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March 2017 National Affairs

  • Health care sector may grow by 12-14% over next 5 yrs, says ICRAThe health care sector is expected to witness an annual revenue growth of 12-14 per cent over the next five years due increasing medical tourism and higher health insurance penetration, rating agency ICRA. 

    India has seen an increase in inflow of international patients, mostly from developing countries in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Most commonly availed treatments by foreign patients visiting India are complex and high value procedures. 

    The key factor which deters patients from developed economies in America and Europe from visiting India is availability of affordable options closer to home, primarily in Mexico, Turkey, and Portugal. ICRA opined that India's cost advantage is more appealing for developing nations, where healthcare facilities are inadequate.

  • 94 of 500 cities get ratings under AMRUTWith the exercise of Credit Rating of cities and towns gaining momentum, 94 of the 500 cities included in Smart City Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, AMRUT have obtained ratings which are necessary for issuing Municipal Bonds for mobilization of resources. 

    During the review of progress of Credit Rating exercise taken by Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, it was revealed that 55 of these cities have got Investment Grade ratings. The 94 cities that have so far been assigned Credit Ratings are spread across 14 States. 

    Of the total 20 ratings ranging from AAA to D, BBB - is the Investment Grade ratings and cities rated below BBB - need to undertake necessary interventions to improve their ratings for obtaining positive response to the Municipal Bonds to be issued. 

    Credit Ratings are assigned based on assets and liabilities of Urban Local Bodies, revenue streams, resources available for capital investments, Double Entry Accounting practice and other governance practices. 

  • Aadhaar card can't be made mandatory for welfare schemes: Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court on 27th March said that the Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory by the government for extending the benefits of its welfare schemes to the people. The apex court, however, said the government cannot be stopped from using Aadhaar in other schemes like the opening of bank accounts. 

    The court said it will set up a seven-judge bench to hear the pleas challenging Aadhaar but right now it is not possible. The apex court refused to give an early date to hear a petition on making the Aadhaar card mandatory, saying it would hear the case in due course of time. 

  • Supreme Court asks Centre to consider alternates to pellet guns to disperse mobs in J&KSupreme Court on 27th March asked the Centre to consider alternates to pellet guns to disperse mobs in Jammu and Kashmir. The suggestion comes in the wake of reports over eye damage caused by pellet guns to youths and others during protests in the Kashmir Valley. 

    The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Kashmir High Court Bar Association which sought directions for use of pellet guns in the valley. Earlier, the Supreme Court in its order said pellet guns should not be used to control street protests in Jammu and Kashmir and be resorted to only after "proper application of mind" by the authorities. 

  • Parliament passes Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016Parliament has passed the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 with the Lok Sabha approving it on 27th March. The bill seeks to provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of such persons during delivery of healthcare services. 

    The bill also states that 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. 

    A person with mental illness will have the right to confidentiality in respect of his mental health, mental healthcare, treatment and physical healthcare. Under the bill, 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. 

  • Andhra Pradesh’s Pattiseema project makes it to Limca Book of RecordsThe Pattiseema Lift Scheme, that links the Godavari and Krishna rivers in Andhra Pradesh, was executed by the Hyderabad-based construction and infrastructure company Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Ltd within a year from March 30, 2015 to March 29, 2016. 

    The Godavari flood water that goes into the sea unutilised is tapped by the project and pumped into a channel by heavy duty motors. This water reaches the Krishna water system. The water from the Krishna, which was earlier used for irrigation in the Krishna and Godavari districts, is now diverted for use in the parched Rayalaseema region. 

  • Aadhaar important, not mandatory for any benefitAccording to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad the Supreme Court has permitted delivery of pro-poor benefits through the application of Aadhaar Card adding that though it is important to have Aadhaar, it is not mandatory for the receipt of any government's benefit. He further said that if Aadhaar is not available, other identity proofs like a driving license or the ration card can be used to avail government benefits. 

  • Govt to set up new commission for OBCsAccording to cabinet decision a new commission “National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes” will replace existing Backward Classes Commission. The move comes after OBCs also raised demand for giving statutory status (constitutional status) to the National Commission of OBCs so that complaints of OBCs could be considered and dispensed with. 

    The commissions will be given constitutional status by making an amendment to the Constitution, mainly by insertion of Article 338B. The new body will comprise of a Chairperson, Vice-chairperson and 3 other members. Every time it is necessary for commission to take Parliament approval for addition or removal of castes from OBC list of the Union Government. 

  • India becomes net exporter of Electricity for 1st timeFor the first time, India has turned around from a net importer of electricity to net exporter of electricity. As per Central Electricity Authority, which is the designated authority of the government for cross border trade of electricity, India has exported around 5,798 million units to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar during the current financial year. Export to Nepal has increased 2.5 times and export to Bangladesh has risen 2.8 times in the last three years. 

  • Supreme Court asks States, HC to come up with suggestions to amend criminal manualsIn a step aimed at improving the criminal justice system and making its manual uniform across the country, Supreme Court has asked all the States and High Courts to come up with suggestions to arrive at a general consensus on the need to amend criminal manuals. The Apex Court decided to take up the matter on its own while hearing a criminal appeal related to a case in Kerala. 

    A bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao passed the order when senior counsel R Basant, appearing for one of the parties in the appeal, referred to certain common inadequacies and deficiencies in the course of trials adopted by the trial courts while disposing of criminal cases. 

  • Cabinet approves ILO conventionsUnion Cabinet approved the ratification of two fundamental conventions of International Labour Organisation (ILO) to eradicate child labour from the country. 

    These are, Minimum Age Convention concerning minimum age for admission to employment, and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention concerning the prohibition and immediate action for elimination of the worst forms of Child Labour. India is a founder member of ILO, which came into existence in 1919. 

    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its nod to the amendment to New Urea Policy 2015. The amendment will protect the production beyond Re-Assessed Capacity by the urea units and is expected to boost indigenous urea production in the country. 

    CCEA also approved amendments in the Mega Power Policy to push 31 GigaWatt stranded projects entailing an investment of 1.5 lakh crore rupees. The initiative is mainly aimed at bringing down power tariff to make electricity more affordable and achieving the goal of 24X7 power for all. 

  • President inaugurates 'Namami Brahmaputra' festivalPresident Pranab Mukherjee on 31st March inaugurated the 'Namami Brahmaputra' festival calling the river the lifeline of the people of the North east. Namami Brahmaputra' is 'India's largest river festival' across 21 districts of Assam and will showcase trade, tourism and cultural possibilities along the Brahmaputra river. 

    The 5-day festival is being organised along the stretch of the river from Sadiya to Dhubri in Assam to pay obeisance to Brahmaputra. The theme song 'Namami Brahmaputra' composed by Angaraag Mahanta 'Papon' was released in both Hindi and Assamese recently. 

  • River Ganga recognised as first living entity of IndiaIn first of its kind decision, Uttarakhand High Court has recognised river Ganga as the 'first living entity of India. Along with river Ganges, river Yamuna has also been declared a living entity. As per the decision, the rivers will now be entitled to all rights available to humans as per the constitution. 

    More than its rich heritage, Ganga is known for its cultural and religious beliefs in India. However, the river has been subjected to huge water pollution, and even finds its place among the worst polluted rivers in world. The 2,525-km long river is third largest river in the world in terms of discharge. 

  • First BJP-led govt in Manipur won Floor Test in AssemblyThe first BJP-led government in Manipur won the Floor Test in the Assembly on 20th March. Chief Minister Biren Singh moved the motion of confidence on the council of ministers led by him and the motion was carried by voice vote. Before that BJP legislator Yumnam Khemchand has been elected as Speaker of the 11th state legislative assembly. 

  • Supreme Court calls for out-of-court settlement in Ayodhya caseSuggesting an out-of-court rapprochement among rival parties in the 68-year-old Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar advised on hearing a PIL filled by BJP M.P Subhramanya Swami. The court asked Mr. Swamy to consult the litigating parties about appointing a negotiator for an out-of-court settlement and report back on March 31, 2017. 

    The Sunni Waqf Board and other parties filed their appeals in the Supreme Court against Allahabad High Court verdict, ruled in favour of a three-part division of disputed land in 2010. The appeal is pending in the Supreme Court for the past six years. 

  • Centre rejects Andhra Pradesh proposal for joint venture on INS ViraatDefence ministry has turned down the proposal of the Andhra Pradesh Government to set up a joint venture to convert decommissioned aircraft carrier Viraat into an aircraft museum. Under this proposal, the Andhra Pradesh Government had requested 50% equity participation by the Ministry of Defence in their proposed Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). 

    “The proposal for equity participation was not accepted by the Ministry of Defence and the same has been communicated to Government of Andhra Pradesh on December 14 2016,” Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said in a written reply, in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. 

    INS Viraat formerly HMS Hermes in the Royal Navy was decommissioned early this month after three decades of service. Efforts were on to preserve the iconic ship which had a rich history in both the Navies it had served. 

  • India ranked 131 on Human Development IndexA new United Nations report has ranked India 131 out of 188 countries surveyed for human development, bracketing the third-largest Asian economy alongside South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal. India's Human Development Index rank in 2014 was also 131. 

    However, the latest report found that 63 percent Indians were "satisfied" with their standard of living in 2014-15. India's HDI rank value in 2015 stood at 0.624, up from 0.580 in 2010. 

    Its life expectancy at birth stood at 68.3 years in 2015 and the Gross National Income per capita was $5,663.00. On the perception of feeling safe, 69 percent of respondents answered "yes," while on freedom of choice, 72 percent of female respondents said they were "satisfied" as compared with 78 percent of male respondents. 

    The report noted that increasing clean energy investments in India by 1.5 percent of the GDP every year for the next 20 years will generate a net increase of about 10 million jobs annually, after factoring in job losses from retrenchments in the fossil fuel industries. 

  • Cabinet approves amendment to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Cabinet on 22nd March approved the amendment to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education - RTE Act, 2009. The amendment will ensure all teachers acquire minimum qualifications and extend period for training for 4 years upto 31st March, 2019. It will enable in-service untrained elementary teachers to complete training to have minimum standard of qualifications. 

  • Govt set target to triple nuclear power generation by 2024Government has set a target to triple nuclear power generation by 2024. Nuclear power generation capacity in the country is expected to reach nearly 15,000 Mega Watt by 2024 as the government has expedited the process of setting up new plants. India's nuclear power generation capacity was 4,780 MW in 2014. For the first time, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India has been allowed to go for setting up of joint venture nuclear plants along with Public Sector Undertakings. 

  • Rajya Sabha passes HIV and AIDS (Prevention & Control) Bill, 2014A bill to ensure equal rights to people afflicted with HIV and AIDS in getting treatment, admission in educational institutions and jobs, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 21st March. The Rajya Sabha passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014. 

    The Bill, moved for consideration in the House by Health Minister J P Nadda, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard their rights, and creates mechanisms for redressing their complaints. 

    The bill seeks to assure treatment to patients without stigmatizing them and for action in the event of being denied treatment. It also makes it obligatory for the Central and State governments to provide for anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and arrange for the management of risk reduction of vulnerable populations. 

  • National Commission for socially & educationally backward classes Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of a National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes, NSEBC as a constitutional body. The Bill to provide constitutional status to the body will be introduced in Parliament. The Commission will comprise of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and three other members. 

    The Cabinet has also repealed the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 and dissolved the body that was constituted under it. The move follows demands for constitutional status for the National Commission for Backward Classes in line of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 

  • AIADMK symbol war resolvedElection Commission allots ‘hat' symbol to Sasikala, OPS gets ‘electric pole. Day after the Election Commission barred the rival AIADMK factions from using the party name and symbol in the R K Nagar by-poll scheduled for the 12th of April, The two camps submitted new names and symbols to the poll panel to contest the election. 

    EC accepted the request of the Sasikala camp that it be allotted "hat" as its symbol. The faction will contest as AIADMK (Amma). The O Panneerselvam camp will use the 'electric pole' as its symbol and will be called AIADMK (Puratchi thalaivi Amma). 

  • Dharmendra Pradhan launcheS MOPNG e-SevaPetroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on 24th March launched MOPNG e-Seva, a dedicated grievances redressal platform on Social Media in New Delhi. 

    According to the Minister the MOPNG e-Seva is an integrated grievances redressal platform across social media for Petroleum and Natural Gas related service issues. The portal will be a single point interface for all customers to reach out to the government for their grievances. 

  • Five Indian cities included in World Heritage ListThe Union Government on 22 March 2017 informed that five Indian cities Ahmadabad, Delhi, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, and Mumbai were included in the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The information was given by the Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) Dr. Mahesh Sharmain in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. 

  • Govt identifies 100 priority districts for intensive efforts to eliminate tuberculosisTo eliminate the tuberculosis menace, the government has identified 100 priority districts for intensified efforts based on the recommendations from the Prime Minister's Office. 

    India has notified 17.5 lakh tuberculosis cases in 2016, including those from public as well as private healthcare sector. In addition, there were 33820 cases of multi-drug resistant TB notified under the government's Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP). 

    Taking an edge forward, the program is developing its National Strategic Plan for TB elimination in India (2017-25), five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the government said in the Annual TB Report, 2017. 

    Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report-2016, India accounts for 24% of the global TB cases. Six countries -- India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa -- account for 60% of the global total. India is also the hub for multi-drug resistant TB. Nearly 480,000 people contracted multi-drug resistant TB in 2015. 
  • Centre has agreed to Nagaland integration: Isak-Muivah factionThe Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) has reignited the row over the Framework Agreement it signed with the Centre in 2015. In a statement issued after electing its office-bearers in Camp Hebron, the outfit claimed that the Centre had recognised the 'legitimate right' of the Nagas for integration of all Naga territories. 

    The Framework Agreement will safeguard the present and the future of the Nagas, the outfit said and added that it will give the Nagas maximum sovereign power to grow into a developed political people and it will also strengthen India's security. 

  • Centre transfers ownership of Indu Mills land to Maharashtra govt. for Ambedkar memorialCentre has formally transferred the ownership of Indu Mills land to Maharashtra government for construction of memorial of Babasaheb Ambedkar. The document for 12 acres of land owned by National Textile Corporation was handed over to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis by Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani in Mumbai ON 25th March. 

  • Indian Railways to tap 1000 MW solar energy in five yearsIndian Railways will tap solar energy to the tune of 1000 MW in the next five years. According to the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, his ministry has taken up a mission-oriented plan to save 41 thousand crore rupees on energy bills over the next decade. 

    Solar panels will be installed on railway buildings to generate 500 MW power and another 500 MW through land based solar fields. In addition, Railways have already started production of 26 MW in wind energy and are now working on converting waste to energy and commissioned two such projects. 

  • Manohar Parrikar resigns as Defence MinisterManohar Parrikar tendered his resignation as Defence Minister on 12th March as he bid for the post of Chief Minister in Goa. To salvage the situation in the State and pave the way for the BJP, Parrikar emerged the leader of last resort choice. Parrikar was appointed Defence Minister in November 2014, when he was the Chief Minister of Goa. 

  • India suspends cross-border travel to Pakistan from PoonchIndia has suspended cross-border travel to Pakistan from Poonch, after the facilitation centre along the LoC was damaged in heavy shelling by Pakistan Army. Cross-LoC Poonch-Rawlakote bus service was also suspended as a precaution after the shelling, which damaged the facilitation centre. 

    Pakistani troops resumed heavy mortar shelling and automatic weapon firing early on 13th March, targeting Indian posts and civilian areas near the Line of Control. 

  • Venkaiah Naidu inaugurates India's largest municipal waste to power plant Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on 10th March inaugurated India's largest state of the art municipal waste to power plant in New Delhi. The plant has been is best example of private people partnership model in Delhi. 

    According to Venkaia Naidu the one of the aims of Swachh Bharat Mission is 100 per cent management of municipal solid waste by 2019 in the country. States are competing each in making the state open defecation free. In one year 4.17 lakh toilets are made in the country. 

  • Rise in women and children traffickingAccording to Government data from the National Crime Records Bureau almost 20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25% from the previous year. It also showed that almost equal numbers of women and children were trafficked. 

    The Ministry of Women and Child Development told Parliament that 19,223 women and children were trafficked last year against 15,448 in 2015, with the highest number of victims recorded in the eastern state of West Bengal. 

    Figures showed there were 9,104 trafficked children last year, a 27% increase from the previous year. The number of women trafficked rose by 22 % to 10,119 in 2016. West Bengal constitutes more than one-third of the total number of victims in 2016. 

    Rajasthan recorded the second highest number of trafficked children in 2016, Maharashtra, where India’s business capital Mumbai is located, showed the second highest number of trafficked women. 

  • Hyderabad is the best city in India in living standards: MercerHyderabad emerged as the best livable city, according to Mercer’s Quality of Living Rankings for 2017. Hyderabad and Pune rank higher than the country’s business centres Mumbai and New Delhi. However, on a global scale Hyderabad dropped five places compared to last year to rank 144, as per the report unveiled on 14th March. 

    Globally, Vienna occupies first place for overall quality of living for the eighth year running, with the rest of the top-ten list mostly filled by European cities: Zurich (2), Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), Copenhagen (9), and Basel, a newcomer to the list, in 10th place. 

    The only non-European cities in the top ten are Auckland, (3) and Vancouver (5). The highest ranking cities in Asia and Latin America are Singapore (25) and Montevideo (79), respectively, according to the survey by Mercer, the global consulting firm. 

  • Govt procures 14.66L tonnes of pulses to create buffer stockThe government has procured or contracted for imports about 14.66 lakh tonnes of pulses to create a buffer stock. According to Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs C R Chaudhary 10.60 lakh tonnes of pulses have been procured while 4.06 lakh tonnes have been contracted for imports for the buffer stock. 

    Professional Buffer Stock Management Agency (BSMA) will be engaged for efficient management of the buffer stock including procurement, storage, maintenance and liquidation of the stock as per government directive from time to time. 

    Pulses production is estimated at record 22.14 million tonnes in the 2016-17 crop years as against about 16.5 million tonnes in the previous year. The annual domestic demand is about 24 to 25 million tonnes and the gap is met through imports. 

  • Lok Sabha passed Admiralty Bill, 2016The Lok Sabha on 10th March passed the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016. The Bill seeks to establish a legal framework to consolidate the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues. 

    The intended legislation also repeals five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters, they are 1. The Admiralty Court Act, 1840, 2. The Admiralty Court Act, 1861, 3. The Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890, 4. The Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891, 5. The provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865. 

  • Govt approves National Health Policy The government has approved the National Health Policy which proposes to provide assured health services to all in the country. The policy was approved at the meeting of Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The policy increases the gambit of sectors covered in the Primary Health Centre (PHC) level and envisages a comprehensive approach. 

  • Widows to be called 'Kalyanis' in MP: Shivraj Singh ChouhanIn order to bring in more sensitivity and respect towards widows, the Madhya Pradesh government has announced that widows in the state will be referred to as "Kalyani's" in all official documents. It is in line with the Prime Minister's call to use the word 'Divyang' instead of 'Viklang' while referring to a person with physical disabilities. 

  • Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government wins trust vote in GoaManohar Parrikar-led BJP coalition Government on 16th March won the vote of confidence by 22 to 16 votes in the Goa Assembly. This was announced by pro tem Speaker Siddharth Kunkolienkar. 

    Vishwajeet Rane of Congress took oath as member of the assembly, but later abstained from voting during confidence motion tabled by Chief Minister. Later he resigned as an MLA and from the congress party. He said he will contest again through Valpoi constituency. 

  • VRS on health reasons “unconstitutional”: Hyderabad High CourtA two judge bench of the High Court comprising Justice V. Ramasubramanian and Justice Uma Devi faulted as unconstitutional the scheme of Singareni Collieries known as “Voluntary Retirement Scheme on Health Reasons”, for its employees as a device to perpetuate succession just two years prior to their retirement so that they can pass on the baton to their chosen dependent. 

  • Parliamentary panel fumes as NATGRID posts remain vacantThe Union Home Ministry informed a parliamentary panel that it couldn’t get qualified IT professionals to fill 35 posts in the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), an ambitious intelligence project conceptualized by the United Progressive Alliance government after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. 

    The panel has asked the Ministry to “re-publicise the posts” and “offer remuneration commensurate with that of the private sector to attract the most qualified professionals.” The NATGRID is a centralised agency which stores sensitive personal information on citizens, from almost two dozen agencies, to be made available for counter-terror investigations. 

  • Centre to interlink rivers to improve irrigation facilities: Home MinisterAccording to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the Centre has initiated steps to implement the ambitious project of interlinking rivers in the country to make irrigation facilities available for un-irrigated areas. Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 3-day 2nd Agri-Leadership Summit-2017 at Surajkund, near Faridabad on 18th March. 

    He said that a 20,000 crore rupees fund has been created under NABARD to improve irrigation facilities and the Centre has set a target to bring more than 76 lakh hectares of land under irrigation by the year 2019. 

  • Aishwarya's Bharatnatyam dance performance at UN on March 8Classical danseuse and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Aishwarya R Dhanush, will give a Bharatanatyam performance at the UN on International Women's Day. Aishwarya, also a filmmaker, said her hour long performance at the UN headquarters in New York was scheduled on March 8. 

    She said the event was being organised by India's Permanent Mission to UN, and co-sponsored by America Tamil Sangam, a US Tamils association. 

  • IISc becomes first Indian university to be ranked among top 10 in worldFor the first time, an Indian educational institute has broken into the top 10 of global university rankings. The Times Higher Education (THE) revealed that India is home to one of the world's best small universities, as it made public the 2017 edition of the rankings. 

    Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has been ranked eighth at the 'THE's Best Small Universities in the World 2017'. Small universities are those with fewer than 5,000 students. 

    IISc, a public university for scientific research and higher education, was established in 1909 with active support from Jamsetji Tata and Sir Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore. In 2015-16 it became the first Indian institute to be ranked among the top 100 in THE World University Rankings for engineering and technology at 99th position. 

  • Trade Mark Rules 2017 come into effect The Trade Mark Rules, 2017 have come into effect from 6th March which will replace the erstwhile Trade Mark Rules 2002 and streamline and simplify the processing of Trade Mark applications. The Ministry said, based on stake holder’s feedback, the fees for Individuals, Start-ups and Small Enterprises have been reduced to 4,500 rupees for e-filing of trade mark applications. 

    In the revamped rules number of Trade Mark forms has been reduced from 74 to eight. Commerce and Industry Ministry said, the fee for online filing has been kept at 10 per cent lower than that for physical filing to promote e-filing of trade mark applications. 

  • Odisha for first time achieves highest decline in IMRFor the first time in 16 years, Odisha has achieved highest decline in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). This decline is far better than the national average. According to the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Odisha’s IMR has come down by 29% between 2005 and 2015 which is highest trend in the country. It was 96 per 1000 births in 2000 has been reduced to 40 in 2015-16. 

    In 2000, Odisha was only above Chhattisgarh in the national ranking. Institutional delivery in Odisha was recorded at 85.4% in NFHS-4 as against the national average of 78.9%. Similarly, 78.6% children (aged 12 and 23 months) were fully immunized as against national average of 62%. 

  • Delhi University Professor & others given life imprisonment for abetment of Naxalite activitiesThe Gadchiroli Sessions Court has given life imprisonment to Delhi University Professor Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba along with other four convicts for abetment of Naxalite activities on 7th March. The other convicts in the case include Jawaharlal Nehru University student Hem Mishra, Journalist Prashant Rahi along with Mahesh Tirkey and Pandu Narote. 

    Another convict Vijay Tirkey was sentenced for rigorous imprisonment of ten years in the same case. Principal District and Sessions Judge Mr. Suryakant Shinde pronounced the quantum of the sentence after declaring them guilty earlier in the day. 

    The professor was arrested by the Gadchiroli police in May 2014 from his official quarter in the university premises following a warrant from Aheri court. He was subsequently slapped with relevant sections under the stringent Unlawful Activities prevention Act. The Supreme Court, on April 4 last year, granted bail to the alleged Naxal sympathizer. 

  • PM Modi inaugurates country’s longest Cable Bridge on River Narmada in GujaratPrime Minister Narendra Modi on 7th March inaugurated country’s longest Cable Bridge on the River Narmada at Bharuch in Gujarat. This is the longest cable bridge in the country with a length of 1344 meter connecting Mumbai Delhi National Highway-8. 

    The central government has decided to convert 8 state highways of Gujarat into National Highways at the cost of 12, 000 crore rupees. Modi also laid the foundation stone of Bharauch Bus Port. 

    Earlier, the Prime Minister also dedicated the Petrochemical complex of ONGC to the nation at Dehej in Gujarat. The plant set up with 27,000 crore rupees investment will have world class facilities of Polymer production. 

  • Conservation Drones to be used to monitor TigersThe National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun plan to use drones to monitor tiger population in the reserves. Apart from monitoring the tiger population, the drones would collect and transmit visual data on animal movements, poaching activities and forest fires from the inaccessible areas of the forest. 

  • 2 more tiger reserves soon in UttarakhandWith the Uttarakhand forest department focusing on tiger conservation, the State is soon to get two new tiger reserves, work towards which is under way. The Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary, which falls under the Terai Arc Landscape spanning across India and Nepal, and the Surai Range in the Terai East division of the Uttarakhand forest department are the two proposed tiger reserves. 

    Uttarakhand now has two tiger reserves – the Corbett Tiger Reserve and the Rajaji Tiger Reserve. According to the tiger census data released in 2015, Uttarakhand has 340 tigers making it a State with the second highest tiger population in the country after Karnataka. 

  • Union Cabinet approves oil storage pact with UAE’s ADNOCThe Union Cabinet has approved signing of the Definitive Agreement on Oil Storage and Management between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL) and UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). 

    ADNOC will fill up 0.81 MMT or 5,860,000 million barrels of crude oil at ISPRL storage facility at Mangalore, Karnataka. Out of the crude stored, some part will be used for commercial purpose of ADNOC, while a major part will be purely for strategic purposes. 

    India being fastest growing economies and world’s third-biggest oil consumer, is building emergency storage in underground caverns to hold 36.87 million barrels of crude. It is equivalent to about 10 days of its average daily oil demand. This move aims to hedge against energy security risks as it imports most of its oil needs. 

  • Administrative nod to Mallanna sagarThe Telangana government has given administrative approval for several key components of Kaleshwaram irrigation project, including Mallannasagar reservoir

    In the orders issued on 8th March, Special Chief Secretary (Irrigation) S.K. Joshi accorded administrative approval for the formation of Sri Komaravelli Mallanna Sagar Reservoir, package 12 of the project, with a storage capacity of 50 tmc ft along with structures with an estimated cost of Rs. 7,249.52 crore. 

    Orders were also issued for formation of a reservoir with 11.39 tmc ft storage capacity at Baswapur village of Bhongir mandal in Yadadri-Bhongir district with an amount of Rs. 1751.00 crore and, formation of Konda Pochamma Sagar Reservoir near Pamulaparthy village of Markook mandal of Siddipet district for a storage capacity of 7 tmc ft of water for an amount of Rs. 519.70 crore. 

    Further, formation of reservoir near Gandamalla village in M. Turkapally mandal of Yadadri-Bhongir district for a storage capacity of 9.86 tmc ft of water for an amount of Rs. 860.25 crore and formation of Sri Ranganayaka Sagar (Imamabad Reservoir) with a capacity of 3 tmc ft near Chandlapur village in Siddipet district with an amount of Rs. 496.50 crore were also given administrative approval. 

    In addition, orders were issued for investigation, designs and execution of water conveyor system consisting of lined gravity canal of Kureli anicut – Chityal Canal Reach-I with carrying capacity of 110.88 cumecs taking off from Kureli anicut to Kandukuru vagu crossing near Mulkalapally village in Nalgonda district, including distributary network for an ayacut of 63,300 acres. 

  • Parliament passes bill to raise maternity leave to 26 weeksParliament has passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 with Lok Sabha approving it on 9th March which was already cleared by Rajya Sabha. The bill seeks to enhance paid maternity leave for women engaged in organised sector from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children, violation of the provisions of the amendment bill would attract 3 to 6 months of imprisonment and a penalty of up to Rs 5000. 

    Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya has reiterated the government commitment to extend ESI coverage from existing 395 districts to 702 districts, and to upgrade 450 dispensaries to six bed hospitals. He also said that the Government has brought nearly 4.7 crore people involved in construction sector under the social security network. 

  • Supreme Court issues warrant against Calcutta HC judge C S Karnan in contempt caseThe Supreme Court on 10th March issued an arrest warrant against serving Calcutta High Court judge C S Karnan to ensure his presence before it on March 31 in a contempt case. A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said there is no other alternative to seek presence of Justice Karnan, therefore the court orders that he will have to furnish a personal bond of Rs 10,000 to secure bail. 

    The bench also directed the West Bengal Director General of Police to personally execute the arrest warrant on Justice Karnan to ensure his presence before it on March 31, the next date of hearing. Justice Karnan termed the apex court warrant against him as unconstitutional and alleged, he was being targeted for being a Dalit. 

  • BJP victory in UP, UK, Hung in Goa, ManipurIn the five state elections, Bharatiya Janata Party has got absolute Majority in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, while Congress has won in Punjab. No party has emerged with clear majority in Goa and Manipur, however congress emerged as single largest party in these states. 

    Uttar Pradesh (403)
    BJP and Alliances
    SP and Congress
    Uttarakhand (70)
    Punjab (117)
    Shiroman Akalidal
    Goa (40)
    Manipur (60)

  • Centre frames infrastructure policy to check challenges of urbanisationCentre has formulated an infrastructure policy to promote living close to mass public transport corridors like National Transit Oriented Development Policy. The move is aimed at addressing the challenges of urbanisation. 

    The National Transit Oriented Development Policy seeks to promote Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), a type of infrastructure development which enables people to live within walking or cycling distance from transit corridors. 

    The policy will be discussed with the states and Union Territories at a national workshop on urban development on 28th February. The TOD is considered a viable solution to urban challenges including haphazard growth, mobility problems, congestion on roads and pollution. 

    Urban Development Ministry is also incentivizing the TOD under new Metro Policy and Green Urban Mobility Scheme that seeks to create non-motorised transport infrastructure in cities like footpaths and cycle-tracks. 

  • Life term for SIMI chief, 10 other activists11 SIMI terrorists including mastermind Safdar Nagori get life in prison; Indore court awards sentence for possession of weapons and plotting anti national activities. The 11 convicts got life term for possession of weapons, explosives and ammunition and also for plotting anti-national activities. The trial was going on before the Indore special CBI court following their arrest by the STF in March 2008. 

  • Govt survey shows improved sex ratio, decline in IMRThe latest Health survey shows that India's health index has made a notable improvement over the last decade. There has been a decline in the infant mortality and improvement in the sex ratio with more institutional deliveries and wider vaccine coverage. 

    Health Ministry unveiled the National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) in New Delhi, conducted for year 2015-16. According to the survey, Health secretary CK Mishra, sex ratio at birth improved from 914 to 919 females per 1000 males at the national level over the last decade with the highest in Kerala at 1,047, followed by Meghalaya at 1,009. Haryana also witnessed a significant increase from 762 to 836. 

    Infant Mortality Rate, IMR, declined from 57 to 41 per 1,000 live births between NFHS-3 which was conducted in 2005-06 and NFHS-4. Similarly, institutional births increased from 38.7 per cent in NFHS-3 to 78.9 per cent in NFHS-4. Mishra said, targeted approach through Janani Suraksha Yojana, JSY, has paid off. 

    Total Fertility Rate also declined to 2.2 children per woman from 2.7 in NFHS-3 with considerable decline in the TFR in each of the 30 states with the maximum decline observed in Uttar Pradesh at 1.1 child followed by Nagaland at 1.0 child. The survey also says Children within the age of 12-23 months have been fully immunized. 

  • Minister of Railways launches Country's first Antyodaya ExpressRailway Minister Suresh Prabhu has launched the country’s first Antyodaya Express between Ernakulam and Howrah. The train service was inaugurated by the Railways Minister via video conferencing in New Delhi on 27th March. 

    Antyodaya Express is a long-distance, fully unreserved, superfast train service, for the common man to be operated on dense routes. The new express train will have facilities like cushioned luggage racks which can serve as seats, LED lights, modular toilets, pleasing interior colour scheme and others. 

  • Nagaland tops IT, e-Governance sectorThe Computer Society of India (CSI)-Nihilent on 28th February declared Nagaland as a top performing state from among the northeastern states in Information Technology and e-Governance sector for 2015 and 2016. 

    The award is normally given to two categories namely the State Category and Project Category. The award under the Project Category is normally given for innovations and under the State Category is given every year for the overall performance of a State in the field of IT and e-Governance. 

    With this award, Nagaland is now ranked top in the country in the e-District Mission Mode Project along with Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 

  • Govt panel recommends legal framework for protection of migrants' interestsA government appointed panel has recommended necessary legal and policy framework to protect the interests of the migrants in the country. It said, the migrant population makes substantial contribution to economic growth and their constitutional rights should be secured. 

    According to an official release, the group has recommended that the protocols of the registrar general of India should be amended to enable caste based enumeration of migrants so that they can avail the attendant benefits in the States to which migration takes place. 

    It has also recommended that migrants should be enabled to avail benefits of public distribution system (PDS) in the destination State by providing for inter-State operability of PDS. 

    The group also suggested use of underutilized construction workers welfare cess fund to promote rental housing and working Women Hostels for the benefit of migrants. The recent economic survey noted that annual migration in the country has increased from 33 lakh in 2011 to 90 lakh in 2016. 

  • Narendra Singh Tomar launches Swachh Shakti Saptah at GurugramDrinking Water and Sanitation Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on 1st March launched Swachh Shakti Saptah at Gurugram in Haryana. The week-long programme across the country will highlight the role of women in Swachh Bharat Mission and recognize their leadership. 

    Throughout the coming week, there will be nationwide events honouring women champions, women sarpanches, ASHA workers, school teachers, young students and senior citizens. 

  • Internet users in India to cross 450 mn by June: reportInternet users in the country are expected to be in the range of 450 to 465 million by June this year. This was stated in a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and Indian Market Research Bureau. 

    The report said that there were 432 million users in December last year. Of them, about 269 million were in urban areas of the country. It added that urban India has close to 60 per cent Internet penetration, reflecting a level of saturation. Rural India, with only 17 per cent penetration, still has a large scope of development. 

  • Delhi Metro in Limca Book of Records for erecting 200 girders in monthDelhi Metro has made it to the Limca Book of Records for erecting 200 girders in a month. The feat has been achieved on the upcoming Noida - Greater Noida corridor. DMRC chief Mangu Singh was formally handed over the certificate from the Limca Book of Records on 1st March. 

    According to DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) this is the maximum number of U-girders ever launched in any Metro corridor in India within a month. A total of 2002 such girders, structures that support small beams, were erected for the 30-km-long Noida -Greater Noida corridor which will have 21 stations. 

  • JNU won award for Best UniversityJawaharlal Nehru University has won the annual visitor’s award for the Best University- 2017. Dr Deepak Pant from Central University of Himachal Pradesh won the visitor’s award for innovation, while the visitor’s award for research has been jointly won by Dr. Shyam Sunder from Banaras Hindu University and Prof Niranjan Karak from Tezpur University. 

    President Pranab Mukherjee had announced institution of these awards in 2014 with the aim of promoting healthy competition amongst Central Universities and motivating them to adopt best practices from around the world in the pursuit of excellence. 

    The best university will receive a citation and trophy while winners of visitor’s award for innovation and research will receive a citation and cash award of one lakh rupees. 

  • AP Assembly building inauguratedAndhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurated the new Assembly building at Velagapudi in the capital (Amaravati) region in Guntur district on 2nd March. The Budget Session which is scheduled to begin on March 6th will be the first Assembly session on Andhra Pradesh's soil in new capital Amaravati after the bifurcation of the state. 

  • Supreme Court expresses concern over farmers' suicideSupreme Court has expressed concern over farmers' suicide due to indebtedness and crop failure. Hearing a public interest litigation filed by a voluntary organisation, the apex court asked the Centre to appraise it of the policy roadmap to address the burning issue. 

    The bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar observed it is surprising no action has been taken to address the causes behind suicides, though farmers' suicides have been happening for so many decades. 

    Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, told the bench, the government has initiated many schemes for farmers and the 2015 crop insurance scheme would drastically reduce such fateful incidents. 



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