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June 2017 National Affairs

  • Central government Vajra Faculty Scheme launched
    In a bid to reverse "brain-drain", the government launched a scheme under which non-resident Indian scientists will be able to work in the country's institutions for a period of one to three months. 

    The Visiting Advanced Joint Research (Vajra) faculty scheme is a dedicated programme for foreign scientists and academicians, with emphasis on non-resident Indians, persons of Indian origin and overseas citizens of India to work as adjunct faculty in the government-funded academic and research institutions. 

    Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said the scientists under the VAJRA programme would draw a salary of USD 15,000 in the first month and USD 10,000 each in the remaining months. 

    The number of scientists under the programme has been capped at 1,000. The government currently awards the Ramanujan Fellowship to Indian students and doctors working abroad. The fellowship is awarded for five years. 

  • Central Vigilance Commission authorised to probe allegations of corruption in private sector banks
    The Central Vigilance Commission, CVC, can now probe allegations of corruption in private sector banks and against their employees. According to the Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin, Reserve Bank of India and the Department of Financial Services had recently approved the provisions in this regard. 

    The move comes after the Supreme Court last year ruled that the Chairman, Managing Directors and other officers of a private bank could be seen as public servants when it came to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The apex court had said all officials working in banks operating under an RBI licence would be defined as public servants under the PC Act. 

    The anti-corruption watchdog is the statutory body which probes cases of graft involving central government departments, public sector organisations, including banks and insurance companies, and their employees. 

  • HRD Ministry appoints ISRO's K Kasturirangan to chair New Education Policy
    The HRD ministry has appointed a new nine-member panel, headed by space scientist Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, to work on a New Education Policy (NEP). The Prakash Javadekar-led HRD ministry has chosen experts and educationists from wide-ranging backgrounds to be part of the panel that is expected to recast India's education policy. 

    Besides Kasturirangan, who headed India's space agency ISRO, the panel includes former IAS officer K J Alphonse Kanamthanam. He had played a key role in helping Kerala's Kottayam and Ernakulam districts achieve 100 percent literacy. 

    Ram Shanker Kureel, vice chancellor of the Baba Saheb Ambedkar University of Social Sciences, Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, who has wide experience in the field of agriculture sciences and management, has also been appointed. 

    Dr M K Shridhar, former member secretary of the Karnataka State Innovation Council, Dr T V Kattimani, an expert on language communication, Dr Mazhar Asif, professor of Persian at Guwahati University, and former director of education, Uttar Pradesh, Krishan Mohan Tripathi also bring a wealth of experience to the panel. 

    Besides, the committee also comprises mathematician Manjul Bhargava from Princeton University and Vasudha Kamat, former vice chancellor of Mumbai's SNDT University. The HRD ministry had a couple of years ago formed a panel under former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian on the New Education Policy. 

  • New steel policy: Govt panel addresses stakeholders' concerns
    A standing committee headed by the steel secretary on 27th June sought to iron out a host of issues raised by various stakeholders, including the ministry of railways, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), and Indian Pipe Manufacturers Association (IPMA). 

    The ministry of railways sought exclusion of rail from the list of iron and steel products, which was turned down by the panel on the grounds that even though rail is produced through complex and specialised processes, it has to meet certain specified quality and performance criteria. 

    State-owned ONGC asked whether mother pipe as input was eligible for procurement under the new policy by carrying out certain activities such as welding the connectors. 

    The committee responded by saying that all kinds of pipes and tubes have been defined as a finished product and therefore mother pipe cannot be considered as an input material. The value addition has to be shown in manufacturing of mother pipe. 

    To a query raised by IPMA, the panel said the imported steel would have all the taxes and duties included which are borne by the importer, to bring the material to the plant. 

    The central government recently approved a policy for providing preference to domestically manufactured iron and steel products in government procurement and notified the same on May 8. 

    The policy mandates to provide preference to domestically manufactured iron and steel products in government procurement in which a minimum value addition of 15 per cent have taken place domestically. 

  • JNPT hit by ransomware attack
    Operations at one of three terminals at India's largest container port JNPT, on the outskirts of India's commercial hub of Mumbai, have been disrupted by the global ransomware attack. The terminal impacted is operated by Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk, which said separately that the cyber attack had caused outages in its computer systems globally. 

    The attack, similar to the ransomware that infected more than 300,000 computers last month, also affected computers at Russia's biggest oil company, Ukranian banks and multinational firms. 

    The Indian port has been trying to clear containers manually, but operational capacity has dropped to a third at the terminal, Anil Diggikar, chairman of Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT). Containers are piling up outside the port due to delay in loading and unloading at Gateway Terminals India. 

  • PM Modi inaugurates filling of Aji Dam at Rajkot by Narmada water
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated various irrigation and water related initiatives at Aji Dam in Rajkot on 29th June including the filling of Aji dam with Narmada waters under Sauni Yojana. PM on the occasion launched Smart Rajkot Heckathon where urban local body will engage with young students to find innovative solutions to improve the efficiency of various government departments. 

  • Voting to be held on 5th of August for next vice presidential elections
    The Vice Presidential election will be held on the 5th of August and counting will take place on the same day. Announcing the schedule in New Delhi, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said, the poll will be notified on 4th July with 18th July being the last date for filing nominations. The date for the scrutiny of nominations is 19th July. The last day for withdrawal of nomination is 21st July. 

    The Vice President is elected by an electoral college comprising members of both the houses of Parliament. The nominated members of both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha are also eligible to participate in the election. Mr Zaidi said the Electoral College consists a total of 790 members. 

  • Prime Minister inaugurates Textiles India 2017
    Narendra Modi on 30th June inaugurated Textiles India 2017, Indias first ever mega textiles trade fair, being held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. According to Narendra Modi the textile sector offers significant employment opportunities, it being the second largest employer after agriculture , Make in India, the textile industry is being infused with the mantras of 'skill,scale,speed' & 'zero-defect, zero-effect'. 

  • SIERRA ODC building in Coimbatore receives World’s Second Highest Green Rating
    SIERRA ODC building is recognised as the world’s second highest ranking Green Building. It is a three-storeyed building which has been constructed by laying specific emphasis on increasing the efficiency of resource use such as energy, water or materials. Green Buildings are designed and operated to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates 3rd phase of Sauni scheme in Rajkot
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his first day of Gujarat visit inaugurated an event to fill up water in Aaji dam from the Narmada river under the Sauni or Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation project. 

    The Prime Minister also distributed aid among 18000 Divyangs (differently abled people). Thereafter, PM Modi reached Aji Dam where he inaugurated the Sauni project that has brought the Narmada waters to the reservoir. The water is set to become a boon to thousands of farmers of the region. 

    PM Modi has started Sauni scheme when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. It has already brought immense benefits to many people of the state. 

  • President of India inaugurates an exhibition at Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata
    Indian President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated an exhibition of artworks at Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata. He also received the first copies of two Coffee Table books Images and Impressions Profile and Persona of Pranab Mukherjee and Pranab Mukherjee 100 Frames from the Governor of West Bengal, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi who formally released these books. 

  • Passport Seva Kendras to be established for every 50 kms
    No Indian citizen will have to travel more than 50 kms to get their passport, as the government is planning to set up a comprehensive network of Passport Seva Kendras across the nation. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said, major post offices will also provide the service. 

    Announcing the opening of 149 new Post Office Passport Seva Kendras, Swaraj said these will be set up in the second phase. In the first phase 86 such kendras were to be set up - 52 of which are now functional. Sushma Swaraj also launched a web portal for the foreign ministry's flagship "Know India Programme" aimed at connecting the Indian youth living abroad. 

  • Power Minister Piyush Goyal launches new rules to promote green homes
    Power Minister Piyush Goyal on 19th June launched Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) 2017 developed by Bureau of Energy Efficiency in New Delhi. This code prescribes the energy performance standards for new commercial buildings to be constructed across the country. 

    According to Mr. Goyal, ECBC 2017 is a leap forward towards strengthening India's capabilities to combat climate changes in a sustainable manner. Government is more responsible towards saving planet and cares for the environment. 

    There should be no energy wastage and it should reach every household. He said energy conservation is the need of the hour and it is equivalent to almost 1.33 kw/h electricity generation. Energy efficiency is more important than energy generation. 

    The code aims at optimizing energy savings with the comfort level for occupants, and prefers life-cycle cost effectiveness to achieve energy neutrality in commercial building. 

    The updated version of ECBC provides current as well as futuristic advancements in building technology to further reduce building energy consumption and promote low-carbon growth. 

  • Indian President accepts resignation of Ram Nath Kovind as Governor of Bihar
    Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind has resigned from his post after he has been nominated as the ruling NDA's presidential candidate. A communique issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan said that President Pranab Mukherjee has accepted the resignation of Mr Kovind. 

    The President has appointed Governor of West Bengal Keshari Nath Tripathi to discharge the functions of the Governor of Bihar, in addition to his own duties, until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor of Bihar is made. 

  • MoU between Publications Division (DPD) and (IGNCA) for ‘Indian Art & Culture’
    An MoU was signed between the Publications Division (DPD) and Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts (IGNCA) on 21st June in the Ministry of Culture, Shastri Bhawan in the presence of Secretary I&B and Secretary Culture. Dr Sadhna Rout, DG, DPD and Dr Sachchidanand Joshi, Member Secretary, IGNCA signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organizations. 

    Under this, DPD will publish books on ‘Indian Art & Culture’ based on the content provided by IGNCA and market them through its sales emporia. 

    This MoU will bring together two important institutions and harnesses their respective strengths to take the richness of ‘Indian Art & Culture’ to the masses. 

    Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts (IGNCA) established in 1987 is the premier institution for all forms of ‘Indian Art & Culture’. 

    It conducts pioneer research in the arts, humanities and culture. Thus, IGNCA is a great repository of high quality material on all forms of ‘Indian Art & Culture’. 

    On the other hand, Publications Division (DPD), established in 1941, it is mandated to bring out books and journals on issues of national importance at an affordable price. 

    With a number of highly acclaimed titles, books on ‘Indian Art & Culture’ have been the core of the DPD’s mandate. 

    As per the MoU, DPD will publish the books based on the content provided by IGNCA and market the same through its vast sales network spread across the India, as well as through online marketing platforms. 

    In additions to new titles, DPD will restore some of the old volumes of IGNCA and also publish Hindi and regional languages translations of the selected volumes of IGNCA. Further, DPD and IGNCA will collaborate in book fairs, exhibitions, sales events etc and will organise joint book discussions, interactions with authors etc to popularise the books published under this agreement. 

    It is hoped that this initiative will help today’s youth appreciate the richness of ‘Indian Art & Culture’ and make them aware of the ‘Idea of India’. 

  • India’s population to surpass China’s in 2024
    India’s population could surpass that of China’s around 2024 and is projected to touch 1.5 billion in 2030, according to a U.N. report. India’s population may eventually see a decline after 2050 to 1.51 billion by 2100 but it will still be the most populous country in the world, the report said. 

  • Central Govt to monitor learning outcomes of 3 million students
    The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is set to undertake an exercise to monitor the learning outcomes of around 3 million government school students of Classes 3, 5 and 8. 

    This is believed to be one of the biggest surveys undertaken by any government or private agency in the country thus far. The sample size of the National Achievement Survey (NAS) has always remained between 100,000 and 200,000 since it was launched in 2001-02. 

    The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which conducts the survey once in three years, has been asked to cover 3 million students in government and government-aided schools. Now this exercise would take place every year. 

  • City Liveability Index launched to measure quality of life in 116 cities
    Urban Development Ministry has launched a City Liveability Index to measure the quality of life in 116 major cities including smart cities, capital cities and cities with a population of above 10 lakh. 

    It will enable cities to know where they stand in terms of quality of life and the interventions required for improvement. 

    Cities will be assessed on a comprehensive set of 79 parameters to capture the extent and quality of infrastructure including availability of roads, education and health care, employment opportunities, emergency response and pollution. After selecting the agency for undertaking this assessment next month, data collection will be completed in six months. The Urban development Ministry also disbursed 500 crore rupees as incentive to 16 States that performed well in implementing urban reforms during 2016-17. They include Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand. 

  • ONGC, UNESCO join hands to get Chilika Lake Heritage Label
    Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) carried out a preliminary survey for the conservation of Chilka Lake. To obtain world heritage site recognition, it should have outstanding global value in terms of biodiversity and eco-system. The survey is carried out in order to global values to obtain the biodiversity and eco systems. 

  • India backs UN General Assembly resolution to refer Britain-Mauritius dispute to ICJ
    India has voted against the UK to back of a UN General Assembly resolution seeking the International Court of Justice’s opinion on the decades-long dispute between Britain and Mauritius over an island in the Indian Ocean. 

    In a diplomatic blow to Britain, the General Assembly voted by 94 to 15 to ask the Hague-based court to examine the legal status of the Chagos Archipelago, which Mauritius maintains, is part of its territory that has been unlawfully claimed by the UK since 1965. 

    Britain cut off the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 before granting it independence in 1968. India was among the nations voting in favour of the resolution proposed by Mauritius and co-sponsored by the Group of African States. 

    The archipelago’s biggest island Diego Garcia is the site of a major British-American military base that is still in operation and served as a key US base during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. 

    The US voted against the draft resolution saying it was an attempt to circumvent the ICJ’s lack of jurisdiction over a bilateral issue in which one of the parties had not consented to the submission. 

    It said the military base on Diego Garcia, jointly operated by the United States and the United Kingdom, was critical to regional and global security. The US said the issue was not decolonisation, but a bilateral territorial dispute that would undermine the Court’s advisory function. 

    Britain’s envoy to the UN Matthew Rycroft said the UK is opposing the resolution “because referring a bilateral dispute to the ICJ is not the appropriate course of action. 

  • Election Commission disqualifies Minister Narottam Mishra in Madhya Pradesh
    The Election Commission on 24th June disqualified Narottam Mishra, Minister in the Madhya Pradesh government from membership of any State legislature and contesting polls for the next three years for filing wrong accounts of election expenditure. 

    Mr. Mishra’s membership has been revoked under section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to be read with Sections 77 and 78 of the Act. This relates to providing wrong information to the Commission on expenses incurred during the polls. 

    His election was challenged by Rajinder Bharti (Congress) who had contested against him in the Datia constituency in the 2008 Assembly poll. Mr. Mishra’s election has been termed void. 

    A protracted case, the matter was heard in the Madhya Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court after Mr. Mishra tried to get relief from the notice served by the EC, but was unsuccessful. 

    The EC also took cognisance of a report by the Committee on Paid News of the Press Council of India, that examined this case. The EC had served notice to Mr. Mishra on January 15, 2013. 

  • NDRF base comes up in Delhi
    An elite National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team equipped with nuclear and biological combat gear has been positioned in the heart of the national Capital to quickly respond to dangerous threats to not only the seat of power but also to the local population. 

    Keeping in view the disaster vulnerability profile and high seismic activity in and around Delhi, another special team of the NDRF, in 24x7 operational readiness, has been based in South West Delhi’s R. K. Puram area. A third team to combat chemical or radiological leakage or attack incidents has also been based at the IGI Airport. 

    Senior Home Ministry and NDRF officials said a small team of about 30 personnel equipped with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) disasters combat was stationed near the India Gate area sometime back. 

  • SC upholds constitutional validity of Aadhaar
    Supreme Court upholds constitutional validity of I-T Act that makes quoting of Aadhaar mandatory while filing ITR and applying for PAN; Says, competence of Parliament to make it mandatory under Income Tax act for curbing black money, tax evasion and money laundering cannot be questioned

    The Supreme Court in its Landmark Judgement has upheld Section139AA of the Income Tax Act,1961 as constitutionally valid which required quoting of the Aadhaar number in applying for PAN as well as for filing of income tax returns. 

  • Panel to study free movement along Myanmar border
    The Union Home Ministry has constituted another committee to examine methods to curb the misuse of free movement along the Myanmar border, indicating a significant shift in India’s policy towards Myanmar, a friendly country, with which it shares unfenced borders and unhindered movement of people across the border. 

    Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a two-day visit to Mizoram, said a committee headed by Rina Mitra, Special Secretary-Internal Security, was being constituted to “examine the present rules and regulations adopted by the border States for implementation of free movement regime.” 

    Since the NDA government came to power, this is the second time a committee is being constituted to study the free movement across the Myanmar border. 

    In 2015, a high-level committee report submitted by Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chief R.N. Ravi suggested changing the “misnomer” related to “free border movement” and asked the government to replicate the model prevalent in villages and areas along the Bangladesh border. 

    The report has suggested dedicated crossing points in border villages, where policemen would be made in charge of regulating the movement of people. India and Myanmar share an unfenced border of 1,643 km. 

  • Nalanda University signs MoU with S. Korean academy
    A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 12th June between Nalanda University and Academy of South Korean Studies, in Patna for academic linkages and collaborations. The vice-chancellors of both the universities were present. 

    South Korea is one of the 17 countries that have signed inter-governmental MoU for supporting Nalanda University. 

    The two universities agreed to enhance their bilateral ties through joint research programmes, faculty and student exchange, mutual sharing of data, academic research/education, joint teaching, cooperation in other areas to accomplish the purpose of the MoU. The MoU will be in effect for five years. 

    Recently, Nalanda University had also received a personal donation of US$11,535 from South Korean professor Pyong-Rae Lee for establishing a scholarship fund for students at the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions. 

  • Meghalaya passes resolution opposing Centre's notification on cattle sale
    The Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on 12th June passed unanimous resolution opposing Centre's notification on sale of cattle for slaughter. 

    In a special assembly session, members asked for its immediate withdrawal. Moving the resolution, Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr. Mukul Sangma said the notification suffers from serious shortcomings, and will adversely affect the economy and culture of the State. 

    The Assembly passed the Meghalaya Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017. Minister of Excise and Taxes Zenith M. Sangma said that the State Government will tie-up with private internet providers to ensure stable internet connectivity for effective implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. 

  • India ratifies two key ILO conventions on child labour
    India on 13th June ratified two key ILO conventions on child labour, according to a statement issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva. 

    According to ILO, “the Government of India deposited with the International Labour Office the instruments of ratification of the two fundamental ILO Conventions concerning the elimination of child labour, the Minimum Age Convention (No 138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No 182).” 

    India is the 170th ILO member state to ratify convention No 138, which requires states to set a minimum age under which no one shall be admitted to employment or work in any occupation, except for light work and artistic performances. 

    In addition, India is the 181st member to ratify convention No. 182, which calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking; the use of children in armed conflict; the use of a child for prostitution, pornography and in illicit activities (such as drug trafficking); and hazardous work. 

  • Janaushadhi outlets to be opened at railways stations, hospitals soon
    Janaushadhi outlets will be opened at railways stations and hospitals across the country to make medicines available to the common man at affordable prices. 

    Around 2.5 crore people use railways to commute daily and these people should get the benefit of buying affordable medicines through Janaushadhi stores. 

    1600 Janaushadhi Kendras have been opened in over 450 districts across the country under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana. 

    The Janaushadhi campaign is launched by the government to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special outlets Janaushadhi Kendras. 

    Ayush hospitals: The Centre has approved proposals to set up 100 Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH) hospitals across the country. 

  • Smart Sensors installed at Sunderbans 
    Infra Ray Pillars and Smart Sensors are to be installed at the riverine border with Bangaldesh at Sundarbans, to prevent rampant infiltration and smuggling. 

    The Border Security Force said that this is the technological answer to the growing problem of cross-border crimes and is part of the Centre's plan to keep a tight vigil on the Indo-Bangla border following intelligence inputs that terrorists and anti-national elements are exploiting the unfenced areas and riverine borders. Already installed, the devices would start operating once the monsoon was over. 

    The project would be first launched in three-four kilometers along the border stretch. After observation till December, if everything goes well, the new system will be in place permanently by January, 2018. The cost of the installation of the Infra-ray pillars per kilometer will be around Rs. 25-30 lakh. 

    The infra-ray pillars and smart sensors will be monitored through a satellite-based signal command system and will have night and fog operability tools. The sensor blips alert border guards. 

  • Foundation for Centurion University
    Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu laid foundation stone for Centurion University in Visakhapatnam. 

    Earlier, the Chief Minister also inaugurated a major super-specialty hospital, Pradhama, set up 60 city-based doctors on a co-operative basis. 

  • Foreign Tourist Arrivals register growth of around 19.5 % in May
    Foreign Tourist Arrivals have registered a growth of around 19.5 per cent in May this year over the same period last year. In a release, tourism ministry said, six lakh thirty thousand foreign tourists arrived during the period. Bangladesh accounts for highest share of tourist arrivals followed by US and UK. 

    The Ministry said, over 53 per cent growth was registered in foreign tourists arrival on E-Tourist Visa in May this year over the same period last year. A total of over 68 thousand foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 44 thousand during the last year. 

  • PM inaugurates Kerala's first metro rail service at Kochi
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kochi Metro on 17th June. Kochi Metro Rail Limited is a 50-50 Joint Venture of Centre and the Kerala government. The Union Government has so far released over 2000 crore rupees for the project. According to Prime Minister of India: 
    • Metro components have been built by Alstom near Chennai and have an Indian component of around 70 percent
    • Kochi Metro as an example of Public transport model, this is a zero carbon emitting project. He said, all of its stations have achieved environmental clearance of platinum level
    • Kochi Metro was completed in a record of 45 months


  • President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurates Bengaluru Namma Metro
    Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on 17th June inaugurated the underground section of the Green Line of Bengaluru's Namma Metro train service. 

    The underground section will connect Nagasandra in the northern part of the city with Yelachanahalli in the southern part, Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola said. The commercial operations will be thrown open from 18th June on Reach 4, 4A and the underground section of the 24.2 km Green Line. 

  • Sahapedia - UNESCO Fellowships in Indian cultural heritage launched
    Sahapedia, an open online resource on Indian arts in partnership jointly launched a fellowship programme partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The fellowships, available in two variants namely the Sahapedia Project Fellowship (SPF) and the Sahapedia Research Fellowship (SRF) gives the applicants the option of participating either at the level of primary documentation or in the content curation process. The aim of Sahapedia is to provide as much of the vast and diverse body of cultural knowledge in India as possible, especially about the lesser known practices and traditions in India. 

  • KIP for Young Overseas Indians launched
    Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurated Know India Programme (KIP) for young overseas Indians at a function in New Delhi. This programme is aimed at promoting awareness on different facets of life in India and the progress made by the country in various fields such as economic and education. The Know India Programme is a three-week orientation programme for the Indian diaspora. 

  • Aadhaar Mandatory for Kerosene Subsidy, Atal Pension Yojana
    The Aadhaar card has now been made mandatory for government subsidy on purchase of kerosene and benefits of Atal Pension Yojana. Those availing kerosene subsidy or contributing for the pension scheme will now be required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo the enrolment process to get the benefits. The decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for these two schemes will prevent leakages of subsidies and ensure that the beneficiaries get their due. 

    For this, the central government has invoked Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, which mandates that when the government gives subsidy, benefit or service from the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI), an individual can be asked to undergo authentication or furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar. 

  • NSDC signs pact to train more than 30,000 unemployed youth in aviation space
    The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has signed a pact with Bird Academy to train more than 30,000 unemployed youth across various states in the aviation space. According to the government those trained will include youth, women from North Eastern states. The NSDC and Bird Academy will work together to set up training centres in India under the guidance of aerospace and aviation sector skill council. 

  • Govt to appoint Nyaya Mitra to expedite pending cases
    Union Government will appoint Nyaya Mitras across the country to expedite the cases pending for last 10 years in lower courts. Addressing a function at Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court to inaugurate the Tele Law Service through Common Service Centers, Union Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that retired judges will be appointed as Nyaya Mitras to expedite the over seven lakh fifty thousand cases pending across the country. 

  • National level conference on Capacity Building of SDRF
    Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 6th June inaugurated the 2-day national level conference on "Capacity Building of SDRF-2017" organised by National Disaster Response Force in Delhi. The conference is being organised by the National Disaster Response Force to develop a synergy and to highlight way ahead to strengthen the response capabilities. 

  • 5th international conference of SPIC MACAY inaugurated
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 5th June inaugurated the 5th international conference of the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth at IIT Delhi. The conference coincides with the 40th year of inception of SPIC MACAY. 

    Every year SPIC MACAY organizes an International Convention to expose the youth from across the world to the rich and multi-hued culture of India. 

  • Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation gives nod to Child-friendly HIV drug 
    The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has registered the child-friendly HIV drug in oral pellet form, ending months of uncertainty for the HIV community. This has opened up crucial supplies from Cipla Pharmaceuticals, a market leader in the HIV segment, to the National AIDS Control Programme (NACO), which had been struggling to source quality assured paediatric formulations of the drug. 

    India ran out of Lopinavir syrup, a child-friendly HIV drug, in March after Cipla — the sole manufacturer of the drug — stopped production consequent to non-payment by the Health Ministry. The drug’s adult version has to be swallowed whole and thus cannot be administered to infants and young children. 

    On May 25, an expert committee of the CDSCO had permitted the child-friendly and heat-stable pellet formulation of the HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r) to be registered. 

    The pellets, which come in capsules and are dosed by weight, can be sprinkled (but not stirred or crushed) over a small amount of soft food. For infants — who must be able to swallow them — the pellets can be added to a spoonful of breast milk or put on the infant’s tongue. 

  • India will become full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: India External Affairs Ministry
    India will become a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO in its two day Summit to be held at Astana, Kazakhstan from.according to the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay, India will be benefited in trade and economic activity after it becomes a full member. He said trade, connectivity, energy, banking and fight against terrorism are the main areas of cooperation. The SCO comprises six member states presently. These are Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyztan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. 

  • AP CM lays foundation stone for Polavaram coffer dam
    Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu laid the foundation stone on 8th June for the construction of coffer dam at the Polavaram project site in West Godavari district. The mega project, being built on the Godavari as a national project, reached a critical stage with the commencement of work on coffer dam. 

    The coffer dam is designed for a 100 year return flood of 28.6 lakh cusecs. The dam will be built with a length of 2340.0 meteres at top level 42.5 m and top width 9.0 metres and base width 137 mts. The coffer dam jet grouting is undertaken by Keller India. 

  • Govt to setup 100 yoga parks to promote yoga activities
    The government will setup one hundred yoga parks across the country to promote yoga activities. Inaugurating the National Health Editors’ Conference on Yoga in New Delhi, Ayush Minister Shripad Naik said the parks will be especially meant for Yoga activities throughout the year will be managed voluntarily by the Yoga or other organisations. He also released Common Yoga Protocol of Yoga Day. 

    He said, the main event will be held in Lucknow, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to attend the celebration. Along with PM, senior ministers of government, Chief Minister of UP, Yoga Gurus are expected to take part in this event. 

  • Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurates new aeronautical test range in Karnataka's Challakere
    Union Defence Minister Arun Jaitley inaugrated a first-of-its-kind Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), which will be used to test the country's first unmanned aircraft, in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka on 28th May. The facility, which will spread across an area of 4,200 acres, will be the leading test centre for the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that has been using the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd airport in Bengaluru to test fly the Tejas combat aircraft so far. 

    DRDO has been mulling over the idea of shifting its flight activities to a newer locale due to the crowded airspace in the conutry's IT capital, besides the rapid emergence of commercial and residential complexes around the airport area. 

    The Challakere facility, located 4 kilometres (km) away from Bengaluru, is also close to other scientific institution such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). The strategic location would, thereby, help the Challakere complex in building and grooming scientifc manpower. 

    The ATR is already home to two of India's unmanned aerial vehicles- Rustom-1 and Rustom-2- that have undertaken test flights in Challakere before. 

    The facility, identified nearly a decade ago, was first used for dropping practice bombs for Tejas in 2010. 

    With the government pushing the indigenous development of weapons and aircraft, future projects such as the Tejas Mk-2, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and other unmanned vehicle programmes would use this test facility. DRDO has spent over Rs 290 crore in the facility that has a runway of 2.2 kms and one that would be expanded in the coming years. 

  • India's tourism growth reaches 15.4 %: Mahesh Sharma
    Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma has said India's tourism growth has reached 15. 4 per cent when the global tourism growth was only 4.6 per cent. Tourism earnings in the country have increased to one lakh 56 thousand crore in 2016-17. 

    The Union Minister said that a city in Tamil Nadu will be selected and developed holistically as a tourist destination. He said the state has a very old civilization and deep-rooted culture. He added that there is a huge potential for medical tourism as well as spiritual tourism. 

  • Manipur Cabinet decides to enact new law declaring all blockades as illegal
    Manipur Cabinet has decided to enact a new law declaring all bandhs and blockades as illegal. It also decided to fix responsibility against sponsors and organisers of the bandhs and blockades for creating public inconvenience and damaging public properties. 

    The state cabinet also considered depriving those from government jobs and schemes indulging in bandhs and blockades and initiating criminal proceedings against them. 

    In other decisions, the Cabinet gave its nod to establish the Manipur Sports Development Authority and decided to conduct the Panchayat elections this year. 

  • Rajasthan High Court wants cow declared national animal
    The Rajasthan High Court on 31st May directed the state government to coordinate with the Centre and take necessary steps to declare cow as a national animal. A single-judge bench of Justice Mahesh Chand Sharma said the chief secretary and advocate general of the state will be the legal custodians of the cow. While Article 48 of the Constitution says the State should take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle, Article 51A(g) speaks of protecting natural environment and having compassion for living creatures. 

    The direction was made while the court was hearing the Hingonia Gaushala matter. Over a hundred cows had perished at the government—run cowshed in Jaipur last year. The bench also granted liberty to any person or class of persons to approach court with a plea in a PIL to declare cow as a national animal. 

    The direction comes at a time when many states are protesting the government’s decision to impose ban on the slaughter of cattle, primarily cows, for commercial purposes. 

  • Rajasthan leads in child marriages
    Even though there has been a decline in child marriage across the country, research by Young Lives in coordination with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has revealed that Rajasthan has reported the highest incidence of child marriages. 

    The study, based on the 2011 Census, states that 2.5% of marriages of minor girls were reported in Rajasthan, which is followed by 15 States, including Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Nagaland, Assam, Maharashtra, Tripura, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Karnataka

    Rajasthan also topped in the percentage (4.69%) of boys marrying below the legal age of 21 years. Thirteen other States reported a higher percentage of child marriages among boys when compared with the national average. 

    The study, released by Justice A.K. Sikri of the Supreme Court, zeroes in on 70 districts spread across 13 States, which comprise more than 20% of child marriages. It has empirically studied the current situation vis-à-vis various possible factors. No marriage below 10 years of age was reported across the country. 

    According to the Census study, 12.9% of girls got married in the age of 10-17 years and 43.6% between 18-20 years. However, only 4.9% of boys got married in the 10-17 years age group and 11.2 % in the 18-below 21 age group. In terms of numbers 69.5 lakh boys and 51.6 lakh girls have been married before their respective legal age according to Census 2011

    The study shows a minor decline of 0.1% in the marriage of minor girls. The decline in rural India, between 2001 and 2011 Census, was marginally higher than in the whole of the country. 

    However, the incidence of child marriage among girls increased substantially in urban India from 1.78% in 2001 to 2.45% in 2011…the absolute number of girls married below legal age was 5.1 million.

  • Odisha to have first automatic coastal warning for disasters in India
    Come July, 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. Sirens will then go off simultaneously at 122 spots

  • Gujarat’s Mithivirdi nuclear plant to be shifted to AP
    A decade-long legal battle to save their fertile land from being used for the country's largest nuclear power plant ended in a victory for farmers from Saurashtra’s Bhavnagar district. 

    The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) recently informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to shift the proposed 6,000 megaWatt (MW) nuclear plant — the first under the Indo-US civil nuclear pact of 2008 — from the coastal district of Gujarat to Kavvada in Andhra Pradesh

    The plant was to be set up by state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) with technical support from Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC), which will build six nuclear reactors at the new site. 

    On May 18, MoEF said that in view of shifting of the said project the proposal for environment clearance (EC) before it has been delisted. 

    The villagers had approached NGT on March 3, 2015, challenging the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance given to NPCIL for the project. NGT’s Western Zone Bench, comprising Justice UD Salvi and Ranjan Chatterjee as expert member, disposed of the petition post the MoEF submission regarding shifting the site for the project. 

    India has planned to increase its nuclear power generation capacity from the existing 6,780 MW to 63,000 MW by 2032. 

  • India has 31% of World’s poorest children: Oxford Survey
    About 31% of the world’s “multidimensionally poor” children live in India, according to a new report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), a poverty reduction project grounded in economist Amartya Sen’s ‘capability approach’. 

    In terms of countries, fully 31% of the 689 million poor children live in India, followed by Nigeria (8%), Ethiopia (7%) and Pakistan (6%),” noted the survey, titled ‘Global Multidimensional Poverty Index [MPI]. 

    OPHI is an economic research centre at the Oxford University, led by Professor Sabina Alkire, and the study is based on a survey conducted among 103 countries. 

  • Telangana CM announces 6-point comprehensive plan for farmers
    Telangana Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao has announced 6-point comprehensive plan for farmers on the occasion of State Formation Day on 2nd June. 

    This include 8 thousand rupees cash assistance per acre per annum to each farmer in the state, 24/7 continuous electricity supply, formation of crop colonies and support price for their yield. 

    He stressed the need for setting up crop-colonies to enable farming community to form into organized sector and said a survey to this extent is underway by the agriculture extension officers. 

  • TS stands first in spending RUSA funds
    Telangana has topped the country in the utilisation of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) funds spending 85% of the Rs. 39.82 crore released by the Union Government as its share apart from the State Government funds of Rs. 20 crores released as its share. Rs. 170 crore was approved by the MHRD under RUSA programme in the ratio of 60:40 Central and State share under the 12th Plan year. Funds have been spent on 40 Government colleges, officials said.
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