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May 2018 National Affairs

  • PM Narendra Modi inaugurates India’s first smart and green highway, 11,000 crore rupees Eastern Peripheral Expressway
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27th May dedicated to the nation its first smart and green highway, the Eastern Peripheral Expressway at Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh. 

    The 135-kilometre six-lane access-controlled expressway is eco-friendly and has world-class safety features. It envisages signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar and Palwal. The foundation stone of the project was laid by Mr Modi in November, 2015. The expressway has been completed in a record time of about 500 days against the scheduled target of 910 days. 

    The expressway, built at a cost of 11,000 crore rupees, is India's first highway to be lit by solar power besides provisions of rain water harvesting. 

    The alignment of the expressway starts near Kundli and passes through Sonepat, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Palwal. 

    It will reduce traffic time between Kundli and Palwal in Haryana from over four hours to just 72 minutes. Toll plazas are equipped with electronic toll collection system for faster processing and uninterrupted travel experience. 

    The toll will be collected only for the distance travelled and not for the entire length. The expressway will de-congest the national capital and also help in bringing down pollution level. 

    At least 50 thousand vehicles will be diverted per day going to Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Replicas of 36 monuments have been erected along the highway depicting Indian culture and heritage. 

  • Film actor Akshay kumar launches twin pit toilet technology campaign in New Delhi
    Film actor Akshay kumar launched the twin pit toilet technology campaign in New Delhi On 27th May. The is an Indian invention that collects defecation for a period of five years and then twin pit toilet technology it turns into a valuable organic compost. 

  • National parties under RTI Act: Election Commission clarifies
    The Election Commission on 28th May said national parties are public authorities under the RTI Act as declared by the Central Information Commission, a day after the poll panel’s appeal order on an RTI application saying political parties are out of the purview of RTI Act was reported. 

    In a statement issued on 28h May, the Election Commission of India clarified that it goes by the CIC order of June 3, 2013 that declared national parties as public authorities for the purposes of RTI Act. 

    In pursuance of this, the CIC order had said, all the information about the contributions received by these parties as well as their annual audited accounts, as and when submitted to the Commission, are put in public domain. 

    The appeal order had come on an RTI applicant Vihar Dhurve who had sought details of donations, through electoral bonds, collected by the six national parties declared as public authorities under the RTI Act by the CIC — Congress, BJP, NCP, BSP, CPM and CPI. 

    In its order deciding his first appeal, a senior official of the Election Commission had said, “Requisite information is not available in the Commission. This is related to political parties and they are out of purview of the RTI.” The political parties were brought within the ambit of the RTI Act by the commission on June 3, 2013. 

  • Tamil Nadu government orders permanent closure of Sterlite copper plant in Thuthukkudi
    Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy has ordered the permanent closure of the Thuthukkudi Copper Smelter plant. 

    A state government order issued has clarified that the decision has been taken considering the feelings and aspirations of the public in this matter. 

    In the order, it is recollected, that the National Green Tribunal as well as the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had called for a permanent closure of the plant, citing environmental and health reasons. 

    The order also recalls that power and water connections of the plant was suspended following orders of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. 

    The anti Sterlite protests, demanding the closure of the plant last week had left 13 people dead and more than one hundred injured. Protestors said the plant was causing serious environmental hazards. 

  • Union Minister of State for Power R K Singh launches web portal and App called PRAAPTI
    Power Minister R K Singh on 29th May launched web portal and App called PRAAPTI to bring transparency in power payments to generators at a function in New Delhi. 

    The Payment Ratification and Analysis in Power procurement for bringing Transparency in Invoicing of generators- PRAAPTI App and Portal has been developed to bring transparency in power purchase transactions between Generators and power distribution company- Discoms. 

  • 4th International Yoga Day celebrations to be held at Dehradun, Uttrakhand on 21st of June
    The 4th International Yoga Day celebrations will be held at Dehradun in Uttrakhand on 21st of June. According to the Secretary, AYUSH Ministry, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, it is going to be a Mass Yoga Demonstration as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the event. Three places Forest Research Institute, Gorkha Training Centre and Maharana Pratap Stadium have been identified for the event. 

    The ministry is also planning to give two Yoga Awards known as PM Yoga Award to national and international participants. 

    Yoga Day celebrations will be also held in Indian embassies and 50 representatives will be sent to 50 countries on the occasion. 

    The Secretary said, 22 yoga representatives will be going to China because of high curiosity in Yoga among the people. Grand celebration has been planned throughout the country including Delhi, Kota and Bhopal. 

    Mr Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha said, the government has a positive agenda and plans to sensitize people for other gains such as to promote good health and fight curable disease like diabetes. 

    A research has been conducted in this regard to study the positive effects of Yoga and report will be published shortly. People can register for these events through Yoga portal created on Ministry of Ayush website. 

  • Neem and black buck declared state tree and animal of Andhra Pradesh
    Neem and black buck have been declared as the state tree and animal respectively of Andhra Pradesh. Rose-ringed parakeet will be the state bird while jasmine the flower, Principal Secretary of Environment and Forests G Anantha Ramu said in an order on 30th May. 

  • By-Election results declared; BJP loses Kairana, Noorpur seats, wins Palghar
    In Maharashtra, BJP has retained Palghar Lok Sabha seat. Party candidate Rajendra Gavit defeated nearest rival and Shiv Sena nominee Shrinivas Wanaga by a margin of over 29 thousand votes. 

    However, BJP's Hemant Patle lost to Madhukar Kukade of Nationalist Congress Party in the Bhandara Gondia Parliamentary constituency. The NCP candidate won by a margin of over forty eight thousand votes. 

    In Uttar Pradesh, ruling BJP has lost both Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur Assembly seats by elections. Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate Tabassum Hasan won the Kairana Lok Sabha seat. She defeated her BJP rival Mriganka Singh by margin of over 44,000 votes. 

    Samajwadi Party candidate Naeem-ul-Hasan won Noorpur Assembly seat. He defeated his nearest rival and BJP candidate Avani Singh by a margin of over 5,000 votes. 

    In Nagaland, Tokheho Yepthomi of People's Democratic Alliance, (PDA) has won the lone Lok Sabha seat. He defeated his only rival Apok Jamir of the Naga People’s Front by a margin of over one lakh and seventy-three thousand votes. 

    In Uttarakhand, ruling BJP candidate Munni Devi Shah has won Tharali assembly seat of Uttarakhand. She defeated her nearest rival and Congress nominee Jit Ram. 

    In Maharashtra, Vishwajeet Kadam of Congress has been declared elected unopposed from Palus Kadegaon Assembly constituency. Mr Kadam was the lone candidate for the bypoll, as BJP had withdrawn their candidate Sangramsinh Deshmukh. 

    In Bihar, RJD candidate Shahnawaz Alam has won Jokihat assembly seat. He defeated his nearest rival Murshid Alam of JD (U) by a margin of over 41 thousand votes. 

    In Kerala, LDF candidate Saji Cheriyan has won Chengannur assembly seat. He defeated UDF candidate D Vijayakumar by margin of over 20 thousand votes. 

    In Meghalaya, Congress candidate Miani D Shira has won Ampati Assembly seat, vacated by her father Mukul Sangma early this year. 

    In Punjab, Congress candidate Hardev Singh Laadi Sherowalia has won Shahkot Assembly seat. He defeated his SAD rival Nayab Singh Kohar by over 38,000 votes. 

    In West Bengal, ruling Trinamool Congress candidate Dulal Das has won Maheshtala assembly seat. He defeated his nearest rival and BJP candidate Sujit Ghosh by a margin of over 62,000 votes. 

    In Jharkhand, the main opposition Jharkhand Mukti Morcha has retained both Gomia and Silli assembly constituencies. 

    In Silli, JMM's Seema Mahto defeated All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) chief and former state Deputy Chief Minister Sudesh Mahto by 13,000 votes. 

    In Gomia, JMM's candidate Babita Devi defeated AJSU nominee Lambodar Mahto by 1300 votes while BJP's nominee Madhavlal Singh stood third on the seat. 

    Bypolls for 4 Lok Sabha and 10 assembly constituencies were held on 28th May. In Karnataka, Congress retained the Rajarajeshwari Nagar Assembly seat with its candidate Muniratna defeating his nearest BJP rival Thulasi Muniraju Gowda by a margin of 25,492 votes. Assembly elections across the state were held on May 12. However, polling in Rajarajeshwari Nagar was deferred to May 28 following a voter ID controversy and other irregularities. 

  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurates First biannual Indian Air Force Commanders Conference
    The First biannual Indian Air Force Commanders' Conference was inaugurated on 31st May by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at Air Headquarters in New Delhi. Minister of State for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamre, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa were among those who were present at the conference. 

    The Defence Minister complimented all personnel for sustaining round the clock operations in the most professional manner. She mentioned that Exercise ‘Gagan Shakti' was a landmark exercise for IAF. 

    The Defence Minister also commended the IAF for its key role in nation building by way of promoting regional connectivity to support UDAN scheme. The IAF has opened up several of its airfields for civil aircraft operations for the scheme. The two day conference will discuss operational, maintenance and administrative takeaways identified during the Exercise and the way ahead. 

  • Union Minister Maneka Gandhi lays the foundation of India's first Advanced DNA Forensic Lab in Chandigarh
    Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on 1st June laid the foundation stone of an advanced DNA forensic laboratory here as part efforts to reduce the backlog of cases needing advanced forensic analysis. 

    Built at a cost of Rs 99.76 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund, the state-of-the-art 'Sakhi Suraksha' lab, will come up at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory campus to assist in investigation and prosecution of crimes including those committed against women and children. 

    On the completion of the project by the end of this year, the new laboratory will help to meet the demand for more admissible, accurate and powerful forensic proof in the cases of crime against women and children. 

    The Minister mentioned that the current capacity of CFSL, Chandigarh is less than 160 cases per year and the Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory is estimated to increase the capacity to 2,000 cases per year. 

    The Minister further said that 5 more advanced forensic labs would come up in Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Pune and Bhopal in the next 3 months bringing the total minimum annual capacity of the labs to 50,000 cases. 

    The Labs in Chennai and Mumbai would be set up with WCD funds while remaining 3 labs would be set up with funds by Home Ministry. To meet international standards and deliver timely justice to women, advanced forensic DNA laboratories with latest high throughput DNA technology, are required, she added. 

    According to the plan, the lab will have four units-- sexual assault and homicide, paternity, human identification, and mitochondrial. Apart from the sexual assault and homicide units, the other three are interlinked and will work to examine cases related to crime against women and children. 

    The paternity unit is essential to solve cases related to criminal paternity, gender selection and child swapping in hospitals. Human identification unit is important in cases of missing persons or children. The mitochondrial unit will conduct mitochondrial DNA analysis in cases where regular nuclear DNA analysis is not possible such as in case of highly degraded samples. It can also be used to better explore family relationships. 

    At present there are 6 Central Forensic Science Labs (CFSLs) in Chandigarh, Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bhopal and one State Forensic Science Lab in each State/UT. These labs are responsible for conducting forensic analysis of all cases in the country including sexual assault, criminal paternity and homicide. 

  • Centre approves construction of 1.5 lakh houses for urban poor under PMAY
    Centre has approved construction of one lakh fifty thousand houses for urban poor under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, in a press release said that latest approval entails an investment of 7,227 crore rupees with central assistance of 2,209 crore rupees. 

    The approval was given in the 34th meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee at its meeting held at New Delhi. 

    Andhra Pradesh was sanctioned more than 56,000 houses, while Uttar Pradesh got nearly 23,000, Madhya Pradesh around 18,000, Jharkhand got more than 14,000 and Maharashtra around 13,500 houses. Other states for which houses were approved included Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Punjab and Assam. 

  • Government sets up Executive Committee to spread Mahatma Gandhi's legacy
    The government has set up an executive committee, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spread Mahatma Gandhi's legacy among the people at the national and international level. 

    An official statement said, the committee comprises, senior cabinet ministers, the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, renowned Gandhians, social activists and noted public figures. 

    The panel was formed after the first meeting of the National Committee (NC) under the chairmanship of President Ram Nath Kovind to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. 

    During the meeting, it was decided to form a sub-committee to consider policies and lay down guidelines for the celebrations. 

  • Centre sets up Cauvery Water Management Authority to address water sharing dispute
    The Centre has constituted the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA) in compliance with a Supreme Court order to address the dispute over sharing of river water among the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry. 

    On 16th of February, the Supreme Court had directed the government to form the CMA within six weeks. 

    A notification by the Ministry of Water Resources said, it has framed a scheme, constituting the CMA and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee to give effect to the decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal as modified by Apex Court order. 

    The authority would comprise a chairman, eight members besides a secretary. The chairman will be appointed by the Central government for a tenure of five years. 

    Out of eight members, two each will be full-time and part-time members, while the rest four will be part-time members from states. 

    The Centre will initially contribute a sum of two crore rupees for the functioning of the authority. 

    A scheme has been framed by the Centre, constituting the CMA and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, to give effect to the decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal as modified by apex court order. The scheme would deal with the issue of water share of the four states in different circumstances like normal and deficient water years in the Cauvery river basin. 

    A notification by the Ministry of Water Resources said, the authority would comprise a Chairman and eight members besides a Secretary. The Centre will initially contribute a sum of two crore rupees for the functioning of the authority. 

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) launches new Ensemble Prediction Systems (EPS) to improve weather forecasts
    The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has launched a new Ensemble Prediction Systems (EPS) to provide probabilistic weather forecasts up to the next 10 days. 

    According to IMD, these new systems shall improve upon deterministic forecasts that are prone to high margins of error. The EPS involves generation of multiple forecasts using slightly varying initial conditions. 

    The 450-crore acquisition of eight petaflops high-power computing systems will help in generating newer forecasts which have a higher resolution of 12km instead of the 23km resolution that has been in use till now. The forecast related to the intensity of the weather will also be more accurate and colour coded. 

    The new model has been developed jointly by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting. 

  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flagged-in Indian naval sailing vessel Tarini (INSV Tarini) 
    Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman flagged-in, Indian naval sailing vessel Tarini (INSV Tarini) after it reached home with an all women crew, successfully completing the circumnavigation of the globe. 

    The landmark expedition, which was flagged off on 10th September 2017, under the Navika Sagar Parikrama project, has been completed by a six-member crew led by lieutenant commander Vartika Joshi. 

    Other members of the crew are lieutenant commanders Pratibha Jamwal and P. Swathi and lieutenants S. Vijaya Devi, B. Aishwarya and Payal Gupta. Over the last eight months, INSV Tarini sailed over 21,000 nautical miles across four continents and three oceans and crossed the equator twice. 

    With the first successful circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew of Indian Navy, Navika Sagar Parikrama is expected to achieve its targeted policy objectives. By involving the participation of women in a challenging mission, the project promotes women empowerment in India, besides marking a milestone in ocean sailing by the Indian Navy. 

    Moreover, the indigenously built sailing vessel INSV Tarini showcased the ‘Make in India’ initiative on a global platform. The project aimed at harnessing energy as sailing encourages the use of renewable energy resources. In addition, it involved monitoring and reporting on marine pollution; and collection of important environmental, meteorological and marine data for research. 

  • Samajwadi Party is richest regional party with over Rs 82 crore declared income: Report by Association for Democratic Reforms
    With a declared income of Rs 82.76 crore, the Samajwadi Party is the richest of the 32 regional parties in India, a report by Association for Democratic Reforms said on 22nd May. The SP was closely followed by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) with an income of Rs 72.92 crore and AIADMK with Rs 48.88 crore. 

    The total income of the 32 regional parties for 2016-17 fiscal was Rs 321.03 crore. 

    Out of these, 14 parties claimed decline in income and 13 others an increase in income. 

    Five regional parties did not submit their income tax return to the Election Commission. These are Indian National Lok Dal, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, All India United Democratic Front, and Kerala Congress-Mani. 

    The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Janata Dal-Secular declared that more than 87 per cent of their total respective incomes remaining unspent, while the TDP said 67 per cent of its income remaining unspent. 

    The DMK declared spending Rs 81.88 crore more than its income while the Samajwadi Party and AIADMK declared spending Rs 64.34 crore and Rs 37.89 crore more than their total incomes respectively. 

    Apart from these 32, audit reports of 16 regional parties were unavailable. These include Aam Aadmi Party, National Conference, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal. 

  • Union Cabinet approves scheme to set up over 4,000 mobile towers in Naxal-hit areas
    Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved Universal Service Obligation Fund supported scheme to provide mobile services at 4,072 tower locations in Left Wing Extremism affected areas. The Home Ministry has identified locations in inhabited uncovered areas of 96 districts in ten states. Under the project, mobile services will also be provided to residents in unconnected inhabited villages which would improve the economic activities in the region. He said, the cost of the total project will be 7,330 crore rupees. 

  • India ranked 145th in healthcare access: Lancet
    India ranks 145th among 195 countries in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare standing behind its neighbours like China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, according to a Lancet study. The Global Burden of Disease study, however, mentioned that India has seen improvements in healthcare access and quality since 1990. 

    In 2016, India's healthcare access and quality scored at 41.2 (up from 24.7 in 1990). It said that Goa and Kerala had the highest scores in 2016, each exceeding 60 points, whereas Assam and Uttar Pradesh had the lowest, each below 40. 

    India lags behind China (48), Sri Lanka (71), Bangladesh ( 133) and Bhutan (134) while its health index was better than those of Nepal (149), Pakistan (154) and Afghanistan (191). 

    The five countries with the highest levels of healthcare access and quality in 2016 were Iceland (97.1 points), Norway (96.6), the Netherlands (96.1), Luxembourg (96.0), and Finland and Australia (each with 95.9). 

    The countries with the lowest scores were the Central African Republic (18.6), Somalia (19.0), Guinea-Bissau (23.4), Chad (25.4), and Afghanistan (25.9). 

    According to the study, India performed poorly in tackling cases of tuberculosis, rheumatic heart diseases, Ischemic heart diseases, stroke, testicular cancer, colon cancer and chronic kidney disease among others. 

    Sub national inequalities were particularly pronounced in China and India, although high-income countries, including England and the US, also saw considerable local gaps in performance, it said. 

    The study used an index to measure the quality and accessibility of healthcare, based on 32 causes of death which should be preventable with effective medical care. Each of the 195 countries and territories assessed were given a score between 0-100. 

    For the first time, the study also analyzed healthcare access and quality between regions within seven countries: Brazil, China, England, India, Japan, Mexico, and the US. 

    The study found that China and India had the widest disparities in healthcare access and quality with 43.5 and 30.8 point differences, respectively. In 2016, the global average healthcare access and quality score was 54.4, increasing from 42.4 points in 2000. 

    Disparities between countries remained similar in 2016 and 2000, with a 78.5 point gap between the best and worst performing countries in 2016 (18.6 in the Central African Republic and 97.1 in Iceland), compared with 79.3 points in 2000 (13.5 in Somalia and 92.8 in Iceland). 

  • Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar launches Samagra Shiksha scheme for school education
    Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar on 24h May launched Samagra Shiksha scheme for school education from pre-school to senior secondary levels. 

    The scheme focuses on improving quality of education, enhancing the Learning outcomes and using technology to empower children and teachers. 

    The scheme will provide holistic education for holistic development. The quality of education will be improved by focusing on teachers and technology. 

    Annual grant of five thousand to 20 thousand rupees will be provided for strengthening of libraries in the schools. The scheme will be focused on digital education and it will enhance use of digital technology in education through smart classroom and digital boards. 

  • UGC approves regulations for online courses by universities
    University Grants Commission, UGC, on 24th May approved regulations for online courses by universities. The higher educational institutions and universities will be able to offer graduate, postgraduate and diploma programmes online from this academic session. 

    The decision will help top rated institutions to offer certificate, diploma and degree programmes in full-fledged online mode in only those disciplines in which it has already been offering the same or similar programmes or courses at graduation level in regular mode. 

  • India to host 2018 celebrations of World Environment Day
    India will be the host country for this year's celebrations of World Environment Day. According to the Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, it is the collective responsibility of everyone to conserve and protect the environment. He said the government has launched green deeds campaign to raise awareness about protection of the environment. 

    The World Environment Day will be celebrated on 5th of the next month. The theme for this year is Beat Plastic Pollution. 

  • ASEAN- India Film Festival in New Delhi
    Information and Broadcasting Minister Col Rajyavardhan Rathore on 25th May inaugurated the ASEAN India Film Festival at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi. Around 32 films from 11 countries will be screened during the six-day film festival. The ASEAN film festival is a platform for people of the film industry of member countries to explore areas of cooperation in the domain of cinema and cultural cooperation. 

  • Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy wins vote of confidence
    In Karnataka, Kumaraswamy wins vote of confidence. He won this without a contest, with the BJP MLAs walking out of the Assembly before the floor test, bringing an end to the 10-day high-voltage political drama. 

    Earlier BJP decided to honour the parliamentary tradition that the presiding officer should be chosen unanimously and pulled out its candidate Suresh Kumar from the race. 

    Congress' Ramesh Kumar was elected the Speaker unopposed. While Chief Minister HD kumaraswamy said the government was committed to waiving farm loans, as promised during the elections, BJP threatened to launch a statewide agitation if it was not done as promised by the parties. 

  • Home Ministry sets up Women Safety Division to address offences in time bound manner
    The Home Ministry has created a Women Safety Division. The division has been set up to address offences against women, particularly rape, in a time bound manner. 

  • Rs 150-billion mega deal inked to enable Indian Army to fight a 30-day war
    After years of deliberations, the Army has finalised a mega Rs 150-billion project under which a range of ammunition for its critical weapons and tanks will be produced indigenously to overcome long delays in imports and address the problem of a dwindling stockpile. 

    11 private firms would be involved in the ambitious project, the implementation of which is being monitored by the top brass of the Army and the Defence Ministry. 

    The immediate aim of the closely guarded project -- said to be the biggest ever initiative for the indigenisation of ammunition -- is to create an inventory for all major weapons to enable the forces to fight a 30-day war while the long-term objective is to cut dependence on imports. 

    The overall cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 150 billion and we have set a specific target for the next 10 years in terms of the volume of ammunition to be produced

    Initially, ammunition for a range of rockets, air defence system, artillery guns, infantry combat vehicles, grenade launchers and various other field weapons would be produced under "strict timelines"

    The production targets would be revised based on the result of the first phase of the implementation of the programme. 

    The initiative is seen as the first serious attempt by the government to address growing concerns voiced over the last many years by defence forces over the fast dwindling stockpile of key ammunition when China has been significantly ramping up its military capability, an issue that has been discussed by successive governments. 

    In July last year (2017), the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in a report tabled in Parliament, said a stock of only 61 types of ammunition out of 152 varieties was available, and these would only last for 10 days in the event of a war. According to laid down security protocol, the stockpile should be adequate for a month-long war. 

  • Cabinet rejig: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to run finance till Arun Jaitley’s back; Smriti Irani removed from I&B ministry
    Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has emerged the chief troubleshooter for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the past couple of years. On 14th May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned to Piyush Goyal to take over the reins of the finance ministry while Arun Jaitley recovers from an operation. 

    The communique from the President’s House said Piyush Goyal had been “temporarily assigned” the portfolios of finance and corporate affairs during “the period of indisposition” of Arun Jaitley. He would continue to hold the railways and coal ministry portfolios. 

    The PM took the opportunity to effect a minor reshuffle of his council of ministers, including ending Smriti Irani’s nearly nine-month controversy-ridden stint as information and broadcasting (I&B) minister. Smriti Irani will continue to be textiles minister. Smriti Irani was given the additional I&B portfolio after M Venkaiah Naidu was elected vice-president in August. 

    In the past couple of months, Smriti Irani had run-ins with Indian Information Service officers, with Prasar Bharati chief A Surya Prakash and also with the media, with a circular issued by the I&B ministry interpreted as an effort to stifle press freedom. Earlier this month, many of the national film awardees boycotted the ceremony after they came to know they would not be receiving their awards from the President, and the ministry was blamed for not conveying the news and bringing disrespect to the President’s office. She was divested from human resource development portfolio in July 2016 amid controversy

    Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was promoted as Minister of State (independent charge) for the I&B ministry. He was junior to Smriti Irani at the I&B ministry. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore will continue to be the MoS (independent charge) of the youth affairs and sports ministry. 

    In other changes, Alphons Kannanthanam, known as K J Alphons, has been relieved of his charge as the MoS in the electronics and information technology ministry. The ministry is headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad. Alphons will continue to be MoS (independent charge) of tourism ministry. 

    S S Ahluwalia has been relieved of his charge as MoS in the drinking water and sanitation ministry, and will now replace Alphons as the junior minister in the electronics and IT ministry. 

  • Centre submits draft Cauvery management scheme in Supreme Court
    The Centre on 14th May submitted before the Supreme Court the draft Cauvery management scheme, to ensure smooth distribution of water between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. 

    A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, took on record the draft scheme submitted by the Union Water Resource secretary and said it would peruse it. The bench said they need to examine whether the said scheme is in consonance with the apex court's judgment. The bench informed that they would consider and approve the scheme on 16th of May. 

    The Supreme Court had on 16th of February had asked the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute

  • BJP emerges as single largest party in Karnataka
    As Karnataka appeared headed for a hung Assembly with the BJP emerged as the single largest party but falling short of a majority, the Congress sprang a surprise, declaring it will back the JD(S) in forming the government. BJP has got 104 seats. However It is short of 8 seats to Majority. Congress won 78, while JD (S), got 37. 

  • President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurates fourth edition of Global Exhibition on Services-2018 in Mumbai
    President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the 4th edition of Global Exhibition on services in Mumbai. He has also released the logo for Services and launched the portal. 25 Indian states and around 100 countries are expected to participate in Global Exhibition on Services, this year, with 625 exhibitors and 500 overseas delegates. 

    The event will also feature roundtables and seminars, state investment summits, B2B meetings, exhibition of key services sectors, cultural activities, country and international pavilions, among others. 

    President will also visit the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, where he will be attending an exhibition on Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) technologies and inaugurate DAE facilities in Trombay, Mumbai. 

  • Four states ink MoUs with Centre on health protection mission
    The states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Uttarakhand agreed on 14th May to implement the ambitious national health protection mission, which aims to provide an annual coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family. 

    The four states and the Union Territory of Chandigarh inked MoUs with the Union Health Ministry for the implementation of Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission. 

    The centrally-sponsored scheme, which will provide a coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually and benefit more than 10 crore families belonging to the poor and vulnerable sections of the society, is likely to be launched in August. 

    The scheme will target poor, deprived rural families and identified occupational categories of urban workers' families 8.03 crore in rural and 2.33 crore in urban areas, as per the latest Socio-Economic and Caste Census data, and will cover around 50 crore people. 

    It will be cashless and paperless access to services up to Rs 5 lakh per year will be available for the beneficiary families at the point of service in both public and private empanelled hospitals across India. 

    The beneficiaries under the scheme can avail of services anywhere in India and it is expected to bring a visible relief to the target families by mitigating the financial risk arising out of catastrophic health episodes. 

    Through these MoUs, the states formally committed to implement the programm. The MoU clearly outlines roles of central and state governments/UT administrations for the implementation of the scheme. Similar regional workshops are also planned in due course of time across India to sign MoU with other states. 

  • Cabinet approves setting up of new AIIMS at Deoghar, Jharkhand
    Cabinet on 16th May approved setting up of a new AIIMS at Deoghar in Jharkhand. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi that a provision of funds worth 1103 crore rupees has been approved for the project. He said, AIIMS will be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, PMSSY. 

    The AIIMS at Deoghar will consist of a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds, trauma centre facilities and a medical college with an-in take of 100 MBBS students per year. It will also have an Ayush department with 30 beds for providing treatment facilities in the traditional system of medicine. 

  • Indore is India’s cleanest city, followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh in the government's cleanliness survey, Swachh Survekshan 2018
    Indore has emerged as the cleanest city, followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh in the government's cleanliness survey, Swachh Survekshan 2018. The survey, organised by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), under the aegis of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), aims to estimate levels of cleanliness across cities in the country. 

    Indore was the cleanest city in 2017 as well, but that survey was conducted only for around 430 cities. This time it was conducted for around 4,200 cities. 

    Jharkhand has been adjudged the best-performing state in the survey followed by Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. Compared to the previous surveys, this year's exercise allocated substantial weight to the feedback from citizens based on their daily experience. 

    Other cities on the list are - Vijayawada is India's cleanest city (population 10 lakh), Ghaziabad is 'fastest mover' city (population 10 lakh), Nagpur is the best city in 'innovation and best practices' (population 10 lakh), Navi Mumbai is the best city in 'solid waste management', Mysuru is the cleanest city (population 3-10 lakh), Bhiwandi is 'fastest mover' city (population 3-10 lakh), Aligarh is the best city in 'innovation and best practices' (population 3-10 lakh), Mangalore is the best city in 'solid waste management' (population 3-10), New Delhi Municipal Council is the cleanest city (population 1-3 lakh), Greater Mumbai is cleanest state capital/UT, Bhusawal is 'fastest mover' city (population 1-3 lakh) and Kota is the best city in 'citizens feedback' (population 10 lakh). In 'Citizens Feedback' category, Narharpur was declared the best city. 

  • Government’s major initiative for peace in Jammu & Kashmir during Ramzan
    Home Ministry says No anti terror operations in J&K to ensure peaceful Ramzan; Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti welcomes decision. Centre has taken a huge initiative to make the month of Ramadaan peaceful in the state of Jammu and kashmir. 

    In a major decision, the Centre has directed the security forces not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan. According to home ministry, the decision has been taken to help the peace loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment. 

    Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has informed Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the central government's decision. 

    The centre has underlined the importance to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror. 

    The centre however has made it clear that the security forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people. 

    Earlier this month, after an all-party meeting, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had appealed the central government to consider a unilateral ceasefire in the state starting from Ramzan in mid-May till the completion of the Amarnath yatra in August. 

    The government expects everyone to cooperate in this initiative and help the Muslim brothers and sisters to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties. 

  • India’s capital Delhi to become world's most populous city in the world by 2028 surpassing Tokyo: UN Report
    India's capital Delhi will become the most populous city in the world, surpassing Tokyo, around 2028, according to the 2018 Revision of World Urbanisation Prospects produced by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), released on May 16. 

    According to the report, by 2050 two-thirds of people in the world will be living in cities and will be mainly concentrated in three countries - India, China, and Nigeria. These three countries will account for 35 percent of the projected growth of the world's urban population between the time span. 

    Delhi is likely to become the world's most populous city: Not only the most populous city, India is expected to make new records as the most populous country by surpassing China. 

    In recent years, some cities in the low-fertility countries of Asia and Europe have experienced population decline. Also, two other factors - Economic contraction and natural disasters -have triggered population losses in some cities. 

    The world is expected to have 43 megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants, mostly in developing regions by 2030. Also, urbanisation will play a huge role as there will be a gradual shift in the residence of the human population from rural to urban areas in Asia and Africa. 

    Currently, Asia is home to 54 percent of the world's urban population, though levels of urbanization are considered to be low in the region. Moreover, India reportedly has the largest rural population with 893 million, followed by China with 578 million. 

  • Supreme Court approves Centre's draft Cauvery Management Scheme
    The Supreme Court on 18th May approved the Centre's draft Cauvery Management Scheme for smooth distribution of water among four southern riparian states. 

    A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal's award, which was modified by the apex court, has to be taken to the logical conclusion by the Cauvery Management Scheme. 

    The court rejected the suggestions of Karnataka and Kerala governments over the scheme. It also dismissed Tamil Nadu's plea seeking initiation of contempt against the Centre for non-finalisation of Cauvery scheme. 

    The court, in its verdict delivered on 16th of February, had asked the Centre to frame the Cauvery management scheme, including the creation of the Cauvery Management Board, for the release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. 

  • Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the assembly at 4 pm on 19th May
    The Supreme Court on 18th May overruled Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala and asked Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the assembly at 4 pm on 19th May. The Governor had given 15 days to Yeddyurappa to prove his majority. 

    The court said the Yeddyurappa government should not take any major decision till its majority is proven. After being sworn in as CM, Yeddyurappa had announced waiver of all farm loans of up to Rs 100,000. 

  • Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa resigns ahead of trust vote
    Senior BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa has resigned as Chief Minister of Karnataka ahead of the trust vote in the state assembly. Governor Vajubhai Vala had given him 15 days to prove the majority of his government but Supreme Court ordered a floor test in the assembly at 4 PM on 19th May. 

    His resignation is likely to pave the way for the formation of a new government in the state. Congress has already extended its support to HD Kumaraswamy of JD(S) to form a new government. 

    The JD(S)-Congress alliance has claimed the support of 117 MLAs in the 224 member House with an effective strength of 221. Polling for two seats was not held due to various reasons, while JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has won two seats. 

    JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy said that Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala has invited him to form a new government in the state. 

  • Government spending on court cases goes up
    The expenditure incurred by the government in contesting cases in the Supreme Court has gone up from nearly Rs.11 crore in 2011-12 to Rs.42.40 crore in 2017-18, Law Ministry data shows. 

    According to the data, submitted to a Parliamentary committee, in the financial year 2011-12, the ministry had paid RS.10.99 crore as ‘professional fee’ to law officers and lawyers which are on its panel to represent the government in the Supreme Court. 

    In 2012-13, the ‘expended budget’ on professional fee went up to RS.11.73 crore and Rs.14.47 crore in 2013-14. In 2016-17, the figure stood at 32.06 crore, much higher than previous fiscals. In 2017-18 (upto February 22), the government had spent Rs.42.40 crore as professional fee. 

    Officials pointed out that since there are not many law officers, sensitive cases are also being handled by senior advocates who are on the law ministry panel. These lawyers are paid fees per appearance. 

    Another reason attributed to higher exenditure is that the ministry is clearing dues of lawyers within 60 days. Earlier, dues used to take months to get cleared. 

    The number of cases in the Supreme Court where the government is a party has also seen a spike in the last one year, with law ministry officials attributing the spurt to note ban, implementation of the GST and taxation issues. According to latest law ministry data, between January 1 and December 31 last year (2017), 4,229 cases were filed in the top court in which the Centre was a party. 

    In 2016, the number of such cases was 3,497, while between January 1 and December 31 of 2015, 3,909 such cases were filed. This year (2018), between January 1 and February 22, 859 cases have been filed in the apex court where the Union of India is a party. 

    The data states that in 2012, there were 4,149 cases involving the government in the top court and the figure went up to 4,772 in 2013. In 2014, when the NDA government came to power, the number of cases was 4,748 but went down to 3,909 in 2015. 

    While the number of cases in the Supreme Court have increased, the number of law officers representing the Union of India has dwindled. So far there is no word on who would become the next solicitor general. 

    After Ranjit Kumar resigned as the solicitor general in October last year (2017), the key post has been lying vacant and so far there is no word from the Law Ministry on who would be appointed to that post. PS Patwali and NK Kaul had decided against a second term as additional solicitors general when their terms had ended in July last. 

  • 100 additional One Stop Centres for distressed women approved in 9 states
    The Centre has approved setting up of one hundred additional One Stop Centres in nine states to help violence affected women. 

    These States are Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. 

    The purpose of these centres is to facilitate integrated services for violence affected women such as police assistance, medical aid, psycho-social counselling and legal aid. 

    The Ministry of Women and Child Development has so far set up 182 Centres under the scheme since April, 2015. Over one lakh 30 thousand women affected by violence have been assisted at these centres in 33 States/union territories. 

  • Tribal Affairs Ministry will expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts across the country
    Tribal Affairs Ministry will expand Van Dhan Vikas Kendras in Tribal Districts across the country. The aim of the establishment of these Kendras is to provide skill upgradation and capacity building training to increase the incomes of tribal. Tribal Affairs Secretary Leena Nair has recently chaired a meeting in this regard to formulate the arrangements to decide the modalities. 

    The Ministry said, the Van Dhan Vikas Kendras will be an important milestone in economic development of tribals involved in collection of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) by helping them in optimum utilization of natural resources. TRIFED will provide the training and technical support. 

    This first model Van Dhan Vikas Kendra is being implemented in Bijapur District of Chhatisgarh for training of 300 beneficiaries with an outlay of over 43 lakh rupees for training, providing equipments and tools for primary level processing. 

    This initiative is aimed at mainstreaming the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level. 

    Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from the present 20 per cent to around 60 per cent. 

  • Congress withdraws Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra impeachment plea from Supreme Court
    Two Congress MPs, who had challenged the rejection of the removal notice against the Chief Justice of India by Rajya Sabha Chairman, on 8th May withdrew their petition from the Supreme Court after it showed reluctance to part with the administrative order on constitution of a larger bench to hear the matter. 

    The bench, also including Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel, told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the two law-makers that giving a copy of the administrative order "will not lead to anywhere".

    The bench, which comprised judges who are 6 to 10 position in terms of seniority, expressed reluctance to go into their contention questioning the setting up of a larger bench to hear the matter. 

    The bench declared the petitions moved by Rajya Sabha Congress MPs, Partap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik, as "dismissed as withdrawn" after Sibal decided not to press the pleas realising that the judges were not inclined to accept his arguments. 

    However, Attorney General K K Venugopal sought dismissal of the petitions filed by Bajwa and Yajnik, pointing out that only two of the 64 members, who had moved the impeachment notice in the Upper House of Parliament, have approached the apex court. 

    Venugopal, appearing for Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, said only two MPs from one party, the Congress, have moved the court whereas there were MPs from six other opposition parties who had moved the impeachment notice in the Rajya Sabha. 

  • Rajya Sabha Committee to revise guidelines for conduct in Upper House of Parliament
    Rajya Sabha chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu appointed a committee to revise the rules and procedure of conduct of business in the upper House of Parliament. 

    The two-member committee will be headed by former Rajya Sabha Secretary General V.K. Agnihotri, while S.R. Dhaleta, a former Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, would serve as a member. 

    Although the committee would have a holistic relook at the rules, the provisions dealing with the disruptions in the House and the provisions, which seem "inadequate" as compared to the rules in Lok Sabha, would get special attention. 

    The committee has been mandated to submit its report in three months, and the panel may give some of the recommendations before the monsoon session of Parliament. 

  • Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launches website of Digital India Internship Scheme
    Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on 9th May launched the website of Digital India Internship Scheme in New Delhi. Under this scheme, 25 interns will be inducted for a period of three months. These interns will be paid a stipend of 10 thousand rupees per month. Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad complimented NIC who will take 10 interns separately. 

    The internship is an opportunity for a student to secure first hand and practical work experience under the guidance of qualified and experienced Supervisor and Mentor. It also aims at active participation in the learning process through experimentation and putting into practice the knowledge acquired in the classrooms. 

  • India sends 2nd relief consignment for Rohingyas in Bangladesh
    India has sent to Bangladesh its second relief consignment to help tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar following a military crackdown, triggering one of the world's worst refugee crises. 

    Indian Navy Ship INS Airavat reached Chattogram port with 373-tonne consignment containing milk powder, baby food, raincoats, gumboots and dried fish. The relief materials were handed over by the Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla to the relief consignment to Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzel Hussain Chowdhury Maya. 

    Indian High Commissioner said another tranche containing 1 million litres of kerosene oil and 20,000 cooking stoves is expected to arrive soon. He said India sent the relief in view of the specific needs of a large number of women and children living in the camps and the onset of monsoon. Earlier, India sent relief materials in September last year (2017) under 'Operation Insaniyat' to support Bangladesh in its humanitarian efforts. 

    Over 600,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar's violence-hit Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August when the military intensified the crackdown against alleged militant outfits of Rohingyas

  • World’s second oldest rock discovered from Odisha
    A rock sample recovered nearly eight years ago from Champua in Odisha’s Kendujhar district has put India at the forefront of geological research in the world. 

    Scientists have found in the rock a grain of magmatic zircon (a mineral that contains traces of radioactive isotopes) that is an estimated 4,240 million years old — a discovery of great promise to study the earth’s early years. 

    Geologists from the University of Calcutta and Curtin University, Malaysia, along with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing, made the discovery, which was published last week in the journal Scientific Reports. 

    Rajat Mazumder, geologist and one of the authors of the paper, said that the only instance of zircon older than this discovery was the one found in Jack Hill, Western Australia, which was 4,400 million years old and is the oldest known rock sample. But the zircon in this case was from metamorphosed sedimentary rock, unlike the Singhbhum one, which was formed from magma. 

    “Thus, the Singhbhum rock from where the zircon was recovered is the second oldest and its zircon, the oldest magmatic zircon on earth,” Dr. Mazumder said. 

    Dr. Mazumder and Ms. Chaudhuri studied the samples at the Geological Studies Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. The isotopic analysis was a big challenge. They approached many laboratories in Australia, Canada, Germany and the US, in vain. They finally turned to China. 

    The analyses confirmed the presence of two zircon grains that were 4,240 million and 4,030 million years old. 

  • Only 20% of Clean Ganga Mission funds spent till March 2018
    Of Rs. 20,601 crore sanctioned for 193 projects, only Rs. 4,254 crore has actually been utilised; 24 of 64 entry-level schemes implemented Only about a fifth of the Rs. 20,000 crore allotted for the National Clean Ganga Mission (NCGM) has been utilised till March 2018. That is roughly the same proportion of the sanctioned money utilised the same time last year (2017). Amid complaints that the government’s marquee Ganga-cleaning exercise was dawdling, Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari had promised, in October 2017, a “visible change” in the Ganga water quality by 2019. At that time, only Rs. 2,901 crore — or 17% of the sanctioned Rs. 16,000 crore — had been spent. 

    A financial account from the NCGM says that as of March 2018, Rs. 20,601 crore had been sanctioned for 193 projects. So far, only Rs. 4,254 crore had actually been spent on their implementation. Figures for April are not immediately available. 

    About half the money, or Rs. 2,814 crore, had been spent on establishing sewage infrastructure. Only 24 of the 65 ‘entry-level’ projects — meant for cleaning the ghats and establishing new ones and cleaning the river front and the river surface — had been completed. They had been allotted Rs. 492 crore. 

    Ministry officials said that while delays characterised several major projects, there had been an uptick in the tenders being awarded in the last few months. Because of this, several of these projects would be rapidly completed in the year ahead. 

    About 12,000 MLD of sewage is emptied into the Ganga across 11 States, from Uttarakhand to West Bengal. At present, the capacity for sewage treatment is just 4,000 MLD; of this, 1,000 MLD is functional. 

    Coursing 2,500 km, the Ganga is the longest river within India’s borders. Its basin constitutes 26% of the country’s land mass (8,61,404 sq. km.) and supports 43% of its population. Even as the basin spreads across 11 States, five are located along the river’s main stem: Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. Much of its pollution load — chemical effluents, sewage, dead bodies, and excreta — comes from these States. 

    Though the industrial pollution, volume-wise, accounts for about 20%, its toxic and non-biodegradable nature has a disproportionate impact. The industrial pollutants largely emanate from tanneries in Kanpur and distilleries, paper mills and sugar mills in the Kosi, Ramganga and Kali river catchments. The municipal sewage, at a billion litres a day, accounts for 80% of the pollution load. 

  • Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2018
    Indian universities improved their positions in the latest Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2018. 

    While four Indian institutions have been ranked among the top 50 in the rankings, top 100 list has eight from India. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore is ranked on 13th position while Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay is ranked on 26th position and IIT Kharagpur is ranked at 45th position. 

    The Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2018 includes only institutions in countries classified by the FTSE as "advanced emerging" (countries including Brazil, Greece, South Africa, Turkey), "secondary emerging" (countries including Chile, India, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation) or "frontier" (countries including Argentina, Bangladesh, Croatia, Cyprus, Morocco, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Vietnam). 

    According to Human Resource Development minister Prakash Javadekar, as against only 27 in 2017, 42 Indian Institutions figure in this year's ranking and which reflects growing competitive zeal and the cultural change infused by the Government among Indian higher education institutions. 

    IISc ranked 13th
    The Indian Institute of Science topped the list of Indian Universities on the Times list ranking 13th and with an overall score of 46.5. 

    The 201-250 category also featured Osmania University, Jamia Millia Islamia University and the University of Kerala. Globally, Peking University and Tsinghua University in China bagged the top two spots with hardly anything to separate with overall scores of 80.5 and 80.4 respectively in the rankings. 

  • Supreme Court nod for compensation scheme for sexual assault victims
    A victim of gangrape in any part of the country would now get a minimum compensation of Rs five lakh up to a maximum of Rs 10 lakh. 

    Supreme Court pm 11th May approved the scheme proposed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on compensating the victims of sexual assaults and acid attacks. 

    As per the 'Compensation Scheme for Women Victims, Survivors of Sexual Assault, Other Crimes-2018', in case of rape and unnatural sexual assault, the victim will get a minimum of four lakh rupees and a maximum of seven lakh rupees as compensation. Similarly, the scheme also provides for compensation amount in cases of acid attacks. 

    While approving the scheme, a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said it will be applicable across the country and the states and Union Territories will be free to give compensation over and above what is stipulated in the scheme. 

    Several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court after the December 16, 2012 incident in Delhi raising concerns over safety and security of women. All the petitions were tagged by the apex court and several directions have been issued from time to time in this regard

  • All Indian villages in the country have now access to electricity: Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    The Government says all villages in the country have now access to electricity. Leisang village in Senapati district of Manipur was the last village brought on the national power grid. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, 28th April will be remembered as a historic day in the development journey of the nation as the government fulfilled a commitment due to which the lives of several Indians will be transformed forever. 

  • AFSPA will continue in Nagaland: Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju 
    Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said AFSPA, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, will continue in Nagaland as it is a “special case” and the “peace agreement” hasn’t been finalised there yet. 

    Nagaland is the only State in the northeast, apart from eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, where ASFPA continues to be imposed by the Union Home Ministry. Nagaland, Manipur and Assam are the only three States in the northeast that continue to be under AFSPA. 

    Last year (2017), the Home Ministry gave up its power and asked the Assam government to take a decision on continuing AFSPA in the State. The Act gives powers to the Army and the Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Centre’s sanction. 

    NSCN-IM signed a framework agreement with the Government of India on August 3, 2015 to find a solution to the Naga issue. 

    The NSCN-IM has been fighting for ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim — it wants to extend Nagaland’s borders by including Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, to unite 1.2 million Nagas. 

  • Supreme Court asks High Courts to fast-track trial under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act
    The Supreme Court on 1st May issued a slew of directions to all high courts regarding trial in sexual assault cases involving children. The bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed them to ensure that such cases are fast-tracked and decided by special courts. 

    The apex court also asked the High Courts to instruct trial courts not to grant unnecessary adjournments during trial of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. 

    The bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the high courts may constitute a committee of three judges to regulate and monitor the trials of sexual assault cases of children, as it disposed of a PIL filed by an advocate. 

  • Supreme Court Collegium defers decision on Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph for elevation as an apex court jugde
    The Supreme Court Collegium on 2nd May deferred its decision on the issue of reconsidering the name of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph for elevation as an apex court judge. 

    All the five judges of the Collegium -- Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph --took part in the meeting. 

    The Collegium resolution said that it met to consider the case of Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court, pursuant to letters dated 26th & 30th April, 2018 received from Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India and also to consider the names of Judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan, and Telangana & Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as Judges of the Supreme Court, in view of the concept of fair representation. 

  • Union Cabinet approves accession to protocol under World Health Organization (WHO) framework convention on tobacco control
    The Union Cabinet on 2nd May gave its approval to accede to the Protocol under World Health Organization, WHO, Framework Convention on tobacco control to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products. 

    It will be applicable to both smoking and chewing or smokeless tobacco (SLT) forms as negotiated and adopted under Article 15 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). India is a party to WHO FCTC. 

    Elimination of illicit trade in tobacco products through strengthened regulation will help in strengthening comprehensive tobacco control, leading to a reduction in tobacco. It will result in a reduction in disease burden and mortality associated with tobacco use. 

  • Centre quotes Supreme Court order on seeding of mobile SIMs: Aadhaar
    The Centre insisted on 3rd May that its earlier move for mandatory seeding of mobile phone SIMs with Aadhaar was based on the Supreme Court’s initiative. Recently, the Aadhaar Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, had questioned the government’s line that its efforts to mandatorily link SIMs with Aadhaar was based on a February 6, 2017 order of the Supreme Court. 

    In response, Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal read out the February 6 order of a Bench of then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice N.V. Ramana. This order was based on a PIL petition filed by Lok Niti Foundation, highlighting the need for a “definite mobile phone subscriber verification scheme, to ensure 100% verification of the subscriber.” The petitioner had argued that such a scheme was necessary to prevent the use of unverified mobile phone SIMs in domestic crime and terror acts. 

  • NITI Aayog and IBM Statement of Intent to develop a crop yield prediction model using AI
    NITI Aayog and IBM have signed a Statement of Intent to develop a crop yield prediction model using Artificial Intelligence to provide real-time advisory to farmers in Aspirational Districts. 

    The Intent was signed in presence of NITI Aayog, CEO Amitabh Kant and IBM India, MD Karan Bajwa. The partnership aims to work together towards use of technology to provide insights to farmers to improve crop productivity, soil yield, control agricultural inputs with the overarching goal of improving farmers’ incomes. 

    The first phase of the project will focus on developing the model for 10 Aspirational Districts across the States of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. 

    The scope of this project is to introduce and make available climate-aware cognitive farming techniques and identifying systems of crop monitoring, early warning on pest and disease outbreak. 

    Highlighting the need of such collaborations, Mr Amitabh Kant said, bringing in future technologies like Artificial Intelligence into practical use will have tremendous benefits for the practice of agriculture in the country. 

    He said, the ten Aspirational Districts chosen will be invigorated with cutting-edge technological support to leap-frog development of agri-based economies. 

  • Online professional development of 1.5 million higher education faculty through SWAYAM
    Human Resource Development Ministry has launched a major and unique initiative of online professional development of 1.5 million higher education faculty using the MOOCs platform SWAYAM. 

    In the first phase, 75 discipline-specific National Resource Centres (NRC) have been identified. They are tasked to prepare online training material with focus on latest developments in the discipline, new and emerging trends, pedagogical improvements and methodologies for transacting revised curriculum. 

    A varied set of institutions such as , Centres under the Ministry’s Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching located in Central Universities, IITs, NITs, State Universities, UGC’s Human Resource Development Centres, National Institutes for Technical Teachers Training, IIITs, Open Universities and other institutions have been notified as NRCs. 

    These NRCs cover wide-ranging disciplines of Social Sciences, Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Design and Manufacturing, Humanities, Language Teaching, Commerce, Management, Education Planning and Administration, Public Policy and other disciplines. 

    Under the initiative, all in-service teachers, irrespective of their subject and seniority will have an enabling opportunity to keep abreast of the latest developments in their disciplines through the technology-based online refresher course. 

    Faculty can benefit from this initiative as it is highly flexible and can be done at one’s own pace and time. The NRCs will revolutionize professional development of faculty by catering to massive numbers by leveraging ICT and online technology platform of SWAYAM. 

  • Exhibition on Indian Civilization inaugurated at National Museum in New Delhi
    An extensive exhibition on Indian Civilization was inaugurated at the National Museum in New Delhi on 5th May. Over 200 objects from British Museum, London and 20 museums and private collections from India are on display at the Exhibition. ‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’ offers insights into two million years of history. 

    It was planned as part of the commemoration of 70 years of India’s independence and a year of major cultural exchange between India and the UK. 

    The exhibition is spread over nine sections, each representing a pivotal moment in history. Beginning with the Indus Valley Civilisation and coming down to the present, the artefacts range from stone sculptures, terracotta, coins, tools, inscriptions and manuscripts. 

    The exhibition, supported by Culture Ministry, will run for two months till 30th of June and is available for public viewing on all days from 10 AM to 6 PM, except on Mondays and public holidays. 

  • Dakota aircraft joins Indian Air Force (IAF) again
    A restored Dakota aircraft has joined the Indian Air Force more than four decades after the fleet was phased out following an illustrious service record. 

    The Dakota DC-3 VP 905 was formally inducted at a grand ceremony held at Hindan air force station. The aircraft was accepted by Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal B S Dhanoa from the Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar in February this year (2018). 

    The aircraft was flown back to India from UK by a joint crew of IAF and Reflight Airworks. During its journey, the aircraft flew a total of 9750 km and made en-route halts in France, Italy, Greece, Jordan, Bahrain and Oman. 

    This historic flight across seven countries, was a commemoration of the service provided by this venerable aircraft to the nation. 

    The Dakota popularly known as the Gooney Bird was the first major transport aircraft inducted in the fledgeling Indian Air Force. It was at the forefront of operations from 1947 to 1971.


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