presidential
Elections,as Pranab Mukherjee will complete his five-year term as the President on
24 July 2017.If elected, Kovind, a two-term BJP Rajya Sabha member, will only be
second Dalit to occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan after K R Narayanan.

Kovind belongs to the Dalit community Koli and has worked extensively in Uttar
Pradesh and Bihar. A lawyer by profession, Kovind had also served as BJP
Scheduled Caste Morcha chief (1998-2002) and President of the All-India Koli
Samaj.

Congress-led opposition names Meira Kumar as presidential nominee

Meira Kumar,a former Lok Sabha speaker,was chosen as the Congress-led


Opposition’s presidential candidate against BJP-led NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind. She
had served as the first woman speaker of Lok Sabha from 2009 to 2014 during
the UPA-II rule. She is the daughter of former deputy prime minister Babu
Jagjivan Ram who was known for his working for the oppressed and the
downtrodden.

The announcement was made by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. The decision
was taken in a meeting of the opposition which was attended by leaders of 17
parties including Left leaders Sitaram Yechury(CPI-M General Secretary) and D.
Raja, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, DMK’s Kanimozhi and
National Conference’s Omar Abdullah.

Nitish Kumar,the leader of JD(U) which had formally announced its decision to
support BJP’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind, skipped the meeting, while
RLD chief Ajit Singh was present.

Kenneth I Juster to be next US Ambassador to India

Senior White House official Kenneth I Juster, a top aide of US President Donald
Trump, is set to become America's next Ambassador to India,as per the
announcement made by White House.
Once nominated and confirmed by the US Senate, Juster will succeed Richard

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Verma. Verma, the first Indian-American to head this position, put in his papers
when Donald Trump replaced Barack Obama as the President of the United States.

Sam Pitroda resigns as Technical Advisor to Odisha Government

Prominent telecom engineer and policymaker Sam Pitroda resigned his post as the
Technical Advisor to the Odisha Government. Pitroda's resignation was accepted by
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

His position as technical advisor to the state government was that of the status of
a cabinet rank minister. However, he did not avail any facilities and took a token
salary of Re 1 a month.
Pitroda's resignation was demanded by opposition party BJP after he was named as
the Chairman of Congress Overseas Cell.

Pitroda was expected to play a crucial role in developing the IT sector of Odisha
and launching of a roadmap for telecom, IT and ITes (IT enabled services) in the
state at a time when the government is preparing a Vision Document 2036 to mark
100 years of formation of the linguistic state.

Sam Pitroda is regarded as the founder of India's telecom and technology


revolution.He had served as Advisor to the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on
Technology Missions related to water, literacy, immunization, oil seeds, telecom,
and dairy.He is the founding Chairman of India’s Telecom Commission.He has also
served as an advisor to the UN.

Indian origin Leo Varadkar set to become next Ireland Prime Minister

Ireland's governing Fine Gael Party has elected Leo Varadkar,an Indian origin
person, as its new leader to succeed Enda Kenny as the Prime Minister. With this,
Varadkar will become the Catholic country's first gay Prime Minister and the
youngest person ever to hold the office. He is a son of an Irish nurse and a doctor
from India.

Varadkar's election marks another chapter in the social change in Ireland, the
country of 4.6 million people that decriminalized homosexuality in 1993 but
became the first country to adopt gay marriage via a popular vote in 2015.
He personifies the liberalisation of a country which was once regarded as one of
Europe's most socially conservative nations where homosexuality was illegal until
1993.

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Indian-American Amul Thapar appointed as Judge in US Court of Appeals

Indian-American Amul Thapar has been appointed as a Judge in the US Court of


Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. His appointment was approved by US President
Donald Trump.Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Thapar served on
the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

India re-nominates Dalveer Bhandari to the International Court of Justice

India has decided to re-nominate Dalveer Bhandari for another term as the Judge
of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).For this,the signatures of all the four
members of India’s national group at the Permanent Court of Arbitration were
acquired . As per ICJ statutes, the national group has to submit nominations to the
ICJ.The current members of the Indian national group are former Chief Justice
H.L. Dattu, retired Supreme Court Judge Girish Thakorlal Nanavati, Attorney
General Mukul Rohtagi and senior lawyer Harish Salve.

In the meanwhile, Neeru Chadha won the election to one of the seven vacant
seats to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Deuba takes oath as Prime Minister of Nepal

Sher Bahadur Deuba took oath as the Prime Minister of Nepal for the fourth time
on 7 June 2017. He has been elected as the nation’s 40th Prime Minister.The oath
taking ceremony was administered by Nepal’s President, Bidya Devi Bhandari at
the Rashtrpati Bhawan in Kathmandu.

The 70-year-old would be succeeding Maoist leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal


'Prachanda', who resigned last month to honour a power-sharing deal.Deuba is
taking over at a time when Nepal is undergoing a political turmoil. The country is
holding its first local-level polls in almost 20 years but the move is facing
resistance from the Madhesi people.

The inhabitants of the southern Terai region, who share cultural ties with Indians,
have also been demanding for more political representation.During his previous

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term as prime minister in 1996, Nepal and India signed the historic Mahakali Treaty
for shared utilisation of the waters of the Mahakali river.

Trump nominates Christopher Wray as the new FBI director

Donald Trump has nominated lawyer and former Justice Department official
Christopher Wray as the new Director of FBI.Wray would be replacing James
Comey, whom Trump dismissed amidst the agency's ongoing probe into the alleged

Russian involvement in the US Presidential elections. Wray’ s nomination has come


just a day before Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence
Committee on Russia’s alleged interference and any potential ties to Trump's
presidential campaign or associates.Wray’s nomination would require confirmation
from the US Senate.

Wray had led the inquiry into the scandal-ridden collapse of Enron, which is
termed by the FBI as the ‘largest and most complex white-collar investigation’ in
the bureau’s history.

Miroslav Lajcak elected as the new President of the United Nations General
Assembly (UNGA)

Miroslav Lajcak, the Slovak foreign minister, has been elected as the new
President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at the UN Headquarters
in New York for the upcoming 72nd session,in September 2017. He will succeed
Peter Thomson on September 12, 2017.

The UNGA is the powerful body of 193 Member States that provides a forum for
multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the
UN Charter. It meets in regular session intensively from September to December
each year, and thereafter as required..

Aleksandar Vucic sworn-in as the new President of Serbia

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Aleksandar Vucic, the chairman of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), has been
sworn-in as the new President of Serbia.He has succeeded Tomislav Nikolic. Prior
to this, Vucic was the Prime Minister of Serbia.

Romanian President appoints Mihai Tudose as Prime Minister

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has appointed Social Democrat Mihai Tudose as
the Prime Minister and mandated him to form a new government.Tudose would
succeed Sorin Grindeanu,who was dismissed by a motion of no confidence adopted
in Parliament by his own party.

Nepal's first woman Chief Justice Sushila Karki retires

The first woman Chief Justice of Nepal Sushila Karki retired in June 2017 at the
age of 65 years,after serving for about a year.She was 25th Chief Justice of Nepal
Supreme Court. Justice Karki was succeeded by Justice Gopal Parajuli.

Nirupama Rao appointed public policy fellow to US think-tank

Former Indian Ambassador to the United States,Ms.Nirupama Rao has been


appointed as the public policy fellow to a top American think-tank based in
Washington.

Ms.Nirupama Rao would be working on a project on Indo-China relationship. She


will be affiliated with the Wilson Centre's Asia programme and would be spending
three months in residence at the Wilson Centre, which is a key non-partisan policy
forum for tackling global issues, beginning in June 2017.

The 66-year-old Nirupama Rao was India's first woman ambassador to China.Besides
China, she served as India’s Ambassador to several other countries including the
United States, Sri Lanka and Peru.

She also became India's first woman High Commissioner to Sri Lanka in August
2004, the same year when the country was hit by the devastating tsunami.

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In a first, UNICEF appoints Syrian refugee Muzoon Almellehan as Goodwill
Ambassador

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced the appointment of


Muzoon Almellehan, a 19-year-old education activist and Syrian refugee, as its
newest and youngest Goodwill Ambassador.

The appointment makes Muzoon the first person with official refugee status to
become an Ambassador for UNICEF.

• Muzoon Almellehan fled the conflict in Syria along with her family in 2013.

• She lived as a refugee for three years in Jordan before being resettled in the
United Kingdom.

• It was during her 18 months in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan that she
began advocating for children’s access to education, particularly for girls.

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SPACE/DEFENCE

India's communication satellite GSAT-17 successfully launched

India's latest communication satellite GSAT-17 was successfully launched from


Kourou in French Guiana. (French Guiana is an overseas region of France on the
northeast coast of South America, composed mainly of tropical rainforest). The
satellite was launched by French rocket Ariane-5. The European launcher
Arianespace Flight VA238 blasted off from Ariane Launch Complex No 3 (ELA 3) at
Kourou, a French territory located in the northeastern coast of South America.

GSAT-17 with a lift-off mass of about 3477 kg carries payloads in Normal C-band,
Extended C-band and S-band to provide various communication services. GSAT-17
has a life expectancy of 15 years.

The Satellite also carries equipment for meteorological data relay and satellite-
based search and rescue services being provided by earlier INSAT satellites.

ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took over the
command and control of GSAT-17 immediately after its separation from the launch
vehicle.

With this launch, India was able to add one more satellite in its existing fleet of 17
communication satellites.

This was the third satellite launch by ISRO in June 2017, the other two being first
developmental flight of GSLV MkIII and PSLV C-38 missions launched from
Sriharikota spaceport.

ISRO launches India's heaviest satellite using launch vehicle GSLV Mark III
D1(‘FAT BOY’)

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the


communication satellite GSAT-19 into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
The communication satellite was lifted by an indigenously developed launch
vehicle named Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk- III) D-
1 from the second launch pad of the spaceport at the Satish Dhawan Space
Centre, Sriharikota.

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The GSLV Mk-III is referred as ‘FAT Boy’ of ISRO or India is ISRO’s most powerful
rocket..

In this test flight, the ISRO's most powerful ever rocket is set to carry the satellite
of 3136 kg lift off mass into space, the heaviest ever to be launched from Indian
soil. The United States, Russia, China, Japan and European Space Agency have
launched satellites weighing over three tonne.

ISRO launches Cartosat-2 along with 30 nano-satellites from Sriharikota

The National space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has
successfully launched India’s ‘Cartosat-2 Series’ satellite and 30 other co-
passenger payloads. The satellite and its co-passengers were launched by its highly
reliable polar satellite launch vehicle PSLV C-38 from the Satish Dhawan Space
Centre, Sriharikota. Its applications will mainly be towards cartography in
India. This was the 40th flight for PSLV, the satellite launch vehicle.

India’s Mars Orbiter, Mangalyaan completes 1000 days in orbit

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), ISRO’s maiden interplanetary mission completed


1000 Earth days in its orbit on 19 June 2017, well beyond its designed mission life
of six months.

This mission was launched on 5 November 2013 by PSLV-C25 and got inserted into
the Martian orbit on 24 September 2014 in its very first attempt. 1000 Earth days
corresponds to 973.25 Mars Sols (Martian Solar day) and MOM completed 388
orbits.

Second Scorpene Class Submarine Ready for Sea Trials

The second Scorpene-class submarine, INS Khanderi, which was launched earlier
this year, has been made ready for surface sea trails.The development was
announced by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

The first Indian Scorpene-class submarine INS Kalvari has already undergone
various trials and is expected to be commissioned into the Indian Navy later this

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year. Overall, six Scorpene-class submarines are being built under 'Project 75' of
Indian Navy.

The submarines, all designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS,
are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

The features of this submarine include superior stealth and capability of launching
a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons.It can undertake
diverse types of missions including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare,
mine laying, intelligence gathering and area surveillance among others.It also
carries the ability to launch attacks with torpedoes and tube-launched anti-ship
missiles, while being on the surface or underwater.

Prithvi-II missile successfully test-fired

The Indian Army has successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear-
capable Prithvi-II missile from a test range in Odisha as part of a user trial.The
trial of this surface-to-surface missile was carried out from a mobile launcher from
launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur.

• Prithvi-II Missile is the first missile to be developed by Defence Research and


Development Organisation (DRDO) under India's Integrated Guided Missile
Development Program (IGMDP).
• It was inducted into India's armed forces in 2003.
• It weighs around 4600 kilogram and has a strike range of 350 kilometre.
• It is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid
propulsion twin engines.
• The naval operational variant of Prithvi-II class missiles are known as Dhanush.
It has already been inducted into Indian navy.

Indian Army gets first batch of modern bullet-proof helmets

The Indian Army reportedly has received its first batch of bullet-proof helmets
from Kanpur-based MKU Industries.

The MKU Industries, which supplies military equipment to the United Nations and
NATO, has been awarded a contract to manufacture 1.58 lakh helmets at the cost
of Rs 180 crore.

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Indian Army has ordered the bolted version of bolt-free ballistic helmets. Bolt-free
is a higher and expensive version of bullet-proof helmets, which gives all-round
protection from head injuries.

DRDO successfully test-fires anti-tank Nag missile

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully


test fired the anti-tank ‘Nag’ missile in Rajasthan. The anti-tank Nag missile is one
among the five missile systems developed by DRDO under the Integrated Guided
Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

The four other missiles developed under this programme are Agni, Akash, Trishul
and Prithvi.

• The Nag missile is a third generation “fire and forget” anti-tank missile.

• It is equipped with highly advanced Imaging Infrared Radar (IRR) seeker and has
integrated avionics technology in its arsenal.

• It possesses advanced passive homing guidance system and has been designed
mainly to destroy modern main battle tanks and other heavily armoured targets.

• It can be launched from both land and air-based platforms.

• Its helicopter launched version is known as Helicopter-Launched NAG (HELINA)


that can be fired from Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and HAL Rudra
attack helicopter.

• The land-based version of the missile is at present available for integration on


the Nag missile carrier (NAMICA).

India successfully test-fires 1st all weather tracked-chassis QR-SAM

India has successfully test-fired the indigenous first all weather tracked-chassis
Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QR-SAM). The QR-SAM was test-fired from
a mobile launcher at Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha at around
12:39 p.m. local time.

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This test of the QR-SAM was the first test of the indigenously developed
sophisticated high-speed missile that is capable of destroying aerial targets, tanks,
bunkers and short range missiles.

Official sources said the test was carried out for validating various parameters of
the sophisticated weapon system to further strengthen its air defence system.

Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QR-SAM)

• The QR-SAM was jointly developed by the Defence Research Development


Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Limited.

• Reports suggest that this missile system has the potential to engage multiple
targets within a range of approximate 30 kilometres, with the configuration of two
vehicles for area air defence.

• It is equipped for quick reaction and the system is all weather enabled, a
network-centric one, which is also capable of search-on-the-move.

• It is a truck-mounted missile and is 360 degree rotatable, electronic-


mechanically operated, turret-based launch unit.

• The missile, which is a highly mobile air defence system, can also deceive enemy
radars making it to be detected.

• It can also be used as an anti-sea skimmer from a ship against low flying
attacking missiles. It employs dual thrust propulsion stage using high-energy solid
propellant.

India and Australia hold bilateral maritime exercise AUSINDEX-17

Three Indian warships INS Jyoti, INS Shivalik and INS Kamorta sailed into
Fremantle port in Australia to participate in a week-long naval exercise, AUSINDEX-
17, off the Western Australian coast.

AUSINDEX-17 is the second edition of the exercise.The maiden edition of the


exercise was conducted at Visakhapatnam in 2015.

The Royal Australian Navy is represented by HMA Ships Newcastle, Waller and
Clearance Diving Team Four.

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Japan launches satellite for high-precision positioning system

Japan has launched a satellite to help build a high-precision geolocation system


that will complement the US operated Global Positioning System (GPS).

The rocket carrying the Michibiki No. 2 satellite, H-IIA, was launched from the
Tanegashima space center in Kagoshima Prefecture, Southern Japan,as
confirmed by Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The Japanese government plans to launch a total of seven satellites into orbit and
secure Japan's own GPS system without depending on the US system by 2023.

Chinese Navy launches its biggest new generation destroyer

China’s Navy has launched its biggest new generation destroyer that weighs around
10,000 tonnes at the Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) in Shanghai. The launch is a part
of the country’s massive expansion effort to become a global naval power.The new
domestically designed and produced vessel, is the first of China’s new generation
of destroyers.

China launches 1st X-ray Space Telescope to study black holes

China has successfully launched its first X-ray Space Telescope named 'Insight' to
study black holes, pulsars and gamma-ray bursts.This Hard X-ray Modulation
Telescope (HXMT) was carried into orbit by Long March-4B rocket from the
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China's Gobi Desert.

The HMXT Insight is the last of the cluster of four space science missions covered
under China’s 12th 5-year plan that were developed by the National Space Science
Centre (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.The other three are a
dark matter probe, a collection of microgravity experiments and a test of long-
range quantum entanglement.

• The 2.5-tonne telescope will allow Chinese scientists to observe magnetic fields
and the interiors of pulsars and give a better understanding of the evolution of
black holes.

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• It will also help scientists to search for gamma-ray bursts corresponding to
gravitational waves and study how to pulsars can be used for spacecraft
navigation.

NASA tests ROSA on Space Station for first time

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has tested the
effectiveness of the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) on the International Space
Station(ISS) for the very first time.

ROSA is an advanced flexible solar array that rolls out like a tape measure. It will
be an asset for satellite radio and television, weather forecasting, GPS and other
services used on the Earth.

NASA engineers remotely attached the ROSA to the International Space Station’s
robotic Canadarm2. ROSA will remain be attached to the Canadarm2 over seven
days.NASA had earlier tested the ROSA technology in vacuum chambers on Earth
several years ago.

NASA renames Solar Probe Mission to honour pioneering physicist Eugene


Parker

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has renamed the Solar
Probe Plus Spacecraft, NASA's first mission to a star which will be launched in
2018, as the Parker Solar Probe in honour of renowned astrophysicist Eugene
Parker. This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after a living individual.
The announcement was made at a ceremony at the University of Chicago, where
Eugene Parker serves as the S Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor
Emeritus at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Eugene Parker was the first to predict the existence of the solar wind back in
1958. He theorized that the sun constantly sends out a flow of particles and energy
called the solar wind. Parker also theorized an explanation for the superheated
solar atmosphere, the Corona, which is contrary to what was expected by physics
laws. As per his theory, Corona is

hotter than the surface of the sun itself.

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Parker has made scientific observations that there was high speed matter and
magnetism constantly escaping the sun which affected the planets and space
throughout our solar system. He proposed a number of concepts about how stars
including sun give off energy.
Parker’s observation forms the basis for understanding about how stars interact
with the worlds that orbit them.
Many NASA missions have continued to focus on this complex space environment
known as Heliophysics.

• The Parker Solar Probe will be launched during a 20-day window that opens on 31
July 2018.

• The Parker solar probe is going to a region of space that has never been explored
before.

• The spacecraft is loaded with technological breakthroughs that will solve many
of the largest mysteries about star, including finding out why the sun’s corona is so
much hotter than its surface.

Indian-American among 12 new astronauts chosen by NASA

NASA has announced the names of 12 new astronauts, including an Indian-


American Lt Col Raja Grinder Chari. The new astronauts were chosen from a
record number of over 18000 applicants.They are currently undergoing a candidacy
training program at the Johnson Space Center.

US warship strikes Islamic State from the eastern Mediterranean

The US Navy has conducted strikes against Islamic State targets from an aircraft
carrier in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The carrier had previously conducted the
strikes in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in early March. Operation
Inherent Resolve is the US-led military operation against ISIS in Iraq and
Syria,which began in August 2014.

Iraq : Islamic State ISIS blows up iconic al-Nuri mosque of Mosul

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The Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, Iraq has been blown up by a group of Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.They also destroyed its famous leaning
minaret, also known as al-Hadba.

The medieval mosque, also known as Mosul's Great Mosque, is the place from
where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 declared an Islamic
caliphate spanning parts of Iraq and Syria. The mosque's historic minaret had stood
for more than 800 years.

However, the ISIS claimed that a US aircraft has destroyed the mosque.

North Korea launches multiple ground-to-ship missiles, despite UN sanctions

North Korea has fired multiple cruise missiles into the waters between Korea and
Japan.The move came a day after South Korea’s new president announced that his
government was suspending the deployment of the controversial US missile-
defence system to conduct an environmental review.

The missiles that flew for about 200 km were reportedly launched from Wonsan, a
city on North Korea’s east coast. With this launch, the total number of missile
tests conducted by North Korea this year goes up to ten. The nuclear-armed stated
has test-fired a missile almost every week since the past few weeks.

The launches come less than a week after the United Nations Security Council
passed new sanctions on the isolated state, which slammed UN sanctions as ‘mean’
and said that it would continue to pursue its nuclear and weapons programme
without delay.

According to analysts, the fired cruise missiles are similar to Russia’s Kh-35, which
were demonstrated during a military parade in Pyongyang in April 2017. The
missiles are designed to sink enemy ships.

• The current launch just further highlights the concerns of Japan, South Korea
and the US over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and technological advances in
building missile technology.

• The reclusive stated had warned earlier that it is working to develop a nuclear-
tipped ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland.

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• The US had earlier in May 2017 deployed its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense,
or THAAD in South Korea to counter the missile threat from the North.

• Seoul has, however, suspended the deployment of the defence system after its
presence raised environment concerns.

• While the two already installed launchers would remain, the four launchers that
were yet to be deployed would be put on hold until a full environmental
assessment is done.

• The deployment of the defence system also drew sharp criticism from China, the
only ally of North Korea.

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AWARDS/PRIZES
‘A Horse Walks Into a Bar’ by David Grossman wins Man Booker International
Prize 2017

‘A Horse Walks Into a Bar’ by David Grossman ,an Israeli author,has been declared
as the winner of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.The novel has been
translated by Jessica Cohen.With this, rossman becomes the first Israeli author to
bag the prestigious prize.

The novel unfolds over the course of one final show by stand-up comedian, Dovaleh
Gee, who exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and
gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to
him.

• The Man Booker International Prize is an international literary award hosted in


the United Kingdom.

• From 2005 until 2015, the award was given every two years (Biennial) to a living
author of any nationality for a body of work published in English or generally
available in English translation.

• Since 2016, the award has been given annually to a single book in English
translation, with a £50000 prize for the winning title, shared equally between
author and translator.

• The 2016 winner of this prestigious prize was The Vegetarian’ authoured by Han
Kang.

Anand Neelakantan, Haraprasad Das, Paramita Satpathy honoured with Kalinga


Literary Awards

Renowned poet and essayist Haraprasad Das was conferred the prestigious
Kalinga Literary Award, at the fourth edition of Kalinga Literary Festival,for his
work and contribution to literature.

This year, the Kalinga Literary Festival also introduced two new awards:
the Kalinga International Literary Award and the Kalinga Karubaki Award.

Anand Neelakantan was honoured with the Kalinga International Literary


Award for his contribution towards literature, while Paramita Satpathy was
chosen for the Kalinga Karubaki Award for her contribution to Odia poetry.

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• Kalinga Literary Festival is an annual literary festival held in Bhubaneswar,
Odisha.

• The festival has been founded and directed by Rashmi Ranjan Parida, an award
winning journalist.

• It was conceptualized in 2013 and launched in 2014 to celebrate the Classical


Language Status of Odia language.

• The Central Theme of the 2017 Kalinga Literary Festival was Literature for Peace
and Harmony.

Indian scientist Shrinivas Kulkarni wins Dan David Prize 2017

Indian scientist Shrinivas Kulkarni, a professor of astrophysics and planetary


science at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, has won the prestigious
Dan David prize 2017 for his contributions in the field of astronomy. He was
awarded in the 'Future' category which is dedicated to astronomy this year.
He will share the award with Andrej Udalski of the University of Warsaw and Neil
Gehrels of NASA for their discoveries on time-domain astrophysics.
With this, Kulkarni joins other prominent Indian laureates of the Dan David prize
including author Amitav Ghosh, music conductor Zubin Mehta and renowned
chemist CNR Rao.

He is a pioneer and leading figure in time-domain astrophysics across the


electromagnetic spectrum who built and conducted the Palomar Transient Factory,
a large-area survey of the night sky in search of variable and transient phenomena.

This survey has turned up thousands of stellar explosions and has transformed the
knowledge about the transient sky.

About Dan David Prize


• The USD 1 million prize is a joint international enterprise endowed by the Dan
David Foundation headquartered at Tel Aviv University, Israel.
• Three Dan David prizes are given every year in the categories of Past, Present
and Future to people around the world who have made outstanding contributions
to humanity in the sciences.
• The recipients in the 'Past' category are generally drawn from the field of
history, archaeology, paleontology, biography, etc.
• The recipients in the 'Present' category are drawn from arts, media, policy,
economics, etc.

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• The recipients in the 'Future' category are drawn from one of the exact or
natural sciences.

Indian activists Sanjay Gubbi and Purnima Barman win Whitley Awards 2017

Two Indian activists Sanjay Gubbi and Purnima Barman have won the annual
Whitley Awards, popularly known as the 'Green Oscars', for their works in the field
of animal and bird conservation in India.

These two Indians are among six global winners of the award shortlisted from 166
entries. The other winners of this year’s awards include

• Indira Lacerna-Widmann from the Philippines


• Ian Little from South Africa
• Alexander Blanco from Venezuela
• Ximena Velez-Liendo from Bolivia

Each winner will receive 35000 pounds prize money in project funding over one
year. The Whitley Awards or Green Oscars are organised by UK-based Whitley Fund
for Nature to highlight grassroots leaders in nature conservation across the
developing world.

Wildlife activist Sanjay Gubbi won the award for his work to protect Karnataka's
tiger corridors. Gubbi left his job as an electrical engineer to work with nature. In
2012, he secured the largest expansion of protected areas for conservation of
tigers in state while working with Karnataka government.

Karnataka is home to the highest number of Bengal tigers in India. With this award
money, Gubbi aims to reduce deforestation in two wildlife sanctuaries which
connect several protected areas and act as corridors for tigers, allowing them to
move between territories.

Purnima Barman won this award for creating an all-female network to save the
Greater Adjutant stork Hargila and its wetland habitat in Assam.The Hargila
storks are large scavenger birds with a global population of just 1200, 75 per cent
of which are found in Assam.

Through her NGO Aaranyak, Barman mobilised her all- female local network
towards sustainable livelihoods through weaving traditional Assamese scarves and
saris which were then sold to raise funds for the conservation project.

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Manushi Chhillar crowned Femina Miss India World 2017

Haryana’s Manushi Chhillar was crowned the 54th Femina Miss India World 2017.
The event was held at Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai, Maharashtra.The first runner-up
of the contest is Sana Dua from Jammu and Kashmir and the second runner-up
is Priyanka Kumari from Bihar.

This is the first time the participants wore Indian dress at the finale designed by
Manish Malhotra.

• Femina Miss India is a national beauty pageant in India that annually selects
representatives to compete in Miss World.

• It is organised by Femina, a women's magazine published by The Times Group.

• Following a new format this year, the beauty pageant toured 30 states across the
country.

Sonam Kapoor's fashion label Rheson wins PETA Award 2017

Fashion label Rheson, owned by actress Sonam Kapoor and her producer-sister
Rhea Kapoor, has won the Compassionate Business Award 2017 from the People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India for a line of bags made exclusively
of vegan materials. Sonam was crowned as PETA's Hottest Vegetarian Celebrity of
2016.

As per PETA, the demand for cruelty-free fashion is on the rise and at such point of
time, companies like Rheson are setting trends by providing optimum quality
fashion wear and accessories made of vegan materials, harming no animals.

Indian-American girl Ananya Vinay wins 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee
competition of US

Ananya Vinay, a 12-year-old 6th-grader Indian-American girl from California, has


won the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee competition of the United States (US).
With this, Ananya became the thirteenth Indian-American in a row to win this
spelling bee competition.She is the 18th of the past 22 winners with Indian

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heritage, a run that began in 1999 with Nupur Lala’s victory.

Ananya Vinay and another Indian-American Rohan Rajeev faced each other in the
final round. Ananya won on the word 'marocain', which means fabric.Among the
other words which young participants were asked to spell were: pterygoideus,
mollienisia, cinerarium and hesychast.

As a winner, Ananya will be awarded with a USD 40000 cash prize, a trophy and
other awards, including a USD 2500 US savings bond from Merriam-Webster as well
as trips to New York and California for televised appearances.

About Scripps National Spelling Bee competition


• The Scripps National Spelling Bee first started in 1925 when nine newspapers
joined together to host the competition.
• Now, over 11 million students participate in the Spelling Bee every year.
• The winner of the Bee is awarded with USD 40000 cash prize and Scripps
National Spelling Bee engraved trophy, USD 2500 US savings bond from Merriam-
Webster, USD 400 of reference works From Encyclopaedia Britannica and a
three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.
• Moreover, the winner is also awarded a trip to New York City to appear on LIVE
with Kelly and Ryan, a trip to Hollywood for the Champion to appear on ABC's
Jimmy Kimmel Live! show.

Indian-origin boy Arnav Sharma gets 162 IQ points, more than Einstein and
Hawking

Arnav Sharma, an 11-year-old Indian-origin boy in the United Kingdom,has secured


the top possible score of 162 on a Mensa IQ test.Sharma secured two points higher
than physicist Albert Einstein and astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, making him one
of the brainiest children in the country.

The Indian-origin boy passed the infamously difficult test a few weeks back with
zero preparation. In fact, he had never seen what a typical paper looked like
before taking it.

Sharma’s score in the exam, which primarily measures verbal reasoning ability,
puts him in the top one per cent of the nation in terms of IQ level.

Sharma currently attends Crossfields School on the outskirts of Reading town in


southern England, has been selected for Eton College and Westminster, both highly
competitive and sought-after schools, with no preparation.

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• Mensa is believed to be the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world.

• Its membership is open to anyone who can demonstrate an IQ in the top 2 per
cent of the population, measured by a recognised or approved IQ testing process.

• The society was founded in 1946 in Oxford by Lancelot Lionel Ware, a scientist
and lawyer, and Roland Berrill, an Australian barrister.

Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute selected for PM's Yoga Award 2017

Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute of Pune was selected as the first
recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to
Promotion and Development of Yoga for 2017. The award was announced on the
occasion of third edition of International Yoga Day. The award was instituted by
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of the Second International Day of
Yoga at Chandigarh on 21 June 2016.

The Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute has worked to spread Yoga
internationally over a period of 4 decades. The Institute published books on Yoga
which were also translated into multiple languages. There are thousands of Iyengar
Yoga teachers popularising and propagating yoga across the world.

Yeshe Dorjee Thongshi chosen for Bhupen Hazarika Award 2017

Eminent litterateur Yeshe Dorje Thongchi has been chosen for the Bhupen Hazarika
Award 2017.

The award will be conferred on Thongchi at a function to be held in Jammu and


Kashmir in September 2017 by Pune-based social organization Sarhad.
His novel Mauna Onth Mukhar Hriday has won the Sahitya Akademi award in 2005.

• The award has been instituted by Sarhad, a Maharashtra-based organisation, in


2012.
• The award honours an outstanding literary work at national and international
level.
• It consists of cash prize of Rs 51,000, a memento and a certificate.
• The award aims at creating a strong bond between Maharashtra and the North
East.

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• The other recipients of the award include well-known director Jahnu Barua,
renowned actor Professor Ratan Thiyam, journalist Samudra Gupta Kashyap and
musician and singer Lou Majaw from Meghalaya.

Bengal's Kanyashree initiative wins United Nations Public Service Award

The West Bengal Government's ‘Kanyashree Prakalpa’ was awarded the first
prize in United Nations Public Service Award for Asia Pacific.Out of 552
initiatives from 62 different countries, West Bengal Government's initiative was
chosen the best. The award highlights the pivotal role of public services in the
implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The award was presented at The Hague, Netherlands.

Kanyashree Prakalpa is a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at


retaining girls in schools and other educational and skill development institutions
and preventing child marriage.

The scheme has already enrolled more than four million adolescent girls and the
State Government has till date transferred about USD 500 million directly to the
beneficiaries' bank account.

The scheme is being implemented through 16000 institutes and schools.

Vizianagaram wins MGNREGA National Award

The Union Ministry of Rural Development has selected Vizianagaram as one among
the 17 districts across the nation for the MGNREGA Annual Award for effective
implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
during 2015-16.

• Vizianagaram, a city and district headquarters of Vizianagaram district in the


state of Andhra Pradesh, had generated works for 361668 households in 2015-16
and disbursed Rs 483.42 crore as wages with an average of Rs 106.

• Over 5000 farm ponds, 240 rain water harvesting structures, and 440 water shed
works were executed.

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• Besides, 3427 minor irrigation tanks were de-silted and restored to their original
capacity.

• Using MGNREGA convergence grants, 154 fish- breeding units and an equal
number of vegetable pandals, besides fodder production, sericulture, and
development of horticulture in 5000 acres of land were taken up.

Bihar’s ‘Project Jal Sanchay’ Chosen for National Award

Project Jal Sanchay, a water conservation model adopted successfully by the


authorities in Nalanda district of south-central Bihar, has been selected for the
national award for excellence in the Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment
guarantee programme (MGNREGP) by the Union ministry of rural development. The
water conservation model has been developed in the state’s chief minister Nitish
Kumar’s native district.

The award for excellence was conferred at a function organised at Vigyan Bhawan
in New Delhi.

Though Nalanda has been an agriculture-oriented district, it always remained


affected by drought-like conditions, which impacted both cultivation and farm
production.

During monsoon, though there are flash floods in the area, the water runoff was so
high that the entire water got washed away within a span of 15 days.

Project Jal Sanchay was launched under MGRNREGP under these conditions, to
offer farmers a wide spectrum of solutions to their water crisis.

Indian anti-hunger activist Ankit Kawatra chosen for Queen’s Young Leaders
Award

Anti-hunger activist Ankit Kawatra was honoured by Queen Elizabeth II,at a


ceremony to be held in the Buckingham Palace,with the prestigious Queen’s Young
Leaders Award with 60 others from all 53 Commonwealth countries.

Kawatra quit his corporate business job in 2014 and founded a not-for-profit
organisation Feeding India that works towards solving problems of hunger,
malnutrition and food wastage.

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The organisation distributes extra food from restaurants, canteens, households,
corporates to help people in need.The activist started working for the cause after
witnessing massive amount of extra food being thrown away in a wedding.

At present, Feeding India works in 43 cities with 4500 volunteers and has served
more than 8.5 million meals to vulnerable individuals such as children, women, old
age citizens, disabled people et cetera.

• Queen's Young Leader Award is an annual award given in recognition of


leadership skills by young people between the ages of 18 and 29.

• The award is open to selected Commonwealth of Nations to recognize


exceptional people or organizations who are making a difference in improving
other citizen's lives.

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DAYS/CELEBRATIONS
01 June : World Milk Day

The World Milk Day (WMD) is observed every year on June 1 by the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) to recognise the importance of milk as a global
food. The day is intended to provide an opportunity to bring attention to activities
that are connected with the dairy sector. In India, the National Milk Day (NMD) is
observed every year on November 26 to mark the birth anniversary of of Dr.
Verghese Kurien, the father of India’s White Revolution.

01 June : Global Day of Parents

The Global Day of Parents was observed on 1 June 2017. The day provides an
opportunity to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless
commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this
relationship.

The Global Day of Parents recognises the fact that the family has the primary
responsibility of protecting and nurturing their children and thus it emphasises that
the parents play a critical role in rearing their children. Parents are also
responsible for the full and harmonious development of the personality of their
children. They provide them with an environment of love, happiness and
understanding.

In particular, family-oriented policies can contribute to the achievement of


Sustainable Development Goals 1 to 5 relating to doing away with poverty and
hunger; ensuring healthy lives and promoting of well-being for all ages; ensuring
educational opportunities throughout the lifespan and achieving gender equality.

04 June : International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression

International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression was observed across


the world on 4 June 2017. Originally focussed on the victims of the 1982 Lebanon
War, the day provides an opportunity to the world to acknowledge the pain
suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental
and emotional abuse.

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The day also affirms the commitment of the United Nations (UN) to protect the
rights of children.

Children, who are the most vulnerable members, are the most affected members
of the society and affected the most one by the consequences of war. The six most
common violations are recruitment and use of children in war, killing, sexual
violence, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian
access.

5 June : World Environment Day

The World Environment Day (WED) was observed on 5 June 2017 with the year’s
theme ‘Connecting People to Nature’. The day is annually observed with an aim
to encourage awareness and action for the protection of the environment.The day
that began in 1974 is a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging
environmental issues from marine pollution to global warming, to wildlife crime
and sustainable consumption.

Every World Environment Day has a different global host country, where the
official celebrations take place. Canada was chosen as the host country for the
celebration of the 2017 World Environment Day. World Environment Day is an
important part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. As part of the festivities,
Canada has offered free passes for its national parks throughout 2017.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states our resolve “to ensure the
lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources”. In particular, Goals 14
and 15 focus on protecting under water and on land ecosystems, as well as on
sustainably using marine and terrestrial resources.

06 June : Russian Language Day

The United Nations Russian Language Day was observed on 6 June 2017.

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The day is observed annually to maintain the equality of all six official UN
languages. These six official languages are English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese,
Russian and French.

The decision to hold days of languages was adopted by the UN Department of


Public Information on the eve of the International Mother Language Day,
celebrated annually on 21 February, at the initiative of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The UN Russian Language Day coincides with the birthday of Aleksandr Pushkin, a
Russian poet who is considered the father of modern Russian literature. While
under the strict surveillance of the Tsar's political police and unable to publish,
Pushkin wrote his most famous play, the drama ‘Boris Godunov’.

8 June : World Oceans Day


The World Oceans Day was observed across the world on 8 June 2017 with the
theme ‘Our oceans, our future’. This year’s theme is connected to the Ocean
Conference which took place from 5 to 9 June at United Nations headquarters in
New York.

The concept of a World Oceans Day was first proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit
in Rio de Janeiro as a way to celebrate world’s shared oceans as well as to raise
awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important
ways people can help protect it.

The World's oceans cover about two-thirds of the surface of the Earth and are the
very foundations of life. They generate most of the oxygen that we breathe,
absorb a large share of carbon dioxide emissions, provide food and nutrients and
regulate climate.

Unfortunately, human pressures including overexploitation, illegal and unregulated


fishing, destructive fishing, marine pollution, habitat destruction, climate change
and ocean acidification are putting threat to these oceans.

In order to remind everyone of the major role the oceans play in everyday life and
to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, it is crucial to
raise awareness about the oceans. And for this purpose, the UN observes World
Oceans Day every year.

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12 June : World Day against Child Labour

The World Day against Child Labour was observed globally on 12 June 2017 with
the theme ‘In conflicts and disasters, protect children from child labour’.

The 2017 World Day against Child Labour focuses on the impact of conflicts and
disasters on child labour.

As per the United Nations, over 1.5 billion people, globally, live in countries that
are affected by conflict, violence and fragility. At the same time, around 200
million people are affected by disasters every year. A third of them are children. A
significant proportion of the 168 million children engaged in child labour live in
areas affected by conflict and disaster.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) had launched the World Day against
Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the
action and efforts needed to eliminate it.

13 June : International Albinism Awareness Day

The International Albinism Awareness Day was observed on 13 June 2017 with an
aim to end multiple forms of discrimination that is faced by people who suffers
from albinism.

Albinism results in a lack of pigmentation (melanin) in the hair, skin and eyes,
causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light. As a result, almost all people with
albinism are visually impaired and are prone to developing skin cancer. There is no
cure for the absence of melanin that is central to albinism.

14 June : World Blood Donors Day

World Blood Donors Day (WBDD) was observed on 14 June 2017. The theme of the
2017 World Blood Donor Day is ‘Give Blood. Give Now. Give Often’.

This year’s campaign focuses on blood donation in emergencies. The World Health
Organisation (WHO) via the theme is emphasizing on the role that every individual
can play in preparing for the next unforeseen emergency by giving blood now.

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15 June : World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was observed globally on 15 June 2017. The day
is observed to voice against abuse and suffering inflicted on older people.

The theme of the 2017 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is ‘Understand and End
Financial Abuse of Older People: A Human Rights Issue’.

The theme of the year explores effective means of strengthening protections


against financial and material exploitation. The theme also focuses on improving
the understanding of this form of elder abuse and discussing ways of ensuring the
participation of older adults themselves in ending victimization.

Elder Abuse in India

• As per a study titled How India Treats its Elderly - A National Study
2017 conducted by HelpAge India, around 44% of the people surveyed stated that
they were treated badly in public.

• 53% believed that Indian society discriminates against elders.

• In Bengaluru, 70% of elders said they had experienced abuse and mistreatment in
public spaces.

• On most parameters, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar and Chennai emerged


as the worst five cities where elders are ill-treated in public spaces.

• The study is based on a sample survey of 4615 elders (2377 male and 2238
female) across 19 cities and covers four main areas.

17 June : World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought


The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought was observed globally on 17
June 2017 with a campaign 'Our land. Our home. Our Future' to promote public
awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.

This year, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought examined the
important link between land degradation and migration. The day reminds everyone
that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong
community involvement and co-operation at all levels.

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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.

Over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification, and about one
billion people in over one hundred countries are at risk. These people include
many of the world‘s poorest, most marginalized and politically weak citizens.

19 June : International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in


Conflict

The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict was
observed globally on 19 June 2017 with the theme ‘Preventing Sexual Violence
Crimes through Justice and Deterrence’.

• The day was designated in order to raise awareness of the need to put an end to
conflict-related sexual violence.

• It was also to honour the victims and survivors of sexual violence around the
world and to pay tribute to all those who have courageously devoted their lives to
and lost their lives in standing up for the eradication of these crimes.

20 June : World Refugee Day


The World Refugee Day was observed across the world on 20 June 2017 to
commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees.The
Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families that are
forced to flee for their lives each day.

21 June : International Yoga Day

International Yoga Day was celebrated world-wide on 21 June 2017. The day is
being celebrated with the theme "Yoga for Health".

The year’s theme highlights the fact that yoga can contribute in a holistic way to
achieve an equilibrium between mind and body. The organizers believe that this
approach to health and wellbeing can make a direct and useful contribution to
humankind's quest to achieve sustainable development and move towards lifestyles
that are in harmony with nature.

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Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India.
The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing
the union of body and consciousness.
Recognizing its universal appeal, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations
proclaimed 21 June as the

International Day of Yoga by resolution 69/131. The International Day of Yoga aims
to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.

Yoga has been a part of Indian tradition and it integrates the people.Yoga has
become a part of so many lives and its popularity outside the country is very much
high and it has also connected the world with India.

Wellness is important in addition to fitness and Yoga is a medium to achieve


wellness. He said small practices of yoga improve the quality of life.

Prime Minister Modi joined the participants in performing various postures of


Yoga,at Ramabai Ambedkar Ground,Lucknow,sitting with more than 55000 people.

23 June : International Widows’ Day

The International Widows’ Day was observed globally on 23 June 2017. The day is
an opportunity for action towards achieving full rights and recognition for widows,
who have been living with an invisible ignored status for too long.invisible.

The lack of reliable data remains one of the main obstacles to developing the
policies and programmes to address the poverty, violence and discrimination faced
by widows. Hence, there is a need for more research and statistics separated by
marital status, sex and age, in order to help reveal the incidence of widow abuse
and illustrate the situation of widows.

Empowering the widows by giving them access to adequate healthcare, education,


decent work, full participation in decision-making and public life and lives free of
violence and abuse, would give them a chance to build a secure life and also
protect their children and avoid the cycle of inter-generational poverty and
deprivation.

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• The abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious
violations of human rights and obstacles to development today.

• Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence,


homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom.

• Many widows in traditional societies have no rights or very limited rights to


inheritance or land ownership under customary and religious law.

• Without inheritance rights, they often find themselves financially insecure and
totally dependent on the charity of their husband’s relatives.

• In India, where widowhood is stigmatized and seen as a source of shame,


thousands of widows are disowned by relatives and made homeless, forcing them
to seek unskilled work such as domestic labourers or turn to begging or
prostitution.

• Widows in developed countries also face many difficulties including loss of


insurance coverage, difficulties in accessing credit, becoming solely responsible for
childcare and in some cases, they also become liable to pay the debts of their
deceased spouse.

26 June : International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

The 2017 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was observed
on 26 June 2017. The day was observed with the theme ‘Listen First - Listening to
children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe’.

The theme for the year is an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug
use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being
of children and youth, their families and their communities.

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BOOKS
‘A Horse Walks Into a Bar’ by David Grossman wins Man Booker International
Prize 2017

A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman was declared as the winner of the
2017 Man Booker International Prize.The novel,written in Hebrew language,has
been translated into English by Jessica Cohen.

With this, Grossman becomes the first Israeli author to take home the prestigious
prize.

The novel unfolds over the course of one final show by stand-up comedian, Dovaleh
Gee, who exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and
gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to
him.

• The Man Booker International Prize is an international literary award hosted in


the United Kingdom.

• From 2005 until 2015, the award was given every two years to a living author of
any nationality for a body of work published in English or generally available in
English translation.

• Since 2016, the award has been given annually to a single book in English
translation, with a £50000 prize for the winning title, shared equally between
author and translator.

• The 2016 winner of the prestigious prize was ‘The Vegetarian’ honoured by Han
Kang.

Indira Gandhi : A Life in Nature authored by Jairam Ramesh launched

A book titled Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature authored by Jairam Ramesh was
released by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the presence of former ministers,
bureaucrats and environmentalists,at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum in New
Delhi.

• The book talks about Indira Gandhi’s life-long communion with nature and how
that defined her very being.

• In the book, Ramesh goes on to explain why and how she came to make a private
passion a public calling; how her views on the environment remained steadfast
even as her political and economic stances changed; how her friendships with

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conservationists led to far-reaching decisions to preserve India’s biodiversity,
among other incidences.

• The book offers a lively, conversational narrative of a relatively little known but
fascinating aspect of Indira Gandhi’s tumultuous life.

Jairam Ramesh is an Indian economist and politician belonging to Indian National


Congress.He has been serving as a Member of Parliament representing Andhra
Pradesh state in the Rajya Sabha since June 2004.From May 2009 to July 2011, he
served as the Indian Minister of State (Independent Charge) at the Ministry of
Environment and Forests.

The Crisis within Knowledge and Education in India : Ganesh Devy

A book titled The Crisis within Knowledge and Education in India authored by
Ganesh Devy was released .Through the book, Devy says, offering reservation
quotas alone will not solve the problem of social exclusion in the country's
education system, which is headed for "failure".

"The Crisis Within" attempts to offer a clear picture of the mistakes that have been
committed in the past, confronts the present by declining knowledge and
education in the country, and offers a vision for the future.

Devy said, "Globally we are in the bottom 30 percent in terms of expenditure on


education and it is regrettable that we belong to the tail end among the nations of
the world in terms of access to high-school and higher education". Noting that our
research capacity and output are not yet seen as significant by the international
community of researchers, he anticipated that if the situations continues as it is,
we shall become the world's most prominent example of an "educationally failed
nation".

• Ganesh Devy, who is an Indian linguist and anthropologist and is globally revered
for his work on dying languages, has researched and documented 780 living Indian
languages.

• He also led the People's Linguistic Survey of India.

• The author is a recipient the Sahitya Akademi Award for "After Amnesia".

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• He won the SAARC Writers' Foundation Award for his work with denotified tribals,
lamented the fact that students in India are imparted skills instead of knowledge.

Sharjah named World Book Capital 2019 by UNESCO

Sharjah, a city in the United Arab Emirates has been named as 'the World Book
Capital' for 2019 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova for the quality of
its literary and cultural activities and for its efforts to make books accessible to
the entire population of the nation.

The city was chosen because of its innovative, comprehensive and inclusive nature
of the application, with a community-focused activity programme containing
creative proposals to engage the very large migrant population.

With the nomination, Sharjah can add yet another name to its already existing
portfolio of milestones such as Capital of Arab Culture (1998), Capital of Islamic
Culture (2014) and Capital of Arab Tourism (2015). The city is also the first in
the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the third in the Arab world and the
Middle East, to have received this recognition.

Overall, nineteen cities have born the title since its initiation in 2001, which
include Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Anvers (2004),
Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam(2008), Beirut
(2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Erevan (2012), Bangkok (2013),
Port Harcourt (2014), Incheon (2015), Wroclaw (2016), Conakry (2017) and
Athens (2018).

JRR Tolkien's book Beren and Luthien published after 100 years

Beren and Luthien : authored by JRR Tolkien

Beren and Luthien, a book by Lord of the Rings author John Ronald Reuel
Tolkien (JRR Tolkien), was published on 1 June 2017, 100 years after it was first
conceived.The books was published by HarperCollins on the 10th anniversary of the
last Middle Earth book 'The Children of Hurin'.

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Beren and Luthien is described as a very personal story that JRR Tolkien envisaged
after returning from the Battle of the Somme. The names Beren and Luthien are
carved on the gravestone Tolkien and his wife share in Wolvercote cemetery in
Oxford.
The book was edited by his son Christopher Tolkien and contains versions of a tale
that became part of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the
World conceived by Tolkien.

About Beren and Luthien


• Beren and Luthien is a love story that was partly inspired by JRR Tolkien's wife
Edith.
• The story is about the fate of lovers Beren and Luthien, a mortal man and an
immortal elf who together try to steal from the greatest of all evil beings Melkor
called Morgoth.
• Events in the book take place during the First Age of Middle-earth, some 6500
years before the events in The Lord of the Rings.
• The book features illustrations by Alan Lee, who won an Academy Award for his
work on Peter Jackson's film trilogy.

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JUDICIARY
Justice CS karnan becomes the first High Court Judge to retire while
absconding

Calcutta High Court Judge C S Karnan, who was sentenced six months of
imprisonment by Supreme Court, retired on 12 June 2017 at the age of 62, the
retirement age for a High Court judge. Karnan was not present at the Calcutta
High Court on the day of his retirement as he is banned from performing his
judicial duties since February 2017.

Justice Karnan has been absconding from the office of Calcutta HC judge since May
2017 to escape arrest after the Supreme Court sentenced him to six months
imprisonment for contempt of court and ordered his immediate arrest.

Background
In May 2017, Justice Karnan was sentenced for imprisonment for repeated
incidents of contempt of court. It was the first time that the Supreme Court has
sent a high court judge to jail on charges of contempt.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan
Gogoi, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and Kurian Joseph prohibited media from publishing
any orders passed by Justice Karnan.

Justice Karnan was accused of contempt after he named 20 corrupt judges of India
earlier in 2017 and sought an investigation alleging corruption in the judiciary. In
March 2017, the SC ordered the Calcutta government hospital to constitute a
medical board to examine the medical condition of Justice Karnan and submit a
report to the court. However, Justice Karnan refused to undergo medical tests.

Instead, he sentenced eight judges of the Supreme Court to five years of rigorous
imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100000 each under the Scheduled Castes
and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

ICJ stays Kulbhushan Jadhav's execution till final order

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 18 May 2017 stayed the execution of
Kulbhushan Jadhav till its final decision. Ruling in favour of India, the Court asked
Pakistan to keep it informed about the measures, including on consular access,
taken by it in this connection.

Reading out the verdict at The Hague, Netherlands, ICJ President Ronny
Abraham said that India has the right to consular access to Jadhav under Vienna

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convention. He said the court considers that it has prima facie jurisdiction in the
matter as there is a dispute between the parties.

He said acts alleged by India fall in the Vienna convention which guarantees state
to be given access to its citizen. He added the rights invoked by India under the
Vienna Convention are plausible.

After the order, the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the ICJ order has
come as a great relief to the family of Kulbhushan Jadhav and people of India. She
also said that the union government is grateful to Harish Salve for presenting
India's case so effectively before ICJ.

Swaraj assured the nation that under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, the
government will leave no stone unturned to save Jadhav.

EXECUTIVE/PARLIAMENTARY
Govt announces another 30 cities under Smart City Mission

The Union government has announced another list of 30 cities for development as
smart cities under Smart City Mission, taking the total tally of cities picked up so
far to 90.

45 cities contested for the 40 available smart city slots but only 30 were selected.

A total investment of Rs. 57,393 Cr has been announced for the development
project.

The 30 Cities are :

Topped by Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, the list includes Naya Raipur,


Chhattisgarh; Rajkot, Gujarat; Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh; Patna, Bihar;
Karimnagar, Telangana; Muzaffarpur, Bihar; Puducherry (Pondicherry);
Gandhinagar, Gujarat; Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir; Sagar, Madhya Pradesh;
Karnal, Haryana; Satna, Madhya Pradesh; Bengaluru, Karnataka; Shimla, Himachal
Pradesh; Dehradun, Uttarakhand; Tirupur, Tamil Nadu; Pimpri -Chinchwad,
Maharashtra; Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh; Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh; Jammu,
Jammu and Kashmir; Dahod, Gujarat; Tirunelveli, Thootukkudi, and
Tiruchirappalli,Tamil Nadu; Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh; Aizawl, Mizoram; Allahabad
and Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh; and Gangtok, Sikkim.

The cities that missed the mark!

• Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's constituency Raebareli could not find a place in
the smart cities list.

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• Meerut, which falls under the National Capital Region also failed to make the
cut.

• Ghaziabad, another city in the NCR, also did not get selected.

• Mumbai and Bengal did not participate in the competition.

The Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that among the selected cities, 26 have
proposed affordable housing projects that will benefit the urban poor, 26 cities
will be taking up school and hospital projects, 29 will be taking up redesign and
redevelopment of roads which again will benefit the common man.

He added that all of them will put in place Integrated Command and Control
Centres that enable coordination among various agencies for better service
delivery and effective management of scarce resources like water and power.

As of now, 10 slots remain under the smart city mission and 20 cities will be
contesting for them including Itanagar, Diu, Silvassa, Kavaratti, Navi Mumbai,
Greater Mumbai, Amaravati, Imphal, Shillong, Meerut, Rai Bareilly, Haldia,
Bidhannagar, Dindigul, Durgapur, Ghaziabad, Sharanpur, Biharsharif, Rampur
and Erode.

The remaining cities will be required to submit revised smart city plans for filling
up the vacant slots.

Background

• The "100 Smart Cities Mission" was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on
25 June 2015, with the aim of transforming 100 Indian cities by 2019-20.

• The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the


mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities.

• A total of ₹980 billion has been approved by the Indian Cabinet for the
development of the smart cities and rejuvenation of 500 others.

Union Government launches National Biopharma Mission

The Cabinet Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Environment,
Forests and Climate Change, Harsh Vardhan, launched a first ever Industry-
Academia mission.

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The National Biopharma Mission was launched to accelerate biopharmaceutical
development in India.

Under the Mission, the government launched a programme named Innovate in


India (i3) that will witness an investment of USD 250 million with USD 125 million
as a loan from World Bank.The i3 aims to create an enabling ecosystem to
promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector.

Union Government constitutes K Kasturirangan Committee to prepare National


Education Policy

The Union Government has constituted a committee for preparation of final draft
of National Education Policy under the Chairmanship of eminent Scientist Padma
Vibhushan K Kasturirangan.

The other members of the panel include chosen experts and educationists
including former IAS officer KJ Alphonse Kanamthanam, who was instrumental in
achieving 100 per cent literacy rate in Kottayam and Ernakulam districts of Kerala.

The other members of the committee are:


• Vasudha Kamat: A prominent academician from the field of education technology
who has contributed extensively towards school education. She was also Vice-
Chancellor of SNDT University Mumbai.

• Manjul Bhargava: A Professor of Mathematics in Princeton University USA. He


was awarded field medal in mathematics at a quite young age for his contributions
to Gauss number theory.

• Ram Shankar Kureel: He is the Vice chancellor of Baba Saheb Ambedkar


University of Social Sciences Mhau, Madhya Pradesh. He has published various
national and international papers on inclusion of the marginalized in mainstream
education and development.

• TV Kattimani: He is Vice Chancellor of Tribal University, Amarkantak. He is from


the field of language education and mass communication.

• Krishna Mohan Tripathy: He has vast experience of implementation of Sarva


Shiksha Abhiyan and was also Chairperson of Uttar Pradesh High School and
Intermediate Examination Board.

• Mazhar Asif: A Professor of Persian in Guwahati University. Under his research


mentorship, first Persian-Assamese-English dictionary was compiled.

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• MK Sridhar: He is a former Member Secretary of Karnataka Innovation Council
and Karnataka Knowledge Commission.

Union Cabinet approves proposal to introduce Financial Resolution and Deposit


Insurance Bill 2017

The Union Cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given a green
signal to the proposal to introduce a Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance
Bill, 2017.

The Bill aims at providing a comprehensive resolution framework for specified


financial sector entities to deal with bankruptcy situation in banks, insurance
companies and financial sector entities.

Key highlights of Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017

• The Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017 seeks to give comfort
to the consumers of financial service providers in financial distress.

• The proposed bill also aims to inculcate discipline among financial service
providers in the event of financial crises by limiting the use of public money to bail
out distressed entities.

• It would help in maintaining financial stability in the economy by ensuring


adequate preventive measures, while at the same time providing the necessary
instruments for dealing with an event of crisis.

• The Bill also aims to strengthen and streamline the current framework of
deposit insurance for the benefit of a large number of retail depositors.

• In addition, the Bill also seeks to decrease the time and costs involved in
resolving distressed financial entities.

• When enacted, the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill 2017 will
pave the way for setting up of the Resolution Corporation.

• The Resolution Corporation would protect the stability and resilience of the
financial system; protecting the consumers of covered obligations up to a
reasonable limit; and protecting public funds, to the extent possible.

• It would lead to repeal or amendment of resolution-related provisions in sectoral


Acts as listed in Schedules of the Bill.

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• It will also result in the repealing of the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee
Corporation Act, 1961 to transfer the deposit insurance powers and responsibilities
to the Resolution Corporation.

• The proposed Bill complements the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 by
providing a resolution framework for the financial sector. Once implemented, the
Bill together with the Code will provide a comprehensive resolution framework for
the economy.

Centre clears Kambala Bill, legalising the Buffalo race

The Union Ministry of Law and Justice has cleared the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill 2017, legalising Kambala, a traditional race
involving buffaloes.The bill will now be sent to the President for his assent, after
which it would become a law. PM Modi and the BJP are seen to be in huge favour
of sports such as Kambala that have a strong link with the local culture.

Background

• In November 2016, the Karnataka high court banned Kambala (an annual buffalo
race) along with bull-cart race in the state while hearing a case filed by the
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) citing animal cruelty.

• The high court had stayed these traditional sports in view of the Supreme Court’s
ban on Jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu.

• The Karnataka Assembly, however, had passed Prevention of Cruelty to Animals


(Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2017 on February 13, 2017 to allow kambala,
following protests by people and Kambala organisers.

• In April 2017, the Union Home Ministry asked the state government to modify or
omit the phrase “subject to such other conditions as may be prescribed” in the
sub-section 2 of section 3 of the Bill, as the phrase would make it possible for the
state government to include more sports involving animals through government
notifications in the future.

• The state government made the modifications and sent it back to the union
government.

About Kambala

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• It is an annual Buffalo Race that is held traditionally under the sponsorship of
local landlords and households in the coastal districts of Karnataka, India to
entertain the rural people.

• Slushy/marshy paddy field track is used for Kambala. The sports season generally
starts in November and lasts until March.

• The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair race
in two separate wet rice field tracks, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.

• Historically, the winning pair of buffaloes was rewarded with coconuts and
bananas. Now, gold coins, silver coins are given and in some competitions, cash
awards are also popular.

• In the traditional form of Kambala, buffalo racing is non-competitive and Buffalo


pairs run one by one in paddy fields.

• In recent times, however, Kambala has become an organised rural sport with
elaborate planning and scheduling to accommodate competitions at different
places.

• To ensure smooth operation of the same, a ‘Kambala Committee’ is formed and


it arranges races in several categories like Kane Halage, Hagga Hiriya, Hagga
Kiriya,Halage, Adda Halage .

• A well-organised Kambala attracts over 20000 spectators who cheer on the


Buffaloes to complete the race.

• Besides this, some agriculturists also race their buffaloes as a means to thank the
gods for protecting their animals from disease.

PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Kochi Metro

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first phase of the Kochi Metro,
India’s eighth metro rail service and the first in a tier-II city at an inaugural
ceremony held at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium.

The Prime Minister was joined by other dignitaries including Kerala Governor P
Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah
Naidu, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and Metro Man E Sreedharan. Modi
also took a ride on the newly constructed rapid transport from Palarivattom to
Pathadippalam.

The Metro service would also be the first one to employ transgender people in
the stations. It has appointed as many as 23 transgenders for customer service
operations and as ground staff.

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Key Highlights

• The total stretch of Kochi Metro will cover 26 km and it will have a total of 22
stations.

• The first phase, which will cover about 13 km with 11 stations between
Palarivattam in Kochi city and Aluva, is the longest first phase of a metro to be
inaugurated so far.

• The metro service is also the first in India to use Communication Based Train
Control technology to maximise frequencies and minimise errors.

• While by road, the time taken to travel from Palarivattom to Aluva is about 45
minutes, the Metro will cover the distance in just 23 minutes.

• The total cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs 6,000 Cr. It was
executed by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and will be operated by Kochi
Metro Rail Limited (KMRL).

• E Sreedharan, who once headed DMRC acted as an advisor on the project.

First rural LED street lighting project to take off in Andhra Pradesh

India’s first-ever Rural LED Street Lighting Project will be implemented by the
Government of India (GoI) in Andhra Pradesh (AP). The Energy Efficiency Services
Limited (EESL) under the Ministry of Power will retrofit 10 lakh conventional
street lights with LED lights in Gram Panchayats of 7 districts in AP. This is the first
project for rural LED street lighting in the country under the GoI’s Street Lighting
National Project (SLNP).

In the first phase, the replacement will be undertaken in gram panchayats of the
districts of Guntur, Prakasham, Nellore, Kurnool, Kadapa, Ananthapur and
Chittoor. This replacement drive in rural areas will help the gram panchayats to
cumulatively save approximately 147 million units of electricity annually and lead
to reduction of 12 crore tonnes of CO2. The entire upfront capital cost of this
project is being funded by French Development Agency Agence Française de
Développement (AFD). EESL will carry out the entire annual maintenance and do
the warranty replacement for a period of 10 years.

• Under the project, Centre would be providing Rs. 500 Cr to each city over a
period of 5 years for implementing various projects.

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Maharashtra announces blanket loan waiver; farmers call of protest

The Maharashtra government announced a loan waiver for farmers. He also


decided to form a committee to decide the criteria for debt relief, after which
cultivators called off their protests.

The decision was taken after a meeting between the panel of ministers and the
representatives of farmers. The move is expected to benefit 1.07 crore farmers in
the state, who have land holdings of less than five acres.

Highlights of the decision

• The loans of the small and marginal farmers were waived with immediate effect.

• The decision was made that the benefits of the waiver will be provided only to
those farmers who are dependent only on farm produce.

• The benefits of the loan waiver will not apply for political leaders, businessman
and salaried person. On the real farmers will be benefitted from the scheme of
waiving the farm loans.

• A separate committee will be formed to fix criteria based on which further


waiver will be sanctioned.
Besides, the ministers’ group has decided to restart fresh loan disbursal to farmers
from 12 June 2017.

The state government has also accepted the demand of farmers to increase the
milk prices. The milk societies will have to agree with 70:30 formula (70 per cent
of selling amount to farmers, 30 per cent to the distribution chain) of profit
sharing on the lines of the sugar industry.

Maharashtra Government issues government resolution on loan waiver

The Maharashtra government issued the Government Resolution (GR) for the farm
loan waiver of Rs 34022 crore announced by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The resolution said, loans of all indebted farmers whose accounts went into
default until 30 June 2016, will be waived off with a cap of Rs 1.5 lakh per
farmer.It said, the farmers who have paid off their outstanding loans after 30 June
2016, will get a blanket help of Rs 25000 from the state government. The GR said,
the farmers are entitled to get the benefit only once.

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Persons with an annual turnover of over Rs 10 lakh and those who are registered
under VAT or Service Tax will be ineligible for loan waiver. Retired persons
excluding ex-servicemen whose monthly pension is Rs 15000 or more are also not
eligible.

The GR says that the farmers, who have more than Rs 1.5 lakh debt, will get the
benefit of loan waiver after they pay their remaining amount of debt along with
interest. It also says that woman farmer would be given priority in this scheme.

Besides, the state government has also decided to form a cabinet sub-committee
for implementation of the scheme. It also said that the finance department will
issue a separate note on guidelines.

Telangana becomes 1st Indian state to launch pension for single women

Telangana government has launched the single-women pension scheme across the
state.Under the scheme, the state government would be giving a pension of about
Rs 1000 per month to single women on humanitarian grounds. This scheme is the
first such welfare scheme by any state in the country.

Key Highlights

• Officials have identified 108302 beneficiaries in 31 districts.

• The decision to extend pension to single women was taken following petitions on
the plight of single women deserted by their husbands and relatives.

• While earlier, the government spent only ₹800 crore on pensions to 29 lakh
beneficiaries, now it would be spending ₹5,600 Cr per annum and benefiting
around 38 lakh people.

• Besides providing pension, the government also announced that the children of
the single women would be admitted into all Telangana Residential Educational
Institutions without having to write an examination or waiting for the lottery
system.

• The beneficiaries would get the pension in their bank accounts every month.

Further, the state’s Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao would also be considering
the appeal to bring married women separated from husbands within the ambit of
the scheme.

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DEVELOPMENT/ECONOMY

GST Council reduces GST Rates of 66 items

The GST Council on 11 June 2017 reduced the GST Rates of 66 items including
insulin, pickles, printers, agarbattis, school bags, and cashew nuts.
However, the GST rates for telecom services, marbles, granite and spectacles were
retained. The GST Council, headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, went
beyond the equalisation principle of maintaining the current tax incidence in
certain cases.

All goods and services, under the GST regime, are broadly placed in five tax slabs
— 0, 5, 12, 18, and 28 per cent.

Revised GST Rates of a few Goods and Services


• The GST Rates on insulin, cashew nuts and agarbattis were lowered to 5 per
cent from 12 per cent proposed earlier.

• The GST Rates of school bags and computer printers will now be 18 per cent
rate against 28 per cent decided earlier.

• The rate of children's exercise books was fixed to Nil from 12 per cent
proposed earlier.

• The GST rate for movie tickets under Rs 100 was reduced to 18 per cent,
while tickets priced above Rs 100 will be taxed at 28 per cent.

• Kitchen use items like pickles, mustard sauce, and morabba will attract 12 per
cent GST as against 18 per cent proposed earlier.

• Packaged food items like ketchup, toppings, instant food mixes will be charged
12 per cent GST now.

• Cutlery, tractors and CCTV cameras will cost less now as their tax is now fixed
at 12 per cent.

Revision of Composition Scheme For Small Businesses


Apart from the revising the rates, the GST Council also reworked the Composition
Scheme For Small Businesses for the benefit of small traders, manufacturers, and
restaurateurs. Now the small traders with an annual turnover of Rs 75 lakh, can
avoid any compliance burden and simply pay tax.

Those whose annual turnover was less than 20 lakhs, will not be required to pay
any tax now. Moreover, they will now have reduced procedural requirements.

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The composition scheme is a presumptive taxation scheme allowing small
traders, manufacturers and restaurants to pay a 1 to 5 per cent GST rate on sales
without tax credits.

18 sections, 2 rules for GST notified

Few days ahead of the rollout of the GST Act across India, the Union Government
has notified sections in the GST Act dealing with mandatory registration of current
indirect taxpayers in the new regime.

It has notified as many as 18 sections related to registration of current central


excise, service tax and VAT payers with the GST-Network (GSTN) as well as
transitional provisions.

As a precursor to GST, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has also
notified two rules relating to registration and composition levy.

All the notifications will come into effect on 22 June 2017.

GST, which is to be rolled out from 1 July 2017, will unify over a dozen central
and state levies into one.

Every business carrying out a taxable supply of goods or services with a turnover
exceeding the threshold limit of 20 lakh rupees will be required to register.GST
registration would allow for seamless input tax credit.

The CBEC has also notified 'www.gst.gov.in' as the common 'Goods and Services Tax
Electronic Portal'.

As many as 65 lakh out of the 80 lakh taxpayers have already migrated from
various platforms to GST. All of these businesses will be assigned a unique Goods
and Services Tax Identification Number.

The Sections in the Central GST (CGST) Act notified provide for all suppliers,
anyone making any inter-state taxable supply and every existing licence holder and
business entity, to register for GST.

Besides, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry and its organisations have
established GST facilitation cell to facilitate the implementation of the new
indirect tax regime for the stakeholders.

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The cell has been constituted to serve as the first point of contact for industry to
facilitate, guide and provide all support to the stakeholders for a smooth and
successful rollout of GST from 1 July. Nine officers have been deployed in the cell.

In addition, the union finance minister Arun Jaitley has said that his government
will not blink on rolling out the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 1 July and the
new tax measure will be officially launched on midnight of 30 June 2017.

He said there will be some challenges in the implementation of the GST, as it will
unify more than a dozen separate levies to create a single market.

However, he also said this major tax reform over the medium to long term will
lead to higher revenues to Centre and states while also increasing the size of the
economy and having a positive impact on the GDP.

He also informed that almost all states have cleared the State GST Act, with the
exception of Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala.

India’s first automatic coastal warning for disasters to come up in Odisha

India’s first automatic coastal warning for disasters,the ambitious Early Warning
Dissemination System (EWDS) ,will come up in Odisha from July 2017. Through
the alert system, Odisha will be able to warn its coastal population by pressing a
single button from a control room in the Odisha capital in the event of natural
disasters like tsunami or cyclone. The loud sirens will then go off simultaneously
from towers at 122 spots locations including tourist destinations, fish landing
centres and coastal habitations. The sound emanating from the towers would be
heard in localities up to a radius of 1.5 km.The new system will also enable
authorities to alert people in smaller pockets, depending on the severity of the
disaster.

SEBI forms committee to improve standards of corporate governance of listed


companies

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has formed committee to
improve standards of corporate governance of listed companies. The committee
under the chairmanship of Uday Kotak, chief of Kotak Mahindra Bank, will
submit the report within a period of 4 months. The committee would make
recommendations to SEBI on ensuring independence in spirit of independent
directors and their active participation in functioning of the company and steps for

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improving safeguards and disclosures pertaining to related party transactions.
Besides, the panel would suggest measures for addressing issues faced by investors
on voting and participation in general meetings and ways for improving
effectiveness of board evaluation practices.

Telangana Government launches digital wallet ‘T-Wallet’

The Telangana Government has officially launched a digital wallet “T-Wallet”,


which doesn’t charge transaction fee from consumers. This is the first official e-
wallet from any state government in India. The wallet can be used over the web
version. One can top up the wallet using credit or debit cards, Internet banking or
through cash at Mee Seva centres. It allows a maximum transaction of Rs. 1 lakh
for e-KYC (know your customer) users. For non-KYC users, the limit is set to Rs.
20,000. The wallet is developed by Transaction Analysts (TA) & Vijaya Bank is a
banking partner for the initiative. Presently, the wallet is available in Android
version and supports English, Telugu and Urdu.

India’s first ‘freight village’ to be developed by the Inland Waterways Authority


of India

India’s first ‘freight village’ will be developed by the Inland Waterways Authority
of India (IWAI) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The freight village, a one-of-its-kind
infrastructure platform, will attract companies that require logistics services and
can cluster to improve their competitiveness. This will allow relocation of
retailers, warehouse operators and logistics service providers supplying the
regional FMCG market. The facility will come around the proposed multi-modal
terminal adjacent to the city on the banks of the Ganga.

NITI Aayog launches SATH Program

The NITI Aayog has launched SATH Program for providing ‘Sustainable Action for
Transforming Human capital (SATH) to the State Governments.The program is
aimed at initiating the transformation in the education and health sectors and
also aims to address the need for technical support from NITI Aayog towards the
states.

Highlights of the SATH Program


• SATH aims to identify and build three future ‘role model’ states for health
systems.

• NITI Aayog will work in close collaboration with the state machinery to design a
robust roadmap of intervention, develop a program governance structure, set up

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monitoring and tracking mechanisms and provide support on a range of
institutional measures to achieve the end objectives.

• It will be implemented by NITI along with McKinsey & Company and IPE Global
consortium, who were selected through a competitive bidding process.

• To select the three model states, NITI defined a three-stage process – expression
of interest, presentations by the states; and assessment of commitment to health
sector reforms.

• Sixteen states expressed their interest, out of which fourteen made their
presentations including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Goa, Gujarat,
Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Telangana and
Uttar Pradesh.

• Out of these fourteen states, five were shortlisted and subsequently, three will
be selected on the basis of further evaluations and objective assessment.

• The program will be launched in the three selected states after the signing of
MoUs.

Union Government launches VAJRA scheme to attract Indian scientists abroad

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) under Ministry of Science and
Technology has launched the Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty (VAJRA)
scheme in a bid to bring together the Indian scientists abroad and India-based
researchers for conducting joint researches in India.

The web portal of VAJRA was launched by Union Minister of Science and
Technology Harsh Vardhan.

The motive behind the launching of VAJRA scheme is to bring the best of the world
to India and conduct research here. It aims to convert brain-drain into brain-gain.

Highlights of the scheme


• Under this scheme, scientists or senior researchers abroad of Indian origin can
collaborate with faculties here in India.
• Foreign researchers will receive endowments at par with those in their own
countries.
• The endowments for faculties would be USD 15000 in the first month of residency
and USD 10000, for the remaining months.
• The broad areas of research like energy, health, advance material and others will

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be promoted under the scheme.
• The area of research under taken by the Faculty should be of interest to India
including translation of science to practice.
• Faculty can also do teaching or mentoring during the period of stay in India. They
could also act as mentors of start-ups housed at the Institution.

Union Government launches web platform INAM-Pro +

The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari launched the
INAM-Pro + web platform in New Delhi.

The INAM-Pro+ is an upgraded version of INAM-Pro, the web portal launched by the
Ministry in 2015 as a common platform to bring cement buyers and sellers
together. The web portal was designed by National Highways and Infrastructure
Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL).

About INAM Pro and INAM-Pro+


More than 700 construction companies have used INAM-Pro during the last two
years. With 37 Cement companies registered on it, the portal facilitated
comparison of price, availability of materials etc. and made it very convenient
for the prospective buyers to procure cement at reasonable rates.

The publicly visible prices promoted transparency and enhanced ease of doing
business. The companies registered on INAM-Pro have a committed supply of 27
million metric tons of cement.

INAM-Pro has been highly acclaimed by the construction industry and IT sector and
has also been recognized and listed in the Book-on-Innovations 'New Beginning'
released by PM Narendra Modi.

Following the success with cement material, the portal was upgraded as INAM-
Pro+ to include each and every construction material, machinery and services
like purchase, lease of new or used products and services in the domains of
Construction Materials like cement, steel, stone aggregates, concrete, bricks,
wood, sanitary items, paint etc.

The upgraded portal will also offer:


• Infrastructure machinery like paver finisher, backhoe loaders, etc.
• Intelligent transport system equipment like CCTV, ECB, boom barriers, etc.
• Road furniture like road signage, road studs, etc.
• Haulage vehicles such as tippers, backhoe loaders, cranes, etc.

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• Other services like road marking, ambulance, route patrolling, tree plantation
and transplantation.

NALSA launches web application for free legal services to prisoners

The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has launched a web application for
free legal services to prisoners and the Legal Services Management System. NALSA
is entrusted with the responsibility to provide legal aid inter-alia to all persons in
custody.The web application was launched by Justice Dipak Misra, Judge at
Supreme Court of India and Executive Chairman of NALSA.

Highlights of the web application

• Through this web application, the State Legal Services Authorities and District
Legal Services Authorities can feed the data for each individual prison inmate in
the jails within their jurisdiction, with regard to their being represented through a
counsel in the court.

• The software will be able to generate reports showing total number of inmates,
number of inmates unrepresented, number of inmates represented by legal
services lawyers and number of inmates represented by private lawyers.

• All the above information can be generated State wise, District wise and also in
respect of each jail.

• The reports can also be generated by the period of imprisonment, which will in
turn generate information with regard to prisoners eligible for bail under Section
436-A Cr.P.C.

• It will be universally useful for all the relevant authorities to monitor the grant
of legal aid provided to the prisoners in order to ensure that no prisoner goes
unrepresented in the court.

• It will make the legal services system more transparent.

Uttarakhand becomes 4th state to be open defecation free

Uttarakhand has become the fourth state to be open defecation free (ODF) in the
country.

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The same was declared by Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati
Raj, Narendra Singh Tomar during a Swachh Bharat Programme organized in
ONGC, Dehradun on 22 June 2017.

Uttarakhand has achieved the status after Sikkim, which was the first state to be
declared open defecation free and then Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, both of
which were declared ODF free in the latter half of 2016. The state has achieved
the feat after undertaking a major cleanliness drive.

Three more states-Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat are also expected to follow suit
on the effort in this financial year.

Haryana declared as 5th Open Defecation Free state

Haryana was on 22 June 2017 declared as the 5th Open Defecation Free (ODF)
state of India under the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G). On the same day
itself, Uttarakhand was decalred as the 4th state to be open defecation free.
With this, Haryana and Uttarakhand have joined the league of Sikkim, Himachal
Pradesh and Kerala, which were the first three states to be declared as Open
Defecation Free.
The Swachh Bharat mission is aimed at achieving 100 per cent open defecation
free status across the country by the year 2019.

Telangana state to shield 12 percent reservation for poor Muslim communities

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has said that the state will shield
the proposed 12 percent reservation for poor Muslim communities even in the
highest office of the Central Government.

The reservation bill, which has been passed by the Telangana Legislature, proposes
to increase reservations in jobs and education for backward sections of the Muslim
community from 4 percent to 12 percent.

Rao said that it was his government’s top-most priorities to provide education to
the Muslim children.

Till now, the state government has set up 204 residential schools for
underprivileged children from the Muslim community, which is expected to benefit
almost 1.33 lakh students.

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Indians' money in Swiss banks down to CHF 676 mn: Switzerlands central bank
data

Amid the continuing clampdown on the suspected black money stashed behind the
framed secrecy walls, a data published on 29 June 2017 says that money parked by
Indians in the banks of Switzerland has nearly halved to 676 Swiss francs (about Rs
4500 crore) in 2016. The data was released by Switzerland’s central banking
authority SNB (Swiss National Bank).

SNB published the figures for 2016 as part of its ‘Annual Banks in Switzerland
Report’.

In comparison, the data reveals that the total funds held by all foreign clients of
Swiss Banks rose to CHF 1.42 trillion (about Rs 96 lakh crore) from CHF 1.41 trillion
in 2015.

The data says that at the end of 2016, the total funds held by Indian directly with
Swiss Banks stood at CHF 664.8 million, while the same held through fiduciaries
was near $11 million.

During the year 2016, the total money of Indians fell by 45 per cent to CHF 675.75
million, marking the biggest ever yearly decline in such funds.

This included nearly CHF 377 million in form of customer deposits, about CHF 98
million owed to Indians through other banks and CHF 190 million in form of other
‘liabilities’

The SNB data showed that the figures fell sharply across all categories in 2016.

While Switzerland has already begun sharing foreign client details on evidence of
wrongdoing provided by India and some other countries, it has agreed to further
expand its cooperation on India’s fight against black money with a new pact for
automatic information exchange from 2018.

Habibganj Railway Station to become India’s first private railway station

Habibganj Railway Station, located in the suburbs of Bhopal, will become India’s
first railway station to be redeveloped in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

The project aims at developing Habibganj Railway Station as a as a world-class


transit hub equipped with all amenities.

The Habibganj project is a part of the Indian Railways’ ambitious plan to re-
develop 400 A1 and A category railway stations. The Indian Railways’ ambition to

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redevelop 400 stations into world-class facilities is completely based upon its idea
of land monetization. It aims to modernize and upgrade passenger amenities at
stations by raising money through commercial development of railway land.

• The operation and maintenance of the railway station has been given to Bhopal-
based Bansal Group for a period of eight years.

• The Bansal Group plans to completely overhaul the station and develop four
commercial land parcels to make Habibganj a commercial hub with shops, offices
and hotels, all within three years.

• The environment-friendly railway station will be powered by solar energy.

• The station will also have facilities for disabled. It will have lifts, escalators and
travelators and underpasses.

• The station will be redesigned in such a way that the premises, in case of a
emergency, can be evacuated in four minutes and passengers can reach designated
points of safety in six minutes.

• The Bansal Group will be responsible for all the facilities at the station like food
stalls, retiring rooms, power, platform maintenance, et cetera. However, the
Group will not be responsible for core operations such as train and parcel
movement, signalling and ticketing.

• The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) will


oversee the Habibganj project.

Comment

The former Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee first put forward the idea in
2009-10 to set up world-class railway stations. It was only in 2015 that the project
was revived by the Railway Minister Suresh prabhu.

NATIONAL NEWS

India's Presidential Election 2017 to be held on 17 July

The Presidential Election of India will be held on 17 July 2017, as per the
announcement made by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on 7 June 2017.
The results will be announced on 20th July 2017.

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The term of President Pranab Mukherjee will come to an end on 24 July 2017.
Mukherjee assumed the office of President in July 2012.

• The polling will be held in Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha and premises of state
assemblies.
• The election will be conducted by secret ballot.

2017 Electoral College Situation


The President of India is elected by an Electoral College comprising elected
members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and state legislative assemblies. It also
includes assemblies of Delhi and Puducherry, the two union territories.

As of 2017, the electoral college is made up of 4896 legislators , out of which 776
are Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members and 4120 are MLAs.

All the Members of Parliament will have an equal vote value of 708 while vote
value of the MLAs depends on the population of the state.

The total strength of 2017 Electoral college is 1104546 votes. In order to win the
election, it is necessary to reach the halfway mark of 549442 votes. Presently, BJP
is standing at about 5.38 lakh votes, it still needs nearly 20,000 votes.

Anita Kundu, a Haryana police sub-inspector from Hisar, has made history by
becoming the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest from the China side on
May 2017. Earlier, she had scaled the Mt. Everest from Nepal side in May 2013.

International Yoga Day: Mysuru Loses Out On Guinness Record

Despite the best efforts of the District Administration, the Mysuru city lost out to
Ahmedabad in entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest
gathering at a single venue during the International Day of Yoga on June 21.

The June 21 yoga show at Ahmedabad’s GMDC Stadium saw an official


attendance of 54,522 participants, beating Mysuru which recorded an
attendance of 54,101.

The Ahmedabad Yoga Show was led by International Yoga Guru Baba
Ramdev,National BJP President Amit Shah(who hails from Gujarat), and Gujarat CM
Vijay Rupani.

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With an attendance of 54,522, Ahmedabad cornered the Guinness Record.The
previous record for the largest attendance was 35,984 at Delhi in 2015.

PM Modi inaugurates Centenary Celebrations of Sabarmati Ashram

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 29 June 2017 inaugurated the centenary


celebrations of Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.In addition, PM Modi also
released the coin and postal stamp in honour of Jain saint and
philosopher Shrimad Rajchandra on his 150th birth anniversary at Abhay Ghat.

Shrimad Rajchandra was a Jain poet, philosopher, scholar and reformer.He was a
child prodigy and claimed to have recollection of his past lives at the age of
seven.He performed Avdhan, a memory retention and recollection test, which
gained him popularity. However, he later discouraged it in favour of his spiritual
pursuits.He wrote plenty

of philosophical poetry including Atma Siddhi. He is best known for his teachings
on Jainism and as a spiritual guide of Mahatma Gandhi.

About Sabarmati Ashram

• Sabarmati Ashram was one of the residences of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.


He lived there for about twelve years along with his wife Kasturba Gandhi.

• It was from his base here that Gandhi led the Dandi March also known as the
Salt Satyagraha on 12 March 1930.

• The ashram was originally established at the Kocharab Bungalow of Jivanlal


Desai, a barrister and friend of Gandhi, on 25 May 1915. At that time, the ashram
was called the Satyagraha Ashram. However, Gandhi wanted to carry out various
activities such as farming and animal husbandry, which called for the need of a
much larger area of useable land. Therefore, two years later on 17 June 1917, the
ashram was relocated to an area of thirty-six acres on the banks of the river
Sabarmati, and it came to be known as the Sabarmati Ashram.

Arunachal Pradesh demands separate time zone to improve efficiency

Pema Khandu ,the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, has reiterated the state’s
demand for a separate time zone for the north-eastern states.The demand is made

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to improve work efficiency and save electricity in the north-eastern region of
the country.Khandu stated that several daylight hours are getting wasted as
government offices opens only at 10 AM and closes as early as 4 PM.

Why the demand?

• In North East India, the day starts getting brighter by 4 AM and darker by 5
PM. Productive hours at offices, mainly government offices, are usually for only
7 hours.

• Establishments like theatres, restaurants see increased business in the summer


months when there is more daylight. People tend to stay out more rather than
calling it a night.

• Khandu demanded that the north-eastern states should be allowed to advance


their clocks by some time (approximately 0.5-1 hour) to save more daylight hours.

• For those living in north-eastern states, a change in time would mean a delayed
sunset. This will allow the citizens to make use of added daylight hours, which is
currently wasted.

• Daylight saving will thus give a fillip to the economic activity in the city as well.

What is time zone?

• A time zone is a region of the globe that observes a uniform standard time for
legal, commercial, and social purposes.

• Time zones tend to follow the boundaries of countries and their subdivisions
because it is convenient for areas in close commercial or other communication to
keep the same time.

• Earth is divided into 360 vertical lines known as longitudes and a shift in every
longitude gives a time difference of four minutes. Every 15 degree longitudinal
shift results in a time difference of one hour.

• However, in the event of a single time zone, like in India, with the country
spread over areas wider than the one hour mark, some areas see early sunrise and
early sunset and the opposite extreme ends see them late.

• The longitudinal difference between India’s easternmost point Kibithu in


Arunachal Pradesh and the westernmost point Gugariyana, Gujarat is almost 30
degrees, which means a time difference of two hours.

Background

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The Guwahati High Court recently dismissed a Public Interest Litigation seeking a
separate time zone for the northeast region.

Also, a study carried out by Bengaluru-based National Institute of Advanced Studies


had concluded that a separate time zone for the north-eastern region of India
could help in saving 2.7 billion units of electricity every year.

A Planning Commission report, published in the year 2006, also called for different
time zones in India to improve efficiency.

A similar demand was also made by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in the year
2014. He suggested that the north-eastern region should follow Chai Bagan Time,
which is practiced in the tea gardens and is one hour ahead of the Indian
Standard Time (IST).

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit held in Astana,


Kazakhstan

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit was held in Astana,


Kazakhstan on June 8-9, 2017. In this summit, India and Pakistan became full
members of the organization. Now Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia have only
the observer status.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation which was
founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It is mainly aimed at military cooperation
between the members and involves intelligence- sharing, counter-terrorism
operations in Central Asia. The SCO is a security grouping increasingly seen as a
counterweight to NATO.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the need to respect each other's
"core concerns" and appropriately handle the disputes as he held "cordial" talks
with Chinese President Xi Jinping amid tensions in ties over a host of issues
including the CPEC and India's NSG bid. China is vocal about its stand to block
India's admission into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

The two leaders met in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on the sidelines of the
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit. It is their first meeting after
India boycotted the high-profile Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing last month in
which 29 world leaders took part.

India had abstained from the OBOR summit to highlight its concerns over the $50
billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is part of the Belt and
Road Initiative (BRI) and passes through Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir.

Trump announces US withdrawal from Paris Agreement on Climate Change

President Donald Trump proclaimed that he was withdrawing the US from the Paris
climate accord, a sweeping step that fulfills a campaign promise while acutely
dampening global efforts to curb global warming.

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Speaking from the White House, Trump said he was open to renegotiating aspects
of the agreement, which was inked under his predecessor and which all nations
except two have signed onto.

Trump, who has governed with an "American First" policy, said that he was
carrying out the will of the voters who propelled him to the White House.

About the Paris Climate Agreement

• It is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on


Climate Change (UNFCCC) that deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation,
adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

• The United States was one of 195 nations that had agreed to the accord in
December 2015.

• As of June 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, 148 of which
have ratified it.

• Under the pact, countries both rich and poor agreed to reduce emissions of
greenhouse gases generated by burning fossils fuels, a major cause of global
warming.

• Main Objectives of the Agreement:

- To limit the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial


levels.

- To limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels so that it


will be possible to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

- To take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of


greenhouse gases including forests

With Trump's action, the United States will walk away from nearly every other
nation in the world on one of the most important global concerns of the 21st
century. Syria and Nicaragua are the only other two non-participants in the
accord.

Being the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, the exit of United
States also raises questions about the fate of the accord. There are also fears that
some more reluctant countries may also follow the steps of US in quitting the
climate deal.

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PM Modi and world leaders to discuss counter-terrorism at G20 Summit

Leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies will be converging at the upcoming


12th G20 Summit on 7-8 July 2017 at Hamburg, a major port city in northern
Germany. The topics that are expected to dominate the discussion include
counter-terrorism and economic reforms. Besides terrorism, the platform is also
expected to initiate discussions on issues such as free and open trade,
environment, climate change, migration, sustainable development and global
stability.

The Indian delegation at the summit would be led by Prime Minister Narendra
Modi. Some members of the delegation include NITI Aayog vice-chairman, India’s
G20 Sherpa Arvind Panagariya.

European leaders have vowed to defend the landmark Paris climate pact at the
summit.

The G20 group is made up of 19 countries and the European Union including
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia,
Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey,
the United Kingdom and the USA.

About G20

• The G20 is the central forum for international cooperation on financial and
economic issues.

• It was founded in 1999 with the aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-
level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international
financial stability.

• It seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one


organization.

• The G20 countries account for more than four-fifths of gross world product and
three-quarters of global trade and are home to almost two-thirds of the world’s
population.

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British PM Theresa May wins confidence vote in parliament

British Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly won the confidence vote in the
parliament, winning her first major test as the Prime Minister of a minority
government in the United Kingdom (UK).

With this, May was finally confirmed as the British Prime Minister three weeks
after the election, after winning the vote on her legislative programme known as
the Queen's Speech.

The vote on the Queen's Speech is considered as a vote of confidence on the


Government as a whole which means that May would have had to quit if she lost.
Rejection of the legislative plan would have been a major blow to May's already
weakened administration.

President Emmanuel Macron's party wins clear parliamentary majority

French President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche has won a clear parliamentary


majority in the 2017 legislative elections, just weeks after his own presidential
victory.

With nearly all votes counted, Macron's En Marche alongside its Democratic
Movement (MoDem) allies, has won more than 300 seats in the 577-seat National
Assembly.

The result gives the young French President a strong mandate in parliament to
pursue his pro-EU, business-friendly reform plans.

China's largest power project in Russia starts operation

A 483-MW gas-steam Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, built by a China-
Russia joint venture, officially started its operations .

The CHP is the tangible result of the Huadian-Teninskaya joint project. It was
launched by China Huadian Hong Kong Co. Ltd. and Russia's second regional power
company TGC-2 in 2011, with a total investment of USD 571 million.

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The project is seen as a symbol of further deepening of cooperation between China
and Russia in the field of electric power.

• The project was designed to generate 3.02 billion KWH of electric energy and
814000 Giga of heating supply annually.

• The plant is expected to tackle the Yaroslavl Province’s chronic problem of


power shortages.

• China Huadian Corporation is one of the five largest state-owned power


generation enterprises in China.

• The corporation is engaged in production and supply of electricity and heat, and
the development of power-related primary energy.

• It produces about 10 per cent of China's power along with Huaneng Group,
Datang Group, Guodian Group and CPI Group.

Nepal, China sign MoU for construction of Budhigandaki Hydropower Project

Nepal has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China for


construction of 1200-megawatt Budhigandaki Hydropower Project. The China
Gezhouba Water & Power (Group) Co Ltd (CGGC) will help arrange funds required
to develop the project. CGGC will also undertake the overall responsibility of
executing the project.

Budhigandaki Hydropower Project will be developed on Engineering, Procurement,


Construction and Finance (EPCF) model. The Nepal Government has allocated a
budget of Rs 5.33 billion for the project’s development in the current fiscal year.
The Budhigandaki Hydropower Project is expected to resolve the perennial
power crisis in Nepal.

Sweden, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan elected to UN Security Council

The 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have elected Sweden,
Bolivia, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan to the UN Security Council (UNSC). The newly-
elected countries will replace Spain, Malaysia, New Zealand, Angola and
Venezuela.

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The countries will serve on the world body’s Security Council for a period of two
years, starting from 1 January 2017.

The Security Council has 15 members, including five permanent. The five
permanent members, each with the power of veto, are China, France, Russia, the
United Kingdom and the United States.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain cut ties with Qatar

Six countries of the Arab region, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE),
Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Egypt have cut off their diplomatic ties with Qatar.

The countries have all accused Doha of destabilising the region and have
declared that they would not be maintaining any diplomatic relations with the
nation with immediate effect. Abu Dhabi accused Doha of supporting, funding and
embracing terrorism, extremism and sectarian organisations.

Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh has closed its borders, severed land, sea and air
contact with Doha. This step has been taken to protect the national security of the
Kingdom from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.

UAE has given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Egypt has also
closed its airspace and ports for all Qatari transportation.

UN expands North Korea blacklist in a first US, China sanctions deal

The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution expanding targeted


sanctions against North Korea after it launched its ninth ballistic missile of the
year.The resolution is the first such one that was agreed upon by both the United
States and N Korea’s only major ally-China since President Donald Trump assumed
office.

• The U.N. Security Council had first imposed sanctions on Pyongyang over its
ballistic missile and nuclear programs in 2006.

• The sanctions are in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile
launches.

• North Korea has launched several more ballistic missiles since then.

Denmark repeals 334-year-old blasphemy law

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Danish lawmakers have repealed a 334-year-old blasphemy law that forbids public
insults of a religion, such as the burning of holy books.Denmark was the only
Scandinavian country with a blasphemy law, which called for up to four months in
prison upon conviction, although most people were fined instead.

Shooting inside Iran parliament, one dead

One person was killed and several others were injured after three gunmen opened
fire inside the Iranian parliament before escaping the building, according to
reports. In a separate incident, gunmen opened fire at the mausoleum of
Ayatollah Khomeini in the country's capital Tehran. The motive of the two attacks
has not been established yet.

Iran parliament siege ends, all four attackers killed

The siege at the Iranian parliament has ended and all four attackers have been
killed, reports said. Gunmen dressed as women entered Iran's parliament building
and took hostages. In a separate attack, suicide bombers struck a shrine in Iran's
capital Tehran. At least 12 people were killed and 39 others were injured in the
attacks claimed by ISIS.

Sweden pledges to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2045

Sweden has committed to become a net-zero carbon emission emitter by


2045.Swedish lawmakers have bound the country to reach net-zero greenhouse-gas
emissions by 2045.

The legislation will come into force from the 1 January 2018, and will also see the
establishment of an independent Climate Policy Council in addition to a four-yearly
cycle for updating the nation’s climate action plan.

US threatens to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council

The United States has warned that it might withdraw from the United Nations
Human Rights Council unless reforms are ushered in including the removal of what
it sees as an "anti-Israel bias". The US earlier boycotted the body for three years on
its stance on Israel under President George W Bush before rejoining under Barack
Obama in 2009.

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EU imposes new anti-dumping duties on steel products from China

To broaden its campaign to protect struggling steel manufacturers in Europe, the


European Union (EU) in June 2017 imposed new anti-dumping duties on steel
products from China, one of the world’s largest steel makers.

It has imposed duties of up to 35.9 per cent on Chinese hot-rolled flat steel used in
shipbuilding, gas containers, pressure vessels, tubes and energy pipelines.

EU took the latest action against China for allegedly flooding global markets in
violation of international trade agreements. According to the European Commission
(EC), Chinese producers benefit from preferential lending, tax rebates and
other financial help that allow exports to the EU at artificially-low prices.

In January 2017, the Commission had slapped anti-dumping duties on stainless


steel tube and pipe butt-welding fittings, which are used to join steel pipes and
tubes.

Trump’s travel ban: Visa applicants from these 6 Muslim nations require close
family ties in US

The Trump administration has set new criteria for visa applicants from six Muslim
nations and all refugees that require a close family or business tie to the United
States.

According to the new guidelines sent to all the US embassies and consulates, visa
applicants from six countries- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen-
must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter,
son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the United States in order to get a go
ahead.

The new guideless have been set by the State Department, according to which
extended family members including grandparents, grandchildren, aunts,
uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and
fiancées are not considered to be close relationships.

These new measures are expected to be implemented from 29 June 2017.

The court’s opinion exempts applicants from the ban if they can prove a “bona
fide relationship” with a US person or entity. However, it is up to the government

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lawyers to determine how to define such a relationship. The court offered only
broad guidelines suggesting it would include a relative, job offer or invitation to
lecture in the US.

The move comes after the Supreme Court partially restored President Donald
Trump's executive order that was widely criticised as a ban on Muslims.

US adds China to the list of Worst Human Trafficking Offenders

The United States State Department has issued highly public criticism of China in
its latest annual report on the global state of human trafficking.As per the
Trafficking in Persons report, China is among the worst offenders of human
trafficking.China is now grouped with Tier 3 offenders such as Syria, Iran, Russia
and North Korea.

China responded angrily to the report.

Why China is ranked in Tier 3?

China was moved to Tier 3 status in 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in part
because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking,
including forced labours from North Korea that are located in China.

Several other countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea and Mali
were also moved to Tier 3 status.

What does this mean for China?

• Tier 3 is used to describe countries that are making no significant efforts to


comply with international standards.

• China was last ranked in this group in 2013. Since then, it had moved up a half-
notch.

• North Korea receives hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from forced


labour sent primarily from China and Russia.

• The Tier 3 designation could mean restrictions on certain kinds of foreign aid
funding not tied to humanitarian or trade issues.

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India has been placed in Tier 2 grading.As per the report, the Government of
India does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking;
however, it is making significant efforts to do so.

US declares Pakistan-based Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin as global terrorist

The United States (US) Department of State has declared Syed Salahuddin, Chief
of the terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen, as a Specially Designated Global
Terrorist. The declaration came a few hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's
meeting with President Donald Trump,recently.

The outfits that Syed Salahuddin leads have perpetuated cross border terrorism
against India including in Kashmir from the territory of Pakistan and Pakistan-
occupied Kashmir for a number of years. Salahuddin has been operating out of
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

This declaration will prohibit US nationals from engaging in transactions with


Salahuddin. Also, all of Salahuddin's property and interests in property subject
to United States jurisdiction are blocked.

Why US declared Syed Salahuddin as global terrorist?

• A native of Budgam district in central Kashmir, Salahuddin had shifted to


Pakistan-occupied Kashmir around 1989 from where he played a key role in
fuelling militancy in Kashmir for 27 years by training and arming youth before
sending them back to the Kashmir valley.

• His terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for several
attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in Jammu and Kashmir which
injured 17 people.

• He also heads the United Jihad Council, the umbrella body set up in the mid-
1990s to oversee terror outfits active in Jammu and Kashmir.

• In September 2016, Salahuddin vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the


Kashmir conflict, threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers and vowed
to turn the Kashmir valley into a graveyard for Indian forces.

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• In 2016 while addressing a public rally in Lahore, Salahuddin threatened Home
Minister Rajnath Singh against travelling to Islamabad for the SAARC meeting of
Home Ministers.

• Before taking to militancy, Salahuddin had contested assembly elections in


Jammu and Kashmir in 1987. However, he had lost in the polls which were believed
to be fixed.

The designation of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate organizations
and individuals. It results in denial of access to the US financial system. It can
also complement the law enforcement actions of other nations.

The declaration underlines that both India and US face threat of terrorism and
both are working together to counter this threat, not in particular sector but
globally also as terrorism knows no boundaries.

As of now, it is not clear how the US order will impact the Hizbul chief who
operates out of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and has the support of the Pakistani
government and its agencies.

In 2014, the US had similarly placed the Pakistan-based Hafiz Saeed-run Jamaat-
ud-Dawa in the list of banned foreign terrorist organisations. Hafiz Saeed was
involved in terrorist attacks of the 2008 strike on Mumbai that killed more than
160 people, including six Americans.

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RATINGS/REPORTS

India tops in ‘Ease of doing Business’ among 30 developing countries

India has been placed at the top position among 30 developing countries on ease of
doing business,as per the 2017 A.T. Kearney Global Retail Development Index
(GRDI). The 2017 GRDI titled “The Age of Focus” ranked China at second place,
followed by Malaysia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam. The
16th edition of GRDI ranked top 30 developing countries for retail investment
worldwide and analyzed 25 macroeconomic and retail-specific variables to help
retailers devise successful global strategies to identify emerging market
investment opportunities.

India ranked 37th out of 103 nations in the 2017 global Multi-dimensional
Poverty Index (MPI)

India has been ranked 37th out of 103 nations in the 2017 global Multi-dimensional
Poverty Index (MPI), according to a new report by the Oxford Poverty & Human
Development Initiative. The OPHI is an economic research centre at the Oxford
University, led by Professor Sabina Alkire. The 2017 global MPI has covered 76% of
the world’s population, living in 103 countries.

The index measures the nature and intensity of poverty, based on the profile of
overlapping deprivations each poor person experiences. It aggregates these into
meaningful indexes that can be used to inform targeting and resource allocation
and to design policies that tackle the interlinked dimensions of poverty together.

India ranked 137th out of 163 countries on the 2017 Global Peace Index (GPI)

India has been ranked 137th out of 163 countries on the 2017 Global Peace Index
(GPI), published by The Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP). The 2017 GPI
provides a comprehensive analysis on the state of peace. It shows that amidst
continuing social and political turmoil, the world continues to spend enormous
resources on creating and containing violence but very little on peace. The index is
topped by Iceland, followed by New Zealand, Portugal, Austria and Denmark,
whereas Syria remains the least peaceful country in the world, followed by
Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen.

UN report : India to become most populated country in the world by 2024

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In roughly seven years, around 2024, the population of India is expected to
surpass that of China, according to a UN report -- The World Population
Prospects : The 2017 Revision --published by the United Nations Department of
Economic and Social Affairs.

The report stated that currently, China with a population of about 1.41 billion
and India with a population of about 1.34 billion are two of the most populous
countries comprising 19 and 18 percent of the total global population.

By 2024, India and China are expected to roughly have a population of about 1.44
billion each.

After that, India’s population is projected to continue growing and touch 1.5
billion in 2030 and approach 1.66 billion by 2050, while China’s population is
projected to remain stable until the 2030s, after which it may begin a slow
decline.

India’s population is forecasted to eventually see a decline after 2050 and come
down to 1.51 billion by 2100 but it will still remain as the most populous country in
the world.

India emerges as the 7th largest exporter of agri-products globally : Commerce


Secretary

Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia, while addressing the 22nd APEDA Export award
function in New Delhi stated that India has emerged as the 7th largest exporter of
agri-products globally.

Teaotia stated that there is a significant increase in the exports of food products
from the country and it represents more than 12 percent of total exports. She
noted that the total merchandise exports during 2016-2017 are more than 276
billion dollars out of which agricultural exports comprised nearly 33 billion dollars.
She said that Indian food products are majorly exported to countries such as
Vietnam, UAE, Saudi Arabia, USA, Iran, Iraq and Nepal.

APEDA is an apex body of the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, to


promote the export of agricultural commodities and processed food

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products.APEDA links Indian exporters to global markets besides providing
comprehensive export-oriented services.

Its export basket ranges from typically Indian ethnic products like pickles,
chutneys, sauces to rice, honey, fresh and processed fruits and vegetables,
beverages, poultry, livestock products, food grains and other Indian delicacies.

UN report : India top remittance-receiving country in 2016

Indians working across the globe sent home USD 62.7 billion in the year 2016,
making India the top remittance-receiving country, as per a United Nations report
titled ‘Sending Money Home: Contributing to the SDGs, one family at a time’.The
study was conducted by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development
(IFAD).

The study went on to say that 200 million migrants globally sent more than USD
445 million in 2016 as remittances to their families, helping to lift millions out of
poverty.

The first-ever study highlights the role these funds play in helping development
countries attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Qatar Airways declared as World's Best Airline at 2017 Skytrax World Airline
Awards

Qatar Airways has been recognised as World’s Best Airline at the SKYTRAX 2017
World Airline Awards.

Qatar Airways was voted Best Airline by travellers across the world in the annual
passenger survey.

The Doha based carrier has now won the prestigious Airline of the Year title for a
fourth time.

On the other hand, Air Asia won awards for being the Best Low-Cost Airline in
Asia for a month year in the row, and also as World's Best Low-Cost Airline
Premium Cabin 2017.

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Angola's Luanda named world's most expensive city for expats

Luanda in Angola has been named the world's most expensive city for
expatriates by consultancy firm ECA International. Hong Kong has been placed
second, followed by four Swiss cities, namely Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern.
Japan's Tokyo, South Korea's Seoul, Venezuela's Caracas and Sudan's Khartoum
completed the top ten.

Sachin Tendulkar joins UN campaign ‘Super Dads’

Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar will be joining the likes of Noval Djokovic and
David Beckham for a United Nations campaign/initiative titled Super Dads.

The UNICEF initiative Super Dad highlights the critical role played by fathers in
children’s early development. The initiative that was launched on 6 June 2017,
few days ahead of the Father’s Day (18 June), will celebrate fatherhood by
highlighting the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the
healthy development of young children’s brains. Fathers’ Day is annually
celebrated on 18 June in more than 90 countries. The day is a celebration that
honours fathers and celebrates fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of
fathers in society.

Other participants of the Super Dads campaign include Mahershala Ali, the All
Blacks, Daniel Cormier, Lewis Hamilton, Hugh Jackman, Thalía and Chris
Weidman.

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CORPORATE NEWS

RCom-Aircel merged wireless company to be called Aircom

Reliance Communications (RCom) Chairman Anil Ambani has announced that the
merged entities of RCom and Aircel will be called Aircom.These merged entities
are Reliance Communications and Maxis Communications Berhad (MCB). Both the
companies announced their merger plans in September 2016.

• R-Com will demerge its wireless business and transfer it to the new entity
Aircom.
• Both R-Com and Maxis will hold 50 per cent each in the new entity Aircom.
• The merged company will be one of India’s largest private sector companies.
It will have an asset base of over 65000 crore rupees and net worth of 35000 crore
rupees.
• The company will be managed by an independent professional team under the
supervision of the board.
• Once the merger is completed, RCom’s overall debt will be reduced by 25000
crore rupees or over 40 per cent of its debt, while Aircel’s debt will reduce by
4000 crore rupees.
• The entity will have the second-largest spectrum holding amongst all
operators, aggregating 448 MHz across the 850, 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands.
• It will enjoy enhanced business continuity through extended validity of spectrum
holdings till 2033-35.

IRDAI takes over management of Sahara India Life Insurance Company

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has


announced taking over the management of the Sahara India Life Insurance
Company.Insurance regulator, IRDAI in an order issued in New Delhi has said that
Subrata Roy run insurer was "acting in a manner" prejudicial to the interest of
subscribers.

IRDAI appointed one of its general managers, RK Sharma, as administrator to


manage the affairs of the insurer. The Administrator shall conduct the
management of the business of the insurer as per applicable provisions of the
Insurance Act, 1938.

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TATA Projects launches unique “Green Thumb” initiative in India

The TATA Projects has launched the unique “Green Thumb” initiative in India to
promote green cover and to protect the environment on 2017 World Environment
Day (WED). The Green Thumb 2017 is in continuation to 2016 TATA Projects’
programme wherein it aimed to get 10,000 people to click (pledge) to plant a
sapling on their behalf – the response received was a tremendous 23,000.
Encouraged by the response, TATA Projects planted a total of over 42,000
saplings across the country in over 100 locations in the last one year (2016-17).

This year, under Green Thumb initiative, the company will plants trees, citizens
who wish to do their bit to save the environment, can express their support for the
cause. They can do so by clicking on the banner to plant a sapling on the Green
Thumb Microsite or on Facebook page.

Travis Kalanick resigns as Uber CEO

Travis Kalanick, the Chief Executive Officer of Uber has announced his resignation
from the post.

Kalanick reportedly took the hard decision after a group of major Uber investors
demanded his immediate resignation.

The ride-hailing company has been hit by a barrage of controversy and scandals
over the past year.

The company’s troubles included widespread allegations of sexual harassment, a


video showing Kalanick engaging in a heated argument with a driver, a major
lawsuit claiming intellectual property theft from Google’s Waymo self-driving car
unit and uproar over an executive obtaining the medical records of a woman who
was raped by a driver in India.

The company also reportedly fired more than 20 employees recently as a result of
an investigation into its work culture.

• Travis Kalanick had co-founded UBER, the transportation network company in


2009.

• In 2014, his name was featured on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans
at 190th position, with an estimated net worth of US$6.3 billion.

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MEDICAL NEWS
Wireless technology ‘AmbuSens’ developed by IIT Kharagpur

The researchers at IIT Kharagpur has developed a wireless technology ‘AmbuSens’


for remote monitoring of patients’ condition ferried in ambulances. The
technology will allow doctors to monitor ECG, heart-rate, temperature and
blood-pressure of patients moving in ambulances and fitted with wireless sensors.
This will help doctors to advise technicians travelling with the patient to deal with
the situation. The web interface of the AmbuSens system provides an easy-to-use
graphical interface for doctors and paramedics alike with data visualisation tools
such as real-time ECG graph. It can be accessed from internet-enabled laptops,
tablets and smartphones.

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SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY
China's fastest bullet train makes its debut run

China has launched its first self-developed 'next-generation' bullet train 'Fuxing'
with a maximum speed of 400kmh,on one of the country’s busiest lines -Beijing-
Shanghai line.

With the launch, Beijing aims to capture global high-speed rail market.

Main Highlights

• The launch happened simultaneously from two stations-Beijing and Shanghai.

• While a CR400AF model train was flagged off from Beijing South Railway Station
towards Shanghai, a CR400BF model left Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station for
Beijing.

• The model train on the way to Shanghai took about five hours and 45 minutes to
reach its destination.

• On the way, the train stopped at 10 stations, including Jinan, Shandong


province and Tianjin.

• The Beijing-Shanghai line sees a footfall of around 50,5000 passengers daily.

• China already had the world's longest railway network with 22,000 kilometres
by the end of last year, about 60 percent of the world's total.

Key Features

• The new bullet trains, also known as Electric Multiple Units (EMU), boast a top
speed of 400 Kmph and a consistent speed of 350 Kmph.

• The train was indigenously designed and manufactured in China.

• It includes a sophisticated monitoring system that constantly checks its


performance and automatically slows the train in case of emergencies or abnormal
conditions.

• The train is also fitted in with a remote data-transmission system, a control


centre that will be able to monitor the train in real time.

China unveils World’s first train that runs on Virtual Tracks

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China has unveiled the world's first ‘railless train’ that runs on a virtual track
making use of a sensor technology instead of metal rails.This Autonomous Rail
Rapid Transit (ART) has been developed by China's CRRC Zhuzhou Institute. It is a
part of China's attempts to develop an ‘intelligent rail express system’. The
company also makes key parts for high-speed railways.

• The 30-metre long train at present has three carriages and can carry around 300
passengers.

• The number of carriages can be increased in the future, taking the total capacity
up to 500 passengers.

• The train is fitted with sensors that allow it to detect the dimensions of the
roads and plan its own route without the need for metal railway tracks.

• Further, it has rubber wheels, which can be automatically guided without rails.

• The train is also non-polluting and environment friendly, as it is battery


powered.

• It can travel a distance of 25 km by just charging for 10 minutes; on a full


charge,it can cover distances up to 40 km.

• It is capable of moving at a maximum speed of 70 km/hr.

• It will be launched out for public use in 2018 in the Chinese city of Zhuzhou to
help deal with the traffic in the area.

Overall, the cost of the new train is only a fifth of the price of a traditional subway
system and its lifespan is expected to be around 25 years. China plans to build a
6.5 km long ART line through the Chinese city of Zhuzhou for this new train and
operations for the same are expected to start in 2018.

China is also testing a bus that can move while straddling the road, allowing the
traffic to pass under it.

Indo-Russian joint venture unveils world’s first hybrid aeroboat

The world's first hybrid aeroboat, which has been built by an Indo-Russian joint
venture, was unveiled at a start-ups event organised by Russia’s state-run
Skolkovo Foundation in Moscow.

The hybrid boat is capable of travelling on land, water, snow and sand. It has
been designed specially to access difficult terrain like marshy or flooded areas

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where the use of regular boats is impossible due to shallow water, patches of dry
land or presence of marine vegetation.

Designed by IIAAT Holding, a joint venture between the International Institute for
Advanced Aerospace Technologies and Indian firm Millennium Aerodynamics, the
Aeroboat is on demonstration in and around a pond in the two-day start-up annual
event.

Salient features of Aeroboat

• The boat runs on a ‘hybrid’ engine so, it is capable of running on both petrol
and electricity, enabling users to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy
efficiency.

• The Aeroboat is also equipped with IoT (Internet of Things) technology that
will allow the makers to monitor, control and diagnose the equipment as well as
troubleshoot select faults.

• The 6.5-metre-long hybrid design is capable of seating 10 passengers and one


crew member.

• It is capable of handling steep slopes and embankments and does not require any
marine infrastructure such as jetties since it is amphibious.

• In comparison with hovercrafts, which too are capable of travelling over land,
water, mud, ice, and other surfaces, aeroboats are faster and more robust.

• While hovercrafts move at a speed of around 45-50 km per hour on water,


aeroboats are capable of going at around 150 km or more.

• Aeroboats would also be cheaper to maintain and fuel with an estimated


maintenance cost of around $400-$600 per year.

• While Hovercrafts work on static air-cushion, aeroboats work on dynamic air-


cushion that gives it a huge advantage of speed and manoeuvrability.

Orders have been received for more than 25 aeroboat units from private and
government buyers in India.Already five aeroboats have been despatched for use in
disaster management. The product is capable of saving hundreds of lives in India
during the monsoon season when the regions experience floods.

LIGO makes third gravitational wave detection

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The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has detected
another merger of two black holes forming gravitational waves. The findings were
published in the Physical Review Letters on 1 June 2017.Named as GW170104, this
is the third confirmed detection of gravitational waves coming from a binary
black hole merger.

This time, the detection has revealed not merely a black hole merger, but also the
alignment of the spins of the black holes. This can help the scientists in finding out
the way the black holes were formed.

This supports the theory which says that black holes form independently in a star
cluster, then sink to the centre of the cluster and eventually merge. Until the first
detection of gravitational waves by LIGO in 2015 (GW150914), it was not known
that such massive black holes could exist.

The study had a major Indian contribution and the LIGO-India facility which will
join the club in 2024.

The observation also yields support to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.


According to this theory, gravitational waves, unlike light waves, will not disperse
as they travel through space. This too has been confirmed by the analysis of the
presently detected signal.

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SPORTS

Pakistan beats India to win 2017 ICC Champions Trophy

Pakistan defeated India by 180 runs in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy
played at The Oval, London to lift the 2017 Trophy.

The margin of victory was the largest by any team in the final of an ICC One Day
International(ODI) cricket tournament.

Pakistan’s Hasan Ali was declared the Player of the Series.

• The ICC Champions Trophy is an ODI tournament organised by the International


Cricket Council(ICC).

• It is second in importance only to the Cricket World Cup.

• It was inaugurated as the ICC KnockOut Tournament in 1998. Its name was
changed to the Champions Trophy in 2002.

• Australia and India have won the tournament twice each.

• India is scheduled to host the 2021 ICC Champions Trophy. However, it is


uncertain if the tournament will take place. The ICC has proposed starting an ODI
League in 2019. If the new league is introduced, the 2021 tournament may be
cancelled.

Anil Kumble resigns as the head coach of Indian Cricket team

Anil Kumble, the legendary cricketer and cricket thinker, resigned from the post of
head Coach of the Indian Cricket team. His resignation came four days before the
limited overs tour to the Caribbean (West Indies team) begins.

During this trip to the Caribbean, the team management will be supervised by MV
Sridhar, the general manager of cricket operations. The batting coach Sanjay
Bangar and fielding coach R Sridhar will continue in their roles.

Kumble is also the chairman of the ICC’s cricket committee.

The rift between the duo, Kohli, the captain and Kumble, the head coach, came in
news two days before the Champions Trophy kicked off in England. It emerged in

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the media that Kohli had informed BCCI officials that some players were
uncomfortable with the intimidating style of Kumble’s man management.

After this, the board advertised for fresh interviews for the head coach position
instead of extending Kumble’s term, under whose leadership the Indian team
succeeded in climbing to number one position in the Test rankings.

Ramachandra Guha resigns as BCCI Administrator

Historian Ramachandra Guha resigned and quit his membership of the four-member
Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Guha cited personal reasons for his resignation.

Following his resignation, the Supreme Court asked Guha to file plea in registry
which will be taken up in the court in July 2017.Guha’s resignation comes at a
time when the Champions Trophy 2017 is about to kick start.

Background
The Committee of Administrators headed by Vinod Rai was appointed by the
Supreme Court in January 2017 to oversee BCCI administration after the BCCI
showed reluctant to implement the Lodha panel report.

The other two members of the Committee are former Indian women’s cricket
team captain Diana Edulji and IDFC Limited’s Managing Director Vikram Limaye.

As per the SC order, Rai, Guha, Edulji and Limaye were asked to function as the
interim bosses of the BCCI and run its day-to-day administration until the Lodha
Committee reforms are fully implemented and elections are held.

Rafael Nadal wins 10th French Open Men’s Singles title

Rafael Nadal set a new record by winning his 10th French Open title. No other
player has ever won 10 championships at the same event.Nadal defeated
Stanislas Wawrinka,a Swiss player, to grab the historic win.

Novak Djokovic was the defending champion in the Men's Singles, but he lost in
the quarter-finals to Dominic Thiem.

It is for the first time in French Open history that both reigning champions of the
Australian Open (Serena Williams and Roger Federer) withdrew before the
tournament began.

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Rafael Nadal is a Spanish professional tennis player.He is called as "The King of
Clay".

He has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles,
29 titles in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, and 17 ATP World Tour 500
tournaments (a record tied with Roger Federer).

In 2010, he became the seventh player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam
at age 24.

After Andre Agassi, he is the second male player to complete the singles Career
Golden Slam.

In 2011, he was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.

About French Open

• The French Open is a major tennis tournament held over two weeks between late
May and early June.

• It is held at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris, France.

• The tournament is also called as Roland-Garros. It is named after the French


aviator Roland Garros.

• It is the premier clay court tennis championship event in the world and the
second of four annual Grand Slam tournaments. The other three are the
Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

• Jeļena Ostapenko is the winner of the 2017 French Open Women's


Singles title.

• Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus won the 2017 French Open Men's
Doubles title.

• Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova won the 2017 French


Open Women's Doubles title.

• Gabriela Dabrowski and India’s Rohan Bopanna won the 2017 French
Open Mixed Doubles title.

French Open 2017: Jelena Ostapenko beats third seeded Simona Halep

Jelena Ostapenko,a Latvian tennis professional,grabbed her first ever grand slam
title by beating the match favourite, third-seeded Simona Halep(Romania) in the
final of French Open 2017.

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Ostapenko, after losing the first set 4-6, made a stunning comeback with two
straight wins 6-4 and 6-3, making way for one of the biggest Grand Slam upsets.
With the win, she became the first Latvian to ever win a Grand Slam singles title.

• At 20, Ostapenko is the youngest French Open champion since Iva Majoli, who
won at the age of 19 in 1997.

• She is also the first unseeded woman to triumph in the tournament since
Margaret Scriven of England in 1933.

• Prior to this win, Ostapenko had not gone past the third round in her first seven
Grand Slam singles tournaments.

French Open: Bopanna-Dabrowski win mixed doubles title

India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Canadian teammate Gabriela Dabrowski won the
mixed doubles title at the 2017 French Open of Tennis. In the finals played at
Philippe-Chatrier Court of Paris, France, the Indo-Canadian pair defeated the pair
of Germany’s Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Colombia's Robert Farah.

This was their maiden French Open mixed doubles title for this Indo-Canadian
pair of Bopanna and Dabrowski.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova win 2017 French Open Women's
Doubles title

Top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova won the 2017 Women's
Doubles title in the French Open tennis championships.The United States-Czech
pair defeated unseeded Australians Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua.

Nitin Kumar Sinha wins the 2017 HCL Asian Junior Tennis Championship Boys
singles title

Indian wild card entry Nitin Kumar Sinha has won the boys singles title at the
2017 HCL Asian Junior Tennis Championship. He defeated Malaysian player
Christian Didier Chin in a final match held at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports
Complex, Mahalunge – Balewadi, in Pune.

In the Girls singles final, Mihika Yadav defeated top seed Mahak Jain in two
straight sets.

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The championship is the second highest tournament anywhere in the world after
the junior grand slams and provides top Indian players a chance to compete against
their global counterparts as well as earn valuable ITF points to build on their
overall international ranking.

G N Iyer the first Indian to be nominated as a member of the ITTF Umpires and
Referees Committee (URC)

Ganeshan Neelakanta Iyer has become the first Indian to be nominated as a


member of the ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee (URC). His term will be for
two years and is extendable. Iyer is the only assigned competition manager of the
International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in India.

Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu clinch Mixed Team Air Pistol gold at ISSF World Cup

Ace Indian shooters Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu have won the gold medal in the Mixed
Team Air Pistol event at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World
Cup Rifle/Pistol stage.

The Indian pair defeated Russia 7-6 in the final to grab the medal,while France
grabbed the bronze in the event by defeating Iran.

About ISSF World Cup

• The ISSF World Cup was introduced by the International Shooting Sport
Federation in 1986.

• It was introduced to provide a homogeneous system for qualification to the


Olympic shooting competitions.

• It still is carried out in the Olympic shooting events, with four competitions per
year in each event.

• For the year 2017, World Cup 1 for the Rifle and Pistol event was held in New
Delhi. The next one was held in Munich, Germany. The ongoing World Cup is
taking place in Gabala in Azerbaijan. The World Cup Final will take place in New
Delhi.

Lewis Hamilton wins Canadian Grand Prix for sixth time

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix 2017 held at the
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.Hamilton was followed by

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Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The third position was grabbed by Red Bull’s Daniel
Ricciardo.

Lewis Hamilton is a British Formula One racing driver.At present, he is racing for
the Mercedes AMG Petronas team.

He is a three-time Formula One World Champion.

His 56 Grand Prix victories is the second highest of all-time, behind only Michael
Schumacher at 91.

Kidambi Srikanth wins Indonesia Open Super Series Premier title

Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth clinched the Indonesia Open Men's Singles trophy
with a straight-game victory over Japanese qualifier Kazumasa Sakai in the final.
Kidambi Srikanth’s current world ranking is 22.

The 2017 Indonesia Open Super Series Premier title is Srikanth’s third Super Series
title.The tournament was held in Jakarta, Indonesia and has a total purse of
$1000000.

The Women’s Singles title of the tournament was won by Japan’s Sayaka Sato.

Note : In April 2017, Srikanth and Sai Praneeth created history when they became
the first ever Indian pair to enter the finals of a ranking event in Badminton. It was
Sai Praneeth who eventually prevailed over Kidambi Srikanth to clinch the
Singapore Super Series title.

Kidambi Srikanth beats Chen Long to win 2017 Australian Open

Kidambi Srikanth has won the 2017 Australian Open Men’s Singles title,by defeating
the Olympic champion Chen Long.Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara won the Women’s
Singles title.

Kidambi Srikanth re-enters top 10 of BWF men’s rankings

Indian badminton player Kidambi Srikanth has re-entered the top ten of the
Badminton World Federation (BWF) men's singles rankings for the first time in ten
months.The rankings, which were released on 29 June 2017, saw Srikanth placed at
the 8th position with 58,583 points. The development comes less than a week after

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the ace shuttler beat Olympic champion Chen Long in straight games 22-20, 21-6 to
claim the Australian Open Super Series and before that Japan's Kazumasa Sakai to
clinch the Indonesian Open.

Srikanth’s recent victory also won him a cash prize of Rs 50 lakh from Andhra
Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and an offer of a Group 1 officer post.

Sai Praneeth clinches 2017 Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold

Indian third seed B. Sai Praneeth captured the Men’s Singles title in the USD
120000 Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold badminton championship.Praneeth
defeated Indonesian fourth seed Jonatan Christie in the final match played at
Nimibutr Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand.

Sai Praneeth is the winner of the 2016 Canada Open Grand Prix Men’s Singles title.
In April 2017, he defeated Kidambi Srikanth 17-21, 21-17, 21-12 to clinch his
maiden Super Series title in the Singapore Open final.

Real Madrid wins the 2017 UEFA Champions League football championship

Real Madrid has won the 2017 UEFA Champions League football competition by
defeating Juventus 4–1 in the final. This is the first time in UEFA Champions
League a team won consecutive seasons. Thus, Real Madrid became the first team
in the UEFA Champions League era to successfully defend their title.

Real Madrid is a professional football club based in Madrid, Spain.

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MISCELLANY

Special Gandhi Darshan train flagged off to celebrate 100 years of Sabarmati
Ashram

Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat flagged off the Astha Tourist Train, a
special Gandhi Darshan train from Sabarmati railway station on 17 June 2017.

The train was launched on the occasion of centenary celebrations of the historic
Sabarmati Ashram founded by Mahatma Gandhi. It was jointly planned by Indian
Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the tourism department of
Gujarat government.

The train would be travelling for 10 days (to and fro trip) to Bihar’s Betitah and
Motihari, formerly known as Champaran. Champaran was the first place where
Mahatma Gandhi staged a satyagraha in 1917 in order to remove the misery of
the indigo farmers.

• The 15-coach train has 13 sleeper coaches, a pantry car and two guard coaches
with a total passengers capacity of 840 seats.

• The train would be visiting important tourist attractions related to Gandhiji’s


freedom movement.

• These places include “Sevagram Ashram in Wardha and Chaparan Satyagraha


Monument in Bettiah and Motihari.

• Those boarding the train would also get an opportunity to visit popular religious
destinations like Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, Triveni Sangam in
Allahabad and Mahabodhi temple and other religious places in Gaya.

World's first ATM celebrates its 50th birthday

The Automated Teller Machine (ATM) marked its 50th anniversary on 27 June 2017.

The first ATM was opened on 27 June 1967 at a branch of Barclays bank in Enfield,
north London, the first of six cash dispensers commissioned by the bank.

To celebrate the occasion, the British bank decorated the site of the world's first
cashpoint in gold. A black-and-white picture of Actor Reginald Alfred Varney (Reg
Varney) using the ATM hangs above it, while a commemorative gold plaque has
been placed on the bank wall.

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World’s first ATM

• The original cash machine was the brainchild of Scottish inventor John
Shepherd-Barron, who was commissioned by the bank to create six cash
dispensers, which based on vending machines.

• The first person to use the inaugural ATM was actor Reg Varney, the star of a
popular British TV comedy called "On The Buses."

• According to the ATM Industry Association, there are around 3 million ATMs
installed worldwide at present.

• The world's most southerly ATM is at the McMurdo Station research base on
Antarctica.

• The highest is at 4693 metres in Pakistan's Khunjerab Pass near the Chinese
border.

• There is also an ATM inside the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Chana and Chana Dal words added to Oxford English Dictionary

The words Chana and Chana Dal were added to the Oxford English Dictionary
(OED). 'Chana' means Chickpeas and 'Chana Dal' stands for split chickpea lentils.

With this, these Indian food essentials Chickpeas (chana) and the split chickpea
lentils (chana dal) join the vast list of more than 600 other words and phrases that
have been included in its quarterly update of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Other entries in the Oxford English Dictionary

• The other prominent new entries in the OED include a batch of tennis-related
words like "Forced Error".

• A slang 'Bagel' has also been added which refers to a score in a set of six games
to love, as there is similarity of the numeral zero to the shape of a bagel.

• A new sense of 'Woke', which was shortlisted for 'Word of the Year', has also
been added. It means alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.

• OED update also includes a new related sense of the verb 'academise' which
means to convert a school into such an academy.

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• The latest update also included the word 'Footless' which means footless drunk,
an alternative to the more familiar 'legless'.

• 'To have a canary' or 'to lose one's composure' have also found their way into
the OED's new list of words.

• A new usage of 'thing' has also been added into the new list. This new sense of
'thing' is often used in questions conveying surprise or doubt, such as 'how can that
be a thing?'

• In the scientific words, 'Zyzzyva+' has become the latest entry in the dictionary.
It means a set of tropical weevils native to South America and typically found on
or near palm trees.

• Other remarkable entries in the latest update are Swimmer (Sperm) and Son of
a bachelor (a euphemistic alternative to 'son of a bitch').

In 2016, Oxford Dictionary announced 'post- truth' as its Word of the Year. Since
then, the huge increase in usage of the words has motivated lexicographers to add
them to the latest edition of 'OED'.

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OBITUARIES

Ramakrishna Mission Chief Swami Atmasthananda passes away

Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission President Swami Atmasthananda


passed away He was 98.

Swami Atmasthananda was elected as the fifteenth President of the Ramakrishna


Math and Ramakrishna Mission in 2007.

• Ramakrishna Mission is an Indian religious organization, which forms the core of


a worldwide spiritual movement known as the Ramakrishna Movement or the
Vedanta Movement.

• The mission is a philanthropic, volunteer organisation founded by


Ramakrishna's chief disciple Swami Vivekananda on 1 May 1897.

• The mission is headquartered near Kolkata at Belur Math in Howrah, West


Bengal.

• It is affiliated with the monastic organisation Ramakrishna Math, with whom it


shares members.

• The mission conducts extensive work in health care, disaster relief, rural
management, tribal welfare, elementary and higher education and culture.

Former Chief Justice of India PN Bhagwati passes away

Former Chief Justice of India PN Bhagwati passed away New Delhi. He was 95.
Justice Bhagwati was considered as a pioneer of Judicial Activism in the country
for introducing the concept of PILs.

He was the 17th Chief Justice of India.As a Supreme Court judge, Bhagwati
introduced the concepts of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) and absolute liability
in the Indian judicial system.
He was instrumental in furthering the cause of prisoners when he ruled that they
too enjoyed fundamental rights.
• One of the important judgments pronounced by him was in the Maneka Gandhi
passport impounding case in 1978 in which he elaborated the concept of Right To
Life, and ruled that a person's movement cannot be restricted.
He was the only dissenting judge in the Minerva Mill case who upheld the 42nd
Constitution amendment during Emergency.

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Veteran Telugu poet, Jnan Pith Awardee,writer C Narayana Reddy passes away

Noted Telugu and Urdu poet and writer C Narayana Reddy passed away in
Hyderabad. He was 85.

Reddy is known to have written more than 80 publications that include poems,
songs, lyrical dramas, ballets, essays, travelogues, ghazals -both original and in
translation and literary criticism.

He received the Jnanpith Award, the Indian literary award for outstanding
contribution towards literature, in the year 1988 for his poetic work,
Viswambhara.

He was also nominated to the upper house of the Indian Parliament- Rajya
Sabha- in August 1997.

He entered the film industry in 1962 by writing all the songs for Gulebakavali
Katha, a Telugu fantasy film directed by N.T. Rama Rao.

Desh Bandhu Gupta, founder of pharma giant-Lupin passes away

Desh Bandhu Gupta, founder and Chairman of Lupin, India’s second-largest


pharmaceutical company passed away in Mumbai. He was 79.

Desh Bandhu Gupta had a vision to fight life-threatening diseases of highest


national priority by delivering good quality medicines at an affordable price.With
that objective he founded Lupin in the 1968 with a start-up capital of just Rs.5000.

Under his leadership, Lupin grew from being a domestic Indian pharmaceutical
company to a global pharmaceutical major worth a US$ 1.83 billion, spanning 100
countries.

• Lupin is one of the largest producers of tuberculosis medicines in the world.

• Gupta set up the Lupin Human Welfare & Research Foundation (LHWRF), one of
the largest non-governmental organizations funded by a corporation in Southeast
Asia, in October 1988.

• The main objective behind setting up of the foundation was to eradicate poverty
by encouraging sustainable development at the grass root level in rural India.

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Architect of Germany's re-unification, Helmut Kohl passes away

Helmut Kohl, the former German Chancellor,who presided over both German
reunification and the creation of the eurozone passed away, in Ludwigshafen, in
the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. He was 87.

Kohl was the chancellor of a unified Germany from 1982 to 1998. He was one of
the main drivers of the unification of Germany and the Maastricht Treaty for
European unity.

Italian fashion legend Carla Fendi passes away

Italian fashion legend Carla Fendi passed away in Rome. She was 79.

Carla, one of the five Italian sisters at the helm of the iconic Italian label, was
the public face of the company’s famous colourful 'Baguette' bags.

Fendi is an Italian luxury fashion house whose specialities include fur and
leather goods, shoes, fragrances, accessories etc.

• The house of Fendi was launched in 1925 by Adele and Edoardo Fendi as a fur
and leather shop in Rome.

• Since 1946, the five second generation sisters (Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla and
Alda) entered the company and brought a new wave of enthusiasm.

• Over time their logo of two F's, one of them upside-down and backwards,
became an internationally recognised symbol for luxury.

• In 2014, Fendi started making plans to use drones to show its catwalk