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May 2017 National Affairs

  • Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu Inaugurates Wi-Fi Facility At 28 Stations
    Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on 21st May inaugurated free Wi-Fi facility at 28 railway stations on Konkan Railway. He also inaugurated improved passenger amenities and facilities at Kudal and Chiplun stations. Konkan Railway has tied up with broadband and internet service provider Joister to provide Wi-Fi facility at its stations. 

    Mr Prabhu also inaugurated passenger amenities and facilities at Kudal station which include construction of VIP room, widening of platform numbers one and two among others. 

    Improved passenger amenities at Chiplun station include renovation of waiting hall, 30 meter long additional conventional shelter on platform no two, additional concrete benches on platforms, 15 modular shelters on both platforms, one additional bio-toilet unit on platform number two. 

  • India & Africa: Partners in Growth exhibition inaugurated
    Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal on 22nd May inaugurated the exhibition on “India & Africa- Partners - in Growth” at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The exhibition has been organised as part of 5 day long Annual Meeting of African Development Bank to be held at the same venue. Exhibition spread over in an area of 3100 square meter areas has 150 stalls by 67 exhibitors. 

  • Madhya Pradesh bans sand excavation in Narmada River
    The Madhya Pradesh State Government put an indefinite ban on the sand excavation in the Narmada River. Save Narmada a people’s movement through Namami Narmada Yatra to save Narmada river was started by the government. 

  • Madras High Court grants interim stay on publication of NEET result
    The Madras High Court on 24th May granted an interim stay on the publication of result of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to MBBS and BDS courses for the academic year 2017 across the country. 

    Hearing a batch of petitions filed by some students, Justice M V Muralidharan of the court's Madurai bench also directed officials of the Medical Council of India, the CBSE Director and the Union Health Ministry to file their counter affidavits on June 7. 

    The petitioners alleged that uniform question papers were not given and there was a vast difference between the English and Tamil question papers. They demanded that the NEET examination be cancelled and a fresh test with uniform question papers be conducted. 

  • CBSE's academic repository e- sanad launched
    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar jointly inaugurated the integration of e-Sanad with CBSE's academic repository in New Delhi. 

    e-Sanad is aimed at online verification of the documents with an objective to extend contact less, cashless and paperless document attestation/ apostille service to applicants in India as well as abroad. 

    The integration of e-Sanad with Parinam Manjusha will help the applicants avoid long travels and precious resources of time and money for getting their documents attested by the concerned authorities in States. It also allows filing the application online. 

    e-Sanad will be implemented in phases. As a pilot run, the first phase of e-Sanad has been started in five passport offices and presently it is in the process of being implemented in the Apostille/ Attestation Cell of the Ministry. 

    For implementation of eSanad in the States, it is being integrated with the General Administration (NRI) Department of the Government of Telangana as a pilot project. General Administration Department of the Government of Telangana is starting the online processing of application for attestation of documents soon. 

    Further, e-Sanad has been integrated with Non- Tax Receipt Portal (NTRP) successfully for cashless payment. 

  • IIT-Kharagpur signs MoU with Madhya Pradesh for measuring happiness index
    IIT Kharagpur’s Rekhi (IIT - KGR) Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness and Madhya Pradesh Government ‘Rajya Anandam Sansthan’ (Department of Happiness) signed a Memorandum of understanding. Madhya Pradesh is the first state in India, to launch Happiness department. The MoU is to collaborate on the development of a Happiness Index for measuring the well-being of the residents of the state. The Happiness index would be developed by IIT-KGP and the data collected by the state government would be analyzed to assess the happiness levels of people of the state and to suggest recommendations to enhance happiness levels in the state. 

  • PM chairs 19th interaction through PRAGATI
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24th May reviewed the handling of grievances related to the postal services and asked what action had been taken against the officers responsible for lapses. He was chairing the monthly meeting of the Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI), a platform under which the prime minister interacts directly with top officials of the central departments and state governments through video conferencing. 

    At the meeting, he reviewed the progress of vital projects in the communication, railway, road and power sectors spread over several states including Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. 

    He sought to know what changes have been made in procedures and what action has been taken against officers responsible for lapses, it said. Modi underlined that the importance of postal services is on the rise again and stressed on the importance of human resource management, systemic improvement, and infrastructure strengthening in the Department of Posts, the PMO added. 

    The prime minister also comprehensively reviewed the 'Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems' (CCTNS). 

  • Asia-Africa Growth Corridor: Vision document focusses on inclusivity
    A vision document on the Indo-Japan initiative of the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) lays down the framework for social and economic connectivity between the two regions in a more inclusive and sustainable manner. 

    The vision document, released at the 52nd annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group here, emphasises on inclusivity and centrality of people, rather than focusing only on trade and economics. Earlier this month, China launched its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) regional connectivity project, which is perceived as more centralised and trade-oriented. 

    The leaders from the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) took into account more than the trade aspect and focused on other social and people aspects while drafting the AAGC vision document. 

  • Ken-Betwa interlinking gets forest clearance
    The environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has recommended the interlinking of the Ken and Betwa rivers in Madhya Pradesh. The project had hit a snag because it will submerge 5,578 hectares of prime tiger roaming areas in the Panna National Park. 

    This leaves only two more steps for the project to secure the complete set of approvals required under environmental regulations and Supreme Court orders. 

    The Supreme Court’s Centrally Empowered Committee would have to give a nod to the project and then the environment minister would have to clear the recommendations to let the project go ahead. 

    Ministers have rarely ever overturned recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee, which is staffed with some of the senior-most forest officials of the ministry in the first place. 

    The FAC is mandated to appraise projects that require forestland to operate on. The Ken-Betwa interlinking of rivers involved inundation and chopping of trees on 6,017 hectares of forests. Of this, 5,578 hectares fall in the core and buffer zone of the Panna National Park. 

    The project is one of the first on a long list that was envisioned under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government of the National Democratic Alliance. In this government, Uma Bharti, who is water resources minister and had been chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, has been a vocal advocate of the project. 

    The river-interlinking plan was envisioned to transfer water from surplus areas to deficit areas. Under this particular project, the river Ken in Madhya Pradesh will be linked with the river Betwa in Uttar Pradesh. It is expected to cost more than Rs 10,000 crore and, the government authorities claim, shall provide irrigation for 600,000 hectares of land and drinking water to 1.34 million people. 

    The project had secured the wildlife and environmental clearances, with the forest clearance hanging fire. With the previous minister already having spoken in favour of the project even before it had got statutory clearances, it is believed that the final stamp of approval from the new incumbent is likely soon and the chance of a review being ordered does not exist. 

  • India’s First Underwater Rail Tunnel Completed in Kolkata
    Afcons Transtonnelstroy and Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Limited implemented the India’s first underwater tunnel under the Hooghly river to link Howrah and Kolkata. The length of Kolkata’s East-West Metro is 16.6 km long. Out of which a length of 502 meters is under the Hooghly river. 

  • India's longest Bhupen Hazarika bridge launched over Brahmaputra river 
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a number of infrastructure projects in Assam on 26th May, also inaugurated India's longest Bhupen Hazarika bridge over Brahmaputra river. 

    Mr Modi named the bridge after legendary singer Bhupen Hazarika. This is a three lane, 9.15 kilometre bridge has been built over the Brahmaputra river. It links Dhola to Sadia, both in Assam. 

    The bridge will reduce the distance from Rupai on NH- 37 in Assam to Meka-Roing on NH-52 in Arunachal Pradesh by 165 KM. The travel time between the two places will come down from the current six hours to just one hour, a total five hour reduction. 

    Spanning 9.15 km, the bridge is built across the Lohit river, which is a tributary of the Brahmaputra. It will connect Assam and eastern Arunachal Pradesh. The total length of the project, including the approach roads on each side, is 28.50 km. 

    It is 3.55 km longer than the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai. The sea link has now become the second longest river bridge in the country. 

    The construction of the Dhola-Sadiya bridge began in 2011 by the Ministry of Road Transport along with Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd., under the public-private-partnership agreement. 

    A sum of Rs Rs 2,056 crore has been spent on the bridge that can withstand 60 tonnes of weight, including battle tanks. 

    The bridge, which has a three-lane carriage way, will also cater to the strategic requirements of the country in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh, besides facilitating numerous hydro power projects coming up in the State, as it is the most sought after route for various power project developers. 

  • WHO confirms Zika virus cases in Ahmedabad, the country's first
    Ahmedabad has reported the first confirmed cases of Zika virus in India. In its latest disease outbreak news dated May 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed three cases of Zika virus from Ahmedabad, including a pregnant lady tested this January. 

    The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has tested 34,233 human samples and 12,647 mosquito samples for the presence of Zika virus. Among those, close to 500 mosquitos samples were collected from Bapunagar area, Ahmedabad District, in Gujarat, and were found negative for Zika. 

    The routine laboratory surveillance detected a laboratory-confirmed case of Zika virus disease through RT-PCR test at B J Medical College, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Two additional cases, have then been identified through the Acute Febrile Illness (AFI) and the Antenatal clinic (ANC) surveillance. 

    In addition to National Institute of Virology, Pune, and NCDC in Delhi, 25 laboratories have also been strengthened by Indian Council of Medical Research for laboratory diagnosis. Three entomological laboratories are conducting Zika virus testing on mosquito samples. 

  • 8 terrorists killed in encounters with security forces in Jammu & Kashmir
    In Jammu and Kashmir, two hardcore terrorists, including dreaded Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, were killed in an encounter in Tral area of Pulwama district on 27th May. 

    Sabzar was successor of slain Hizbul Mujhaideen commander Burhan wani who was killed last year. Security forces said, terrorists fired upon an Army patrolling party which triggered a brief encounter. In another operation, six unidentified terrorists were killed by security forces foiling a major infiltration bid along the LoC in Rampur sector of Baramulla district. 

  • Govt issues alert against cyber attack Ransomware named Wannacry 
    Government's cyber security arm CERT-In has alerted vital institutions including RBI, stock markets and NPCI against the latest cyber attack that has infected thousands of systems globally. It has issued a list of do's and dont's to these agencies and advised installation of relevant "patches" to protect against any data breaches. 

    Nearly 100 countries, inlcuding India, were hit by a massive cyber attack which began on 12th May. A new ransomware named "Wannacry" is spreading globally that encrypts files on the infected Windows PCs. As per the advisory issued by CERT In, the ransomware infects other computers on the same network and is also spreading through malicious attachments to e-mails. 

    CERT-In has advised users and organisations to apply patches to Windows systems to prevent this infection.The attack was first reported from Sweden, Britain and France. Meanwhile, Microsoft has taken the unusual step of re-releasing security updates for some older versions of its Windows platforms to counter the cyber ransomware attacks. 

  • First Chennai underground metro line inaugurated
    Tamilnadu Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswami and Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu flagged off a train and inaugurated the 8km underground line between Thirumangalam and Nehru Park on 14th May. The underground line has seven stations, which are in turn linked to the elevated corridors through a ramp between Thirumangalam and Koyambedu. 

    In India, Kolkata (Calcutta), Delhi and Bangalore have Metro Rail transport. All the metros in India are partially underground. 

  • PM Modi launches Narmada Sewa Mission in Madhya Pradesh
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15th May said that public participation is the biggest strength of the democracy and success of Narmada Seva Yatra in Madhya Pradesh is an example of it. He participated in the conclusion ceremony of Narmada Seva Yatra at Amarkantak in Anooppur district of Madhya Pradesh. Mr Modi said…
    • The Narmada Seva Yatra is a unique mass movement in Indian history
    • Emphasized the need to save rivers like Narmada which have been people's lifeline for so many years.
    • PM Launched the Narmada Sewa Mission, a roadmap to conserve the river.

  • Over 50% population lives in disaster-prone areas: Rajnath Singh
    According to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, more than 50 per cent population of the country lives in areas that are vulnerable to calamities like earthquakes, floods, cyclones, droughts and tsunami. According to Rajnath Singh….

    India has robust institutional mechanisms in place to deal with natural calamities and compliance to disaster management codes is crucial

    The national platform was set up so that it can work effectively for disaster risk mitigation along with various stakeholders 

    India has become the first country to prepare a livestock disaster management plan for the safety of livestock during a disaster

  • New panel rejects all demands for changes in Ken-Betwa link project
    The controversial Ken-Betwa river link project, which came up for discussions at the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) meeting on 16th May, could get a stamp of approval soon, without any changes. A committee set up to look into the technical aspects of the project — such as the potential to reduce the height of the dam by five metres and the possibility to relocate revenue villages in the Panna Tiger Reserve landscape. 

    The committee’s report, which was placed before the FAC, has completely brushed aside concerns over inadequate availability of water for the dam and as a result for any need to reduce the height of the dam. 

    The committee has accepted the arguments from the National Water Development Agency and the Central Water Commission, both under the Ministry of Water Resources, that “the present height of the dam has been arrived at after a very thorough field study, data collection and technical analysis by various experts and, therefore, any reduction in the height of the dam now would make the whole project technically unfeasible.” 

    The committee’s report is in line with the views of Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti who has earlier threatened to go on strike if the project is delayed and has strongly opposed any proposal to reduce the height of the dam — a move which could potentially reduce the area of the Panna Tiger Reserve that gets submerged. 

    More than 100 sq km of the prime tiger habitat is expected to get submerged, impacting a significant portion of critical habitat for the endangered animal. The submergence is also going to fragment the habitat, making sustenance for tigers harder. 

    The committee has further recommended that a number of revenue villages in the Panna Reserve landscape would need to be relocated to make corridors for tiger movements, to compensate for fragmentation of the habitat. The number of villages and the number of more people who would be affected is yet uncertain. 

  • Tubelight' becomes Bollywood's first film to have its own character emoji
    Salman Khan's upcoming film "Tubelight" has become Bollywood's first film ever to have its personal character emoji. The film, which is based on the backdrop of Indo-Sino War

  • Cabinet approves Maternity Benefit programme roll-out from Jan 1, 2017
    Union Cabinet on 17th May gave its ex-post facto approval to Pan-India implementation of Maternity Benefit Programme. 

    The programme now has been extended to all districts of the country from 1st of January 2017. It is applicable only to the first born baby. 

    The Maternity Benefit Programme will provide compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentives so that the women can take adequate rest before and after delivery and not be deprived of proper nutrition. 

  • India to build 10 heavy water reactors to boost nuclear power
    Cabinet has approved building of ten units of indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors for India in a boost to domestic nuclear industry. 

    According to Union Minister Piyush Goyal the decision will link government's goal of a strong nuclear power sector with indigenous capacity in high-end technology. 

    The decision will help generate orders of almost 70,000 crore rupees to domestic industry and add 7,000 Mega Watt capacity. The project is expected to generate more than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment. 

    India has current installed nuclear power capacity of 6780 MW from 22 operational plants. Another 6700 MWs of nuclear power is expected to come onstream by 2021-22 through projects presently under construction. 

    Government also gave its approval for setting up of third Indian Agricultural Research Institute to be set up in Assam. It will be set up on 587 acre of land. IARI Assam will be a post graduate institution. 

    Integrated multi disciplinary research would be undertaken. It will help in holistic and sustainable development of the agriculture sector. 

    Cabinet gave its ex post facto approved Memorandum of Understanding between India and Australia on cooperation in combating international terrorism and transnational organized crime. Mutual cooperation would facilitate the institutional interactions between the two countries. It would also strengthen relationship between India and Australia for building peace and stability in the region. 

    Cabinet also gave its nod to Faculty Exchange Agreement between National Defence College, New Delhi and National Defence College, Dhaka. The objective is to institutionalise regular exchange programmes and establish sustainable mechanisms between the two National Defence Colleges. 

    Cabinet also approved Biopharma Mission for accelerating discovery research. Besides, government approved introduction of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament. It has also approved a restructuring plan for Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd. 

  • Visakhapatnam railway station cleanest, Darbhanga dirtiest: Survey
    Visakhapatnam railway station is the cleanest, followed by the one in Secunderabad, among the 75 busiest stations. 

    According to a survey, the report of which was released by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on 17th May, the Jammu railway station occupied the third spot, while the New Delhi station stood at 39th. The Darbhanga railway station in Bihar was the dirtiest. 

    The survey was carried out by the Quality Council of India. The survey was carried out on 407 stations, of which 75 are in the A1 category, or busiest stations, and 332 are in the A category. Clean toilets at platforms, clean tracks and dustbins at stations were some of the criteria. This was the third survey on cleanliness done by the railways to keep a tab on its premises as part of Swachh Rail campaign. 

    Anand Vihar railway station stood fifth. Nizamuddin station was placed at 23rd, while Old Delhi was at 24th. The one in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ranked 14th. 

    The Beas railway station was the cleanest, followed by Khammam, in the A category. Ahmedanagar station was ranked third. Jogbani was the dirtiest in the A category. 

    The railways has about 8,000 stations which are classified into — A1, A, B, C, D, E and F categories — based on annual passenger revenue. 

    Stations that contribute over Rs 50 crore a year are A1 stations. A category stations contribute between Rs 6 crore and Rs 50 crore. All suburban stations are in the C category, while all halts are in the F category. 

  • Central Government to open 94 new Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalyas
    Centre will open 94 new Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalyas (KGBV) across the country for girl students belonging to minority and disadvantaged sections. According to a senior HRD Ministry official, the new sanctioned schools are likely to start functioning by next year. 

    KGBVs are upper primary residential schools for girls from SC, ST, OBC categories besides other minority and disadvantaged sections of society. While 75 per cent seats are reserved for girls from the mentioned category, 25 per cent seats are for girls from families below the poverty line. There are currently 3,703 KGBVs functional across the country. 

  • Coal scam case: Former coal secretary H C Gupta convicted
    A special court in New Delhi on 19th May convicted former coal secretary H C Gupta in a coal scam case. Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar also convicted the coal ministry's then joint secretary K S Kropha and then director K C Samaria besides others in the case pertaining to alleged irregularities in allocation of Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd, KSSPL. 

    The court will pronounce the order on quantum of sentence on 22nd of this month. The court, however, acquitted chartered accountant Amit Goyal in the case. 

    Besides Gupta, Kropha and Samria, the court also convicted the firm KSSPL and its managing director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia. 

    The court had in October last year framed charges against the accused observing that former prime minister Manmohan Singh was kept in the dark by Gupta, who had prima facie violated the law and the trust reposed in him on the issue of coal block allocation. 

    Around eight different charge sheets have been filed against Gupta and proceedings are going on individually. The Supreme Court had recently dismissed his plea seeking joint trial in all these cases. 

  • Karnataka declare Southern Bird Wing butterfly as the state butterfly
    Karnataka State Wildlife Board approved the proposal to declare Southern Bird Wing butterfly as the state butterfly. Maharashtra is the first state, where Blue Mormon has been declared as the State butterfly of Maharashtra. The state chose this butterfly as its red and yellow colour also represent the Karnataka flag. 

  • UN identifies 1888 hailstorm in India as all time deadly weather events
    A 1888 hailstorm in India has been identified by the UN weather agency among the all-time deadly weather events. The severe hailstorm near Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh killed 246 people. 

    This is the first time that the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has broadened its scope from temperature and weather records to address impacts of specific events. 

    WMO experts found that the highest mortality rate associated with extreme weather was during a 1970 tropical cyclone through what was at the time East Pakistan, which killed an estimated 300,000 people. WMO has been recorded several other record-breaking weather events. 

    The findings were announced ahead of two major conferences on improving multi-hazard early warning systems and strengthening disaster risk reduction, taking place in Cancun, Mexico this month and organised by WMO and the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction. 

  • Cultural troupe from Haryana to perform on Telangana State Formation Day Fete
    Telangana State Formation Day celebrations on June 2 will follow the concept of Ek Bharat Shresht Bharat and it will include a cultural programme from Haryana. A special troupe would be arriving to perform at Parade Grounds. Different cultural programmes are being organised at Parade Grounds, People’s Plaza and Ravindra Bharathi on the Formation Day. 

    In accordance with the memorandum of understanding (MoU) entered with Haryana government, a contingent cultural troupe to perform on the State Formation Day celebrations at Parade Grounds has been deputed. Apart from cultural programmes, Telangana food festival would also be organised in different parts of city. 

  • India needs to triple investment in agricultural research: IFPRI
    India needs to double or triple its investment in agricultural research if it has to reach to anywhere close to what China has achieved on the farm front, the head of an international food policy institute said . 

    India’s investment in agricultural research is still very low. China spends three to four times more than India. India has to invest more on research if it wants to catch up

    It is seen that for every dollar we spend in agricultural research, there is a return of 10 dollars, Fan said on the sidelines of a two-day conference on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through agriculture in India. 

    Commenting on India’s efforts to double farmers’ income by 2022, the IFPRI chief said agriculture is key to meeting half of the 17 SDG targets set for 2030, which includes eliminating poverty and hunger and reducing inequalities. 

    While India met several of the Millennium Development Goals – the precursor to the SDGs – much of the country continues to suffer from poverty and food insecurity. More than 300 million people in South Asia live in poverty, with up to 71 per cent of them living in India. Improving the country’s agricultural sector presents an opportunity to address both urban and rural development needs, he argued. 

    The IFPRI also released its 2017 Global Food Policy Research Report, which focussed on food security and nutrition in an urbanising world. It highlights how cities are reshaping food systems across the world and new challenges are emerging from such a rapid urbanisation. 

    Rapid urbanisation is posing major challenges to food and nutritional security in India. “The rate of malnutrition in Indian cities is outpacing urbanisation itself,” he said. 

    Besides, India is among those countries where both malnutrition and overnutrition co-exist equally. Studies have shown that between 2008 and 2014, the number of obese and overweight people in India doubled to 22 per cent of the population. Ironically, the number of people living below the poverty line is also close to 20 per cent. 

    To accomplish the SDGs, it is imperative that policymakers support transformations in the food system, and some of the gratest changes to India’s food system are coming from rapid urbanisation, Fan observed. 

  • Sudarsan Pattnaik creates world's longest sand Buddha in Sri Lanka
    Internationally acclaimed Indian artist, Sudarsan Pattnaik has created world's longest sand sculpture of reclining Buddha in Sri Lanka. 

    The sand sculptor created a 40-foot long statue of Lord Buddha in Diyawanna Vesak Zone near the Parliament complex. Pattnaik was invited by the High Commission of India to participate in the 14th International Vesak Day Celebrations organised by the Sri Lankan government. 

    The 40-year-old artist had recently won the jury prize gold medal at the 10th Moscow Sand Art Championship 2017. 

  • Brazil declares end to national Zika emergency
    Brazil has declared an end to a national emergency over the Zika virus. It was detected in the Latin American country in 2015 before becoming a global concern. The Health Ministry said there was decrease in cases of Zika throughout the country. 

    The World Health Organization lifted its own international emergency in November, even while saying the virus remained a threat. 

    The Zika scare was at its peak before Rio de Janeiro held the 2016 Olympics, with countries around the world reporting an increase in infections. 

  • UN seeks $900 million for Somalia crisis response
    The UN has sought further 900 million dollars this year to meet humanitarian crisis in Somalia. Addressing an international conference on Somalia in London, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for more support for drought-stricken Somalia. 

    He said growing food insecurity is affecting millions of Somalis. He said some 439,000 people are at risk of famine and more than 6 million are severely food insecure. 

  • Massive cyber attack targeting 99 countries causes sweeping havoc
    Hospitals, major companies and government offices have been hit by a massive wave of cyberattacks across the globe that seize control of computers until the victims pay a ransom. 

    Cybersecurity firm Avast said it had identified more than 75,000 ransomware attacks in 99 countries, making it one of the broadest and most damaging cyberattacks in history. 

    Avast said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. But U.K. hospitals, Chinese universities and global firms like Fedex also reported they had come under assault. Europol said that the attack was of an “unprecedented level and requires international investigation.” 

    The ransomware, called “WannaCry,” locks down all the files on an infected computer and asks the computer’s administrator to pay in order to regain control of them. The exploit was leaked last month as part of a trove of NSA spy tools. 

    The ransomware is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March. But computers and networks that hadn’t updated their systems were still at risk. In the wake of the attack, Microsoft said it had taken the “highly unusual step” of releasing a patch for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003. 

    Sixteen National Health Service (NHS) organizations in the UK have been hit, and some of those hospitals have canceled outpatient appointments and told people to avoid emergency departments if possible. The NHS said in a statement on 13th May that there was no evidence that patient information had been compromised. 

    In China, the internet security company Qihoo360 issued a “red alert” saying that a large number of colleges and students in the country had been affected by the ransomware, which is also referred to as “WannaCrypt.” 

    Russia’s Interior Ministry released a statement acknowledging a ransomware attack on its computers, adding that less than 1% of computers were affected, and that the virus is now “localized.” The statement said antivirus systems are working to destroy it. 

    Some reports say Russia has seen more infections than any other country. Banks, the state-owned railways and a mobile phone network were hit. 

    Russia's interior ministry said 1,000 of its computers had been infected but the virus was swiftly dealt with and no sensitive data was compromised. 

    In Germany, the federal railway operator said electronic boards had been disrupted

    France's carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at a number of sites. 

    Other targets have included: 
    Large Spanish firms - such as telecoms giant Telefonica, and utilities Iberdrola and Gas Natural Portugal Telecom, a university computer lab in Italy, a local authority in Sweden

    The US delivery company FedEx
    Schools in China, and hospitals in Indonesia and South Korea
    Coincidentally, finance ministers from the G7 group of leading industrial countries had been meeting on 12th May to discuss the threat of cyber-attacks. They pledged to work more closely on spotting vulnerabilities and assessing security measures. 

  • China, Pakistan sign 6 pacts to boost cooperation
    China and Pakistan have signed six pacts on 13th May to boost cooperation on the 50 billion US Dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The pacts were signed in the presence of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ahead of the much-publicised Belt and Road Forum beginning 

    The agreements included cooperation in framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative, Economic and Technical Cooperation for Gwadar Airport and for East bay Expressway. 

  • Nepal signs MoU with China on Cooperation under OBOR initiative
    Nepal has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China on Cooperation under One Belt and One Road, OBOR initiative. 

    The MoU seeks to strengthen cooperation in connectivity sectors including transit transport, logistic systems, transport network and related infrastructures development such as railway, road, civil aviation, power grid, information and communication. 

    The major thrust of the MoU is to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between Nepal and China in various fields including economy, environment, technology and culture. Similarly, the MoU also aims to promote people-to-people exchanges of different levels between the two countries. 

  • Country's 1st bio refinery plant inaugurated in Pune
    Union Minister for Road Transport and Highway Nitin Gadkari on 7th May inaugurated the country's first bio refinery plant which produces ethanol from variety of biomass. The project is situated at Rahu in Pune district. The plant can produce one million litre of ethanol per annum by processing a variety of agro-residue like rice and wheat straw, cotton stalk, cane trash, corn cobs with superior product yields. 

  • Rajnath Singh pitches for aggressive strategy to quell Maoist
    Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 8th May pitched for an aggressive strategy to quell Maoist rebels which should instill fear in them. He said, strategic unified command is also required at operational and tactical level besides intelligence sharing. 

    Highlighting the need for motivation and training for the security personnel, Mr Singh said, improvement in the training facilities and other facilities at the camps are required. He said, LWE cadres are constantly trying to inflict losses on security forces to boost the morale of their cadres and in this situation, there is a need to be more proactive rather than reacting after the occurrence of the incident. 

    He also called for choking the financial resources of the LWE cadres. Mr Singh said the states should take the ownership of LWE operations and CAPFs actively cooperate with them. 

    He said, the forces on the ground level should not lack leadership and unity of purpose and unity of action are essential for the success of operations. 

    Mr Singh said, smart Leadership full of self confidence should have a solid vision. He stressed on the use of UAVs, PTZ cameras, GPS tracking, Thermal imaging, Radar and satellite images and other tools of information technology during operations. The Home Minister also offered the idea of SAMADHAN to counter the naxal problem. 

    In SAMADHAN, S stands for Smart Leadership, A- Aggressive Strategy, M-Motivation and Training, A- Actionable Intelligence, D-Dashboard Based Key Performance Indicators and Key Result Areas, H- Harnessing Technology, A- Action plan for each Theatre and N for No access to Financing. 

    The Chief Ministers of Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand attended the meeting, while West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh's N Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana's K Chandrasekhar Rao and Madhya Pradesh's Shivraj Singh Chouhan were either represented by their home ministers or senior officials. 

  • Lalu Prasad to be tried in all cases separately in scam
    The Supreme Court on 8th May ordered initiation of criminal conspiracy charges against Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam case. The court also directed to complete the trial within nine months. Allowing the appeal filed by CBI opposing the dropping of criminal conspiracy charges by the Jharkhand High Court against the former Bihar Chief Minister, the apex court bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, passed this order. 

    The CBI had registered a number of cases against Mr Lalu Prasad and others for embezzlement of funds on the pretext of buying fodder for the cattle. 

    In 2014, the Jharkhand High Court had given relief to the convicts by dropping the charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and prevention of corruption. The High Court had quashed the cases on the grounds that a person convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases based on same witnesses and evidence. 

    However, the CBI had gone on appeal in the Supreme Court and contended before it that though the cases have arisen from the fodder scam, they are different in nature as different amounts were involved from different treasuries. 

    The Supreme court, while announcing the verdict also said Jharkhand High Court should have been consistent in its findings and should not have given different views for different sets of accused in a case. 

    The Supreme Court also pulled up CBI for delay in filing appeal against the high court order in the case. The court said CBI director should have looked into this important matter and deputed an officer to pursue the case. 

  • Justice C S Karnan 'sentences' CJI, other Supreme Court judges imprisonment
    Calcutta High Court judge Justice C S Karnan, who is facing contempt charges, on 8th May "sentenced" Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and seven other judges of the Supreme Court to five years rigorous imprisonment. 

    In an escalation of his confrontation with the Supreme Court, Justice Karnan said the eight judges have "jointly committed the offences punishable under the SC/ST Atrocities Act of 1989 and amended Act of 2015." 

    Karnan named members of the apex court's seven-judge bench, comprising the Chief Justice of India, Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Kurian Joseph. 

    The bench had initiated suo motu (on its own) contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan and had restrained him from performing judicial and administrative work. 

    Justice Karnan also added another Supreme Court judge Justice R Banumathi in the list for having restrained his judicial and administrative work along with CJI Khehar. 

    Justice Karnan had on May 4 declined to undergo a mental health checkup as ordered by the Supreme Court, telling a team of doctors he is "absolutely normal" and has a "stable mind".

    Stating that the eight judges of the apex court have committed caste discrimination, Justice Karnan said they "shall be punished under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Atrocities Act, 1989." 

    Justice Karnan directed that all the three sentences would run concurrently and said that if the fines were not paid, they would "undergo further six months of imprisonment." 

  • Muslim marriages are contracts, can't be ended by husband alone: Allahabad High Court
    The Allahabad High Court has said, the Islamic practice of triple talaq is unsustainable because Muslim marriages are contracts that cannot be unilaterally cancelled by the husband alone without the consent of the partner. The court said, any personal law may be implemented under the purview of constitution only. 

    The comments were pronounced by single judge bench headed by justice SP Kesarwani while hearing a case. The court said it is unconstitutional and violates the basic human rights of Muslim women. The high court also said the rights of any person including Muslim women cannot be violated in the name of personal laws. 

    The court’s observation came while hearing a petition filed by a man whose wife is pursuing criminal charges against him for allegedly torturing her for dowry and then divorcing her when she refused to pay. 

  • India to replace Maitri station in Antarctica, expand research
    India has decided to replace the Maitri research station in Antarctica with a new one in the next three to four years. The country is also drafting laws to safeguard its interest in Antarctica and is poised to expand its research activity in the coldest continent. India does not have laws for Antarctica and is currently governed by international laws. 

  • Supreme Court sentences Justice Karnan to six months in jail 
    The Supreme Court on 9th May sentenced Calcutta High Court judge Justice CS Karnan to six months in jail for contempt of court. A seven-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, said its order needs to be executed forthwith. 

    The bench also banned media from publishing content of orders passed by Justice Karnan by which he sentenced the Chief Justice and seven other judges of the apex court to five years rigorous imprisonment. Last week, Justice Karnan had declined to undergo a medical examination by a team of doctors set up on the orders of the Supreme Court. This is the first time a high court judge is being sent to jail by the Supreme Court on charges of contempt. 

  • Supreme Court holds Vijay Mallya guilty of contempt of court
    The Supreme Court has held businessman Vijay Mallya guilty of contempt of court for transferring 40 million dollars to his children in violation of the court's order. The court on 9th May directed Mallya, who is presently in the United Kingdom, to appear before it on the 10th of July to argue on the quantum of punishment. 

    The apex court passed the orders after a consortium of banks moved the contempt petition against Mallya. It said, Mallya had allegedly transferred 40 million dollars which he had received from British firm Diageo, to his children in flagrant violation of various judicial orders. 

  • Assam govt decides to set up Act East Policy Affairs department in state
    The Assam government has decided to set up Act East Policy Affairs department in the state. The decision was taken at a State Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. It was decided that the new department will be set up in a bid to give boost to the Act East policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

    The State Cabinet also decided to create a Rhino Protection Force to curb poaching. It also decided to rename the existing Border Areas Department as Border Areas Protection and Development Department. 

  • Ahmedabad to host biggest ever International Yoga Day event on June 21
    Ahmedabad will host biggest ever International Yoga Day event on the 21st of June, this was announced by Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev in Ahmedabad. 

    He said about 5 lakh people will be participating in the event. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches integrated case management system of Supreme Court
    After government departments and ministries, the country's highest court is now adopting the e-governance model Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the integrated case management information system which is considered to be the first step towards a paperless court system. 

    The Prime Minister said that technology had often been equated to hardware in the past, but it is equally important to bring about a change in mindset. 

    He said technology can only be embraced collectively within an institution. 

    Prime Minister said that technology has made e-governance easy, effective and low cost and has brought about a sea change in the judicial system. 

    The Prime Minister expressed confidence that the combination of "Information Technology" and "Indian Talent" would create "India Tomorrow." 

    Under the new system, anyone appealing before the Supreme Court will not have to present records of the case. 

    The appellant will just have to tell the apex court the grounds on which the High court decision is being challenged. 

    Supreme Court judges will have direct access to the High Court judgement in question. 

    According to Court records on an average, over 70,000 cases reach the Supreme Court annually. 

    Not only will digitisation reduce the burden of paper-work but will also bring about greater transparency. 

    Alongside speeding up the judicial system this move will also help Courts go green by saving tonnes of paper. 

  • Triple talaq is worst and undesirable form of marriage dissolution among Muslims: Supreme Court
    The Supreme Court on 12th May said the practice of triple talaq was the worst and undesirable form of dissolution of marriages among Muslims, even though there were schools of thought which termed it as legal. 

    This observation came on the second day of continued hearing on the matter, when former Union Minister and senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who is assisting the court in his personal capacity, told the bench that it is not an issue where judicial scrutiny is required and moreover women have the right to say no to triple talaq by stipulating a condition to this effect in 'nikahnama'. 

    The court asked Mr Khurshid to prepare a list of Islamic and non-Islamic countries where triple talaq has been banned. 

    The bench was then informed that countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia do not allow triple talaq as a form to dissolve marriages. 

  • Govt enhances subsidy to set up community radio stations
    Centre has enhanced the subsidy amount to set-up Community Radio stations across the country from the existing 50 per cent to 75 per cent. 

    Universities and NGOs will be encouraged to set up community radios and States in the north eastern region will be given subsidy upto 90 per cent. Community radio is an empowering and very useful tool to cater to the people in local dialect which are of immediate relevance to the community. 

  • 6 Indian climbers reaches top of Mt Everest
    Six Indian climbers on 13th May reached the top of Mt Everest, the world's highest mountain, becoming the first group to successfully summit the peak this season. 

    The six Indian climbers and 10 Nepali Sherpas stood atop the 8,850-metre peak. Suresh Babu, Durga Rao Kunja, Bharat Thammineni, Krishna Rao Vooyaka, Satya Rao Kare and Nagaraju Sundarana reached the peak from the northern Tibetan side. 

  • Kochi Metro to employ 23 transgenders
    For the first time, a government-owned company "Kochi Metro" will employ 23 transgenders to push for the welfare of the marginalised and neglected community. They will be posted at 11 stations in Kochi metro's Aluva-Palarivattom corridor. Kerala became the first state to formulate a transgender policy in 2015. 

  • Made-in-India ‘invisible’ laser walls to bolster security along border with Pakistan in J-K
    The Border Security Force (BSF) is all set to get use of 198 km India-Pakistan international border a newly developed invisible technology that can detect intrusions and relay information immediately to the nearest post for action. 

    Developed by Delhi-based defence IoT firm, CRON Systems, the made-in-India technology is called Kavach (KVx) series laser walls and is a notch higher than the existing laser walls. 

    CRON Systems have come up with this intrusion detection system based on infrared array, which is invisible. It is more advanced than laser walls. It can be used along the Jammu border with Pakistan which has 13 rivers and rivulets, besides unfenced marshy lands. Kavach walls can also work in transparent water and glass

    India shares nearly 3,000 km border with Pakistan, of which 198 km international border and 740 km Line of Control (LoC) falls in Jammu and Kashmir. Infiltration of Pakistani militants through this part has been a major issue for the BSF which guards the border. 

  • e-Krishi Samvad launched
    Union Agricultural Minister Radha Mohan Singh launched e-Krishi Samvad. e-Krishi Samvad is internet-based interface and is a unique platform that will provide direct and effective solutions to the problems faced by farmers and stakeholders in the agriculture sector. 

    Union Agriculture Minister said that people can directly connect to the ICAR website and get the appropriate solutions from the subject matter specialists and institutes through web or SMS. 

    Stakeholders can upload photographs related to diseases of the crops, animals or fishes for diagnostics and remedial measures instantly from the specialists. 

    Those who have internet facility on the mobile phone can also avail this facility. e-Krishi Samvad is useful to get information pertaining to welfare and development of agricultural stakeholders

  • Lanes in Jharkhand village named after educated girls
    A village in Jharkhand near the industrial town of Jamshedpur is inspiring girls and their parents to pursue their studies in a unique way and although its new, the campaign is already yielding rich dividends. Sushmita Bhattacharya, Vaishakhigo, these are not just names of young girls here but lanes and gullies. 

    In a village that is proud of its achievers, streets here have been named not after sons and illustrious fathers but after the daughters. This innovative campaign has been initiated by the inhabitants of Kotka village a short distance away from the industrial town of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand. 

  • Telangana passes land acquisition act in special sitting
    Both Telangana Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council on 30th April passed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act amidst uproar during a short special sitting. 

    Deputy Chief Minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali, also the Revenue Minister, proposed the amendments as the Central Government suggested. The amendments were approved by voice vote. 

    The State Assembly had passed the Bill in December 2016 and sent it to the Centre for review. The Department of Legal Affairs of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice suggested a few procedural and terminology-related amendments to make the Bill immune to litigation and eligible for presidential assent. 

    The amendments included the date of effect of the Act from January 1, 2014, provision to not affect any vested rights, ensuring adequate compensation to the land owners in the event of acquisition, and replacement of certain terms used in the Bill. 

  • Ban on Red Beacons aimed at ending VIP culture mindset comes into force
    Ban on red beacons aimed at ending VIP Culture Mindset has come into force and Ministers and officials in the Central government will not be able to use red beacons on their official vehicles from 1st May. However Red beacons will be allowed on vehicles dealing with emergency in relief services, ambulance and fire services. 

  • First-ever Induction Training Programme for Medical Officers launched
    Health Minister J P Nadda on 1st May inaugurated the first-ever induction training programme for the newly appointed General Duty Medical Officers of the Central Health Service Cadre in New Delhi. National Institute of Health and Family Welfare designed this nine week training module for the new recruits. 

  • Centre sets up committee on Muslim status in Jammu and Kashmir
    The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it has set up a joint committee with the Jammu and Kashmir government on the status of Muslims in the state. The committee, comprising State Chief Secretary and Secretary of Minority Affairs Ministry, will submit its report by 31 July this year. 

    A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court saying that the Muslims are majority in Jammu and Kashmir but the government is giving them benefits meant for minorities. 

  • Human Resource Development Minister launches Vidya-Veerta Abhiyan
    Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar on 2nd May launched a nationwide Vidya-Veerta Abhiyan to encourage Universities to display portraits of Param Veer Chakra decorated soldiers. The idea of this Abhiyan is to instill sense of patriotism and nationalism among students. 

    The Minister unveiled the portraits of Param Veer Chakra decorated soldiers at a function in New Delhi. Mr Javadekar said, the universities and colleges across the country will build Wall of Heroes. 

    He said, the wall will have portraits of 21 Param Veer Chakra recipients that will inspire students and encourage patriotism. Mr Javadekar said, the wall will be built on contributory funding by students and teachers. 

  • Odisha's Sualgiri, Swalgiri communities notified as Scheduled Castes
    Odisha's Sualgiri and Swalgiri communities have been notified as Scheduled Castes following President Pranab Mukherjee's assent to a new law. The Rajya Sabha had last month passed the bill on it after it was cleared by the Lok Sabha in March. 

  • Narendra Modi releases stamp on Ramanujacharya's 1,000th birth anniversary
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a commemorative stamp on the 1,000th birth anniversary of Saint Ramanujacharya. The central message of Saint Ramanujacharya's life was inclusive of society, religion and philosophy. 

  • Chenab to get tallest rail bridge
    Around two years from now, the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir will be spanned by the world’s highest railway bridge that is expected to be 35 metres taller than Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The massive arch-shaped structure, being constructed at a cost of around Rs. 1,100 crore, will use over 24,000 tonnes of steel and will rise 359 m above the river bed. 

    Designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 260 km per hour, the 1.315-km- long “engineering marvel” will connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar). The bridge forms a crucial link in the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal, which is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project. 

    The bridge will be made of 63-mm thick special blast-proof steel as the region is prone to frequent terror attacks. Its concrete pillars will be designed to withstand explosions. Slated to be completed by 2019, it is expected to become a tourist attraction. 

  • Indore bags 1st position, Bhopal on 2nd in top 10 clean cities of India
    Indore city of Madhya Pradesh has bagged the first position in the top ten clean cities of the country. Bhopal is ranked second and Vishakhapatnam is in the third position. 

    Releasing the Swachh Survekshan 2017 Report in New Delhi, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said travel and tourism competitiveness index for India has increased by 12 places due to improvement in cleanliness. 

    He said making India clean by 2019 is a serious mission. Naidu said it part of the mission of Making of a Developed India. He said the whole purpose of the sanitation survey is to make cities know where they stand in cleanliness. 

    The Swachh Survekshan was commissioned in 434 cities which saw the participation of 37 lakh citizens. Gujarat has a maximum of 12 cities among the top 50. Of the 62 surveyed in Uttar Pradesh, 41 cities figure in the bottom 100 which is is matter of concern. 

  • India’s first “Village of Books” inaugurated in Maharashtra
    India’s first “Village of Books” was inaugurated and opened for public reading at Maharashtra’s Bhilar village on 4th May. A total of 25 premises, including residences, hostels, temples and schools will have about fifteen thousand books belonging to different genres. Walls of each of these 25 premises, measuring a total of 11,000 square feet have been adorned with different painting signifying the theme of books available there. 

    An initiative of the Rajya Marathi Parishad and residents of Bhilar, this concept is modelled on Hay-on-Wye, the world famous ‘town of books’ in Wales. Bhilar is located in Satara district, about 250 kilometres from Mumbai. 

  • Drinking water standards have improved in India: WWC
    The standard of drinking water in India has improved in the last five years but a lot of work still remains to be done, the head of the World Water Council, WWC has said. WWC recently carried out a major survey on water awareness in major parts of the world, including India. 

    As per the survey, more than one-third of Indians think that not enough is being done to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals to make water and sanitation for all a reality by 2030. 

    WWC president Benedito Braga said, according to the survey, 31 per cent of Indians said they had been in a situation where it was unsafe to drink water but they had no other choice and suffered from diseases like diarrhoea and gastroenteritis. However, a majority i.e. 71 per cent of Indians said that safe drinking water had improved over the last five years. 

    The survey stated that 62 per cent of the Indians said they believed that the government was doing enough to support access to safe drinking water. The survey was done ahead of the 8th World Water Forum that is scheduled to take place in the Brazilian capital Brasilia in March 2018. 

  • MoU signed between Indian Army's 1EME Centre & TASK
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Indian Army’s 1 EME Centre and Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge (TASK) in Secunderabad Cantonment. 

    The MoU was signed by Colonel Gyan Singh Tomar, Deputy Commandant & Chief Instructor of 1 EME Centre and Mr Sujiv Nair, CEO, TASK. In tune with PM’s initiative Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, 1 EME Centre and TASK have signed the MoU with the aim of equipping the serving soldiers, recruits, retirees/ ex-servicemen and the dependents of EME personnel with technical skills to make them industry ready and to give them an opportunity for entrepreneurial skills and financial empowerment. In the first phase, 1 EME Centre and TASK have shortlisted training on making application software. 

  • Nirbhaya case: SC upholds death penalty by HC to four convicts
    The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death penalty to four convicts' -- Mukesh, Akshay, Pawan and Vinay awarded to them by the High Court in the 16th December, 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case. 

    A 3-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra wrote two separate but concurring judgements in the case. It noted that Victim's dying declaration is consistent as it has been proved beyond doubt and corroborated. 

    The Police had sought death penalty for them. The apex court on March 27, reserved its verdict against the conviction and death penalty awarded to them by the High Court on March 13, 2014. 

    The 23-year-old paramedic was brutally assaulted and raped by six persons on a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. She died in a Singapore hospital on December 29 the same year. Delhi Police had sought capital punishment for the convicts as the test of being a 'rarest of rare' case was satisfied. 

    During the trial, one accused, Ram Singh had allegedly committed suicide and one juvenile was sentenced by a remand home. 

  • Centre declares entire Assam as 'disturbed' area under AFSPA
    The Centre has declared entire Assam, besides bordering areas of Meghalaya, as a disturbed area, under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), for three more months. In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry cited violence perpetrated by insurgent groups like ULFA, NDFB and others as the reason for enforcing AFSPA for three more months, with effect from the 3rd of this month. 

    It said, there were 75 incidents of violence in Assam last year in which 33 people, including four security personnel, were killed and 14 were abducted. It said, this year, there were nine violent incidents in which four people, including two security personnel, were killed. AFSPA has been continuing in Assam since November 1990. 

    In another gazette notification, the Ministry declared three districts of Arunachal Pradesh - Tirap, Changlang and Longding - besides areas falling under 16 police stations bordering Assam as disturbed area under AFSPA for three more months. The notification said, violence by NSCN(IM), NSCN(K), ULFA, NDFB and others was the reason. AFSPA has been under force in the three Arunachal Pradesh districts since January last year. 

  • Andhra Pradesh’s Banganapalle mango gets GI tag
    Banganapalle Mango received a Geographical Indication(GI) tag, indicates the product comes from a specific region. Its is known for its sweetness and is called as the King of fruits. Banganapalle mangoes can retain their quality under cold storage even up to three months and have been growing in Andhra Pradesh for over 100 years. Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh is the origin region of this variety.


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