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April 2017 National Affairs

  • AIIMS - India's first public hospital for eye tumours
    The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is India's first public hospital to start plaque brachytherapy facility for the treatment of eye tumours. 

    The facility is a form of local radiation delivered to the eye through a radioactive device which is attached to the eye for a temporary period of time. 

    The facility at the Rajendra Prasad Centre for Opthalmic Sciences will treat children suffering from a type of cancer called Retinoblastoma and adults who suffer from melanoma. 

  • Central university for Divyangs to be set up in Uttar Pradesh
    Government will set up a Central university for Divyangs in Uttar Pradesh. This was stated by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar. According to him under the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan, his Ministry has instructed to make ramps and install lifts to facilitate Divyangas at all educational institutions. The University Grants Commission has been instructed to make arrangement for special training of instructors providing education to Divyangs. 

  • Supreme Court asks Centre to make law to regulate NGOs, disbursal of funds
    The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to examine enacting a law to regulate disbursal of public funds to over 32 lakhs Non-Governmental and voluntary organisations and prosecute them in case of misuse or misappropriation. 

    A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, referring to the Centre's recent guidelines on regulating the NGOs and voluntary organisations said it may not truly systematise the entire process of regulating such NGOs. 

    The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked the Government to examine and consider giving statutory status to the entire process of registration, disbursal of funds, their use, audit and consequential proceedings in the event of defaults. It also asked the Centre to apprise its stand within eight weeks on making a law on it. 

    Favouring a fresh all-encompassing law, the court said if the government desires to extend statutory status to regulations, then they would not only provide for enforceable consequences, but also envisage civil and criminal action as may be considered by the legislation. 

  • India's First Underwater Metro Tunnel - connects Howrah with Kolkata
    A gigantic Tunnel Boring Machine is being used to build a underwater tunnel in the river Hooghly which connect Howrah with Kolkata. The construction will be completed by July, 2017. The two 520 metre structures are part of 10.8 km underground stretch and are crucial to the East West Metro project. They are being built at a cost of Rs 8900 crores. 

  • President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated OU centenary celebrations
    The President, Pranab Mukherjee on 26th April inaugurated the Centenary Celebrations of Osmania University and called for developing universities as temples of higher learning and creating learning environment for free exchange of ideas. 

    Osmania University is named after its founder, Nawab Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad who rather through a farman or Royal Charter, brought the University into existence in 1918. 

    It is the seventh oldest in the Country and third oldest in South India. Though the need for the University for the Hyderabad State was felt, both by the intelligentia and the people for a long time, the initiative came from a civil servant, Sir Akbar Hydari, who was then the Home Secretary to the State Government. Sir Hydari, in a memorandum to the Education Minister in Early 1917, emphasized the need to establish a University of Hyderabad with 'Urdu' as the medium of instruction "as it is the language of the widest currency in India, official language of the State, and it is a language which is understood by a vast majority of the population of the State. 

    The propitious moment, however, came a few months later on 26th April, 1917 when a Firman was issued for the establishment of the University. The Firman also detailed the 'Mission' and 'Objectives' of the University to be that
    • The ancient and modern, the oriental and occidental arts and sciences are synthesized in such a manner that the defects of the present system of education are rectified
    • The ancient as well as modern methods of physical, intellectual and spiritual education are to be fully utilized along with an effort for the propagation of knowledge, the moral improvement of the students is regulated on the one hand, and research work of a high order in all branches of knowledge is conducted on the other.

  • India ranks 136 on World Press Freedom Index 2017
    India has slipped three notches in the World Press Freedom Index 2017, a report released by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders that has cited the "threat from Modi's nationalism".

    The findings come at a time leading democracies are at a "tipping point" on media freedom with the advent of strongmen through the ballot box, bringing in their wake "post-truth and propaganda." 

    In the list of 180 countries mapped by the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), India stands at 136, down from last year's 133, colour-coded again in red to show the situation as "difficult".

    While the report marks the sub-continent all red, except Nepal that is a shade better with a "noticeable problem", China is all black to denote countries at the bottom of the heap where the media are in a "very serious situation''. 

    While India does not find mention in the chapter dedicated to the overall analysis of the rankings, the country chapter is titled "Threat from Modi's nationalism". "With Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of 'anti-national' thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media," the report says. 

    Journalists are increasingly targets of online smear campaigns by most radical nationalists, who vilify them and even threaten physical reprisals, the report notes. 

    The report also takes note of the use of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) to limit international influence. 

  • Don't keep Lokpal in abeyance: Supreme Court
    Supreme Court on 27th April said, Lokpal Bill is a workable piece of legislation and it is not justifiable to keep its operation pending. A bench of Justices, Ranjan Gogoi and Naveen Sinha, while referring to an earlier judgment of the apex court said, Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013 is a workable piece of legislation and it is not justifiable to keep this pending. 

    The apex court had reserved its verdict in March, 2017 on a batch of pleas seeking the appointment of Lokpal in the country. The plea by NGO, Common Cause had sought a direction to the Centre to make the appointment of chairperson and members of Lokpal as per the amended rules framed under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. 

    As per the Act, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha will be part of the Lokpal selection panel. At present, there is no Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. 

  • India Bans 22 Social Media sites to calm tensions in Kashmir
    Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have banned 22 social media sites in an effort to calm tensions in the disputed region after videos depicting the alleged abuse of Kashmiris by Indian forces fueled protests. The government said on 26th April that the one-month ban was necessary for public safety because social media were being "misused by anti-national and anti-social elements." 

  • Council to increase female representation in IITs from 8% to 20%: Javdekar
    According to the Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javdekar, the IIT council has decided to increase female representation in IITs from 8 to 20 percent. The 51st meeting of Council of IITs was held in Mumbai. In an effort to reverse brain drain, Mr. Javdekar announced that an amount of 75,000 rupees will be released per month from Prime Minister’s Scholarship scheme to promote research and innovation in IITs. 

    The minister said Wellness Centres will be created for students which will help them to deal with mental stress and peer pressure. 

    The council has also decided to have a strong induction programme for students which will help them to adapt to the IIT campus life in a better way. 

  • Uma Bharti launches Water Conservation Programme for Bundelkhand
    Union Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Minister Uma Bharti on 28th April said that all the projects of her ministry will be completed by 2019. She was launching the Centre’s extensive water conservation programme for drought prone areas of the country at Bandri in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh. 

    She said that 99 projects worth 77 thousand crore rupees have been sanctioned by her ministry. Ms Bharti said after completion of these projects area of irrigation will increase and Farmers will be well off. 

    She said that the extensive water conservation programme which will be implemented in Bundelkhand, Marathwada, Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput, aims to increase area of irrigation and protect the water resources. 

    Under the programme, the Union Water Resources and River Development Ministry has prepared a master plan for artificial recharge of ground water in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh along with some other regions of the country. 

    Around 2000 percolation tanks, 55000 small check dams and Nala bunds and 17000 Recharge shafts have been identified in MP’s Bundelkhand. The Union Water Resources and River Development Ministry has taken up new initiatives under National Ground Water Management Improvement Schemes. 

    Five districts of Bundelkhand region of MP covering an area of over 8000 sq km have been considered under these initiatives. 

  • Telangana passes bill to increase quota for backward Muslims communities
    Telangana Legislative Assembly and the Council on 16th April passed the State New Reservations Bill-2017 unanimously. The bill extended support to increase the quota for backward Muslim communities who are in BC-E category and also Scheduled Tribes in education and employment in the state. 

    The Bill proposed to increase the BC-E quota to 12 % from the present 4% where as it proposed increase quota for STs to 10 per cent from the current 6 %. 

    The Bill proposed a hike by 8% for BC-E category and an additional 4% for STs following which the total reservations in the state will go up to 62%. 

  • President Mukherjee inaugurates Global Exhibition on Services
    Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on 17th April inaugurated the Global Exhibition on Services in New Delhi. According to him the services sector has the capacity of job creation, driving nation's growth and knowledge. The services sector contributes trade and goods as well as in supply chain. India has emerged as the fastest growing large economy in the world. 73 countries are participating in the event. A stamp on Global Exhibition on Services was also launched by Mr Mukherjee. 

  • FSSAI develops rapid test kit to detect adulterated milk, oil
    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said that it has developed a rapid test kit to check quality of milk and edible oils. FSSAI has started developing variety of rapid test kits for variety of products. But the focus is on milk product and edible oil. 

    Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan urged the FSSAI to come up with test kits for Rs 10-12 for customers to use it to check adulteration. 

  • India will see normal monsoon this year, says Met dept
    India’s annual monsoon will be normal this year, the Met department said on 18th Aoruk despite lingering possibilities of the disruptive El Nino weather pattern that led to back-to-back drought in 2014 and 2015. The southwest monsoon is the lifeblood for India’s farm-dependent $2 trillion economy, delivering 70 percent of the country’s annual rainfall and is crucial for an estimated 263 million farmers. 

    The forecast is critical to the government’s hopes of achieving a projected growth rate of more than 7.5% as a good harvest could lift rural incomes and boost spending on consumer goods. 

    Two-thirds of India’s population depends on farm income and nearly 60% of summer sown areas do not have assured irrigation. Summer crops account for nearly half of India’s food output, including rice, lentils, sugar, spices, mangoes and oilseeds. 

    The monsoon rains arrive on the southern tip of Kerala state by around June 1 and retreat from the western state of Rajasthan by September-end. 

    There are fears that an emerging El Nino could impact monsoon rains. The IMD, however, said a weak El NiƱo could emerge only towards the later part of the year. 

    El Nino, or little boy in Spanish, is a weather glitch marked by an abnormal warming of the Pacific, whose effects ripple around the globe. Typically, it cuts rainfall in South Asia, including India, and triggers flooding in western US and South America. 

  • Supreme Court seeks framing of policy for promoting national anthem, national song
    The Supreme Court on 18th April sought response from the Centre in four weeks on a plea seeking framing of a policy for promoting the national anthem and the national song. 

    A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra issued notice and asked the Centre to file its reply on the plea which also sought to ascertain the feasibility of singing the national anthem and the national song in Parliament, assemblies, courts, schools and colleges on working days. 

    The petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay sought directions for taking steps to promote brotherhood and national integrity in the country. 

    On February 17, the apex court had refused to go into the debate for making singing of the national song mandatory in schools and clarified that it has "kept alive" such a plea only for the national anthem without expressing any view on it. The apex court had on November 30 last year ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatorily play the national anthem before screening of a movie when the audience must stand and show respect. 

  • Government to set up 32 new seismological observatories
    Government will set up 32 new seismological observatories by the year end to boost information gathering capability on earthquakes. 

    At present 84 such observatories are functional in the country. The observatories generate ground motion data recorded by the digital seismography used for estimation of data and other earthquake parameters. 

    The five observatories will be installed in Uttar Pradesh, four each in Bihar and Haryana, three each in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, two each in Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and one each in Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Lakshadweep. 

    These new observatories, the information can be gathered within shorter time. By next year, the number of observatories will be increased to 150. 

  • Cabinet approves for new voting machines with paper trail
    The Cabinet has given its nod to Election Commission's proposal for procurement of new 16 lakh 15 thousand new Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines. 

    According to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the voter would come to know whether his or her vote has been registered correctly or not. The total estimated cost would be three thousand one hundred seventy three crore rupees excluding taxes and freight. The decision will enable use of VVPAT units in all polling booths in General Election of 2019. The Supreme Court had in October 2013 said every voter has a right to know whether his vote has been registered correctly. 

    VVPAT will prove as an additional layer of transparency for the satisfaction of voters and allay any apprehension in the minds of voters regarding non-temperability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Machines will be purchased during the current fiscal and next financial year from Bharat Electronics Limited and Electronics Cooperation of India. 

  • Senior BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti to face trial in Ayodhya case
    Senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Muli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti will face trial in the Ayodhya disputed structure case as the Supreme Court on 21st April allowed the CBI plea and restored criminal conspiracy charges against them. The court also clubbed the trial in the matter pending against the leaders and karsevaks and said the proceedings should be completed in two years. 

    A bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman noted that Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh enjoys Constitutional immunity and can be tried only after he ceases to hold the office. Kalyan Singh was the chief minister of UP in 1992. 

    Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal and Late Giriraj Kishore are among others who will face criminal conspiracy in the case. 

    The court also gave significant directions including that separate trials being conducted in trial courts at Raebareli and Lucknow will be clubbed and conducted in the Lucknow only. It also said that the trial judge of Lucknow shall not be transferred till conclusion and delivery of judgment in the sensational case. 

  • India develops National action plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance
    India has developed a National action plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). An Inter-Ministerial consultation on anti-Microbial Resistance containment was held on 19th April. According to the health Minister J P Nadda, the action plan has objectives of enhancing awareness, strengthening surveillance, improving rational use of antibiotics, reducing infections and promoting research. The action plan has been prepared through extensive national consultations with various stakeholders. Health Ministry has taken a lead in this effort at international fora and has initiated series of actions including setting up a National Surveillance System for AMR, enacted regulations to regulate sale of antibiotics. 

    Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society. Single, isolated interventions have limited impact and coordinated action is required to minimize the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. 

    Later, a Delhi Declaration was signed for collectively making a strategy to contain AMR. It pledges to adopt a holistic and collaborative approach towards prevention and containment of antimicrobial resistance in India. It calls on all stakeholders including United Nation, World health Organisation and other UN agencies, civil society organizations to support the development and implementation of the national and state action plans on AMR. 

  • Appointment of 4 State Information Commissioners set aside: Supreme Court
    The Supreme Court on 20th April upheld the High Court order setting aside the appointments of four State Information Commissioners (SICs), V Venkateshwarlu, Thantiiya Kumari, Imtiyaz Ahmed and M Vijaya Nirmala in the United AP. 

    The Chief Justice bench headed by Justice J S Keher and consisting of Justice Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kale, who heard the arguments against the High Court order, agreed with the contention that the four appointees had political connections and hence these were not valid. 

    Apex court upholds the High Court order that the appointees have political connections and hence they are not valid 

    The selection committee for flouted provisions under sections 15 (3), (5) and (6) of Right to Information Act, SC bench says. 

  • N. Srinivasan cannot represent BCCI in ICC meet: Supreme Court
    The Supreme Court has said that former BCCI President N Srinivasan cannot represent the board in the April 24th ICC meeting, as he has been held guilty of "conflict of interest" and "abuse of authority"

    The apex court allowed acting secretary of the Indian cricket board Amitabh Chaudhary to represent it, in International Cricket Council meeting, and asked BCCI's CEO Rahul Johri to accompany him. 

    The top court, on 22nd January 2015, had barred Srinivasan from contesting for any BCCI post, unless he forsakes ownership of an IPL team. 

  • India contributes $250,000 to UN election assistance programme
    India has made a quarter-million-dollar contribution to the UN programme for helping countries to hold elections and develop their electoral systems. Eenam Gambhir, a First Secretary in India’s Mission to the UN, presented the cheque to Kyoko Shiotani, Chief of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General at the UN Department of Political Affairs

    This is the second Indian contribution of $250,000 to the programmes for electoral assistance and capacity building. The first was made in 2012.Through the Election Assistance Division set up in 1991, the UN has helped over 100 countries with their elections. The division principally provides technical assistance for organising and conducting elections. But it has also sent observers to ensure the integrity of elections at the request of the General Assembly or the Security Council, and even organised elections in Cambodia and Timor-Leste. 

  • Supreme Court asks, reason for mandatory of Aadhar
    The Supreme Court on 21st April asked the Centre why it had made Aadhaar mandatory for obtaining a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card and for filing Income-Tax returns. 

    Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the two-judge bench headed by Justice A K Sikri that the move would help to weed out fake and fraudulent financial accounts. 

    To a query by the bench regarding the “voluntary” nature of Aadhaar, the AG submitted that there was a law in force to deal with the subject, and Section 139A of the I-T Act prescribed statutory requirements. 

    The bench was hearing two PILs, filed separately by former Kerala minister Binoy Viswam and retired Army official S G Vombatkere, challenging the validity of an amendment in the I-T Act which makes Aadhaar compulsory for filing Income Tax returns. The petitioners have complained that while the Aadhaar Act, 2016, has not made Aadhaar mandatory, the I-T Act now makes it compulsory. 

    In 2015, a Constitution Bench led by then Chief Justice H L Dattu had allowed the use of Aadhaar cards for MNREGA, Jan Dhan Yojana, pension and provident fund schemes, but clarified that this would only be on voluntary basis, and no person should be deprived of any benefit for want of Aadhaar. 

  • AP launched biggest call centre 
    Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on 21st April inaugurated "Pariskara Vedika", a mega call centre in capital city Amaravati as part of his initiative to develop citizen-centric governance. The main aim of this initiative is to establish a grievance redressal-oriented forum to enable all the citizens to get transparent and approachable services, directly by stating their Aadhaar numbers. 

    The centre is being aimed at getting independent feedback from the beneficiaries on various government welfare schemes, and educating them on ways to derive maximum benefits from respective schemes. Citizen contact will occur through various means like IVRS, SMS, voice response, web chat, social media and multiple web platforms of Andhra Pradesh government. The mega call centre was established with 750 seats and functions for 12 hours a day initially. 

  • President Mukherjee gives assent to Mental Healthcare Act, 2016
    Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Mental Healthcare Act, 2016. Suicide attempts by a mentally ill person will not be punishable under this new law which got nod from the President on 8th April. 

    A person who attempts suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from mental illness at that time and will not be punished under the Indian Penal Code. The law also prohibits use of shock therapy, without the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia on a patient suffering from mental illness. Besides this, such patients cannot be chained in any manner. 

    A person with mental illness will have the right to confidentiality in respect of his mental health, mental health care, treatment and physical health care. Under the Act, a child under the age of three years will not be separated from his or her mother, if the mother is receiving care, treatment or rehabilitation at a mental health establishment. 

  • Rajnath Singh inaugurates 'Bharat Ke Veer' web portal
    Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the web portal and mobile application named “Bharat ke Veer” on the occasion of Shaurya Diwas of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in New Delhi on 9th April. 

    The portal is an IT based platform, with an objective to enable willing donors to contribute towards the family of a brave heart who sacrificed his/her life in line of duty. The amount so donated will be credited to the account of ‘Next of Kin’ of those Central Armed Police Force/Central Para Military Force soldiers. 

  • India's first-ever micro-drama festival held in Delhi
    With the longest play running for not more than 10 minutes to the shortest one ending in 42 seconds, India's first ever micro-drama festival was held in Delhi on 9th April. Named after Thespis of Icaria, believed to be the first actor in Greek drama (6th century BC), the day-long event 'Thespis' saw screening of 28 independent plays at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Art. 

    Organised by theatre group 'Vriksh', the festival marks the debut of the micro-drama concept in India. It is the first time in India and only the second time in the whole world that a micro-drama festival is happening. 

  • Lok Sabha passes Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016
    The Lok Sabha on 10th April passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by a voice vote. All amendments moved by the opposition were negated. Stricter penalties are proposed in the bill for high risk offences like drunken driving, dangerous driving, overloading, and non-adherence to safety norms by drivers. 

    The bill proposes Aadhar based verification for grant of online services including learner’s licence. There is a provision of creating fund for providing compensation and medical help to the road accident victims. According to the Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, five lakh road accidents and 1.5 lakh death occur every year in the country which is a matter of concern. 

    The bill has given more thrust on the road safety, controlling pollution and accidents. The government has set a target to cut the death caused due to road accidents by 50 per cent over next five years. The government has identified 786 black spots across the country and will spend 11 thousand crore rupees to remove them to curtail accident. 

  • Lok Sabha passes 102nd Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017
    The Lok Sabha on 10th April passed the 102nd Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017 to create a new commission with constitutional status for the OBCs at par with the National Commissions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 

    Being a Constitution Amendment Bill it was passed by a two-third majority of the members present and voting. 360 members voted in its favour while the two against. The amendments moved by the opposition members were also negated. 

    The Lok Sabha also passed the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 to repeal the existing National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) Act, 1993. The members that a provision will be made in the rules to include one woman member in the Commission. The powers of the States in respect of OBCs Commission will in no way be curtailed. 

    According to the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot, giving constitutional status to the OBC Commission will empower it to hear grievances and their redressal. The present Commission lacked powers on these fronts. 

  • PM Modi inaugurates exhibition ‘Swachhagraha - Bapu Ko Karyanjali’
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10th April inaugurated an exhibition ‘Swachhagraha-Bapu Ko Karyanjali’ to mark the 100 years of Champaran Satyagraha at the national archives in New Delhi. 

    The exhibition is showcasing Champaran Satyagraha and it will connect essential principles of Satyagraha with Swachhagraha. The exhibition will also showcase the ground covered by Prime Minister's Swachh Bharat Mission in creating a mass movement towards a clean India. 

    In the exhibition a special section has also been set up through which the history of the movement will be narrated and displayed digitally. Another section ‘Swachhagraha The way forward’ has also been setup at the event. 

  • Govt to launch scheme SAMPADA for food processing
    According to the Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the government will soon launch 'Scheme for Agro-Marine Produce Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters (SAMPADA)’ for food processing sector to integrate current and new schemes aimed at reducing food wastage and doubling farmers' income. 

    With an outlay of six thousand crore rupees it would be implemented by 2019-20 and will include ongoing schemes like mega food parks and cold chain projects. Ms. Badal said the government is taking steps to bring down post harvest losses preferably to zero level, provide quality food to consumers at cheaper price. 

    The Centre has so far sanctioned 42 mega food parks and 234 cold chain projects with 139 lakh tonnes of preserving and processing capacity of agro-produce worth 35 thousand crore rupees. 

  • “Colours of the Northern & Southern States of India" held at Kathmandu
    Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri inaugurated cultural programme "Colours of the Northern and Southern States of India" at Kathmandu on 12th April. The two day event is organised by Indian Cultural Centre (ICC), Embassy of India on the occasion of Baisakhi and Nepali New Year 2074. 

    A troupe from India performs Bhangra and Giddha and students of ICC present Bharatanatyam and Hindustani music during the programme. Students of Indian Cultural Centre are performing Bharatanatyam at Kathmandu every year on the occasion of Baisakhi and Nepali New Year 2014. 

  • 18 bills passed in Parliament session
    18 bills were passed in the Budget session of Parliament. It was the first time in history that all the financial business of the government was completed before the start of the new financial year, and by following all due processes. 

    According to the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs MA Naqvi three Bills — the Bill to give constitutional status to the backward classes’ commission, Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, and Factories (Amendment) Bill — could not be passed by both Houses. 

    There were 29 sittings of both the Houses during the two laps of Budget session. The productivity of the Lok Sabha was 113.27 per cent and that of the Rajya Sabha was 92.43 per cent. Twenty-four Bills were introduced in Parliament. While 23 were passed by the Lok Sabha, 14 were passed by the Rajya Sabha during the session. 

    The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, the Mental Health Care Bill and the Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill and the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill were passed by both the Houses. 

  • Nod for petroleum institute in Visakhapatnam
    The Union Cabinet on 12th April approved setting up of Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh as ‘an Institute of National Importance’ through an Act of Parliament. The decision to set up the institute has been taken in line with the commitment made under 13th Schedule of A.P. Reorganisation Act. 

    The institute will have the governance structure as well as legal mandate to grant degrees in a manner similar to that enjoyed by IITs. A separate Act would also impart the required status to the institute to become a ‘Centre of Excellence.’ A temporary campus of IIPE started working from the Andhra University campus from academic session 2016-17. 

    The Cabinet also approved Rs. 655.46 crore as capital expenditure to set up IIPE and contribution of Rs. 200 crore towards its endowment fund (in addition to a contribution of Rs. 200 crore from oil companies). The A.P. government has allocated 200 acres of land in Sabbavaram mandal of Visakhapatnam district. 

  • 7,000 girls perform 'Kuchipudi' in Vizag to set new record
    As many as 7,000 girl students on 11th April performed classical dance 'Kuchpudi' in this Andhra Pradesh coastal city to set a Guinness World record. The girls from 21 government-run residential schools in north coastal Andhra Pradesh participated in the event to commemorate 125th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar. 

    The event was jointly being organized by Andhra Pradesh Residential Educational Institutions Society (APREIS) and Social Welfare Department. The organisers said it broke the earlier record of the largest Kuchipudi dance. As many as 6,117 artists had performed the classical dance in Vijayawada in December last year to set the record. 

  • Telangana farmers to get free fertilisers next year
    About 55 lakh farmers in Telangana will get fertilisers free of cost from the next financial year. The government will deposit money directly into the bank accounts of farmers in the last week of May well ahead of the 2018 kharif season. Each farmer is likely to get about Rs. 4,000 an acre. The State consumes about 25 lakh tonnes of fertilisers. 

  • DigiDhan launched by Narendra Modi
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 14th April said the government's 'DigiDhan' movement for digital payment is a step towards curbing the menace of corruption. 

    He launched this on Ambedkar’s 126th birth anniversary at the Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur. Mr. Modi also launched two new schemes under the BHIM app for referral bonus to individual users and cash-back for merchants to incentivize them. 

    In December 2016, Modi had launched the BHIM app for facilitating electronic payments by consumers. In March, the government launched Aadhaar Pay, a new Android-based smart phone app. Any citizen without access to smart phones, internet, debit or credit cards will be able to transact digitally through the BHIM Aadhaar platform. 

    The Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone for Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Information Technology and All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Nagpur. He also dedicated 1980 MW of the Koradi super-critical thermal power project of state-run Mahagenco near Nagpur in Maharashtra to the nation. 

  • Andhra Pradesh Launches Mobile App to Receive Real-Time Feedback
    Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on 14th April launched a 'feature-less' mobile application "CM Connect" through which people could connect directly with head of the state. The app runs on Microsoft's Kaizala platform. Ironically, the state government used the Kaizala app for the first time during the Krishna Pushkarams in August last year, but it proved to be a failure. 

  • Aid to cultural outfits, artistes
    The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with six firms as part of its plans to promote tourism in the State. Of these, four are related to five-star hotels. 

    The MoUs were signed in the presence of Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya, who assumed office at the Secretariat on 14th April. The Minister signed the first file pertaining to financial assistance to cultural organisations and artistes. The needy can submit their applications online at Mee-Seva centres across the State. 

    Temple tourism was one of the themes being promoted by the government. There were many temples such as Tirupati and Srisailam that attracted lakhs of pilgrims every year. A train between Visakhapatam and Araku was on the cards. State-of-the-art coaches having glass ceiling and big windows to offer a panoramic view would be introduced. They were the first-of-their-kind in India. 

  • India’s longest tunnel road launched
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel, the longest tunnel in India. The all-weather route reduces the distance between Jammu and Kashmir by 31 kilometers. The 9-km long Chenani-Nashri Tunnel was built at the cost of 2,500 crore rupees. It bypasses the snow-bound upper reaches of Patnitop and reduce the journey time by two hours. 

    The tunnel is equipped with world-class security systems and smart features like Integrated Traffic Control System; Surveillance, Ventilation and Broadcast Systems; Fire Fighting System; and SOS call-boxes at every 150 metres. There is also a parallel escape tunnel, with 'Cross Passages' connecting to the main tunnel at intervals of 300 metres. 

  • New EVM Will Stop Working If Tampered
    The Election Commission is set to buy next generation electronic voting machines or EVMs that become "inoperable" the moment attempts are made to tinker with it, a move which comes amid claims by some parties that the machines were tampered with during the recent assembly polls. 

    The 'M3'-type EVMs are also equipped with a self-diagnostic system for authentication of genuineness of the machines. These will come with a public key interface-based mutual authentication system. The Election Commission has decided to replace 9,30,430 EVMs purchased before 2006 as the older machines are nearing their 15-year life cycle. 

    Around Rs. 1,940 crore (excluding freight and taxes) will be required to procure the new machines which are likely to be introduced by 2018, a year before when the next Lok Sabha elections are due, the Law Ministry has said, quoting details made available by the Election Commission to be given to Parliament. 

  • Allahabad High court @ 150 years
    Allahabad High court 150 years celebration concluded on 2nd April, 2017. The celebrations were started on March 14th, 2017. Allahabad High Court was established in 1866 after seat was shifted from Agra to Allahabad in 1869. It had replaced the old Sadr Diwani Adalat. 

    At that time, it was known as the High Court of Judicature for the North-Western Provinces and was renamed as Allahabad High Court in 1919. It is one of the first high courts to be established in India. It is fourth-oldest High Court in India after Calcutta, Madras and Bombay established under Indian High Courts Act 1861. Currently it has also a bench in Lucknow. 

  • India Rankings 2017: IISc Bangalore ranks No 1 institute in India
    Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar announced the results of India Rankings 2017 in New Delhi on 3rd April. IISc figured at the top in 'Overall' and 'Universities' categories. Seven Indian Institutes of Technology, IITs have also made it to the list of the top ten educational institutions released under the National Institutional Ranking Framework. 

    IIT Madras has topped the list in engineering category, followed by IIT Bombay and Kharagpur. IIM Ahmedabad bagged the first rank in management category while Miranda House, Delhi was ranked the top college. Jamia Hamdard, Delhi bagged the first rank among the Pharmacy institutes. A total of 3,300 institutes participated in the rankings. 

    The parameters for rankings were teaching, learning and resources, Research and Professional Practice, Graduation outcomes, Outreach and Inclusivity and Perception. Hindu and St Stephens colleges of Delhi did not participate in the competition. 

  • Andhra Pradesh govt moves to discourage firewood use
    About 1.57 lakh tribal households in Andhra Pradesh will start receiving 5-kg LPG cylinders from April 10 from the government under the Tribal LPG Package to discourage families from using firewood, and ensure smokeless kitchens. West Godavari district has already achieved the distinction of becoming the first district with 100 per cent LPG connections in all households. 

    According to the civil Supplies Department after an extensive drive to give LPG connections in the 13 districts of AP since 2014, 28,48,390 households remain without gas cylinders and will get LPG connections by June 2. Of the 28, 48,390 households, at least 12 lakh households would get LPG connections by month end. The remaining 16 lakh-odd households would get gas cylinders by May 31. 

  • Govt. introduces two bills for new NSEBC
    The Government on 5th April introduced two Bills related to the move for setting up of a new National Commission for socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) that will ultimately replace the two-decade old National Commission for Backward Classes. 

    Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot introduced first The Constitution 123rd Amendment Bill, 2017 and subsequently the National Commission for Backward Classes Repeal Bill, 2017. While the first Bill will ensure setting up of the new commission, the second Bill seeks to repeal the National Commission for Backward Classes Act of 1993. 

  • Cabinet approves closure of MGPSY
    The Cabinet has approved closure of the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana (MGPSY). The Yojana was set up in 2012 to address the social security-related issues of the Emigration Check Required (ECR) category workers going abroad for employment to ECR countries. 

    The subscription under the MGPSY was very low and no new subscription was received for more than a year. Closure of the scheme will stop avoidable recurring administrative and record-keeping expenditure. 

  • India among top 4 in death by smoking
    Smoking causes more than one in 10 deaths worldwide (equivalent to 6.4 million deaths), with 50% of these occurring in just four countries - China, India, US, and Russia, according to the latest estimates from the Global Burden of Disease study published in 'The Lancet'. India is also among the top 10 countries together accounting for almost two-thirds of the world's smokers (63.6%) in 2015. 

    The new estimates, based on smoking habits in 195 countries between 1990 and 2015, illustrate that smoking remains a leading risk factor for death and disability despite many countries applying tobacco policies resulting in reductions in smoking prevalence. 

  • PM Modi lays foundation stone of multi-modal terminal on River Ganga in Jharkhand
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 6th April laid the foundation stones of several development projects including a multi-modal terminal and a four-lane bridge over River Ganga at Sahebganj in Jharkhand. This is a biggest ever project in the region over the Ganga which will link Bihar and Jharkhand. 

    National Waterway-1 is being developed under the Jal Marg Vikas Project of the Inland Waterways Authority of India, with the technical and financial assistance of World Bank at an estimated cost of around 5,400 crore rupees. The terminal will have a cargo handling capacity of 2.24 Million Tonnes Per Annum. 

    The state of the art terminal, to be constructed at an estimated cost of 280 crore rupees, is an important component of the development of the National Waterway-1 from Varanasi to Haldia. The construction of the terminal will contribute to the creation of business and employment opportunities in the state, particularly in rural areas. 

  • Tamil Nadu, MP, UP, AP, Chattisgarh lead in implementing urban poverty alleviation programmes
    Government on 6th April said Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are ahead of other States in addressing urban poverty during the last three years. 

    Urban development Ministry in a release said, Tamil Nadu is in the forefront in assisting urban poor with subsidized loans for self-employment through setting up of individual and group micro enterprises and formation of Self-Help Groups under Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Urban Livelihoods Mission. It said, Uttar Pradesh led in skilling urban poor and Madhya Pradesh stood second in skill training and providing loans support. 

    The National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) was launched with the objective of reducing the poverty and vulnerability of urban poor households by enabling them to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities. NULM which was launched in 790 cities and towns in 2013 was subsequently extended to all the statutory 4,041 cities and towns in February last year. 

    During 2014 to 17, more than eight lakh urban poor were given skill training, over one lakh 35 thousand beneficiaries were given subsidized bank loans for setting up own enterprises and over one lakh 62 thousand Self-Help Groups have been formed for taking up income augmenting activities with the support of bank loans. 

  • Shunglu panel report indicts Delhi govt on gross abuse of power in several appointments
    The three-member Shunglu committee, formed by the then Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, has pointed out gross abuse of power by the Arvind Kejriwal government in its report. The committee has flagged decisions including the allotment of land to the AAP for its party office, and a number of purported AAP functionaries as advisors. 

    The report which runs into over 100 pages deals with decisions, including appointment of certain individuals as advisors to the government, taken by Kejriwal and his Cabinet, where it had no authority do so, and without the LG's concurrence. 

    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. 

  • EC rejects allegations of tampering in EVM and VVPAT
    The Election Commission (EC) has rejected allegations of tampering in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPATs used during demonstration in Ater assembly by-polls in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh. 

    It said, the enquiry team has found no anomaly or tampering of EVM and VVPATs. The enquiry established that the accuracy of the functioning of the EVMs and VVPATs including those used during demonstration is beyond doubt. 

    The team was constituted by the Commission to enquire into all aspects of various allegations raised in the media and by the political parties. The probe team in its report concluded that it is completely false to say that at multiple times slips of lotus were printed while on pressing different buttons during the demonstration on 31st of last month. 

  • Telangana to double solar capacity by March next
    Telangana is set to come out with a new wind and hybrid solar-wind energy policy frameworks to provide impetus to the rapidly expanding renewable energy sector. The State, which has an installed renewable energy generation capacity of 1,400 MW, expects to take it past 3,800 MW. 

    According to Ajay Mishra, Special Chief Secretary, Energy, Telangana, the State was aiming at sustaining the growth momentum in the renewable energy sector with focus on the distributed development model as against the solar parks approach. 

    The per capita consumption in Telangana has gone up to 1,390 units per annum as against 1,100 units. Consumption in Telangana ranks high among States

  • Make parties accountable for vows, says Chief Justice of India JS Khehar
    Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said on 8th April that political parties must be made accountable for not fulfilling electoral promises made in their manifestos. And since the Indian legal system doesn’t provide for any penalty for promises not honoured, people have to step up and do it, he indicated. 

    A seminar titled ‘Economic Reforms with Reference to Electoral issues’ was conducted in New Delhi. Justice Khehar said that political parties must not be allowed to get away with “brazen” excuses like lack of consensus among their members to justify non-fulfillment of their poll promises.



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