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Current Affairs February 2014

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Contents
Chinese New Year 2014 – “Year of the Horse”............................................................................................. 5
Chinese scientists invented ‘Water-jet’ printer ............................................................................................ 6
56th Grammy Awards 2014 ........................................................................................................................... 6
National Waqf Development Corporation Limited (NAWADCO) inaugurated by Prime Minister ....... 6
India ranked lowest in US chamber’s global IP index ................................................................................. 7
Uniform tax rate for foreign portfolio investors ......................................................................................... 7
MoU signed between Union Ministry of Rural Development and Digital Green ................................... 8
TCS set to replace Genpact as top BPO ........................................................................................................ 8
India suffered worst ODI series defeat against New Zealand .................................................................. 8
Officers of IAS, IPS & IFS to spend minimum of 2 Years at each posting ................................................ 9
IAMAI: India to have 243 million internet users by June 2014 .................................................................. 9
Indian Rupee to be legal tender in Zimbabwe ......................................................................................... 10
Ms. Kiwi Kathy Cross: First woman in ICC umpire’s panel ...................................................................... 10
Hero MotoCorp unveiled diesel concept motorcycle .............................................................................. 10
Founder of Super30 bestowed with the prestigious Ramanujan Mathematics award ..................... 10
Butterfly Bacteria Study revealed certain surprises about Metamorphosis ....................................... 11
Govt. suspended LPG subsidy transfer scheme and hiked cylinder quota ......................................... 11
India became world’s No.3 crude importer .............................................................................................. 11
Agriculture Ministry Issues Detailed Guidelines for NMOOP ................................................................. 12
India and Fiji inkedd DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) .................................................. 12
India’s first monorail inaugurated in Mumbai .......................................................................................... 12
After Delhi, Rajasthan became 2nd state to withdraw approval for FDI in multi-brand retail ......... 13
US warned China against move to declare new ADIZ over South China Sea ...................................... 13
Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) .......................................................................................... 13
New Maharashtra law for recovery of bad loans..................................................................................... 14
Justice B.N.Srikrishna Committee recommendations to be reviewed by a 9-member IRDA panel . 14
Sahara group claims to create 56,000 jobs ............................................................................................... 15
FATF released report on Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing ...................................................... 15
Chinese warships hold rare exercises in Indian Ocean .......................................................................... 16
Ms. Silverine Swer: Meghalaya’s first Padma Shri awardee, passed away ........................................... 16
National Mission on Libraries(NML) – an initiative of the Ministry of Culture, launched .................. 16
Harish Rawat sworn-in as new CM of Uttrakhand ................................................................................... 17
Kashmir Solidarity Day: Pakistan invited India for dialogue on Kashmir ............................................. 17
Indian-born Mr. Satya Nadella appointed as the new Microsoft CEO .................................................. 18
Bill Gates “Founder and technology advisor”; John Thompson new Chairman of Microsoft ............ 18
101st Indian Science Congress ................................................................................................................... 19
Yahoo email account passwords stolen .................................................................................................... 19
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan voted fourth most beautiful woman of the world ....................................... 19
President Pranab Mukherjee conferred Bharat Ratna on Prof. C N R Rao and Sachin Tendulkar .. 20
Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur Committee: 7th Pay Central Commission constituted ........................ 20
Govt. launched ‘National Cloud’ Under ‘MeghRaj’.................................................................................... 21
RGGVY: Evaluation Studies Show a Positive Impact on Women and Education in Rural India ......... 21
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New Criteria for National Sports Awards .................................................................................................. 22
Muthoot Finance launched its first White-Label ATM ............................................................................. 23
Govt. allows FIIs, NRIs to invest in insurance sector................................................................................ 23
‘NACH-ready payments services’ hub for India, launched by Polaris Financial Technology ............. 24
Apple India re-launched production of iPhone 4 ..................................................................................... 25
K.V. Thomas Committee: ............................................................................................................................. 25
Bezbaruah Committee: To address concerns of Northeastern people ............................................... 25
Indian CEOs leading major companies in the world ............................................................................... 26
Delhi Nagar Swaraj Bill 2014 ....................................................................................................................... 27
India and Germany inked pacts on financial and tech co-operation .................................................... 27
World Children’s Prize (Children’s Nobel Prize) Nominees 2014: Malala, John Wood and Indira
Ranamagar..................................................................................................................................................... 28
Chip-and-PIN cards ....................................................................................................................................... 29
National Green Tribunal (NGT) bans on burning tyres in Public Places ............................................... 29
DRDO developing UAVs to track down Maoists ....................................................................................... 30
RBI released draft Report on Enabling PKI in Payment System Applications ...................................... 30
Google doodle celebrated Sarojini Naidu’s 135th birthday or National Women’s Day of India ....... 31
Production of iconic Maruti 800 stopped by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) ....................................... 31
DRDO developing UAVs to track down Maoists ....................................................................................... 31
Ms. Arunima Sinha bagged Amazing Indian Award 2014 ....................................................................... 32
Sitaram Yechury committee report: Revisit Aircraft Act 1934 and bring out comprehensive bill .... 32
CCEA approved National Programme on Prevention & Management of Burn Injuries (NPPMBI) ... 32
Dr. Marco Lambertini: New Director-General of WWF International .................................................... 33
Mr. Vishwanath Tripathi honored with the Vyas Samman 2013 ........................................................... 33
Sushil Koirala: Nepal’s new PM ................................................................................................................... 33
“SMSS J031300.36-670839.3”: Oldest known star in the Universe discovered .................................... 34
RBI allowed FIIs to purchase 30% shares in Dabur ................................................................................. 34
“Two additional attempts” for all categories of candidates in UPSC’s Civil Services Exams .............. 35
Sikkim: India’s first state to achieve 100% sanitation coverage ............................................................. 35
Central Government: All public transport vehicles must have GPS by Feb 20, 2014 ......................... 36
Mr. Jatinder Bir Singh: Appointed as a new CMD of Punjab and Sind Bank ........................................ 36
Mukul Mudgal Committee report on IPL spot fixing scandal................................................................. 36
RBI imposed restrictions on intra-group investment by banks ............................................................. 37
Solar mission: US again challenged India’s solar export restrictions in WTO ...................................... 37
“Digital Holographic Microscopy” technique: First ever 3D film of a living sperm developed .......... 38
NRIs set up first NaMo tea stall in Silicon valley, USA ............................................................................. 39
OECD issued new standard to combat black money; India to follow new standard for tracking
black money .................................................................................................................................................. 39
Union Government launched HIV Salvage Therapy ................................................................................ 40
“Pune Metro Rail Project” approved by Central Government ................................................................ 40
“The Hindus: An Alternative History”: Penguin withdraws Doniger book on Hinduism .................... 41
Assam became the First State to legally ban smokeless tobacco ......................................................... 41
“Sammakkaa Saarakka” or “Jatara”: Largest tribal religious congregation of world began ............... 41
Karnataka clinched the Irani Cup 2014 ..................................................................................................... 41
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Major General Kosnam Himalaya Singh.................................................................................................... 42
CSO: India’s Economy to grow by 4.9% in 2013-14 .................................................................................. 42
“India-China Year of Friendly Exchanges” launched by Vice President of India .................................. 42
China and Taiwan hold first high-level meeting since 1949 ................................................................... 43
Acenture study: India ranked 8th in demand for digital governance ................................................... 43
BSE launched Institutional Trading Platform (ITP) on SME..................................................................... 43
India and ADB signed loan agreement to improve rural roads in 5 States ......................................... 44
Mr. Arvind Kejriwal resigned as Delhi CM ................................................................................................. 45
Delhi: President rule imposed after AAP’s resignation ........................................................................... 45
New Zealand won 2-Cricket Test series against India 1-0 ...................................................................... 46
India’s Air Costa signed an agreement to buy 50 Embraer Jets ............................................................. 46
Chinese scientists developed flexible fire resistant paper ..................................................................... 46
Union Government okayed two plants to manufacture Semiconductor chips................................... 47
Odisha Lokayukta Bill 2014 passed by the Assembly of the state ........................................................ 47
India hosted third World Congress on Agro-forestry 2014 .................................................................... 48
“Tropex 2014”: Indian Navy started largest combat exercise with dedicated satellite G-SAT 7 ....... 48
Hillary R Clinton launched a new global review of data on women empowerment .......................... 48
‘1093’ – Delhi Police launched a Helpline number for North-Eastern People ..................................... 49
SEBI approved the new Corporate Governance norms .......................................................................... 49
Mount Kelud Volcano Erupts in Indonesia ................................................................................................ 50
Belgium became second country to allow Mercy Killing for children ................................................... 50
Study: Titled “Climbing behavior in extant crocodiles” ........................................................................... 50
WTA rankings: Li Na climbs to World No.2 spot ....................................................................................... 51
International Mother Language Day of Bangladesh 2014 ...................................................................... 51
67th BAFTA Awards 2014 ............................................................................................................................. 52
Football Legend “Sir Tom Finney”: Former Preston and England winger passed away ..................... 53
Chennai and Panaji (India) to host World Bridge Championship 2015 ................................................ 53
Interim Union Budget 2014-15 ................................................................................................................... 53
Highlights of interim Union Budget 2014-2015 Tax proposal ................................................................ 54
Dr. VV Dongre and Prof. Guocheng Zhang bagged International Gandhi Award 2013 ..................... 54
Avinash Arun’s Marathi film “Killa” won Crystal Bear award at Berlin Fest .......................................... 55
Purushottam Express will get first Braille signage coach in India ......................................................... 55
P.C. Chacko committee: To recommend punitive measures for the pepper spray incident in the
Parliament...................................................................................................................................................... 55
Vizag Zoo: Soon, India’s first breeding centre for wild dogs (Dhole) ..................................................... 56
“ModiNomics” – Sameer Kochhar’s book launched ................................................................................. 56
Dua’s layer: Dr. Harminder Singh Dua, Indian origin UK doctor discovered new layer of cornea ... 57
MSME Ministry to launch virtual network to link clusters ...................................................................... 57
Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned as AP Chief Minister ........................................................................... 57
“Asteroid 2000 Em26”: Potentially hazardous space rock safely passed by Earth .............................. 58
Parliament nod to bill to protect rights of street vendors ...................................................................... 58
Cabinet nod for Equal Opportunity Commission & Coal Regulator ...................................................... 59
Facebook announces purchase of WhatsApp for $19bn ........................................................................ 59
India’s First Minority Cyber Village inaugurated in Rajasthan ................................................................ 60
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Study: Fertilization destabilizes Global Grassland Ecosystems ............................................................. 60
“Public Issues before Parliament”- Mr. Vijay Darda’s book released by Vice President of India ...... 60
SC: People from any religious background are free to adopt child ...................................................... 61
India and Bahrain signed three pacts to boost bilateral ties ................................................................. 61
“Email Miles”- Tracks how far our email has traveled ............................................................................. 61
“Taj Mahotsav 2014” ..................................................................................................................................... 62
Goverment directs banks: ‘Don’t publish pics of education loan defaulters’ ...................................... 62
Connaught Place: World’s 8th costliest office location in 2013 ............................................................. 62
ASI & Google jointly launched the 360 Degree Online View of Indian Heritage Sites ........................ 63
“Odia”- 6th Indian classical language ......................................................................................................... 63
Quadricycles to ply from October 1, 2014 ................................................................................................ 64
Sikkim: Best State in implementation of rural tourism projects. .......................................................... 64
“Patna” – World’s Longest Free Wi-Fi Zone in India ................................................................................. 64
IMF projected India’s FY’15 growth at 5.4% .............................................................................................. 65
Online shopping portal for authentic tribal products launched............................................................ 65
Sri Lanka makes graphic warning on cigarette packs mandatory ......................................................... 65
Ashok Kumar Mathur-7th Pay Commission: Cabinet approved merger of 50% DA with Pay and 7th
Pay Commission Terms of Reference ........................................................................................................ 66
Sochi 2014: Russia topped medal table as Winter Olympics came to an end ..................................... 66
“SOMAH Solution- to preserve donated organs”; developed by Indian origin doctor Dr. Hemant
Thatte.............................................................................................................................................................. 66
M.P.Bezbaruah Committee: For protection of rights of North Eastern people .................................. 66
Mr. Rishang Keishing: India’s oldest Parliamentarian retired after serving seven decades .............. 67
Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2014: Passed by Parliament .................................................................. 67
“e-wallet Scheme” launched by IRCTC ....................................................................................................... 67
ATP Delhi open: Somdev Devvarman wins single’s title ......................................................................... 68
Ms Lakshmi Swaminathan : First Indian President of Administrative Tribunal of the Asian
Development Bank (ADB) ............................................................................................................................ 68
CCEA nod to convert 7,200 km of state roads to highways .................................................................... 68
ISRO: Experimental launch of GLSV Mark III in May/June ....................................................................... 68
Target Accelerator Programme (TAP) launched first accelerator programme for Indian start-ups 69
India and Canada inked 3 pacts to enhance business and cultural ties .............................................. 69
Cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara: Brand ambassador of Gujarat Election Commission.......................... 69
“Indira Paryavaran Bhawan” inaugurated by Dr. Manmohan Singh ..................................................... 70
What is Tizen? – “Samsung launched Tizen-powered smart watches” ................................................. 70
“1322”- security helpline number launched by Northern Railway for passengers ............................. 71
Indian- American Scientist Sangeeta Bhatia developed cheap paper diagnostic for cancer ............ 71
Euthanasia Plea issue: Apex Court refers matter to constitution bench ............................................. 72
“Water, Peace and War – Confronting the Global Water Crisis” Mr. Brahma Chellaney’s book
launched......................................................................................................................................................... 72


Chinese New Year 2014 – “Year of the Horse”
January 31, 2014
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Chinese people marked the arrival of the “New Lunar Year” generally considered an auspicious time, across China, Hong
Kong and Taiwan. This year is the Year of the Horse, which is said to bring prosperity and wealth. The horse signifies kindness, strength,
and gregariousness.
As per the Chinese tradition, the Lunar New Year is an ideal moment visit in temple to pray and put incense sticks in place. It is a long-held
traditional holiday for the Chinese people. It is commonly celebrated by Chinese people across the globe. The Chinese New Year is
celebrated on the first day of the Chinese calendar, and this year it fall on January 31.
The Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year, is the most important traditional festival in China. It begins on the first day of the
first lunar month (usually in late January or early February) and ends on the 15th day of the first lunar month (Lantern Festival).
Chinese scientists invented ‘Water-jet’ printer
February 1, 2014
Scientists of the Jilin University, China have invented a printer that uses water to print, instead of ink. After about 22 hours, the paper
fades back to a plain sheet of white paper, allowing it to be re-used.
The “water-jet” technology is capable of reprinting numerous times, spares people their money and saves trees. As per the statistics,
many papers (40% of office Prints) are throwing into the dustbin after the single reading.
What technology applies in the water-jet printer?
In the water-jet printer, the technology work is the paper, which is treated with an invisible dye that colours upon exposure to water and
later disappears. It uses a dye compound called oxazolidine that gives a clear, blue print in less than one second upon application of
water.
• Within a day, the used paper fades back to white which makes it reusable.
• At temperature lesser than 35 degree Celsius, the print would fade away in 22 hours, while at higher temperature, it would fade faster. The
technology is ideal for documents that are printed to be read once and then discarded.
• At 70 degree Celsius , the colour disappears within about 30 seconds.
• At present, there are four water-printed colours - blue, magenta, gold and purple. Though, they can only print in one hue at a time.
• The technology does not require changing a printer but only replacing the ink in the cartridge with H20, using a syringe.
• A chemistry professor, Mr. Sean Xiao-An Zhang, supervised the work.
The scientists are also working on a machine that will heat pre-printed sheets of paper as they are fed into the machine, fading the pages
instantaneously for re-printing. Their next step is to improve both the resolution and the duration of the print.
56th Grammy Awards 2014
February 1, 2014
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards were held on, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This year the Grammy Awards weren’t just about the
music and they were also about making a statement in the same-sex marriage debate.
Category Album Artist
Best album of the year Random access memories Daft Punk
Best record of the year Get Lucky Daft Punk , Pharrell Williams and Nile
Rodgers
Best song of the year Royals Lorde
Best new artist - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Children’s Album Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well Jennifer Gasoi
Best Pop solo performance Royals Lorde
Best Pop Duo/Group
Performance
Get Lucky Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
For complete list of Winners and Nominees kindly visit: http://www.grammy.com
National Waqf Development Corporation Limited (NAWADCO) inaugurated by Prime Minister
February 1, 2014
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated National Waqf Development Corporation Limited (NAWADCO), a new Central Public
Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
The NAWADCO is termed as an important institution for the development ofWaqf properties and for the community welfare, particularly
of Muslims inIndia. The establishment of NAWADCO is a follow up of ‘Sachar Committee’ recommendations.
National Waqf Development Corporation Limited (NAWADCO):
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• Established with Authorized Share Capital of Rs.500 Crore with a paid up capital of Rs.100 crore.
• National Minority Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) have 49% shares in NAWADCO.
• Objective: To facilitate and mobilize financial resources for the development of Waqf properties for community development purposes in
a joint venture with the State/ Union Territory Waqf Boards and the Mutawallis.
Till yet, the Waqf Boards and the Muthawallis were not having the financial resources to develop the properties leading to encroachments.
The Sachar Committee has estimated that such properties, if properly developed, with a minimum return of 10%, would be capable of
generating an income of Rs 12,000 crore per annum.
Recently, the Indian Government enacted the Waqf (Amendment) Act, 2013 and made administration of Waqf properties transparent. The
Act will also provide an enabling environment for development and utilization of Waqf lands for welfare of minorities.
What is “Waqf” ?
A waqf/ wakf, is basically donating (a building/ plot of land/ cash) for Muslim religious/ charitable purposes. These donated assets / grants
( known as “Mushrut-ul-Khidmat”) are held by a charitable trust. The person who makes the grant/ Mushrut-ul-Khidmat is known
as “Waqif/ Wakif”.
#Note: India has the largest number of Waqf properties in the world. There are more than 4.9 lakh registered Auqaf (Waqf properties)
and the current annual income from these properties is about Rs.163 crores.
India ranked lowest in US chamber’s global IP index
February 1, 2014
For the second consecutive year, Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) International IP Index ranked India lowest amongst the
countries assessed for protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Practices.
In the second edition of the chamber’s GIPC index, India continued to score lowest, most notably in categories relating to patents,
copyrights and international treaties. India scored 6.95 points out of a maximum 30 while US topped with 28.5 amongst 25 countries
surveyed.
None of the 25 countries surveyed received a perfect score of 30; the USreceived the highest score of 28.3, making it the global leader in
protecting IP. In both the 2012 and 2014 GIPC Index, India finished last in both editions, as the country continues to allow for the
deterioration of its IP climate.
Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) International IP Index
The GIPC Index provides an updated roadmap for economies seeking to create jobs, promote innovation, ensure safety, and provide
access to the creations and inventions of the 21st century. Ranking is based on efforts to protect the copyrights and patents that protect
goods and services ranging from pharmaceuticals to software to Hollywood films.
Uniform tax rate for foreign portfolio investors
February 1, 2014
The Union Government stated that Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) will attract uniform tax rate in all categories. The Central Board of
Direct Taxes notified that the new class of investors, FPIs, would be treated as FIIs under the Income Tax Act, 1961. As per their risk
profiles, FPIs are divided into three categories.
These are as follows:-
• Category I - the lowest risk entities comprises foreign government and government-related foreign investors.
• Category II – regulated entities such as university funds, university-related endowments and pension funds, etc.
• Category III – other entities viz. Qualified Foreign Investors (QFIs), etc.
FPIs brought together all the three investment categories — Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), their sub-accounts and Qualified
Foreign Investors (QFIs). The tax rate for FPIs would be the same as that extended to FIIs. The new system would be especially beneficial
for QFIs, who were subjected to higher tax rate earlier.
As per the new norms:-
• FPIs have been divided into three categories as per their risk profile and the KYC (Know Your Client) requirements, and other registration
procedures would be much simpler for FPIs compared to the current practices.
• The new class would be given a permanent registration, as against the current practice of granting approvals for one year or five years to
the overseas entities seeking to invest in Indian markets.
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• Such registration would be permanent unless suspended or cancelled by SEBI or surrendered by the FPI.
In the new tax regime, there would be no deduction of tax at source on income earned by way of capital gains by FPIs (including erstwhile
QFIs) but a discharge of tax by QFIs themselves only post which remittances outside India would be permitted.
MoU signed between Union Ministry of Rural Development and Digital Green
February 1, 2014
The Union Ministry of Rural Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Digital Green (Microsoft Research
Project) to document best agricultural practices and disseminates this to all rural agricultural households headed by women.
This initiative will be kick-started through self-help groups working with women farmers engaged in traditional agriculture, non-timber
forest produce and livestock projects.
Purpose: To exchange the relevant livelihood practices among rural communities under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM).
Its innovative ICT-based approach focuses on low-cost and effective, peer-to-peer learning processes which seek to empower poor
households for increasing productivity and incomes sustainably. It builds on and strengthens the existing extension systems of public,
private, and civil society organizations to be more effective and efficient.
About Digital Green
• An international, non-profit development organization, supported byBill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation and
Government of India.
• Mission: to integrate innovative technology with global development efforts to improve human well being.
• Objective: To provide strategic direction, management, and coordination of the development, successful implementation, and monitoring
of Digital Green’s livelihood-related activities.
• Focus on: Training farmers to make and show short videos where they record their problems, share solutions and highlight success
stories.
• Builds on the existing extension systems of public, private, and civil society organizations and strengthens them to be more effective and
efficient.
• Uses an innovative digital platform for community engagement to improve livelihoods of rural communities across South Asia and sub-
Saharan Africa.
TCS set to replace Genpact as top BPO
February 1, 2014
The BPO unit of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is set to take the No. 1 slot in the business category in India, replacing long-time leader
Genpact. The change in BPO market ranking could happen either in the just-concluded December quarter or the ongoing January-March
quarter.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
• An Indian multinational information technology (IT) services, business solutions and consulting company.
• Founded: 1968 by J.R.D Tata.
• Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra.
• Operates in 46 countries and has 199 branches across the world.
• Offers: BPO services for the banking, financial and insurance sector, retail and consumer packaged goods, drug development, telecom,
media and manufacturing. It has invested in building domain expertise and made acquisitions to fill gaps in their portfolio. TCS bought the
captive BPO arm of Citigroup for $505 million in October 2008, one of the largest acquisitions in the IT-BPO space till then.
India suffered worst ODI series defeat against New Zealand
February 2, 2014
Indian cricket team slumped to its worst ODI series defeat in New Zealand. New Zealand won the series by 4-0 in Wellington by
thrashing India by 87 runs in the fifth and final ODI.
It’s 5
th
time that India have not won a match in a five-match (or more) bilateral series. Last time they failed to win even a single match in a
bilateral series involving five or more matches, was in England in 2011, when they lost three matches, tied one and one game was
abandoned.
• Including this defeat, India has now gone without a win in seven consecutive ODIs that have ended in a result.
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• This is only the third time New Zealand have finished unbeaten in a series in which they have played five or more matches.
• New Zealand player, Kane Williamson became only the second batsman in ODIs to hit fifty-plus scores in all the matches of a five-match
series. Before that, Pakistan’s Yasir Hameed hit four fifties and a century in a five-match series against New Zealand in 2003-04, is the other
batsman to achieve this feat.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the fourth fastest batsman to complete 8,000 runs in one-day cricket during the fifth and
final ODI against New Zealand in Wellington. The three men ahead of him in the list are famous compatriots Sachin Tendulkar and
Sourav Ganguly and the West Indian legend Brian Lara. Dhoni has taken 214 innings to touch the landmark.
Officers of IAS, IPS & IFS to spend minimum of 2 Years at each posting
February 2, 2014
In a bid to check political interference, officers of the three premier services – IAS, IPS and IFS – will now spend a minimum of two years at
each posting. Under the new rules circulated by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), transfers and postings before two years can
be done by a Civil Services Board to be constituted by states.
Excerpts from the amended rules for IAS/IPS/IFoS cadre:-
• The Centre or the state government may transfer a cadre officer before the minimum specified period on the recommendation of
the Civil Services Board
• Though, the competent authority may reject the recommendation of the board by recording the reasons for the same.
• Every state will now have to make appointments of cadre officers on the recommendation of a Civil Services Board constituted by it
under chairmanship of the chief secretary.
• A cadre officer, appointed to any cadre post, shall hold the office for at least two years unless he or she is promoted, retired or sent
on deputation outside the state or for training exceeding two months.
• The DoPT stated that any exception in the form of transfers or new appointments will only be done upon the recommendation of a
civil services board. The new rules aimed at checking political interference.
• The Civil Services Board could seek justification from the administrative department of the concerned state for premature transfers,
obtain comments or views of the officer proposed to be transferred, and not recommend premature transfer unless satisfied with
the reasons.
• The board shall also submit a quarterly report to the Centre giving details of officers recommended to be transferred before the
minimum tenure and the reasons thereof.
Now, States have to constitute a civil services board, which is to be headed by the chief secretary, to consider questions of transfer of the said
civil services officers.
IAMAI: India to have 243 million internet users by June 2014
February 2, 2014
As per the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the Internet user base in the country stood at 190 million at the end of June,
2013. For the whole year 2013, the internet user base grew 42% to 213 million, from 150 million in 2012. Of the total user base, mobile
internet users accounted for 130 million in 2013, a growth of about 92% from 68 million in 2012.
IAMAI expects the number of mobile internet users to touch 185 million by June 2014, accounting for about 76% of the internet user base
in the country. The growth of Internet users has also led to a substantial growth of other digital industries such as e-commerce and digital
advertising. The study projects the online advertising market in India to touch Rs. 2,938 crore by March 2014.
Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI)
• Not-for-profit industry body registered under the Societies Act, 1986.
• Founded: 2004.
• Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra.
• President: Dr. Subho Ray.
• Put forward the problems and requirements of the businesses to the consumers, shareholders, investors and the Government of
India.
• Purpose: To improve and expand the value added services pertaining to mobiles and several online services.
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Indian Rupee to be legal tender in Zimbabwe
February 2, 2014
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe approved domestic trading in the Chinese Yuan (CYN), Indian
Rupee(INR), Japanese Yen (JPY) and Australian Dollar (AUD) and soon these currencies will
become legal tender.
The central bank of Zimbabwe advised the exporters and the general transacting public that in addition
to open accounts denominated in Botswana Pula, British Sterling Pound, Euro, South African Rand,
United States Dollar, individuals and corporate can also open accounts denominated in the Australian
Dollar (AUD), Chinese Yuan (CYN), Indian Rupee (INR) and Japanese Yen (JPY).
Till now, Zimbabwe accepted the US dollar and the South African rand as the main legal tender, which helped the country to stabilize
the economy after world-record inflation threw it into a tailspin. The addition of four Asian currencies to the international currencies
stands to nine which are circulating in the country.
Note: Zimbabwe was forced to abandon its own currency in 2009 amid chronic hyper-inflation and a deep economic crisis and introduced
a basket of foreign currencies dominated by the US dollar.
Ms. Kiwi Kathy Cross: First woman in ICC umpire’s panel
February 2, 2014
New Zealand’s Kathy Cross (56) became the first woman to be inducted in
the International Cricket Council‘s (ICC’s) umpires’ panel. Previously, she was officiated in the Women’s
World Cup in Australia in 2009 and in India in 2013.
Ms. Cross and Nigel Morrison have joined Sameer Bandekar, Mark Hawthorne, Wynand Louw, David
Odhiambo, Buddhi Pradhan, Sarika Siva Prasad, Richard Smith, Ian Ramage and Courtney Young in the
panel for 2014. The panel was named by the Associate and Affiliate SelectionCommittee.
The umpires on the ICC Associate and Affiliate Panel of International Umpires can be assigned to ODI and
T20 matches involving Associate and Affiliate Members, Intercontinental Cup matches, Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Divisions 3 to 6 and
other Associate and Affiliate tournaments, as well as Development Events.
Hero MotoCorp unveiled diesel concept motorcycle
February 3, 2014
The two-wheeler maker, Hero MotoCorp unveiled a diesel-electric hybrid scooter concept, ‘RNT’, which is probably the world’s first and
smallest diesel engine for two-wheelers.
The concept unveiled along with four more products – Leap (hybrid scooter) and 250 cc bike HXR250R are completely new products, while
Dash (110cc scooter) and Xtreme Sports (150cc bike) models are based on existing platforms.
• Hero Dash is a Maestro-sized scooter has an 111cc 4-stroke 8.4PS/9.4Nm engine. It has 12-inch tyres and a 6-litre fuel tank. Comes with
Hero’s Integrated Braking. Drum brakes on both the ends.
• Hero Leap is a petrol-hybrid has a 3-litre fuel tank. It weighs in at 140kg and will be launched by the next fiscal year.
About RNT 150cc diesel motorcycle
• Has a hub electric motor on the front wheel, which is powered by an electric battery pack to give the rider a unique two wheel drive option
for off road and slushy road conditions.
• Features: wide, flat-loading surfaces, multi-use folding side racks, spacious footboards, removable secondary LED headlight and a large,
comfortable seat. It comes with an electric drive at front wheel for off-road conditions.
• The bike boasts of a power take-off shaft which can be used to drive a generator or water pump.
Rider can also shut off the rear drive and move on electric power front wheel-drive in towns and cities.
Founder of Super30 bestowed with the prestigious Ramanujan Mathematics award
February 3, 2014
Leading mathematician and founder of Super30 classes Mr. Anand Kumar bestowed with the prestigious 2014 Ramanujan Mathematics
Award at the 8
th
National Mathematics Convention organized by a Rajkot-based school. Renowned atomic scientist Pitamber Patel and
famous scientist J J Rawal presented the cash award of Rs 20,000 to Kumar.
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• Mr. Kumar, who is a native of Bihar, is founder of Super30, which imparts free residential mentoring to 30 selected students from
underprivileged families for IIT entrance exam and has achievedinternational recognition for social awakening.
• His papers published in a number of international journals viz. Mathematical Spectrum and Mathematical Gazette of the UK, etc and was
thrice invited jointly by the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society to present his papers.
Note: The Ramanujan Mathematics Award is given to a person who has at least three papers published in international journals and is
involved in teaching mathematics.
Butterfly Bacteria Study revealed certain surprises about Metamorphosis
February 3, 2014
Scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder sequenced the bacteria of the red postman butterfly to learn more about the insect’s
three major stages of life. The new study that has sequenced internal bacteria makeup of a butterfly has revealed some surprise
discoveries about metamorphosis. It has shown that the internal microbial make-up of the red postman butterfly changed dramatically
from caterpillar to pupa to adult. This is the first time researchers have ever sequenced the entire microbiome of a butterfly.
• The red postman is a tropical butterfly found commonly in Central and South America. Scientific name: Heliconius erato.
• Objective of study: To help the agriculture industry understands why butterflies and caterpillars can be damaging to crops.
Why the red postman butterfly chose by scientists to study bacteria?
Typically, butterflies feed on nectar and have very short lifespan. However, the red postman butterflies can extract nutrients from the
pollen and greatly extend its life. They feed on pollen, known to be rich in amino acids.
As per the study
• The red postman’s internal bacteria split in half upon transitioning from caterpillar to chrysalis. Also known as the pupil stage, the internal
bacteria then doubled again when it went from the chrysalis into butterfly adulthood.
• In other words, the microbial community simplified and reorganized itself during the transition from caterpillar to pupa. The diversity
double after the adult butterflies had emerged and began going about their business of feeding.
• Butterflies are ‘microbial habitats’ for bacteria. Butterflies are ecologically and scientifically important, and their transformation from
caterpillar to chrysalis to winged adult is one of the most remarkable phenomena of the natural world.
Objective of the study: The communities of bacteria inhabiting other insects have been shown to affect host nutrition, digestion,
detoxification and defensefrom predators, parasites and pathogens.
Govt. suspended LPG subsidy transfer scheme and hiked cylinder quota
February 3, 2014
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) increased the quota of subsidized domestic LPG cylinders to 12 from 9 annually per
household.
• The Union Government also suspended the direct transfer of LPG subsidy into the consumers’ bank accounts linked to Aadhaar unique
identity numbers. Thus, consumers will continue to pay only the subsidized price to their LPG distributors and in turn the public sector oil
marketing company will get the subsidy from the Government.
• The increased subsidy cap will be effective from February 1. Though, for the current fiscal (2013-14) the total number of subsidized
cylinders available for each household will be restricted to 11, as there are only two more months left.
• The increase in cap of cylinders will mean that LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) will be available at a subsidized rate for 97 % of its total
consumer base of 140 million.
• The increases quoto will add another Rs 5,000 crore to the burgeoning subsidy burden on petroleum products, expected to be Rs 141,000
crore this financial year.
Note: In September 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that that Aadhaar cards or Unique Identification number (UID) could not be made
mandatory for people to get services or benefits under Government schemes viz. LPG subsidy, transfer benefits, food security, vehicle
registration, scholarships, marriage registration, salaries and provident fund, etc, and nobody should be deprived of any such facilities for
want of the card. It also rejected the review petition filed by the government on this issue.
India became world’s No.3 crude importer
February 3, 2014
With 3.86 million barrels per day of crude oil imports, India has overtaken Japan as the world’s third-biggest crude oil importer in 2013.
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World’s Top Five Oil-Importing Countries:
• China:China imports 6.30 million barrels per day
• U.S.A:USA imports 6.24 million barrels per day
• India:India imports 3.86 million barrels per day
• Japan:Japan imports 3.64 million barrels per day
• Germany:Germany imports 2.67 million barrels per day
India’s imports were nearly 6% higher than Japan’s customs-cleared imports of 3.64 million bpd (211,716,710 kilolitres).
Agriculture Ministry Issues Detailed Guidelines for NMOOP
February 3, 2014
Agriculture Ministry issued detailed guidelines and strategy to be adopted for implementation of the National Mission on Oilseeds and
Oil Palm (NMOOP). The Centre and States will bear costs in the ratio of 75:25.
Objective: To enhance production of traditional oilseed and tree-borne oilseed and also significant area is sought to be brought under oil
palm.
Sanctioned: Rs. 3507 crore under 12
th
plan.
Strategy to implement the proposed NMOOP Mission:
• Increase Seed Replacement Ratio (SRR) with focus on Varietal Replacement.
• Increase irrigation coverage under oilseeds from 26% to 36%.
• Diversification of area from low yielding cereals crops to oilseeds crops.
• Inter-cropping of oilseeds with cereals/ pulses/ sugarcane.
• Use the fallow land after paddy /potato cultivation.
• Expand the cultivation of Oil Palm and tree borne oilseeds in watersheds and wastelands.
• Increase availability of quality planting material enhancing procurement of oilseeds and collection.
• Process tree borne oilseeds.
Inter-cropping during gestation period of oil palm and tree borne oilseeds would provide economic return to the farmers when there is no
production.
India and Fiji inkedd DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement)
February 3, 2014
India and Fiji signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) for the avoidance of double
taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
The DTAA signed in New Delhi by the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Fiji’s Minister of Justice,
Public Enterprises, and Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum also holds
charges of Communications, Civil Aviation and Tourism.
• It will provide tax stability to the residents of India and Fiji and facilitate mutual economic
cooperation. The move will also stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services between both countries.
The agreement also incorporates provisions for an effective exchange of information and assistance in collection of taxes between tax
authorities of the two countries including exchange of banking information.
India’s first monorail inaugurated in Mumbai
February 5, 2014
India’s first monorail service started in Mumbai. The monorail service that would link the city to major stations began its first phase of 8.93
km betweenWadala and Chembur in the eastern fringes of the Commercial Capital.
• The first phase of the monorail covered seven stations: Wadala depot, Mysore Colony, BhaktiPark, Bharat Petroleum, V.N. Purav
Marg, Fertiliser Colony, and Chembur.
• Will be able to carry about 2,500 passengers (each car will accommodate 568 commuters). The fares will be between Rs. 5 and Rs. 11.
• Average speed: 65 km/hr; Maximum speed: 80 km/hr.
• Expected to reduce the travel time between Wadala and Chembur by almost half. It takes 40 minutes at present but the monorail will
take only about 21 minutes.
Second phase – connecting Wadala with Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk in South Mumbai will be completed by mid-2015.
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• It will cover a distance of 11.2 km and include the following 11 stations: Chinchpokli, Chembur Naka, Wadala Bridge, Mint Colony,
Acharya Atra Nagar, Antop Hill, Wadala, GTB Nagar, Fertilizer Company and Bharat Petroleum.
• Mumbai monorail will display three colours — pink, green and blue.
• The project executed by a consortium of engineering major Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) and Malaysian firm Scomi Engineering and
owned and operated by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
The overall monorail project covers a 19.17 km stretch in the Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle corridor, which will be the second longest
corridor with 17 stations. (The longest one is Japan’s Osaka Monorail).
What is Monorail?
A monorail is a rail-based transportation system based on a single rail, which acts as its sole support and its guideway. The term is also
used variously to describe the beam of the system, or the vehicles travelling on such a beam or track. The beam in a monorail system is
narrower than the vehicle.
Note: After the launch of Mumbai monorail, India joined the elite group of countries viz. the U.S., Germany, China,
Japan, Australia and Malaysia that run monorails.
After Delhi, Rajasthan became 2nd state to withdraw approval for FDI in multi-brand retail
February 5, 2014
Rajasthan scrapped the approval given by the previous Congress government for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retailing.
After Delhi, Rajasthan became the second state, to withdraw approval for FDI in multi-brand retail following a change of government after
the assembly elections held in November-December.
Recently, the Aam Admi Party Government in Delhi had repealed the decision to allow FDI in retail and told the Centre that it would not
allow foreign supermarkets in the Capital as they would destroy the local markets and close down neighbourhood shops and kirana stores.
Note: The states that allow global retailers to open supermarket chains (mostly Congress-led) viz. Himachal Pradesh, Andhra
Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Manipur, Karnataka, etc.
US warned China against move to declare new ADIZ over South China Sea
February 5, 2014
The United States of America (USA) warned China against any move to declare a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South
China Sea including disputed islands. The comments were made after the reports of Japanese media that stated that China is preparing to
announce another defense zone in the area, which are driven by territorial disputes with the neighboring countries.
• China claims the South China Sea in its entirety, while other countries surrounding the sea also have claims to the area and are in
dispute with China.
At present, China’s new air defense zone over the East China Sea is creating tensions in the world’s most geo-politically sensitive areas that
includes the disputed Diaoyu or Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, which are controlled by Japan and but claimed by China, and the
submerged Leodo reef, which is under South Korea’s control.
Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE)
February 5, 2014
The Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) programme declared that it has plans to release up to 25 birds into a 30,000-sq-km
drug-free “safe zone”. A project hopes to start releasing captive-bred birds into the wild by 2016, after experiencing the devastation
wrought by a drug on Asian vulture populations.
In order to ensure that the species affected do not disappear completely from the wild, SAVE identified a number of priorities viz.
• To establish a number of vast “safe zones” for the captive-bred birds to be released within. The areas have a radius of 100km and the
consortium has identified six such areas – some of which cross national borders into Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
• Establishment of a captive-breeding programme that would provide the birds to be released back into the wider environment, once it
was safe to do so.
Why Asian vulture population is declining?
• Diclofenac, a painkilling drug administered to cattle, is the main cause of mass extinction of vultures.
• Vultures, which have a digestive system robust enough to even digest disease-causing pathogens found in rotting meat of dead, do
not have a critical enzyme that breaks down diclofenac and die of renal failure after eating carcasses of cattle administered the drug.
• Vultures feeding on cattle either die from acute kidney failure within a few days or lose their ability to reproduce.
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In 2006, India banned the use of veterinary drug “Diclofenac”, which is toxic to any vulture that feeds on the carcass of recently treated
cattle, but SAVE in its study, stated that the drug continues to be sold and used illegally today.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has put vultures on its list of ‘critically endangered’ species.
The most common species of vultures in South Asia:
• Long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus), also known as the Indian vulture.
• White-backed vulture (Gyps africanus).
• Slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris).
• Red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvushave).
• Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus).
About SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction)
• The consortium of like-minded, regional and international organizations, created to oversee and co-ordinate
conservation, campaigning and fundraising activities to help the plight of south Asia’s vultures.
• Objective: To save three critically important species from extinction through a single programme.
• SAVE partners:Bombay Natural History Society, Bird Conservation Nepal, RSPB (UK), National Trust for Nature
Conservation (Nepal), International Centre for Birds of Prey (UK) and Zoological Society of London.
New Maharashtra law for recovery of bad loans
February 5, 2014
Maharashtra government appointed a committee to bring a legislation that will improve the recovery of loans given as part of government
schemes. The proposed legislation will create a mechanism for forceful recoveries of loans given under government schemes. It will not be
applicable to agricultural and other loans.
What are Non performing Assets (NPA)?
Any asset, including a leased asset, becomes a non performing when it ceases to generate income for the bank are called Non Performing
Assets or Bad loans.As per RBI guidelines, NPA is defined as under:
• Non performing asset (NPA) is a loan or an advance where:
• Interest and/ or installment of principal remain overdue for a period of more than 90 days in respect of a term loan.
• The account remains ‘out of order’ in respect of an Overdraft/Cash Credit (OD/CC).
• The bill remains overdue for a period of more than 90 days in the case of bills purchased and discounted.
• The installment of principal or interest there on remains overdue for two crop seasons for short duration crops.
• The installment of principal or interest there on remains overdue for one crop season for long duration crops.
• The amount of liquidity facility remains outstanding for more than 90 days, in respect of a securitization transaction undertaken in
terms of guidelines on securitization dated February 1, 2006.
• In respect of derivative transactions, the overdue receivables representing positive mark-to-market value of a derivative contract, if
these remain unpaid for a period of 90 days from the specified due date for payment.
Net NPA = Gross NPA – (Balance in Interest Suspense account + DICGC/ECGC claims received and held pending adjustment + Part
payment received and kept in suspense account + Total provisions held).
Justice B.N.Srikrishna Committee recommendations to be reviewed by a 9-member IRDA panel
February 5, 2014
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) set up a 9-member panle to review the 14 non-legislative
recommendations made by theFinancial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC).
The role of panel is to:
• Examine the extant legislative and regulatory framework in compliance 14 Non-Legislative Recommendations (NLRs).
• Identify the gaps and possible improvements in the extant framework vis-a-vis the 14 NLR.
• Suggest changes or modifications to the extant framework in compliance with the 14 NLR.
About Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) report:
• Headed by former Justice B.N.Srikrishna
• Contains 12 key proposals and these do not require legislative changes.
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• The financial sector regulators will take serious action with high penalties on violators and time bound investigations that would act as
deterrents and improve consumer protection.
• The proposals that called for penalties discourage the future violations as a multiple of the illegitimate gain of violations.
• Regulators should also put in place internal manuals on conducting investigations. The investigating officer would be kept different
from the officer who would decide the penalty for the crime.
Sahara group claims to create 56,000 jobs
February 5, 2014
The Sahara group will hire over 56,000 new employees this year along with investments to the tune of nearly Rs. 32,400 crore.
• The group invited applications for senior positions across businessverticals within and outside the country and stated that these more
than 56,000 new jobs need to be filled by the end of 2014. It also claimed that the group is committed to creating four lakh salaried
positions in next three years.
• The businesses for which job applications will be invited are FMCG & retail, dairy, poultry, luxury real estate & lifestyle, food factory,
low-cost housing, CSR, education and cruises (Sahara Water Homes).
• The group also disclosed specific investment targets for at least four business verticals and these investments total to an amount of
Rs 32,394 crore.
FATF released report on Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing
February 5, 2014
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released an internationalreport on money laundering and terrorist financing.
Objective: To identify the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) vulnerabilities and risks of the “diamond pipeline” that
covers all sectors in the diamond trade: production, rough diamond sales, cutting and polishing, jewelry manufacturing and jewelry
retailers.
Excerpts of the Paris-based FATF report
• China and India are major markets where diamond trade is done on a large scale.
• India, Israel, Belgium, Canada and the USA has reported instances where diamond prices were overvalued for purposes of
laundering and suspected financing. In these countries trade accounts of diamond business are being used to launder illegal funds to
the tune of millions of dollars.
• The closed and opaque nature of the diamond markets and the high value of diamonds combined with a lack of expertise in this area
on the part of the authorities have left this industry susceptible to abuse by criminals.
• In cases of suspicious money laundering instances of diamond trade, the funds transfer occurred from India, Israel
and Switzerlandto the UAE.
• India reported a relatively large number of sanitized cases (12) in which suspicious transaction reports were received (in connection
with diamond trade). In these specific cases, Hong Kong, China is a destination for illicit cash flows related to the diamond trade.
• Diamond trade, as an international phenomenon, needed a complete and global analysis to understand and determine money
laundering and terrorist financing threats and vulnerabilities related to this unique trade.
The risks and vulnerabilities of the diamonds trade, identified in this report are
• Global nature of trade – The trade in diamonds is transnational and complex, thus convenient for ML/TF transactions that are,
in most cases, of international and multi-jurisdictional nature.
• Use of diamonds as currency - Diamonds are difficult to trace and can provide anonymity in transactions.
• Trade Based Money Laundering (TBML) – the specific characteristics of diamonds as a commodity and the significant
proportion of transactions related to international trade make the diamonds trade vulnerable to the different laundering
techniques of TBML in general and over/under valuation in particular.
• High amounts – the trade in diamonds can reach tens of millions to billions of dollars. This has bearing on the potential to
launder large amounts of money through the diamond trade and also on the level of risks of the diamonds trade.
• Level of awareness – law enforcement and AML / CFT authorities, including Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), have limited
awareness of potential ML/TF schemes through the trade in diamonds.
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Note: FATF is a Paris-based multi-disciplinary and inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of national
and international policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. It was founded at the 1989 OECD Economic Summit as a
response by the heads of state of the G-7 nations to the growing problem of money laundering.
Chinese warships hold rare exercises in Indian Ocean
February 5, 2014
The Chinese warships conducted rare exercises in the Indian Ocean, and then a three- ship flotilla of Chinese warships entered the West
Pacific Ocean to start a drill there. The warships from the Nanhai Fleet are destroyers Wuhan and Haikou and China’s largest amphibious
landing craft Changbaishan.
• The ships conducted 10 exercises viz. anti-pirate, joint search and rescue, and damage control drills in the Indian Ocean.
• Exercises based on defense and settlement of emergencies:conducted to test the command system’s response and soldiers’
combat skills.
The three-ship flotilla consists of an amphibious landing craft and destroyer.Changbaishan:China’s largest landing ship by gross tonnage
and is equipped with an advanced weapons system. The flotilla passed along the LombokStrait, Makassar Strait and the SulawesiSea to
enter the West Pacific Ocean.
Ms. Silverine Swer: Meghalaya’s first Padma Shri awardee, passed away
February 5, 2014
Meghalaya’s first Padma Shri awardee Ms. Silverine Swer (103) passed away due to illness. She received the Padma Shri
Award from the then president R. Venkataraman in 1990.
About Ms. Silverine Swer
• Born: November 12, 1910 in Christian tribal family, Meghalaya.
• Fondly known as Kong Sil and was also the oldest voter from Meghalaya.
• Awards & Honors: Padmashree Award, Patogan Sangma Award for social service, Silver Elephant Medal of the Bharat Scout &
Guides Award (by President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in 1976), Kaisar-i- Hind Medal, RG Buruah Smriti Rakhya Samiti, etc.
• Member of the Good Will Movement of the Moral Rearmament (MRA).
• First Khasi woman to become the Trainer and Adviser of the Girls Guide Movement – a movement that became her lifelong passion
until her last days.
• Awarded Kaisar-i-Hind medal by the Assam government for her efficiency and integrity while handling the rationing system and for
service to the Girl Guide movement in Assam.
• Saw four wars: the two World Wars, the Sino-Indian War and theBangladesh Liberation War involving India.
• 1944-1949: Appointed as the Assistant Controller of Rationing during the World War II under Assam government.
• 1953 -1969: Chief Social Education Organizer in Arunachal Pradeshunder erstwhile NEFA government for 15 years.
• Pioneering Principal of the Teacher Training Institute at Changlang Tirap district and retired from service in 1968.
• After retirement, she involved herself passionately with various women voluntary social welfare organizations and governing bodies
of schools, colleges and co-operative societies.
• Important roles in Meghalaya taken by her: Chairman of the State Social Welfare Advisory Board, State Commissioner (Guides),
Chairperson of the International Year for Women (1979), Member of NEHU’s Executive Council and Adviser of many more
organizations.
National Mission on Libraries(NML) – an initiative of the Ministry of Culture, launched
February 5, 2014
President Pranab Mukherjee launched the National Mission on
Libraries (NML) at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. He formally
inaugurated the NML’s guidelines, logo and website.
Mission: Launched by the Ministry of Culture to modernize and digitally link public libraries across the country.
Benefit: designed for the entire spectrum of population – students, researchers, scientists, professionals, children, artists and differently
abled persons.
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Nodal agency for the implementation of NML: Kolkata-based Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF), a 10-member body
headed by Prof. Deepak Pental, former Vice Chancellor of Delhi University.
NML also planned to create a National Virtual Library of India (NVLI) to facilitate a comprehensive database on digital resources, carry
out a census on the resources available in the libraries and conduct a study on the reading habits in different regions of the country.
Background:
The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) in its Report to the Nation (2006-2009) made ten major recommendations on libraries. In
pursuance of this, a High Level Committee to be called as National Mission on Libraries (NML) has been set up by the Government of
India. Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture will be the central agency for
the National Mission on Libraries for administrative, logistics, planning and budgeting purposes.
The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was set up by the Prime Minister with the challenging mandate to transform India of the
21st century into a knowledge society. The objective of NKC was to advise the PM on matters relating to knowledge creation, knowledge
dissemination and knowledge application within the diversity of the Indian scenario.
About the National Mission on Libraries (NML)
• Objective: To create a world class library system, foster reading habits, facilitate research work and provide information to
people in a timely and convenient manner which is also universal and equitable.
• Set up in pursuance of a report of the National Knowledge Commission, which recommended a total revamp of the Library and
Information Service sector to serve the changing needs and expectations of the users and give a fillip to the library movement in
the country.
• Factors of NML: up-gradation of infrastructure, digitization and modernization, census of libraries and their development as
knowledge centres and transformation of libraries into empowering and inclusive institutions.
• Core areas of Mission: Creation of a National Virtual Library of India, Setting up of National Mission on Libraries Model Libraries,
Quantitative & Qualitative Survey of Libraries and CapacityBuilding for revamping the Public Library System & Services.
• Main component: To initiate need-based training programmes to develop managerial skills and IT competencies of their
personnel in tune with demands of the Internet era.
• Implementation of NML: Six libraries under the Culture Ministry, 35 Central Libraries in states and 35 District Libraries will be
developed as model libraries.
• For setting up of the model libraries, existing libraries would be identified in consultation with the state governments to improve
infrastructure and upgrade technology used by them.
• Emphasis will on developing these libraries in economically backward districts.
• Future planning: 629 district libraries across the states would be provided network connectivity.
Harish Rawat sworn-in as new CM of Uttrakhand
February 5, 2014
The senior congress leader, Mr. Harish Rawat sworn-in as the new Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. He was administered the
oath by the Governor Aziz Qureshi at Raj Bhawan. He succeeded Vijay Bahuguna.
Mr. Bahuguna resigned from the post of CM due to the criticism for the way he had handled the flood situation and relief
and rescue work.
In the 70-member assembly, the Congress, which has 33 MLAs, is supported by the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF)
which comprises three BSP MLAs, three independents, and one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) MLA
Kashmir Solidarity Day: Pakistan invited India for dialogue on Kashmir
February 5, 2014
On the Kashmir Solidarity Day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited India to engage in a “comprehensive,
sustained and result-oriented” dialogue with Pakistanto resolve the Kashmir issue. The mountainous
region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than 60 years. The Prime
Minister expressed the confidence that the Indian leadership would realize the sensitivity of the issue and
will respond to his invitation of dialogue in a positive manner and give right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir.
Why is Kashmir disputed?
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The territory of Kashmir was hotly contested even before India and Pakistan won their independence from Britain in August 1947.
• Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan.
• The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, wanted to stay independent but eventually decided to accede to India, signing over key powers to
the Indian government – in return for military aid and a promised referendum. Since then, the territory has been the spark for two of the
three India-Pakistan wars: the first in 1947-8, the second in 1965.
• In 1999, India fought a brief but bitter conflict with Pakistani-backed forces who had infiltrated Indian-controlled territory in the Kargil area.
• Currently a boundary – the Line of Control – divides the region in two, with one part administered by India and one by Pakistan. India
would like to formalise this status quo and make it the acceptedinternational boundary. But Pakistan and Kashmiri activists reject this plan
because they both want greater control over the region.
Indian-born Mr. Satya Nadella appointed as the new Microsoft CEO
February 6, 2014
Indian-born Mr. Satya Nadella (46) appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and member of the
Board of Directors of the Internet giant Microsoft. Previously, he was the executive vice president of
Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group, responsible for building and running the company’s computing
platforms, developer tools and cloud services.
Mr. Nadella is only the third chief executive in Microsoft’s 39-year history, following co-founder Bill Gates and
Steve Ballmer. He succeeded Mr. Steve Ballmer.
About Mr. Satya Nadella
• Born: 1967 in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
• Residence:Bellevue, Washington, US.
• Started career as a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems.
• Joined Microsoft in1992.
• Played a major role in Microsoft’s transition to the cloud:During his long tenure, he lead major strategy and technical
shifts across the company’s portfolio of products and services viz. development of one of the largest cloud infrastructures
in the world supporting Bing, Xbox, Office and other services.
• Played a key role in bringing some of Microsoft’s most popular technologies viz. its database, Windows server and
developer tools, to the cloud, called Window Azure.
• Helped Microsoft to bring a cloud version of Microsoft Office to the cloud, Office 365. Microsoft says Office 365 is one of
its fastest growing products ever.
• Currently, responsible for a huge, largely invisible part of Microsoft’sbusiness.
Note: As per Mr. Nadella’s new employment agreement, the Indian-origin CEO of software major Microsoft will be paid his salary on “semi-
monthly” basis at an annual rate of $1.2 million (Rs 7.5 crore). His annual salary would be determined by the company’s Executive
Incentive Programme (EIP).
Bill Gates “Founder and technology advisor”; John Thompson new Chairman of Microsoft
February 6, 2014
Bill Gates assumes role of “Founder and technology advisor” of Microsoft
John Thompson appointed as the new Chairman of Microsoft
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates assumed a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor. He will help Satya
Nadella (the new CEO of Microsoft) in shaping technology and product direction and will devote more time in making
Microsoft Office more interactive and building a cloud platform as examples of ways Microsoft can innovate in the future.
He stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in February 2014.
About Bill Gates
An American business magnate, investor, programmer, inventor and philanthropist.
• Founded Microsoft in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen and served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) until 2000.
• Chairman of the Microsoft board until Feb. 4, 2014.
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• As per recent poll conducted by The Times, Mr. Bill Gates is the most admired person on Earth.
• Known for donating large sums of money to charitable organizations and scientific research and is highly regarded
globally.
• Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF or the Gates Foundation): founded by Bill and Melinda Gates in 1997.
• Objective of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation: to enhancehealthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and to expand
educational opportunities and access to information technology.
Note: Mr. John Thompson appointed as the new Chairman of Microsoft by the Board of Directors at a meeting held in Washington, US.
He succeeded Bill Gates who assumed the role of Technology Advisor to the CEO of Microsoft. Mr. Thompson had joined the Board of
Microsoft in 2012. He was also the former chairman and CEO of Symantec Corp.
101st Indian Science Congress
February 8, 2014
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated the 101st Indian Science Congress at Jammu University, Jammu. The five-day (Feb 3-7,
2014) event will see deliberations and presentation of papers by the scientific fraternity from across the globe.
Dr. Singh stated that the country must increase its’ annual expenditure onscience and technology to at least 2% of the Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) and the private sector must join hands with the government for an inclusive progress in science and technology.
Excerpts of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s speech
• India will partner with the international scientific community in establishment of the world’s major R&D projects.
• In the Gravitational Wave Experiment, India intends to host the third detector. A Neutrino-based Observatory is proposed
to be established in Tamil Nadu at a cost of about Rs. 1450 crore.
• India would soon join, as an associate member, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, where
international projects such as the research on ‘God Particle’ was going on.
• Favored genetically modified crops.
• Supported the scientists to engage more with society and explain socially productive applications of biotechnology and
other alternatives.
• Announced the names of five eminent scientists, who have been selected for the recently instituted Jawaharlal Nehru
Fellowships.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship is open to scientists who are either NobelLaureates or Fellows of the Royal Society, or members of the
United States or French academies of science. The selected scientists are entitled to a fellowship of $1,00,000 and a research grant of Rs.
55 lakh. They will have to do research in an institution here for 12 months, which can be spent in installments over 3 years. The host
institution would also get a grant of Rs. 10 lakh for providing laboratory and other facilities for the research.
Yahoo email account passwords stolen
February 8, 2014
Yahoo Inc. broadcasted that usernames and passwords of its email customers have stolen and used to gather personal information for
those Yahoo mail users who have recently corresponded with. The company didn’t say how many accounts have been affected.
• Danger: access to email accounts could lead to more serious breaches involving banking and shopping sites. This is because many
people reuse passwords across many sites, and also because many sites use email to reset passwords.
• The company believes that the usernames and passwords weren’t collected from its own systems, but from a third-party database. It’s
not clear why a third-party database would have information on Yahoo accounts.
• Yahoo is resetting passwords on affected accounts and has “implemented additional measures” to block further attacks.
Note: As per the research firm comScore, Yahoo is the second-largest email service worldwide, after Google’s Gmail. There are
273 million Yahoo mail accounts worldwide, including 81 million in the US.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan voted fourth most beautiful woman of the world
February 8, 2014
Former Miss World, top notch model and a powerhouse performer, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (40)has voted the world’s fourth
most beautiful woman in a recent poll conducted by online magazine Hollywood Buzz.
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Aishwarya ranked fourth on the list of Top Thirty Most Beautiful Women after Italian actress Monica Belluci and American model-actress
Kate Upton.
Aishwarya Rai and Deepika Padukone are the only Indian women to feature in the list. Ms. Padukone ranked 29
th
in the list.
The poll conducted in December 2013 by Hollywood Buzz, listed the “Official Top 30 World’s Most Beautiful Women of 2014”. Over 4
million people across the world participated in the poll and selected the most intelligent, desirable and successful women of 2013-14.
The parameters of judging were based on intelligence, desirability and success.
Top Ten stunners that rule the list of the World’s Most Beautiful Women 2014:
1. Monica Bellucci
2. Kate Upton
3. Angelina Jolie
4. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
5. Irina Shayk
6. Meryem Uzerli
7. Charlize Theron
8. Amber Heard
9. Rihanna
10. Scarlet Johansson
The list of thirty also includes musicians Beyonce, Katy Perry and Rihanna, with a sprinkling of models viz.AdrianaLima, Irina
Shayk and Miranda Kerr, etc. The list of thirty also includes musicians Beyonce, Katy Perry andRihanna, with a sprinkling of models
viz.AdrianaLima, Irina Shayk andMiranda Kerr, etc.
President Pranab Mukherjee conferred Bharat Ratna on Prof. C N R Rao and Sachin Tendulkar
February 8, 2014
President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the country’s highest civilian honor Bharat Ratna on eminent
scientist Prof C.N.R. Rao and cricketmaestro Sachin Tendulkar at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
• Prof C.N.R.Rao is the third scientist after C V Raman and former President A P J Abdul Kalam, to be
awarded with the honor.
• Sachin Tendulkar, who retired from international cricket last year, is the first sports-person to be
bestowed with the honor. He is also the first active sportsperson to become a Rajya Sabha member last year.
Union Home Ministry’s guidelines about Bharat Ratna:
Under the Constitution, the award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient`s name. Though the award winner can use mention
as ‘Awarded Bharat Ratna by the President’ or ‘Recipient of Bharat Ratna Award’ in their bio-data, letter head or visiting cards. The
recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. It does not carry any monetary grant.
Note: The Bharat Ratna has been conferred after a long gap with classical vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi being the last recipient in 2008.
Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur Committee: 7th Pay Central Commission constituted
February 9, 2014
The Central Government constituted the 7th Central Pay Commission under the chairmanship of Mr. Ashok Kumar Mathur, a
retired Supreme Courtjudge and retired chairman of Armed Forces Tribunal.
Objective: To revise the salary structure of Union government employees from both civil and military services.
• Secretary of the ministry of petroleum and natural gas Mr. Vivek Rae will be a full-time member of the Commission.
• Dr Rathin Roy, director of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, will be a part-time member.
• Ms. Meena Agarwal, officer on special duty in the department of expenditure, will be the secretary of the Commission.
• The panel will submit its report in two years and the recommendations would be implemented from Jan 1, 2016.
• The Central Government constitutes Pay Commission almost every ten years to revise the pay scales of its employees and
often these are adopted by states after some modification.
• The 6
th
Central Pay Commission under the Chairmanship of B.N.Srikrishna was approved in July 2006.The 5
th
Pay
Commission was implemented with effect from January 1, 1996 and fourth from January 1, 1986.
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• The 1
st
pay commission was constituted under the Chairmanship of Srinivasa Varadachariar in May 1946 and its
report was submitted by 1947.
The first commission was based upon the idea of living wages to the employees, which was taken by the Islington Commission.
Govt. launched ‘National Cloud’ Under ‘MeghRaj’
February 9, 2014
Govt. launched the National Cloud under ‘MeghRaj’ initiative. National Information Centre (NIC) is providing Cloud services under the
umbrella of ‘MeghRaj’.
About MeghRaj
In order to utilize and harness the benefits of Cloud Computing, the Central Government has embarked upon an ambitious initiative – ‘GI
Cloud’ which has been named as ‘MeghRaj’.
• Focus: To accelerate delivery of e-services in the country while optimizing ICT spending of the Government. This will
ensure optimum utilization of the infrastructure and speed up the development and deployment of eGov applications.
• Architectural vision of GI Cloud: As per the set of common protocols, guidelines and standards issued by the
Government ofIndia, GI cloud will cover a set of discrete cloud computing environments spread across multiple locations,
built on existing or new (augmented) infrastructure.
• Benefit of GI Cloud: Helpful for the departments to procure ICT services on demand in the OPEX model rather than
investing upfront on the CAPEX.
• Characteristics of National Cloud: Self service portal, Multiple Cloud solutions, Secured VPN access and Multi location
Cloud.
• Existing Cloud services: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and
Storage as a Service (STaaS).
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing and storage capacity. In cloud computing, end users are not required to buy software or
Devices as they are provided by service providers on a rental basis. It’s an Internet based technology which enables its user to share
technological resources, software and digital information from anywhere using a browser.
Note: The Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY) prepared the two Policy reports viz., ‘GI Cloud Strategic Direction
Paper’ and ‘GI Cloud Adoption and Implementation Roadmap’.
RGGVY: Evaluation Studies Show a Positive Impact on Women and Education in Rural India
February 9, 2014
Evaluation studies of RGGVY (Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana) commissioned by Rural Electrification Corporation have revealed
that the programme has empowered the rural women.
Affect of electrification under RGGVY scheme on some states:
• Rajasthan: 75% of women are able to work in the fields after electricity reached their homes.
• Madhya Pradesh: 85% of the villagers, in particular, women and children feel more secure and protected against wild
animals, venomous reptiles and robbers due to electrified households and street lights.
• Uttar Pradesh: 43% people are surveyed and reported that they have started using mobile phones after electrification
since it became possible to charge the mobile sets.
• Bihar: As detected by the beneficiary households, the most important use of electricity is for illumination (94.9%), security
(89.9%), and communication through cellular phones (42.1%), accessing information and entertainment (52.1%) and
comforts by running fans (18.4%).
• J&K: Most people feel that security & standard of life has increased. Villagers are able to get the treatment in the night. In
some of the villages, it was found that the villagers use electrical appliances for crop processing.
Positive impact of Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana(RGGVY) programme
• 96% of un-electrified villages have been electrified across the country.
• Intensive electrification of 80% villages has been completed while free electricity connections have been provided to 77%
BPL households under the flagship programme.
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• People are able to establish small scale activities in homes viz. weaving, tailoring, grocery shops, etc.
• Students in all the states are able to study for longer hours and also save money & time which they had to spend on
kerosene lamp. They also feel more comfortable during summer days due to the fans in the class.
Beneficiaries reported positive impact of education on various states viz. UP (66%), Andhra Pradesh (88%), MP(46%), Bihar (48%).
New Criteria for National Sports Awards
February 9, 2014
In order to bring more transparency and objectivity in the process for conferring the National Sports Awards, the Union Sports Ministry has
approved a set of rules to select candidates for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand awards.
As per the new criteria for National sports awards:
• 90% weightage to medal winners of various internationalchampionships and sports events of disciplines covered in
Olympics ( Summer, Winter and Paralympics), Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
• 10% weightage will be given to the marks awarded by the selectioncommittee for assessment of the eligible
sportspersons keeping in view factors like profile and standard of the sports events in which he or she has won medals
and qualities viz. leadership, sportsmanship, team spirit, fair play, sense of discipline, etc.
• Except for lifetime achievement awards, points for winning medals will be given to each eligible sportsperson for his/her
performance during the last four years.
• Medal winners in the Olympics and Paralympics will automatically be considered for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
or Arjuna awards (depending on the type of medal won).
• Reserved the right for not recommending the name of any deserving sportsperson as per the given criteria for Rajiv
Gandhi Khel Ratna or Dhyan chand Award. In these particular cases, the committee will have to justify its stance in
writing.
• For cricket and indigenous games (not included in Olympic / Asian Games / Commonwealth Games disciplines), the
selection committee will recommend the number of awards (not exceeding two).
• Names of not more than 2 Sportspersons ( 1 male and 1 female) and names of not more than 2 coaches in case of
Dronacharya award with highest marks will be considered.
• Sports journalists, experts and commentators are included in the selection committees.
The salient features of the newly introduced criteria for Sports Awards are as follows :-
S.No: Criteria Rajiv Gandhi Khel
Ratna Award for most
outstanding
performance
Dronacharya Award
for Outstanding
Coaches in Sports
Dhyan chand
Award for life time
achievement in
Sports
1. Weightage for the medals won in Olympic
Games (Summer, Winter and Paralympics),
Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and
World Cup / World Championships held once in
4 years.
90% 90%* 70%
2. Weightage to the marks given by the Selection
Committee for assessment of the eligible
sportsperson / coach keeping in view factors like
profile and standard of sports event in which
medal has been won
10% 10% 30%**
3. No. of awards to be given normally in a year 1 award 5
(out of 5, 2 to be
given for lifetime
contribution in
coaching)
3
* medals won by sportspersons trained by the coach under consideration for the award. Marking criteria will not apply for the 2 awards to
be given for lifetime contribution in coaching. Selection committee will give its recommendations for such two coaches taking into
consideration the contribution made by them over a period of 20 years or more in terms of producing outstanding sports-persons.
• ** includes marks for assessment for contribution made for promotion of sports after retirement for active Sports career and for qualities
like sportsmanship, leadership, and sense of discipline.
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Muthoot Finance launched its first White-Label ATM
February 9, 2014
Indian gold loan company, Muthoot Finance Ltd became the first and only
Non-Banking Finance Company(NBFC) to have obtained license for setting-up
WLAs in India. The Muthoot Group launched its first White-Label ATM at its
corporate office in New Delhiand has plans to invest Rs 300 crore in the next
three years. The rollout will be mainly in tier-3 and tier-4 cities.
• Goal: To set-up 9,000 WLAs over three years – 1,000 in the first year, 2,000 in the second year and 6,000 in the third.
• Partner of Muthoot Finance to set up WLAs: FIS Payment Solutions Services.
• Sponsor Bank for WLAs venture: Federal Bank.
• The ATMs will be user-friendly, even to the differently-abled – equipped with Bio-metric thumb & voice-recognition.
• The other entities that are offering White label ATMs:
• Prizm Payment Services, a unit of Hitachi of Japan set up its first White Label ATM “Money Spot ATM” at Chendre village
in Alibaug Taluk, Raigad district of Maharashtra on January, 2014;
• Tata Communications Payment Solutions launched the India’s first ever network of white label ATMs
called “Indicash” in June 2013 at Chandrapada in Thane district of Maharashtra.
What are White label ATMs?
ATMs set up and run by non-banking entities are called White Label ATMs (WLAs). Customers from any bank can deposit or withdraw
money from such ATMs. They will provide ATM services to customers of all banks. In June 2012, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has
permitted non-banking companies to set up ATMs, referred to as WLAs, to increase the penetration of the facility across the country.
Objective of permitting non-banks to operate WLAs: To enhance the penetration of the machines in semi-urban and rural areas, where
bank-run ATMs are a few or none. The move is in line to the governments objective of achieving financial inclusion.
Excerpts of the RBI’s policy to set up & operate White label ATMs:
• Non-bank entities would be permitted to set up WLAs in India, after obtaining authorisation from RBI under the Payment
and Settlement Systems (PSS) Act 2007.
• As per the Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007, the non bank entities should have a minimum net worth
of Rs 100 crore & have to apply to RBI for seeking approval.
• Every WLA operator is required to tie up with a sponsor bank, which takes care of cash operations, dispute resolution
and regulatory reporting aspects.
• Being non-bank owned ATMs, the guidelines on five free transactions in a month for using other bank ATMs would not
be applicable for transactions affected on the WLAs.
• WLA operators can also earn extra revenue through advertisements and value-added services. Further, it allows
autonomy of operators on deciding locations and creating their own brand with fixed annual targets mandated by RBI.
• White-label ATMs accepts only cards issued by banks and does not accept cash deposits.
Govt. allows FIIs, NRIs to invest in insurance sector
February 9, 2014
The Union Government has allowed 26% foreign investment in insurance sector in activities related to insurance viz. broking, Third Party
Administrators (TPAs) and surveyors and permitted Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to also invest in
insurers within the stipulated cap.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) stated that in case of insurance, the 26% cap will include FDI and
investments from FIIs and NRIs.
(Earlier, only FDI under the automatic route was allowed in insurance companies.)
Apart from insurance companies, the relaxation would apply to insurance brokers, third-party administrators (TPAs), surveyors and loss
assessors. All of this investment can be made under the automatic route.
• Insurance brokers are entities which for remuneration arrange insurance contracts with insurers or reinsurers on behalf
of their clients.
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• The TPAs help in facilitating health insurance on behalf of insurers.
• Surveyors and loss assessors provide technical services to the insurance companies.
• All these entities are required to obtain a licence from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority
(IRDA) for undertaking specific activities.
The Arvind Mayaram Committee on definition of FII and FDI, in its draft report, recommended composite caps whereby FDI, FII and NRI
investments would form part of the total cap on foreign investments.
Note: The Insurance Act, 1938 does not stipulate any FDI limits for insurance intermediaries or TPAs, but sector regulator IRDA has
restricted it to 26%.
‘NACH-ready payments services’ hub for India, launched by Polaris Financial Technology
February 9, 2014
Polaris Financial Technology announced the launch of its NACH-ready Indiapayments solution. With the emergence of NACH, a high rate
of adoption is anticipated to make it imperative for banks to have a strategic roadmap for the adoption of NACH. This would include
product innovation, operational reconstructs and cutting edge technology adoption.
NACH-ready India Payments solution
Web-based solution to facilitate inter-bank, high volume electronic transactions that are repetitive and periodic in nature.
• Facilitates centralized mandate management, direct debits and bulk payments processing.
• Standard features: cross-border transactions and host-to-host connectivity, etc.
• Compliant with major payment systems in the country viz. National Automated Clearing House (NACH), Next-
Generation Real Time Gross Settlement (NGRTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer System (NEFT).
• Capable of achieving Straight Through Processing (STP) rates of over 97% across high volume and high care payments
throughbusiness rules driven data validation and enrichment.
• Operational risks can be reduced by around 20%-25% using a configurable Exceptions Management Framework which
offers complete audit and control.
Polaris Financial Technology Ltd.
A Global leader in Financial Technology for Banking, Insurance and other Financial
Services. Founded in 1993.
Headquarters: Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Its iGTB division is the world’s first complete Global
Transaction Banking platform, used by the world’s top transaction banks.
Services offered: financial technology products, legacy modernization services and consultant of core banking, corporate banking, wealth
& asset management and insurance.
National Automated Clearing House (NACH)
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has implemented NACH for banks, financial institutions, corporate and government
to facilitate inter-bank, high volume, electronic transactions which are repetitive and periodic in nature.
• Web-based solution: A centralized system that will provide a national footprint and is expected to cover the entire core
banking enabled bank branches spread across the geography of the country irrespective of the location of the bank
branch.
• Objective: To provide a single set of rules (operating and business), open standards and best industry practices for
electronic transactions which are common across all the Participants, Service Providers and Users, etc.
• Provides a robust, secure and scalable platform to the participants with both transaction and file based transaction
processing capabilities.
• Facilitates the member banks to design their own products and also addresses specific needs of the banks & corporates
including a refined Mandate Management System (MMS) and an onlineDispute Management System (DMS) coupled
with strong information exchange and customized MIS capabilities.
• Supports Financial Inclusion measures initiated by Government, Government Agencies and Banks by providing
support to Aadhaar based transactions.
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• Used for making bulk transactions towards distribution of subsidies, dividends, interest, salary, pension, etc. and also for
bulk transactions towards collection of payments pertaining to telephone, electricity, water, loans, investments in mutual
funds, insurance premium, etc.
Apple India re-launched production of iPhone 4
February 9, 2014
Apple India re-launched the production of iPhone 4 in India, Indonesia andBrazil. This is the
first time that the American technology giant Apple has resumed the production of a
discontinued phone. The company prides itself on pushing the design and technology
envelope with every release and progressively stops the sale of older models.
Why American technology giant Apple restarted the production of iPhone 4?
Apple Inc. ceased the selling of iPhone 4 in many countries, owing to the launch of
the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c. Due to this move, Apple lost the share and growth slowed
in the last quarter in the markets of India, Brazil and Indonesia. Thus, to resume the growth
Apple re-launched the product iPhone 4 in these countries.
• The lower cost iPhone will help Apple to recoup market share in these countries.
• This combat market leaders Samsung’s Grand and S4 Mini. Apple’s Foxconn vendor in China has restarted production of the iPhone 4.
Note: The entry level iPhone 5s sells for Rs. 53,500 in India, while the entry level iPhone 5c is Rs. 41,900. The reintroduced 8GB iPhone 4
retails for Rs. 22,900.
K.V. Thomas Committee:
February 9, 2014
The Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC) under the chairmanship of minister K V Thomas set up a sub-committee to draft
guidelines to safeguard consumer interest from false advertisements in the country.
Objective: To issue guidelines to monitor the advertisements. At present, there is no any legal protection cover available for consumers
against false advertisements.
• Formed to see how to regulate false statements made in the advertisements in the name of scientific claims. (Maximum false
claims are made in health-related fields).
• Will have the powers to (take) corrective actions and (impose) compensation.
• Proposal: To hold everyone engaged in the production of advertisement responsible for its contents. This will include the
manufacturer, advertising agency, artists, actors and the media platform, be it print or electronic.
• The committee will submit its recommendations by the end of February 2014.
• For instance, if the claims made by whitening creams proved unphenomenal as advertised, Consumer should have right to claim
compensation not only from the advertisers but also from the celebrities endorsing the product.
• Note: The immediate push for regulation has come from the Madhya PradeshHigh Court. The court ordered the consumer
affairs ministry to set up an ad-monitoring panel as recommended by the Vibha Bhargava Commission. The commission had
submitted its report in 2005 and it underlined the urgent need to regulate false claims by advertisers of different products.
• About Central Consumer Protection Council
• The apex body is appointed by the Central Government in accordance with provisions of the Act.
• Objective: To protect and promote the interest of consumersviz. the right to be protected against the marketing of goods
and services which are hazardous to life and property; the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity,
standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices, etc.
• Lies under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
• The CCPC consists of the minister in charge of the consumer Affairs as chairperson, minister in charge of States, members of
parliaments, representative of the government departments, consumer organization, women members, representatives of trade,
industries and consumers.
Bezbaruah Committee: To address concerns of Northeastern people
February 9, 2014
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The Union Government set up a Bezbaruah panel to propose remedial measures to address concerns of people from the Northeast
following outrage over the death in Delhi of a 19-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh.
The Bezbaruah Committee:
• A six-member panel led by Former IAS officer M P Bezbaruah, who is also a member of North-Eastern Council.
• Members: Retired IAS officers H W T Syeim, Allen Temshi Jamir, Tape Bagra and P Bharat Singh and the Deputy Secretary
in Ministry of Home Affairs S Saha as Member Secretary.
• The Chairman of the committee shall co-opt members, one each from the other Northeastern states
like Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim.
• Objective: The Panel will examine the causes behind attacks/violence and discrimination against people from the
Northeast, suggest measures to be taken by the government to address these concerns besides
suggesting legal remedies for the same. It will deliberate and find ways to stop such attacks on the people from
Northeast.
• The panel will submit a report within two months after examining the causes behind the attacks of discrimination against
the people from Northeast.
Indian CEOs leading major companies in the world
February 9, 2014
Microsoft has become the biggest company to be headed by an Indian. Indian-born Mr. Satya
Nadella appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and member of the Board of Directors of
the Internet giant Microsoft. The appoint of Mr. Nadella is a significant achievement as he joined a circle
of India-origin executives manning top global companies.
Some global corporations led by Indian CEOs:
• Mr. Lakshmi Mittal – Chairman and CEO of Arcelor-Mittal, world’s largest steel making company. The Indian Steel mogul
is one of the most influential and powerful figures globally.
• Ms. Indra Nooyi – Chairperson & CEO of PepsiCo, one of the largest food and beverage business in the world.
• Rakesh Kapoor – CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, the consumer goods giant is listed on London Stock Exchange and is a
constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.
• Anshu Jain: Co-CEO, Deutsche Bank.
• Ajay Banga: President & CEO, MasterCard, an American financial services corporation that process payments between
the banks of merchants when purchases are made through the brand card. Mr. Banga appointed CEO in July 2010.
• Sanjay Jha: Appointed as chief executive officer ofGLOBALFOUNDRIES in January 2014. GLOBALFOUNDRIES is the
world’s first full-service semiconductor foundry with a truly global manufacturing and technology footprint.
• Shantanu Narayen – President and CEO of Adobe Systems, one of the world’s largest and most diversified software
companies.
• Dinesh Paliwali: CEO of Harman International, a leading provider of premium audio and infotainment systems for the
automotive, consumer and professional markets. He has served as the CEO since July 2007.
• Rajeev Vasudeva: Egon Zehnder.
• Ivan Menezes: CEO of alcoholic beverages firm Diageo PLC since July 1, 2013.
• Ajit Jain: Berkshire Hathaway Group.
• Piyush Gupta: DBS Group Holdings.
• Sanjay Mehrotra: CEO of SanDisk since January 1, 2011.
As per human resource experts, professionals in India have become global professionals. The technical skills and the behavioural patterns
of Indians executives make them very much adaptable to any kind of situation they come across. Indians focus on good education and
ability to work in difficult situations is aiding to this rising trend and more and more Indians could rise to top positions at global companies
in the near future.
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Delhi Nagar Swaraj Bill 2014
February 9, 2014
The Aam Aadmi Party organized its first “Mohalla Sabha” at Vasundhara Enclave, New Delhi. Soon, the draft Delhi Nagar Swaraj Bill 2014
will be brought before the cabinet and then introduced in Delhi assembly soon.
As per the draft Delhi Nagar Swaraj Bill 2014
• Every Delhi voter be a decision-maker.
• Pave the way for self-rule through mohalla sabhas.
• The contours of the mohalla sabha will be defined by the stateelection commission by taking public opinion into account. The
members of the sabha will be voters who stay within the boundaries of the mohalla, and this collective will use its vote to send
two representatives to a ward committee. This committee will do coordination at the ward level to pave the way for delivery of
proposals cleared by the mohalla sabha at monthly meetings by vote. Funds will be put at the disposal of the sabhas by the
mohalla secretariat, which will be manned by officials, to ensure execution of the decisions of people.
• Gives the common man the power to remove the selected representative and also the area councilor mid-term through
polling that can be initiated by the state election commission based after ascertaining the genuineness of representations from
the mohalla sabha.
• When mohalla sabha members come together at monthly meetings to cast their vote on issues, 33% must be women while
10% of the registered voters of a mohalla must be present at the meeting. Decisions are to be largely by consensus but may
also be taken by a simple majority vote.
• Mohalla sabhas shall strive for universal education andhealthcare in the mohalla and formulate and implement schemes to
eradicate hunger and homelessness and for welfare of senior citizens, disabled and other vulnerable sections of society.
• Also gives the sabhas power to get any information from any official of the state government or municipal body regarding
issues directly or indirectly related to their mohalla.
• Creates room for an ombudsman and empowers the mohalla sabha to file complaints if anyone is found violating the law.
• Wherever there are inter-ward issues, the standing committees of the municipal corporations will take a view, and wherever
there are government-related issues, the departments concerned will be involved. The state government’s role will be limited to
projects like flyovers and other major development plans for the city.
India and Germany inked pacts on financial and tech co-operation
February 9, 2014
India and Germany signed two umbrella agreements for financial and technical co-operation,
under Indo German bilateral Development Cooperation framework. The Umbrella Agreements
were signed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram and German Federal Minister for Economic
Cooperation and Development Gerd Mueller during their bilateral meeting.
• The pacts were signed during an official six-day visit of German President Joachim Gauck.
The Umbrella Agreement on Financial Cooperation refers to concessional loans from Germany for
nine projects viz.
• Himalaya Hydropower Programme (HPPCL).
• Green Energy Corridors.
• Promotional Programme for Energy Efficient New Residential Housing-II (NHB).
• Energy Efficiency in Thermal Power Plants (WBPDCL).
• Affordable Housing Programme (NHB).
• New Approaches in Microfinance and Microenterprise Finance (SIDBI)
• Missing Middle Programme (SIDBI).
• Madhya Pradesh Urban Sanitation and Environment Programme.
• HimachalPradeshForest Ecosystems Climate Proofing Project.
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The Umbrella Agreement for technical cooperation refers to 13 projects in Energy, Environment and Sustainable economic
development sectors, which are a priority sectors under the bilateral development cooperation between the two nations.
World Children’s Prize (Children’s Nobel Prize) Nominees 2014: Malala, John Wood and Indira Ranamagar
February 9, 2014

For the 2014 World’s Children’s Prize, Pakistani teenage rights activist Malala Yousafzai, John Wood from the USA and
Nepalese child rights worker Indira Ranamagar are nominated for an award also known as the “Children’s NobelPrize”.
• Ms. Malala Yousafzai nominated for her courageous and dangerous fight for girls’ right to education. She started to speak out
for girls’ rights at the age of 11, when the Taliban banned girls from going to school in the SwatValley in Pakistan.
• Mr. John Wood nominated for his 15-year fight for children’s right to education. John quit his job as a manager at the Microsoft
company to fulfil his dream: to fight poverty by giving children all over the world the chance to go to school.
• Ms. Indira Ramanagar nominated for her 20-year struggle for prisoners’ children in Nepal. She has built up an organisation
calledPrisoners Assistance Nepal (PA), which has rescued over a thousand children from cramped, dirty prisons.
• Indira Ramanagar and Prisoners Assistance:
• Run three children‘s homes, two schools, and youth programs on organic agriculture, arts and crafts, and more.
• Support girls in villages to enable them to go to school. They are also given bikes, since they often have a long journey to get to
school.
• Search for relatives and support them to take care of the children.
• Make sure that children get a chance to visit their parents in prison.
• Run programs allowing children to go to school during the day and stay with their mothers in prison at night. They also educate
mothers in prison up to Year 5 level and give them vocational training.
• Support prisoners who have been released, so that they can be reunited with their children.
• Speak out for the weakest in society and fight for prisoners – especially women and their children – to be treated in a fair and
humane way.
About World’s Children’s Prize (WCP)
Also known as the Children’s Nobel Prize
The world’s largest annual educational program teaching young people about the rights of the child, democracy and global
friendship.
Vision: A world where the rights of the child are universally respected and where every new generation grows up as humane global
citizens.
Mission: To catalyze the growth and development of a more humane global community through an integrated global educational
program, engaging a growing number of children throughout the world.
The award programme, launched in 2000, is supported by 60,000 schools with 29.3 million students in 109 countries and over 600
organisations.
Every year, three Child Rights Heroes are selected by the WCP Child Jury to be candidates for the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of
the Child.
The annual program concludes with a “Global Vote”, where children work together to choose their Child Rights Hero. “Global Vote Days”
are held in schools around the world like a democratic election.
The WCP Foundation is regulated by the Svensk Insamlingskontroll (Swedish Fundraising Control), which protects the interests of donors
and ensures that the funds raised are used appropriately.
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Chip-and-PIN cards
February 9, 2014
With an aim to minimize frauds, RBI has mandated that Banks must adopt Aadhaar as additional authentication or move to EMV (Euro pay
MasterCard Visa) chip and pin technology to ensure security in card-based payment
transactions.
The apex bank made it mandatory for debit card holders to punch in their PIN numbers
every time they use the card. The PIN
functions as another layer of security
for the debit card which reduces the
chances of fraud. While using it at
PoS, merchants will first swipe the
cards at a PIN enabled PoS terminal
and punch in the transaction amount. That will be followed by customers punching
their PINs to complete the transaction.
What are Chip-and-Pin cards?
A chip-and-PIN card is a plastic card of standard size. It has two chips a) An embedded
chip b) A traditional magnetic strip. In order to accomplish a transaction, a customer
has to punch in his/her PIN number. In case the card gets stolen or lost, it is very
difficult to copy the card due to presence of the embedded microchip.
Objective: The overall system of the card designed in order to make it more difficult
for criminals to cash in on credit card fraud.
What information is stored on the chip?
Information is stored on the embedded chip, which is needed for authentication purpose during a transaction. This information on the
embedded chip is of the same nature as stored in today’s magnetic stripe. The chip is safe as there is no personal information about
customer’s a/c stored on the embedded chip.
National Green Tribunal (NGT) bans on burning tyres in Public Places
February 12, 2014
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned the burning of tyres at public places viz. roads, areas surrounded by residential
buildings and also during protests by political and religious groups, as this leads to health hazards.
As per the Western Zone Bench of NGT-Pune ruling:
The local police shall take prompt check on burning of tyres and any negligence in the instructions given by NGT-Pune may entail penal
aftermaths as specified in section 26 of the National Green tribunal Act, 2010. Any violation of the order may result in a penalty of up to Rs 10
crore, extendible to up to Rs 25 crores and/or imprisonment of 3 years.
The decision came on a petition filed by the Sahyog Trust and other advocates against the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB)
and the state of Maharashtra.
Why burning of tyres is harmful for environment?
Burning tyres emit toxic soup of pollutants that contains harmful gases and chemicals viz. carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, chromium,
arsenic, zinc, barium, cobalt, copper, iron, aluminum, manganese and vanadium, etc. which are hazardous to the human beings as well as
to the environment. Minuscule particles released during the burning can settle deep in the lungs. Tyres contain 25 % extender oils derived
from benzene, 25% styrene, a derivative of benzene, and 25% 1,3 butadiene. – both benzene and 1,3 butadiene are suspected human
carcinogens. (A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide or radiation, that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer).
About National Green Tribunal
• A special fast-track court to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.
• Established on October, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
• Objective: For effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other
natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to
persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
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• Shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
• New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four place of sitting of
the Tribunal.
Note: The National Green Tribunal ruling can only be challenged in theSupreme Court.
DRDO developing UAVs to track down Maoists
February 12, 2014
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is developing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for the Central Reserve
Police Force (CRPF) to track down maoists in naxal hit states viz. Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, etc. And would demonstrate the operational
capability of the first such vehicle, Nishant in Jagdalpur.
• The UAVs being developed for CRPF would be able to help the forces trace and track down the ultra Left operatives in even thick forests.
The Nishant, a multi-mission UAV developed by India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a branch of DRDO, had already
been inducted by the army. (Nishant consists of an air vehicle supported by ground control station equipment mounted on Tatra
vehicles and it can be moved to any location for launching whenever required making it very versatile).
About Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
• Means: Aerial vehicles which operate without a human pilot. Eaves are commonly used in both the military and police forces in
situations where the risk of sending a human piloted aircraft is unacceptable, or the situation makes using a manned aircraft
Impractical.
• Uses: To get aerial video of a remote location, especially where there would be unacceptable risk to the pilot of a manned aircraft and
can be equipped with high resolution still, video, and even infrared cameras.
• The information obtained by the UAV can be streamed back to the control centre in real time.
• Used to carry and deliver a variety of payloads. Helicopter type UAVs are well suited to this purpose, because payloads can be suspended
from the bottom of the airframe, with little aerodynamic penalty.
RBI released draft Report on Enabling PKI in Payment System Applications
February 12, 2014
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released draft report on enabling Public KeyInfrastructure (PKI) in payment system applications. Public
Key Infrastructure enabled electronic payment systems that has been introduced by the RBI are – RTGS, NEFT, CBLO, FOREX Clearing,
Government Securities Clearing and Cheque Truncation System (CTS).
Objective: To ensure a safe, secure, efficient, robust and sound payment system in the country.
Highlights of the draft Report on Enabling Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) in Payment System Applications
• The various PKI-enabled electronic payments systems introduced by RBI viz. RTGS, NEFT, CBLO, Forex Clearing, Government Securities
Clearing, and Cheque Truncation System (CTS), etc.
• In volume terms, PKI-enabled electronic payments systems contributed 25.1% whereas these systems contributed 93.7% share to the total
number of payment transactions carried out in the year 2012-13.
• Non-PKI enabled payment systems contributed 75% in volume terms but only 6.3 % in value terms in the year 2012-13.
• Of the non-PKI enabled payment systems, MICR Clearing and non-MICR clearing contributed 37% and 10% in volume terms and 69% and
25% in value terms.
• In order to ensure a safe, secure payment system in the country and to ensure legal compliance, digital technology, such as PKI may be
used.
• The banks may carry out in phases PKI implementation for authentication and transaction verification. (Payment systems are
subjected to various financial risks, viz. credit risk, liquidity risk, systemic risk, operational risk, legal risk).
• The issuing bank will need to convert the older credit or debit cards with the magstrip into EMV chip and pin enabled ones.
• With reference to internet banking applications, the report recommends that customers should be informed of risks, existing security
measures and also given a choice of different methods of authentication to be able to select a system that matches their security
requirements.
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• “All Banks” Internet banking applications should mandatory create authentication environment for password-based two-factor
authentication as well as PKI-based system for authentication and transaction verification in online banking transaction.
• The validity period for the certificates may be increased from 3 to 5 years for the digital signature certificate (DSCs).
RBI has kept suggestions in the report open for public comment till February 28, 2014.
Note: The Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a set of hardware and software that enables users of internet to securely and privately
exchange data and money by using a pair of public and private cryptographic passwords.
Google doodle celebrated Sarojini Naidu’s 135th birthday or National Women’s Day of India
February 13, 2014
The search giant, Google marked the 135th birth anniversary of freedom fighter
and poet Sarojini Naidu with a doodle. The doodle on the search giant’s
homepage displayed a portrait of Ms. Naidu in the place of the second ‘O’ in the
company’s logo. There was also a pen in place of the letter ‘L’ in logo, which
seemingly depicted Naidu’s writing capabilities.
In India, ‘National Women’s Day’ observed on February 13 every year, in memory
of date of birth of India’s first women governor Sarojini Naidu.
• Ms. Naidu was also known as the ‘Nightingale of India’ and the first Indian woman to become the president of the Indian National
Congress.
• The British government awarded the Naidu ‘Kaiser-i-Hind medal’ for her work during the plague epidemic in India in 1928.
• Her birthday observed as a National Woman Day in recognition of the works done by her for upliftment and development of women in
India.
Note: The International Women’s Day is observed and celebrated on March 8 every year.
Production of iconic Maruti 800 stopped by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL)
February 13, 2014
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) stopped production of the iconic Maruti 800 car
brand that had been the carrier for millions of Indian middle-class families. As per the
company’s policy, though the car production has stopped, spare parts will be available for
customers for next 8-10 years, for all the models which have been phased out till date.
Why Maruti Suzuki stopped the production of iconic Maruti 800?
• The Maruti 800 lost its appeal among urban consumers as car buyers migrated to models
such as the Alto and Wagon R from Maruti Suzuki’s stable and the Santro produced by
Hyundai Motor India Ltd, among others.
• Since 2010, due to the stricter emissions regulations, the company halted the sale of car in 13 major cities in India viz. Kanpur,
Bangalore,Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Agra, Surat, etc.
• Maruti Suzuki stated that it would be too costly to make the hatchback to meet stricter emission standards (as per intention to cutting
pollution) on congested roads.
• That’s why, MSIL decided to completely stop the production and rolled out the last of its 800 model, but will continue to sell the spare parts
of 800 to its customers for next 8 to 10 years.
Note: Maruti 800 was launched in India in early 1980s and the time of its launch it was priced Rs. 50000 only and at the time of closure of
production it was priced at Rs. 2.35 lakh.
DRDO developing UAVs to track down Maoists
February 15, 2014
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is developing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for the Central Reserve
Police Force (CRPF) to track down maoists in naxal hit states viz. Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, etc. And would demonstrate the operational
capability of the first such vehicle, Nishant in Jagdalpur.
• The UAVs being developed for CRPF would be able to help the forces trace and track down the ultra Left operatives in even thick forests.
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The Nishant, a multi-mission UAV developed by India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a branch of DRDO, had already
been inducted by the army. (Nishant consists of an air vehicle supported by ground control station equipment mounted on Tatra
vehicles and it can be moved to any location for launching whenever required making it very versatile).
About Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
• Means: Aerial vehicles which operate without a human pilot. Eaves are commonly used in both the military and police forces in
situations where the risk of sending a human piloted aircraft is unacceptable, or the situation makes using a manned aircraft
Impractical.
• Uses: To get aerial video of a remote location, especially where there would be unacceptable risk to the pilot of a manned aircraft and
can be equipped with high resolution still, video, and even infrared cameras.
• The information obtained by the UAV can be streamed back to the control centre in real time.
• Used to carry and deliver a variety of payloads. Helicopter type UAVs are well suited to this purpose, because payloads can be suspended
from the bottom of the airframe, with little aerodynamic penalty.
Ms. Arunima Sinha bagged Amazing Indian Award 2014
February 15, 2014
Ms Arunima Sinha bagged with Amazing Indian Award by the Vice President ofIndia, Mr. Hamid Ansari, for scaling Mount Everest despite
being physically challenged.
• Ms. Sinha is the first Indian amputee who scales the Mount Everest on May, 2013. She is a former national volleyball
andfootball player from Uttar Pradesh.
• She lost her right leg in 2011 after being thrown off a moving train. Two years later she stood on the peak of the Mount Everest with an
artificial leg and an indomitable spirit to achieve the unimaginable.
Note: The Amazing Indian Award was instituted by Times Now channel in September 2012. TIMES NOW is India’s No. 1 English news
channel that is devoted to providing pure and relevant news to its viewers around the clock.
Sitaram Yechury committee report: Revisit Aircraft Act 1934 and bring out comprehensive bill
February 15, 2014
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has rejected the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Bill in the
present form. The committee stated that the proposal for setting up a new aviation regulator lacks teeth in empowering the authority.
• The panel, headed by Sitaram Yechury suggested the Civil Aviation Ministry to come out with a comprehensive Bill after revisiting the
Aircraft Act, 1934 because it felt that the Act is too old to tackle the emerging problems in the aviation sector.
Excerpts of the Sitaram Yechury committee report on Transport, Tourism and Culture
• The Chairperson of Civil Aviation Authority of India should be part-time only as there exists possibility of deadlock between a full time
Chairperson and the Director General would be imminent.
• Increase the number of experts in the selection committee for the appointment of Chairperson, DG and full-time members of the
Authority.
• Found fault with the qualifications needed to become the chairman of the CAA in the Bill, saying it would seem that only a former civil
aviation secretary would fulfill the requirements to head the CAA.
• Allow professionals and heads of public sector undertakings viz. Airports Authority of India, who have the relevant experience and
knowledge but were lower in rank than secretary, to head CAA.
• CAA members’ term of office should be reduced to three years from the proposed five years as it would block those persons having latest
training and knowledge from becoming members, particularly when the sector was growing and changing fast.
CCEA approved National Programme on Prevention & Management of Burn Injuries (NPPMBI)
February 15, 2014
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the proposal to convert and expand the pilot programme of Burn Injuries of
the 11th Plan period into a full-fledged National Programme on Prevention & Management of Burn Injuries (NPPMBI) during the
remaining part of the 12th Plan Period.
• At an estimated cost of Rs. 4 billion, infrastructural facilities for burn management and rehabilitation in 67 state Government Medical
Colleges will be established in different States.
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• Additionally, Rs. 17.16 crore has also been approved for completing three Burn Units of the 11th Plan Pilot Programme.
Objective: To improve awareness among the population, especially the vulnerable groups, i.e. women and children and industrial workers
regarding prevention of burn injuries, apart from creating trained personnel for specialized treatment of burn injuries.
Dr. Marco Lambertini: New Director-General of WWF International
February 15, 2014
Dr. Marco Lambertini appointed as the Director General of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) International. He will begin his new role
with the global conservation organization on May 1, 2014.
Dr. Marco Lambertini
• At present, he is the chief executive of Bird Life International.
• Holds an experience of 25 years as a global conservation leader.
• Began his association with WWF as a youth volunteer growing up in his native Italy.
About World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
• An international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration
of theenvironment.
• Founded: April 29, 1961.
• Headquarters: Gland, Vaud, Switzerland.
• Mission: To stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in
harmony with nature.
• Focus: On the conservation of three biomes that contain most of the world’s biodiversity: oceans and coasts, forests, and
freshwater ecosystems.
• Also concerned with endangered species, pollution and climate change.
Mr. Vishwanath Tripathi honored with the Vyas Samman 2013
February 15, 2014
The famous Hindi writer, Mr. Vishwanath Tripathi (82) honored by the prestigious Vyas Samman 2013. He has been chosen for his memoir
‘Vyomkesh Darvesh ‘that is a biography of the noted Hindi scholar Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi.
• The Vyas Samman 2012 was given to Hindi litterateur Narendra Kohli for his historical novel “Na Bhooto Na
Bhavishyati” based on Swami Vivekananda.
• Mr. Surya Prasad Dikshit was the selection committee head of Vyas Samman 2013.
• Mr. Tripathi has around 20 publications by his name that includes memoirs, novel and poetry collection.
• Note: The Vyas Samman award instituted in 1991 by the K.K. Birla Foundation and the award carries a prize of Rs. 2.5
lakh. It is one the most prestigious award of India that is given every year to the poet or writer for their out standing
contribution in the Hindi language.
Sushil Koirala: Nepal’s new PM
February 15, 2014
Veteran Nepali Congress President, Mr. Sushil Koirala (75) elected as Prime Minister of Nepal, after he secured more
than two-thirds of the votes in the Parliament of Nepal. He would be the sixth head of government since the country
became a Republic in 2008, following a peace deal with Maoist rebels in 2006.
Mr. Sushil Koirala
Received 405 votes while 148 votes were cast against him out of the present 583 legislators that took part in the voting in
the Parliament in the Kathmandu a short while ago.
Became the fourth prime minister from his family, after Matrika Prasad Koirala, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala and Girija Prasad Koirala.
Coalition form with the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), the second largest party, and some other smaller groups.
In a seven-point power-sharing deal, both the parties (UML & NC) decided to draft a new constitution and old fresh elections for the
president and vice president within a year.
Had taken over the charge from Mr. Khil Raj Regmi, who was working as acting Prime Minister of Nepal from March 14, 2013.
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“SMSS J031300.36-670839.3”: Oldest known star in the Universe discovered
February 16, 2014
The astronomers led by Dr Stefan Keller of the Australian National University (ANU) have discovered the oldest known star, SMSS
J031300.36-670839.3, in the Universe, which formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.6 billion years ago.
• Modern cosmological science stated that our universe came into existence as a result of a Big Bang event about 13.7 billion
years ago. Our Sun is approximately 4.57 billion years old.
• The new star beats the previous longevity record of 13.2 billion years set by a star dubbed HD 140283 surveyed by American
astronomers.
• The ANU SkyMapper telescope at the Sliding Spring Observatory has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe.
• About SMSS J031300.36-670839.3 star
• SMSS stands for SkyMapper Southern Sky Survey, the 031300refers to the right ascension of the star on the sky and
the 670839.3refers to the declination.
• Second-generation star due to the low level of iron in the upper limit.
• Composition: Mass 60 times bigger than our Sun and is relatively close to us, about 6,000 light years from the Earth.
• Age: Approximately 13.6 billion years.
• Discovery indicates that the supernovae of first generation stars may not have been as powerful as previously thought.
• Showed the signs of pollution with lighter elements viz. carbon, magnesium, etc, with no traces of iron. This indicates the
primordial star’s supernova explosion was of surprisingly low energy. (Previously, primordial stars were thought to have
died in violent explosions which polluted space with iron).
• In other words, the extremely low iron content of ‘J’ (to give it a more manageable pseudonym) indicates that the explosion
that formed it was relatively low energy.
• Though, sufficient to disintegrate the primordial star, almost all of the heavy elements such as iron, were consumed by a black
hole that formed at the heart of the explosion.
• The discovery is the first step in understanding ancient stars that formed after the Big Bang. Astronomers can measure the
star’s composition as well as iron “pollution” due to supernovae.
Benefit of the discovery: For the first time, astronomers can study the chemistry of the first stars and can give a clearer idea of what the
Universe was like in its infancy.
About Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang is the scientific theory that is most consistent with observations of the past and present states of the universe, and it is widely
accepted within the scientific community. It offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of observed phenomena, including the
abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background, large scale structure, and the Hubble diagram.
Note: First generation stars are predominantly tens or hundreds of times more massive than the Sun. They live fast, die young and have
not survived to the present day. Though, the second generation stars, a little smaller than the Sun, have massive lifespan of over 13 billion
years.
RBI allowed FIIs to purchase 30% shares in Dabur
February 16, 2014
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) to purchase shares in Dabur India up to 30% of the firm’s paid
up capital.
• FIIs have been allowed to buy more shares in Dabur India as the company has passed a special resolution to increase the limit for
purchase of its equity shares and convertible debentures by FIIs.
• As indicated by the data available on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), FIIs held 19.94% shares in Dabur India as of quarter ended
December 2013.
Under the Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS), Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin
(PIOs) are allowed to invest in the primary and secondary capital markets in India. They can acquire shares/debentures of Indian
companies through the stock exchanges.
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Note: The ceilings on FIIs/ NRIs)/ PIOs) investments in Indian companies are monitored by RBI on a daily basis. For effective monitoring of
foreign investment ceiling limits, the RBI has fixed cut-off points that are 2% points lower than the actual ceilings.
“Two additional attempts” for all categories of candidates in UPSC’s Civil Services Exams
February 16, 2014
The Union Government has decided to give an additional 2 attempts along-with a consequential age relaxation to all categories of
candidates for the Civil Services Exam conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The Ministry of Personnel in its order stated that it has approved two additional attempts to all categories of candidates with effect from
Civil Services Examination 2014, with consequential age relaxation of maximum age for all categories of candidates, if required.
The UPSC conducts the civil service exams to select members of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and
Indian Foreign Service (IFS) among others.
As per the existing norms of Civil Services Examination 2013
• The candidates from the open category get four attempts at passing the exam, while candidates from OBC categories get seven. The
fixed age limit for these candidates is 30 and 33 respectively. Candidates from SC/ST communities have no cap on the number of
attempts but have an age limit of 35.
• The upper age limit is also relaxable upto a maximum of five years if a candidate had ordinarily been domiciled in Jammu & Kashmir
during January 1, 1980 to December 31, 1989.
• For defense services personnel disabled during hostilities with a foreign country or in a disturbed area and released as a
consequence, the relaxation is up to three years.
• There is also a relaxation in upper age upto a maximum of 10 years in the case of blind, deaf-mute and orthopaedically handicapped
candidates besides other categories.
Note: The Civil Services Examination (Preliminary), 2014, is tentatively scheduled for August 24, 2014. The examinations are conducted
in three stages: Preliminary, mains and interview.
Sikkim: India’s first state to achieve 100% sanitation coverage
February 16, 2014
As per the report released by the Union Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation, Sikkim became the only state in India to achieve 100%
sanitation in rural and urban households, schools, sanitary complexes and Aanganwadi centres.
Under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan scheme, the Himalayan state, Sikkim has constructed 98,043 individual household latrines against the
target of 87,014 till January, and achieved 112.67% of its target. The scheme was implemented by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and
Sanitation.
• The state has also sensitized people to adopt a holistic approach to improve sanitation and hygiene in a clean environment while
accelerating its overall development.
• Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling launched a community-led total sanitation campaign in 1999 for achieving full sanitation in the
7,096 sq km area of the state.
• And, to encourage sanitation activities, the state government has instituted a “Nirmal Gram Puraskar” (Clean Village Award).
• Sikkim also topped the list among all states of the country in net performance indicators.
About Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA)
• Community-led total sanitation program initiated by Government of India in 1999.
• Mission: To eradicate the practice of open defecation by 2017.
• Ambassador: Bollywood Actress Vidya Balan.
• Objective: Accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas to achieve the vision of Nirmal Bharat by 2022 with all gram
Panchayats in the country attaining Nirmal status.
• Motivate communities and Panchayati Raj Institutions promoting sustainable sanitation facilities through awareness
creation andhealth education.
• Encourage cost effective and appropriate technologies for ecologically safe and sustainable sanitation.
• Govt. of India launched Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) to encourage the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to take up rural
sanitation promotion and attain 100% open defecation free Panchayats.
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• Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) is being implemented in association with Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) at all levels, through social
mobilization for construction of toilets and also maintain clean environment by way of safe disposal of wastes.
Note: Sikkim is India’s least populated and second smallest state in area after Goa.
The ministry of road transport and highways has ordered to all public transport vehicles plying in cities with a population of more than 10
Lakh will have to install GPS (Global Positioning System) devices by February 20, 2014.
Central Government: All public transport vehicles must have GPS by Feb 20, 2014
February 16, 2014
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways set a deadline for public transport vehicles running in major cities with a population of
over 10 lakh to install GPS devices by February 20, 2014. The Union government has directed all state governments to follow the
guidelines.
All the owners of public service vehicles are required to get Global Positioning System (GPS) installed in their vehicles by February 20.
Those who fail to install, then the necessary action shall be taken against the defaulters.
Under the Nirbhaya Fund for women safety, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved Rs 1,405-crore project to
track and monitor public transport and provide alarm buttons for alerting authorities.
The project:
• Involves setting up of closed circuit television (CCTVs) and using GPS to ensure safety and security of women and girls in distress.
• Will be implemented within two years after allocation of funds to set up a National Level Vehicle Security and Tracking System and City
Command and Control Centre with installation of GPS, CCTV in public road transport.
Note: Earlier, the Road Ministry set the deadline for passenger vehicle owners to install these devices by September 30, 2013.
Mr. Jatinder Bir Singh: Appointed as a new CMD of Punjab and Sind Bank
February 16, 2014
Mr. Jatinder Bir Singh appointed new Chairman and Managing Director of Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB). He succeeded Mr. D.P.
Singh. Previously, Mr. Singh was an Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources. He is 1983-batch IAS officer of Assam-
Meghalaya cadre.
Mukul Mudgal Committee report on IPL spot fixing scandal
February 16, 2014
The Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee submitted its report to the Supreme Court after investigating allegations of spot-fixing and betting in
the Indian Premier League (IPL).
As per the Mukul Mugdal Committee report
• The allegations of betting and passing of information against Mr.Gurunath Meiyappan (the Son-in-Law of BCCI
president N Srinivasan) stand proved.
• More investigation is needed against Rajasthan Royals owner Mr. Raj Kundra, who is facing charges of betting and fixing
the match.
• The allegations of spot-fixing and match fixing against five players – Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila, Amit Singh
and Siddharth Trivedi – on the basis of evidence provided by Delhi Police were facing criminal trial and adequate
punishment has been imposed upon them by the BCCI.
• Constitution of IPL Governing Council, the two teams Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals may be suspended.
• As per the Clause 11.3 of the IPL franchise agreement in any case, if the team, official, team owner or anyone else
associated with the team tries to bring in bad image on the league, then the team can be suspended immediately.
Recommendations of Mukul Mudgal panel
• Senior players should make ensure that younger players are aware about the spot-fixing and other things that tarnish the
image of the sport as well as the player or team.
• The game should be made more clear and transparent.
• Information should be shared with other agencies by BCCI.
• BCCI should make a proactive approach against players and bookies instead of wait for the media probe.
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• In its recommendation, it has also suggested getting registered agents of the players by BCCI and those agents should not
be allowed to travel with the players.
About Mukul Mugdal Committee
• Formed: By Supreme Court in October 2013.
• Purpose: To investigate spot-fixing in IPL matches.
• Chairman: Mr. Mukul Mudgal, the Retired Chief Justice of Punjaband Haryana High Court.
• Other members: Additional Solicitor L N Rao and Nilay Dutta.
• The panel led by Justice Mudgal made the report after compiling statements of players, officials associated to IPL and
Journalists.
• Note: On March 7, 2014, the Supreme Court of India will examine the report submitted by the panel.
RBI imposed restrictions on intra-group investment by banks
February 16, 2014
In a bid to mitigate the financial risk from concentration of business, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) imposed curbs on banks investing in
their group companies.
Objective of ITEs measures: To ensure that banks maintain arm’s length relationship in dealings with their own group entities, meet
minimum requirements with respect to group risk management and group-wide oversight, and adhere to prudential limits on intra-group
exposures.
As per the RBI’s guidelines on management of Intra-Group Transactions and Exposures (ITEs)
Banks are allowed to invest 5% of their paid-up capital in the case of non-financial companies and unregulated financial services
companies. The limit is 10 % for regulated financial services companies.
• Fixed an aggregate group exposure limit for intra-group transactions at 20% for all financial and non-financial entities taken
together and limited 10% for non-financial and unregulated entities.
• Banks should ensure they have systems and controls in place to identify, monitor, manage and review exposures arising from intra-
group transactions.
• Banks must also ensure transactions in low-quality assets with group entities aren’t carried out to hide losses or window-dress
balance sheets.
• If the intra-group exposure, either at the single entity level or at the aggregate level, exceeds prudential limits, it should be reported at
the earliest in the prescribed returns along with the reasons for the breach.
• In such situations, banks cannot undertake any further intra-group exposure (at the entity or aggregate level, as the case may be) until
it is brought down to within the limit.
• Banks should submit data on intra-group exposures to the RBI (Department of Banking Supervision, Central Office), from the quarter
ending December 31, 2014.
• By March 31, 2016, banks will have to reduce their intra-group exposure that exceeds the prescribed limit. At that time, the
additional exposure would be deducted from the bank’s common equity Tier-I capital. The apex bank might impose a penalty for
frequent breaches of the prescribed limits.
• The guidelines will become effective from October 1, 2014.
Note: As per existing norms, a bank can take single borrower exposure upto 25% of bank total capital and upto 55% for group exposure.
Solar mission: US again challenged India’s solar export restrictions in WTO
February 16, 2014
On the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission(JNNSM), the Government of India stated that it hadn’t violated
global trading norms under the World Trade Organization (WTO), even as the US filed a second case against India in WTO.
Why USA Trade Representative filed a case against India at WTO on the issue of Phase II of JNNSM?
The United States of America (USA) challenged the domestic content requirement in Phase II of India’s National Solar Mission (NSM),
which requires solar power developers to use Indian-made equipment. It alleged that the requirement was discriminatory and
against international norms, including World Trade Organization (WTO) laws, and affects US solar panel manufacturers.
• In February 2013, the US had filed a similar case related to the first phase of the mission. Though, it didn’t pursue that case.
What is India’s perspective against the allegations made by USA on the issue of Phase II of JNNSM?
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The Government of India dismissed the allegations and stated that its national solar mission programme is WTO-compliant and it would
defend its stand in the Geneva-based multilateral body.
• India argued that its solar policies are legal under WTO government procurement rules that permit countries to exempt projects from non-
discrimination obligations.
• Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) pointed out that many US companies have won contracts in phase II of India’s National
Solar Mission. Thus, there should not be such issue of discrimination against them.
Why there is a bone of contention between India and USA over the domestic content requirement in Phase II of India’s
solar program?
In the Phase II of the solar mission, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has freed half the projects from local sourcing
conditions.
• Phase I of policy implementation: MNRE involved developers of solar photovoltaic (“PV”) projects employing crystalline silicon technology
to use solar modules manufactured in India.
• Phase II of policy implementation: MNRE expanded this domestic sourcing requirement to crystalline silicon solar cells and thin film
technologies as well.
• At present, solar thin film consists of the majority of US solar product exports to India and these domestic content requirements will
probably cause even greater harm to US producers than under Phase I. That’s why, there is there is a bone of contention between USA and
India.
About Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)
• Also known as the National Solar Mission. Officially launched by Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2010.
• Objective: To establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as
quickly as possible.
• Mission: To have 20 GW of grid-connected solar power by 2022 and to make it as cheap as electricity from conventional sources.
• Part of National Action Plan on Climate Change.
• Adopted 3-phase approach: Phase I (2012-13), Phase II (2013–17) and Phase III (2017–22).
• The first phase with a target total of 1,200MW (off-grid and on-grid) ended in March 2013. (In the first phase, the off-grid solar energy
target was only 200 MW).
• The second phase has a target of 9,000 MW grid-connected and 800 MW off-grid solar power by 2017.
Under WTO rules, if the matter is not resolved through consultations within 60 days of the request, the US states may ask the WTO to
establish a dispute settlement panel.
Note: Under WTO dispute-settlement body norms, a complainant first seeks consultations with the target country, which typically takes 60
days. Subsequently, a panel of lawyers is constituted and the case is officially registered as a trade dispute.
“Digital Holographic Microscopy” technique: First ever 3D film of a living sperm developed
February 16, 2014

The track of a single sperm cell with a bent tail, in two dimensions (left) and three dimensions (right). Credit: Biomedical Optics Express.
Scientists have developed the first 3-D movie of living sperm that can help doctors to select most viable sperm to improve odds during In
Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
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The 3-D imaging technique also known as Digital Holographic Microscopy(DHM), gives morphology and motility data on sperm
consistent with that found in previous studies, but with the unprecedented bonus of seeing cause and effect relationships between the
two.
About the first 3-D movie of living sperm
• Provides detailed 3D imaging of the sperm’s form and structure to detect potential infertility-causing anomalies, such as the “bent tail” that
prevents the cells from swimming straight.
• Generates a progressive series of holograms, scientists can watch sperm move and look for structural anomalies that make them less
viable.
• Helpful for doctors: To sort the good sperm cells from the less viable ones, using a tracking system, that takes 3-D movies of living sperm
and to show the sperm’s movement and behavior in real time.
• First technique for collecting data on sperm cell motility – a key predictor of IVF success – in three dimensions and over time.
At present, sperm concentration and mobility in semen are assessed either by subjective visual evaluation or a process known
as Computer-Assisted Sperm Analysis (CASA).
How the researchers developed the First ever 3D film of a living sperm?
Researchers first separated laser light into two beams. They transmitted one beam through a dish containing live, swimming sperm cells
and then recombined it, after magnification through a microscope, with the second beam.
• The superimposed beams generate an interference pattern that we can record on camera.
• The resulting image is a hologram containing information relative to the morphologies of the sperm and their positioning in three-
dimensional space.
• Viewing a progressive series of these holograms in a real-time video, we can observe how the sperm move and determine if that
movement is affected by any abnormalities in their shape and structure.
In other words, researchers combined microscopy and holography – the creation of 3-D images - to visualize live sperm in not only
two dimensions (the x and y positions) but also their depth (z position) as well.
Note: In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body. It is a major treatment for infertility
when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed.
NRIs set up first NaMo tea stall in Silicon valley, USA
February 16, 2014
The Indian-American professionals from many IT companies viz. Microsoft, Cisco, Apple, eBay, Oracle, etc. set up the first NaMo tea stall in
Silicon valley, USA.
Objective: To extend their support to BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for the Lok Sabha polls.
To make use of latest technology to cut power transmission losses in India, fully computerizing the process of government tenders and
providing technological aid to Indian farmers. They will compile all the suggestions discussed and send them to a team formed by BJP in
India.
These professionals met at Indian tea-stall in Ortega Park in Sunnyvale as part of the volunteer group – “I Care for India”. There they
discussed the role of technology in solving Governance issues in India. Such as:
• Use the latest technology to cut power transmission losses in India
• Fully computerize the process of government tenders and provide technological aid to Indian farmers.
All these suggestions would send to a team formed by BJP in India to support BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Note: NaMo Tea stalls or ‘Chai pe charcha’ programmes are to interact with the public of India and to take suggestions from the public on
the various issues related to the progress of the country viz. good governance, etc. This mega outreach programme is a part of Mr.
Narendra Modi’s (BJP’s prime ministerial candidate) election campaign for the Lok Sabha elections due by May, 2014.
OECD issued new standard to combat black money; India to follow new standard for tracking black
money
February 16, 2014
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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)revealed a new “game-changing” mechanism to combat the
menace of offshore tax evasion. Till now, 42 countries including India adopted a new global standard for automatic exchange of
information on offshore tax evasion and committed to share tax details.
• Plan: for automatic exchange of information on bank accounts holding more than $250,000 as a “real game changer” that would
deter evasion and help tax authorities identify citizens hiding money offshore.
• Objective: To smooth the automatic exchange procedures those are used to crack cases of offshore tax evasion and illegal stashing
of money.
Highlights of the new tax standards set by the Global economic body O.E.C.D.
• Governments would automatically share information on taxpayers’ offshore bank and brokerage accounts with foreign tax
authorities.
• Banks, brokers and some insurers and investment funds would have to report residents’ account balances as well as interest,
dividends and other investment income to their government. The government would then make that information available
automatically to any other government that had signed the information-exchanging agreement.
• Financial companies would also be required to identify the ultimate beneficiaries of shell companies, trusts and
similar legalarrangements that now can be used to evade taxes.
• OECD will formally present the standard for the endorsement of G20 finance ministers during a February 22-23, 2014 meeting
in Sydney,Australia.
In other words, this new standard on automatic exchange of informationwill build up international tax co-operation and place
governments back on a more even footing as they seek to protect the integrity of their tax systems and fight tax evasion.
Union Government launched HIV Salvage Therapy
February 16, 2014
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched third-line drug therapy for people living with HIV/AIDS and extended free
Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to more of them by revising the eligibility norm.
• The third-line therapy also known as salvage or rescue therapy is prescribed for people who have limited drug options
left.
• At the launch of the National AIDS Control Programme Phase IV (2012-2017), Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad
stated that:
• For receiving free ART, the minimum CD4-count limit reduced from 500 to 350. The count is a measure of the viral load.
• The highly expensive therapy (Third-Line Therapy) would enhance longevity and improve the quality of life of patients
and will also be provided free of charge to patients.
• The Union Government has also tabled the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
(Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, in the Rajya Sabha to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and to protect the human
rights of people living with it.
• The Bill seeks to prohibit any kind of discrimination against the infected person — for instance, denial or termination of
employment or occupation, unfair treatment, denial of access to any sector and forcible HIV testing.
• Currently, India is estimated to have 2.39 million people living with HIV/AIDS.
Note: ART consists of the combination of at least three Anti-Retro Viral (ARV) drugs to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the
progression of HIVdisease.
“Pune Metro Rail Project” approved by Central Government
February 16, 2014
The Union Ministry of Urban Development gave an “in-principle” approval to the Phase – I of the Pune Metro
Rail Project. In-principle approval of the Centre will enable the state government to take necessary action
required for faster implementation of the project.
Pune Metro Rail Project
• Objective: To provide a world class state of the art metro rail system on pattern of Delhi Metro.
• Will cover a length of 31.51 km along two corridors viz. Corridor-1 cover16.59 km from PCMC to Swargate and
Corridor-2 cover 14.92 km from Vanaz to Ramwadi and improve the public transport system in the city of Pune.
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• The capital expenditure is expected to be around Rs 10,183 crore and the targeted year of completion is 2021.
Maharashtra Government has proposed to implement the project through a Special Purpose Vehicle jointly owned by the Centre and the
state government.
“The Hindus: An Alternative History”: Penguin withdraws Doniger book on Hinduism
February 16, 2014
Publisher Penguin India agreed to withdraw American Indologist Wendy Doniger’s book “The Hindus: An Alternative
History” from the Indian market.
The decision made between the publisher and Delhi based complainant organization
called“Shiksha Bachao Andolan”, who moved to court alleging distortion aimed at denigrating
Hindu traditions.
The main contention of all petitioners is that the book insults and offends Hindus and Indians.
The issues against the book range from factual errors, dates, maps, to use of psychoanalytical
tools while viewing Vedic, Hindu and Indian gods.
As per the settlement between the complainant and Penguin publishers, Penguin will destroy all copies of the
book, dubbed “disrespectful of Hinduism”, within six months.
Assam became the First State to legally ban smokeless tobacco
February 16, 2014
Assam became the first state to legally ban consumption of all forms of smokeless tobacco, including pan masala containing tobacco
and nicotine. Thus sale, consumption, manufacturing, trading, storage and advertisement of all forms of smokeless tobacco including pan
masala have been banned in Assam.
Provisions of (Ban on Smokeless Tobacco ) Act
• Ban on all kind of advertisement, distribution, promotion, production, sale, trade and business. Any thing which promotes tobacco
consumption is come under this act.
• Any forms which contain tobacco are prohibited in the state viz. pan masala, gutkha, khaini, etc.
• For violating the law, one shall be punished with imprisonment up to 7 years and fine between Rs.1 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh.
• Consumption or possession of zarda, gutka and pan masala containing tobacco shall be punished with a fine of Rs. 1000 for the first
offence and Rs. 2000 for each subsequent offence.
Though many states have imposed similar bans under the food safety regulation, Assam would be the first to impose the ban through
legislature.
Note: Smokeless tobacco accounts for 90% of oral cancers.
“Sammakkaa Saarakka” or “Jatara”: Largest tribal religious congregation of world began
February 16, 2014
In Andhra Pradesh, “Sammakkaa Saarakka” Fair or “Jatara”, the largest tribal religious congregation in the world, began at
Medaram in Warangal district of the Telangana region.
Sammakkaa Saarakka is a 4-day biennial fair which is celebrated to pay tribute to the tribal warrior Sammakka and her daughter
Saaralamma Saaralamma who sacrificed their lives while fighting against the army of Kakatiya dynasty to protect their people. Crores of
devotees from far-flung areas viz. Jharkhand,Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu participated in the fair.
Karnataka clinched the Irani Cup 2014
February 16, 2014
Karnataka clinched the Irani Cup 2013-14 for the fifth time after defeating Rest of India in the final held at Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bangalore. Karnataka beat Rest of India by an innings and 222 runs to win the trophy.
Man-of-the-match: R. Vinay Kumar.
Recently, Karnataka defeated Maharashtra by seven wickets to win 2013-14 Ranji Trophy at the Rajiv
Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad. Mr. Vinay Kumar became the third Karnataka captain to win both the Ranji Trophy and Irani
Cup in the same year. Karnataka last won the Irani Cup in 1998 at the same venue, under Venkatesh Prasad.
Irani cup was named after the late Z.R. Irani, who was associated with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from its inception in 1928, till
his death in 1970.
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Note: This victory of Karnataka made it the first ever Ranji Trophy champion in the last eight seasons to win the Irani Cup also.
(Karnataka are the current Ranji champions).
Major General Kosnam Himalaya Singh
February 16, 2014
Major General Konsam Himalaya Singh became the first Lieutenant General in the army from North East
States. Singh is the senior most serving officer in the army from Manipur. Presently, Major General KM
Singh is serving in the military secretary’s branch which is headquartered in New Delhi.
In Kargil war, Singh commanded 27 Rajput Regiment and he was awarded Yudh Seva Medal for leading
successful operations. He was awarded the Ati Vishisht Sewa Medal in 2013. Albeit around 2 Indian Air
Force Officers from the North Eastern region have risen to 3-star rank, Maj. Gen. Kosnam Himalaya
Singh is the first from the Army to reach this rank.
CSO: India’s Economy to grow by 4.9% in 2013-14
February 16, 2014
As per the advanced estimates released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during 2013-14
is estimated at 4.9% as compared to the growth rate of 4.5% in 2012-13.
The advance estimates of national income at constant (2004-05) and current prices, for the financial year 2013-14
• Based on expected level of agricultural production from the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture &
Cooperation(DAC), Index of Industrial Production (IIP), monthly accounts of Union Government Expenditure maintained
by Controller General of Accounts (CGA) and of State Government expenditure maintained by Comptroller and Auditor
general of India (CAG).
• Per capita income in real terms (at 2004-05 prices) during 2013-14 is probably to attain a level of Rs 39,961 as compared
to the first revised estimate for the year 2012-13 of Rs 38,856. The growth rate in per capita income is estimated at 2.8%
as against the previous year’s estimate of 2.1%.
• Per capita income at current prices during 2013-14 is estimated to Rs 74,920 as compared to Rs 67,839 during 2012-13,
shows a rise of 10.4%.
• The rates of Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) at current and constant (2004-05) prices during 2013-14 are
estimated at 28.5% and 32.5%. (GFCF is an indicator of investment)
• The rate of expenditure on valuables at current prices has gone down from 2.6% in 2012-13 to 2.1% in 2013-14.
• Key sectors that have taken into account while estimating the of national income at constant (2004-05) and
current prices, for the financial year 2013-14 are:
• Agriculture, forestry and fishing: Will probably show a growth of 4.6% in its GDP during 2013-14, as against the
previous year’s growth rate of 1.4%.
• Manufacturing: Expected to contract 0.2% in this financial year compared with growth of 1.1% in the previous year.
• Services sector (finance, insurance, real estate and businessservices sectors): Expected to grow 11.2% this year
compared with 10.9% in 2012-13.
• Mining and quarrying: Probably to contract 1.9% as compared to 2.2% decline in production 2012-13.
• Construction: Will probably improve to 1.7% from 1.1% in 2012-13.
• Trade, hotels, transport and communication: Probably improve to 3.5% in this financial year.
• Electricity, gas and water production: The growth in these sectors is likely to improve to 6% in 2013-14 from 2.3 per
cent in 2012-13.
• Community social and personal services growth would be better at 7.4% as compared to 5.3% previously.
Note: The Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, Mr. C. Rangarajan described the latest estimate of 4.9% for 2013-
14 as an encouraging indication that economic slowdown is over.
“India-China Year of Friendly Exchanges” launched by Vice President of India
February 16, 2014
The Vice President of India Mr. Mohammad Hamid Ansari launched the ‘India-China Year of Friendly
Exchanges’ in New Delhi. Initiatives taken by India to form closer and stronger relationship with
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China:
• To promote Chinese companies to establish production and supply chains which will link our economies. This will also ensure a more
balanced trade between our two sides. One of the ideas, which is being looked at carefully is of a dedicated ChineseIndustrial Park in India.
• To introduce Chinese language in the middle schools in India. Recently, 22 Chinese teachers have come to teach at selected C.B.S.E.
schools across the length and breadth of our country.
• Plan to highlight Indian culture in China through a programme entitled ‘Glimpses of India’.
Note: The Year 2014 has been designated by the Governments of India and China as the Year of Friendly Exchanges.
China and Taiwan hold first high-level meeting since 1949
February 16, 2014
The Representatives of Taiwanand China hold their first high-level meeting since they split 65 years
ago, after a brutal China’s civil war. The official talks held between Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs
Minister Mr. Wang Yu-chi and China’s Vice Foreign Minister Mr. Zhang Zhijun (who heads the
Taiwan Affairs Office) at Nanjing, Jiangsuprovince of China.
Outcome of the official level talks: Both the countries agreed to set up representative offices “as
early as possible” for the two semi-official organizations which deal with ties between the two. And,
also agreed to deepen economic ties and “appropriately deal with” issues on medical care for
students in either place.
About China-Taiwan relations
• China and Taiwan ruled by separate governments since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.
• China’s constitution claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
• Taiwan has never formally renounced its decades-old claim to the whole of China.
• China has offered a “one country, two systems” solution, like Hong Kong.
Note: The official talks between the two countries are sensed as an attempt to facilitate wider exchanges and building cross-strait relations
and a confidence building exercise.
Acenture study: India ranked 8th in demand for digital governance
February 16, 2014
As per new comparative study by Accenture, Indiaranked eighth in the list of ten countries in terms of
digital governance. Singapore topped the list, followed by Norway and the United Arab Emirates(UAE).
As indicated in the report, high-performing digital governments are focusing on their digital strategy,
continuing long-term investment in key information and communication technology (ICT) assets and
leveraging the power of new technologies viz. social media, mobility, analytics, big data, cloud computing, etc. These countries are also
connected across agency boundaries and have a strong culture of collaboration and data sharing.
• Countries where survey conducted by Acenture: Brazil,Germany, India, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, the Kingdom ofSaudi
Arabia, the UAE, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Gave a cumulative score from one to 10).
• Parameters that are taken into account to measure the countries digital governance: Citizen Service Delivery Experience,
Citizen Satisfaction and Service Maturity.
• Citizens’ perception of digital government in the survey: 81% – would like their government to provide more services through
digital channels and 64%- would like to use social media to engage with government.
Note: Digital governance means to offer online portals to access public services to employing digital channels and social media to
communicate and engage with citizens.
BSE launched Institutional Trading Platform (ITP) on SME
February 16, 2014
The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) launched an Institutional Trading Platform (ITP) to
help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and start-up companies to list on the bourses
without an Initial Public Offer (IPO). BSE Ltd set up the BSE SME Platform as per the rules and
regulations laid down by SEBI.
BSE SME Institutional Trading Platform (ITP)
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• Facilitate capital raising by small and medium enterprises including start-up companies which are in their early stages of growth .
• Will provide easier entry and exit options for investor’s viz. angel investors, venture capital funds, and private equity equity players.
• Over 46 companies are listed in the SME category.
• Offers an entrepreneur and investor friendly environment, which enables the listing of SMEs from the unorganized sector scattered
throughout India, into a regulated and organized sector.
• Will enable SMEs to raise money without having to go through the extensive IPO process.
• Tax benefits to long term Investors.
• With an advanced trading platform and better services launch of ITP on BSE SME will complete the products which are valuable to
investors and companies.
The Eligibility Criteria for the company desirous of listing are as follows:
Regulatory Criteria:
• The company, its promoter, group company or director does not appear in the willful defaulters list of Reserve Bank of India as
maintained by Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL).
• There is no winding up petition against the company that has been admitted by a competent court.
• The company, group companies or subsidiaries have not been referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction within
a period of five years prior to the date of application for listing.
• No regulatory action has been taken against the company, its promoter or director, by the Board, Reserve Bank of
India, InsuranceRegulatory and Development Authority or Ministry of Corporate Affairs within a period of five years prior to the date
of application for listing.
Financial Criteria:
• The paid up capital of the company has not exceeded 25 crore rupees in any of the previous financial years.
• The company has at least one full year’s audited financial statements, for the immediately preceding financial year at the time of
making listing application.
• The company has not completed a period of more than 10 years after incorporation and its revenues have not exceeded 100 crore
rupees in any of the previous financial years
• At least one of the following criteria:
1. At least one alternative investment fund, venture capital fund or other category of investors/lenders approved by the Board
has invested a minimum amount of 50 lakh rupees in equity shares of the company.
2. At least one angel investor who is a member of an association/group of angel investors which fulfils the criteria laid down by
the recognized stock exchange, has invested a minimum amount of 50 lakh rupees in the equity shares of the company
through such association/group.
3. The company has received finance from a scheduled bank for its project financing or working capital requirements and a
period of 3 years has elapsed from the date of such financing and the funds so received have been fully utilized.
4. A registered merchant banker has exercised due diligence and has invested not less than 50 lakh rupees in equity shares of
the company which shall be locked in for a period of three years from the date of listing.
5. A qualified institutional buyer has invested not less than 50 lakh rupees in the equity shares of the company which shall be
locked in for a period of three years from the date of listing.
6. A specialized international multilateral agency or domestic agency or a public financial institution as defined under section 4
A of the Companies Act, 1956 has invested in the equity capital of the company.
Note: SEBI has made the provision in ICDR guideline by introducing Chapter XC whereby listing on the Exchange made possible without
bringing Initial Public Offer (IPO).
India and ADB signed loan agreement to improve rural roads in 5 States
February 16, 2014
The Government of India (GOI) and Asian Development Bank(ADB) signed a $275 million loan
agreement to continue improving rural roads in the states of Assam,Chhattisgarh, Madhya
Pradesh,Odisha, and West Bengal. The loan represents the second tranche of $800 million
financing facility under the Rural Connectivity Investment Program (RCIP).
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• Joint secretary of Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Nilaya Mitash and Country Director of ADB, Ms. M.
Teresa Kho signed the pact.
• Executing agency of the project: Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) at the central level, while the state governments of
Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal are charged with overall implementation at the state level for a
period of 43 months.
• The loan will construct 3,693 km of all-weather rural roads in the states which will benefit nearly 1,800 rural habitations.
• Second phase of project is expected to be completed in June, 2017.
• The central government will provide counterpart funds of $81.56 million for a total second tranche project investment cost of $356.56
million.
Rural Connectivity Investment Programme (RCIP): A multi-tranche financing facility (MTFF) started by Asian Development Bank (ADB).
RCIP will construct or upgrade the 9000 km of rural roads to an all-weather standard connecting around 4800 habitations in the States of
Assam, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
Note: The second tranche from the ordinary capital resources of ADB has a 25-year term including a grace period of 5 years, commitment
charge of 0.15% per year, and interest rate to be determined in accordance with ADB’s LIBOR-based lending facility.
Mr. Arvind Kejriwal resigned as Delhi CM
February 18, 2014
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal resigned from the post of Chief Minister of Delhi, after failing to introduce and pass
the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly.
In the 70-member Assembly, the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill was opposed by 42 MLAs: BJP (32), Congress (8) and one of the Janata Dal
(United) and an Independent.
Note: The AAP formed the government after winning 28 seats out of 70 in the Assembly election in Delhi. Although, it didn’t have the
majority, the Congress party extended its unconditional support to AAP for forming government. Mr. Kejriwal was sworn in as the second-
youngest chief minister of Delhi on December 28, 2013.
Delhi: President rule imposed after AAP’s resignation
February 18, 2014
On the advice of Union cabinet, the President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjeeimposed President’s rule in Delhi and accepted the
resignation of Chief Minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, along with his council of ministers.
• Though, assembly has not been dissolved and the house has been kept under suspended animation.
• In reference to the provision of Article 239 and Article 239AA of the Constitution, the National Capital Territory of Delhi
will be administered by President through Lt. Governor.
• With President’s rule imposed in Delhi, Lt-Governor Najeeb Junghas become the direct administrator of the
NationalCapitalTerritory.
• President’s Rule (Article 356 of the Constitution of India)
• Purpose: To deal with the failure of the Constitutional machinery of an Indian state.
• In practice president’s rule has been imposed under different circumstances viz. State Legislature is unable to elect a
leader as Chief Minister, Breakdown of a coalition, Elections postponed for unavoidable reasons, etc.
• The President on the advice of the governor or on his own attains the right to dissolve the state government and its
council of ministers, thereby impose president rule. The parliament must approve the president rule to come into effect.
After the implementation of president rule, the governor heads the state and takes all the power.
• When President’s rule is imposed, the assembly is either dissolved or kept in suspended.
As per Article 356(1) in the Constitution of India 1949
(1) If the President, on receipt of report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the
government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with he provisions of this Constitution, the President may by Proclamation -
(a) Assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by
the Governor or any body or authority in the State other than the Legislature of the State;
(b) Declare that the powers of the Legislature of the State shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament;
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(c) Make such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the president to be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the
objects of the Proclamation, including provisions for suspending in whole or in part the operation of any provisions of this constitution
relating to any body or authority in the State Provided that nothing in this clause shall authorize the President to assume to himself any of
the powers vested in or exercisable by a High Court, or to suspend in whole or in part the operation of any provision of this Constitution
relating to High Courts.
About Article 239 and Article 239AA
Article 239 (Administration of Union territories)
• Every Union Territory shall be administered by the President acting through an administrator to be appointed by him with such
designation as he may specify.
• Notwithstanding anything contained in Part VI, the President may appoint the Governor of a State as the administrator of an adjoining
Union territory, and where a Governor is so appointed, he shall exercise his functions as such administrator independently of his
Council of Ministers.
Article 239AA (Special provisions with respect to Delhi) – deal with the Legislative and executive jurisdiction of Delhi. Entries 1, 2 and 18 of
the State List under the Seventh Schedule are not applicable to Delhi. Entry 1 deals with public order, entry 2 with police and entry 18 with
land.
Note: Here, in Delhi, the President’s rule imposed due to the resignation of Aam Aadmi Party led Government and no party or coalition
came forward with required majority to form Government. (The resignation of the AAP government came after it failed to introduce the
Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill for the consideration of the Legislative Assembly).
New Zealand won 2-Cricket Test series against India 1-0
February 18, 2014
New Zealand won the two match Test Series against India by 1-0 after the second test at the Basin Reserve, Wellington ended in a draw.
Man of the Match: Brendon McCullum.
Outcome of the series:
• Brendon McCullum became New Zealand’s first triple-centurion in 84 years of Test cricket in the second test match against India
in Wellington. He scored 302 runs in the second innings.
• India retained their second position in the ICC Test team rankings, after losing the series by 1-0.
• A two-Test series loss has resulted in India slipping from 117 ratings points to 112 that means that they are ahead of Australia by
just one rating point.
• Here, Australia has a chance to go ahead of India on the table before the April 1, 2014 cut-off date.
Note: At present, South Africa is at the number-one position in the ICC Test team rankings and if they remain at the top in the list till
the cut-off date, they will also collect a cheque of $450,000. The side that finishes second will pocket $ 350,000, while $250,000 will go to
the third-ranked team.
India’s Air Costa signed an agreement to buy 50 Embraer Jets
February 19, 2014
Vijayawada-based airline, Air Costa signed an agreement with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to buy 50 E-Jets E2 aircraft worth
$2.94 billion.
• The acquisition of aircrafts is a mix of 25 E190-E2s and 25 E195-E2s with an additional purchase rights for 50 aircrafts to bring the total
potential order to up to 100 aircraft and can reach $5.88 billion if all are exercised.
• Air Costa will be the first customer of the E-Jet E2 in the Indian market when it takes the first delivery in 2018. The E195-E2 is
scheduled to enter service in 2019.
Note: Embraer S.A. is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 130 seats and is one of Brazil’s leading exporters.
Chinese scientists developed flexible fire resistant paper
February 19, 2014
Chinese scientists invented a new kind of fire resistant paper. The paper is first of its own kind and can be use for long time purpose to
save the important documents.
About fire resistant paper
• Will not catch fire even at 1000 degrees Celsius
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• Formed by calcium phosphate compound.
• This inorganic paper is flexible and incombustible, but still feels like ordinary paper. It can be torn, folded, and destroyed
by strong acid.
• Useful for important documents to preserve for long periods of time.
• Note: The research was published in Chemistry—A European Journal.
Union Government okayed two plants to manufacture Semiconductor chips
February 19, 2014
In a bid to give boost to local production of electronics, the Union Government approved the setting up of two plants to manufacture
semiconductor chips inIndia.
The two electronic chip manufacturing units will be set up by:
• India’s Jaiprakash Associates, IBM and Tower Jazz at a cost of Rs 34,399 crore near the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar
Pradesh.
• France-based ST Microelectronics, HSMC Technologies (Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation)
and Malaysia’s Silterra at Prantij, Gujarat at a cost of Rs 29,013 crore.
• Benefits given by Government of India to electronic chip manufacturing units
• Offered 25% subsidy on capital expenditure, tax breaks and Rs. 5124 crore to each plant as interest-free loans in a bid to
attract chip makers.
• The companies in the consortia will get all benefits listed under theNational Policy on Electronics viz. Modified Special
Incentive Package, which allows up to Rs 10,000 crore in benefits under the 12th Five Year Plan ending 2017.
• They will benefit under section 35 AD of I-T Act and will also be allowed to deduct 100% expenditure made on research
and development for development of electronic chips.
Note: Semiconductors are neither a good conductor of electricity (like copper) nor a good insulator (like rubber). These are usually very
small and complex devices, and can be found in thousands of electronic devices viz. transistors, mobile phones, computers, hi-
tech defense equipment, etc. The most common semiconductor materials are Silicon (Si) and Germanium(Ge).
Odisha Lokayukta Bill 2014 passed by the Assembly of the state
February 19, 2014
Odisha Legislative Assembly passed the Odisha Lokayukta Bill 2014, with provision of keeping Chief Minister, ex-Chief Ministers, other
ministers and public servants under the purview of a six-member anti-corruption panel.
Excerpts of the provisions of the Odisha Lokayukta Bill 2014
• Members of the anti-corruption watchdog panel: The head of the panel and two members will be from judicial background while
three others will be non-judicial members. From among three non-judicial members one would be women or scheduled caste,
scheduled tribe or minority category on rotation basis.
• Minimum age of Lokayukta: 50 years.
• The Lokayukta will be chosen by a selection committee headed by the Chief Minister and comprising others including the Leader of
the Opposition, speaker of Odisha assembly, Chief Justice of Odisha High Court or a judge nominated by him and an eminent jurist
nominated by the Governor.
• The chairman of the Lokayukta would be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the selection committee.
• Lokayukta can inquire or direct an inquiry into any corruption related matters in the state.
• Removal and suspension of the chairperson and members of Lokayukta: they can be removed by the order of the Governor on
the ground of misbehaviour. Before doing so, the Governor is required to refer the petition signed by at least 25 MLAs to
the OrissaHigh Court.
• Under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 viz. Present chief minister, members of his council of ministers, former chief
ministers and ministers, MLAs, chairpersons of municipalities, panchayat samitis, secretaries, directors and chairpersons of various
government-run boards and corporations, contractors, supplying agencies, procurement farms, outsourcing agencies and non-
governmental organizations receiving public funds, etc, would come under the purview of the Lokayukta.
• Penalty for those making false complaint: Imprisonment up to one year with fine which may extend up to Rs 1 lakh.
Note: Odisha became the first state to enact the law after the Central Act was passed in Parliament in December 2013.
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India hosted third World Congress on Agro-forestry 2014
February 19, 2014
The third World Congress on Agro-forestry 2014 (WCA14) held in New Delhi,India and was inaugurated by President Mr. Pranab
Mukherjee. This was the First ever World Agro-forestry Congress in Asia Pacific Region.
• Theme: “Trees for Life: Accelerating the Impact of Agro-forestry”.
• Co-host: the World Agro-forestry Centre, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Indian Society of Agro-
forestry and Global Initiatives.
• Objective: To boost awareness, engagement and investments in agro-forestry,
• Benefit: Would shape the next steps in the field of integrative science, transformative change in landscapes, tree
improvement, innovative tree-based value chains, and debates on global and local sustainability, reform of land and tree
tenure and holistic education.
• The third edition of World Agroforestry Congress organized to-
• Expand global awareness and understanding of agro-forestry.
• Share the current status of knowledge and practice of agro-forestry and consolidate its research base.
• Build support for agro-forestry within governments, companies, academia, NGOs and the media.
• Increase the engagement of the private sector.
• About World Agroforestry Centre (or ICRAF i.e International Centre For Research On Agriculture And
Forestry)
• Mission: To generate science-based knowledge about the diverse roles that trees play in agricultural landscapes, and to
use its research to advance policies and practices, and their implementation, that benefit the poor and the environment.
• To improve food security, nutrition, income, health, shelter, social cohesion, energy resources and environmental
sustainability of rural area in developing countries.
• Objective: poverty alleviation which requires enhanced food security and health, improved productivity with lower
environmental and social costs, and resilience in the face of climate change and other external shocks.
• Headquarters:Nairobi, Kenya.
• Regional offices: Cameroon, India, Indonesia, Kenya and Peru.
• Role of Agro-forestry: (a) produces food, fuel and fibre, (b) major source of livelihoods and also help in preventing
deforestation and (c) protect water resources and fighting off soil-erosion.
• Note: First two World Congresses on Agro-forestry held in :Florida,USA (2004) and Nairobi, Kenya (2009).
“Tropex 2014”: Indian Navy started largest combat exercise with dedicated satellite G-SAT 7
February 20, 2014
Indian Navy started largest combat exercise called “Tropex 2014”, with both the western and eastern fleets
amassing in the Bay of Bengal for intensive combat manoeuvres.
This month long exercise is being held under the gaze of India’s first dedicated Military Satellite G-SAT 7 or
“Rukmini”.
This geostationary naval communication and surveillance satellite is beaming signals from its UHF, S, Ku and C-
band transponders to network all Indian warships, submarines and aircraft with operational centres ashore through high-speed encrypted
data-links.
Over 50 Indian warships viz. aircraft carrier INS Viraat, nuclear submarine INS Chakra, fighters, helicopters, drones, etc. would participate in
the exercise.
Note: Rukmini is capable of surveying and communicate with the network of all Indian warships, submarines and aircrafts and have a
2000 nautical mile footprint over the critical Indian Ocean region (IOR)).
Hillary R Clinton launched a new global review of data on women empowerment
February 20, 2014

Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a new global review of data to analyze the advancement of women and girls around the
world since the mid-1990s.
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Objective: To promote female participation in education, politics and the economy around the world.
Ms. Clinton publicized the new partnership at New YorkUniversity between the Clinton Foundation and the Gates Foundation. The
project is part of her “No Ceilings” initiative that aims to empower women in the 21st century and will collect and review data on the
progress of women since the 1995 United Nations Beijing conference.
‘1093’ – Delhi Police launched a Helpline number for North-Eastern People
February 20, 2014
Delhi Police launched a new helpline number 1093 for North Eastern people living in Delhi. This helpline number has 5 direct lines and all
calls are received at the Central Police Control Room (CPCR) situated at Delhi Police headquarters.
• Objective: To curb the rising cases of racism and crime against people of northeast residing in different parts of Delhi. (This step has
taken by the Union and Delhi Government after the Nido Tania incident).
• This helpline number will allow the north eastern people to register all sorts of complaints which may include racism complaints and
harassment complaints directly to the police.
Future Plan:Delhi police will launch a Facebook page and a Twitter account for people from the northeast where they can post complaints
and suggestions.
SEBI approved the new Corporate Governance norms
February 20, 2014
The Market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) approved the new corporate governance norms that restrict the
number of independent directors on a company board, spell out whistleblower policies and institute checks on salaries of key managerial
persons, among other things.
Beside new corporate governance norms, SEBI board also:
• Approved new KRA (KYC Registration Agency) Regulations that would make it easier for the investors to comply with Know Your Client
(KYC) requirements across various segments of the capital markets.
• Also approved the long-term policy for mutual funds in India where the minimum capital requirement for asset management
companies (AMC) has been raised from Rs 10 crore to Rs 50 crore.
• Proposed the government to allow the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) to invest up to 15% of their corpus in equities
and mutual funds.
• Also proposed to allow an income tax exemption under 80C of Rs 2 lakh for investments in select mutual funds but the move would
require government approval and an amendment of the Income Tax Act.
Excerpts of new corporate governance norms
• Restricted independent directors to serve as directors on a maximum of 7 listed companies and limited their total tenure to two
terms of 5 years each..
• In case a person is a whole time director in a listed company, then he can only be on three boards.
• If somebody has already been independent director for more than five years, then he can get only one extra term of 5 years.
• The companies would also need to adopt a whistle-blower policy for employees, while the number of directorship a person can hold
on company boards would be capped, among various other measures to safeguard the interest of minority shareholders.
• At least one woman director on the Board of the company.
• Now, Companies will have to disclose remuneration policies of CEOs and executive directors, related-party transactions and
appointment and resignations of independent directors.
Note: The new corporate governance norms will be effective from October 1, 2014 for all listed companies and are based on
recommendations made by the industrialist Adi Godrej committee.
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Mount Kelud Volcano Erupts in Indonesia
February 20, 2014
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared a state of emergency on the main island of Java because of a major volcanic
eruption. Mount Kelud in the east Java erupted and sends a cloud of ash 30 km into the sky and blanketed villages up to 500 km away.
• Ashfall occurred in large portion of JavaIsland, from Malang to the east, as well as Central Java and Yogyakarta.
• Around 200,000 people have been affected and there is widespread disruption to flights as several airports have been closed due to
poor visibility.
• The 1,731-meter Mount Kelud is home to more than a half ofIndonesia’s 240 million people. Kelud is among about 130 active
volcanoes in Indonesia.
• Kelud’s last major eruption was in 1990, when it spewed out searing fumes and lava that killed more than 30 people and injured
hundreds.
Note: Indonesia lies across a series of geological fault-lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There are about
130 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
Belgium became second country to allow Mercy Killing for children
February 20, 2014
The Catholic country, Belgium became the first country to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children of any age. This action of
legalizing death for the children came 12 years after the country legalized euthanasia for adults. The Parliament of Belgium took the
decision in spite of opposition from the Church and some paediatricians.
• Belgium became the second country after Netherlands to allow mercy-killing for children and the first to lift all age
restrictions.
• Under the approved legislation by the Parliament, a young child will be allowed to end their life with the help of a doctor.
The legislation has not fixed any age limit for minors suffering from a terminal illness to opt for the death by use of a
lethal injection.
• Other European countries that allows active euthanasia are:-
• Luxembourg: Permits active euthanasia for over 18 years in age.
• Switzerland: Doctors help adult patients to commit suicide.
About Euthanasia
• Refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.
• Forms of euthanasia: Active and passive euthanasia
• Active euthanasia: when the medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something that causes the patient to die.
• Passive euthanasia: when the patient dies because the medical professionals either don’t do something necessary to keep the
patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive.
• Jurisdictions where euthanasia or assisted suicide is legal: the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Estonia, Albania,
and the US states of Washington, Oregon and Montana.
Study: Titled “Climbing behavior in extant crocodiles”
February 20, 2014
The researchers from University of Tennessee, USA studied the tree-climbing and basking behavior in reptiles, under the title, “Climbing
behavior in extant crocodiles”. They noticed crocodilian species on three continents viz.Australia, Africa and North America and
examined previous studies and anecdotal observations.
• Crocodiles are known for impressive speed and agility around the water. As stated by new study, they are also capable of
climbing trees.
• As per the study titled “Climbing behavior in extant crocodiles”
• The scientists confirmed that four different crocodile species – found in Australia, Africa and the Americas – are all able to
climb, some as high as 4m, where they were observed basking in trees.
• These species that are able to climb trees can go as high as 4m. Their abilities also vary by size. Those small and
lightweight crocs, 1.5m long, can climb the highest branches. Those heavier in weight can be found in lower branches,
cannot go as high as 1m above water.
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• It was found that crocodiles developed the agility to climb trees to laze under the sun and to survey their surroundings
against possible threats or for possible food.
• The Australian freshwater crocodiles can actually climb steep slopes along riverbanks up to 1.8 m.
• In North America, the team saw crocodiles up to 1 meter long lounging on the aerial roots and low branches of
mangrove trees during the day.
• The most commonly observed climbers were the slender-snouted crocodiles of Central Africa. Some African crocodiles
roosted as high as 3m above the surface of rivers.
Crocodiles lack the toe and foot structure that would be expected of a climber. Though, smaller and juvenile crocodiles in particular
were observed climbing vertically while larger ones tended to climb angled trunks and branches, all of which is a measure of the reptiles’
spectacular agility.
Researchers believe that the tree climbing and basking are driven by two conditions: thermo-regulation and surveillance of habitat.
Note: People who spend time around crocodiles have known about the climbing ability for decades. Though, this study is the first to
thoroughly examine the climbing and basking behavior.
WTA rankings: Li Na climbs to World No.2 spot
February 20, 2014
In the latest Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles rankings, Chinese tennis ace Li Na ranked World
No.2 following her second Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open 2014.
Top five players in the WTA Singles rankings:
1. Serena Williams (United States).
2. Li Na (China)
3. Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)
4. Victoria Azarenka (Belarus)
5. Maria Sharapova (Russia)
Top three players in the WTA doubles ranking:
1. Peng Shuai (China)
2. Hsieh Su-Wei (Chinese Taipei)
3. Vesnina Elena (Russia)
Two-time Grand Slam champion, Li Na became the first Asian to be the second ranked player in the world and her compatriot Peng
Shuai became the first Chinese player to ascent to top world spot in doubles after winning the QatarOpen with partner Hsieh Su-wei of
Chinese Taipei.
International Mother Language Day of Bangladesh 2014
February 21, 2014
International Mother Language Day (Bhasha Divas) observed across the world, with Bangladesh leading on February 21, 2014.
Theme: “Local languages for global citizenship: spotlight on science”.
Objective: To promote awareness of linguistic, multilingualism and cultural diversity.
The day assumes special significance in Bangladesh where scores of people, mostly students and teachers of the DhakaUniversity, were
mercilessly shot down by the Pakistani army in 1952 in erstwhile East Pakistan.
• The activists had protested against imposition of Urdu as the national language side-stepping Bengali – their mother tongue.
• But the incident calls for celebration too as the protest sowed the seeds of home-grown nationalism that ultimately led to the creation
of Bangladesh from the ashes of the Liberation War in 1971.
About International Mother Language Day
• Observed on February 21 every year.
• The Day is observed yearly by UNESCO member states and at its headquarters to promote linguistic and cultural
diversity and multilingualism.
• On 16 May 2007, by resolution 61/266, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages,
to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.
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• It is commemorated in Bangladesh since 1952 where a number of Dhaka university students were killed by the
Pakistani police and army during the Bangla Language Movement.
Importance of International Mother Language Day: It is the greatest weapon to express one’s feeling. Mother Language of one country
is the sign of independence of that country.
67th BAFTA Awards 2014
February 21, 2014
The 67th BritishAcademy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) held at the Royal Opera House in London.
Winners of the 67th Annual BAFTA Awards
• Best Film: 12 Years a Slave
• Outstanding British Film: Gravity.
• Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity).
• Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave).
• Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine).
• Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips).
• Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle).
• Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle.
• Best Adapted Screenplay: Philomena.
• Best Editing: Rush.
• Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity).
• Best Production Design: The Great Gatsby.
• Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby.
• Best Original Music: Gravity.
• Best Makeup and Hair: American Hustle.
• Best Sound: Gravity.
• Best Visual Effects: Gravity.
• Best Film Not in the English Language: The Great Beauty.
• Best Animated Film: Frozen.
• Best Documentary: The Act of Killing.
• Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer: Kieran Evans.
• Best British Short Film: Room 8.
• Best British Short Animation: Sleeping with the Fishes.
• The EE Rising Star Award: Will Poulter.
• Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: Peter Greenaway.
• Most awards: Gravity (6).
About British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)
• Formed: 1947.
• Headquarters: London.
• Purpose: To supports, promotes and develops the art forms of the moving image – film, television and video games – by
identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.
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Football Legend “Sir Tom Finney”: Former Preston and England winger passed away
February 21, 2014
Former Preston and England winger, Sir Tom Finney (91) passed away. Mr. Finney was one of the England’s
greatest footballers and the ultimate one-club man. He was famous for his loyalty to his league club, Preston
North End for which he made 569 first-class appearances.
About Sir Tom Finney
Nickname:Preston Plumber.
Played for Preston from 1946 until he retired.
Scored 210 goals in 473 appearances.
Footballer of the year: In 1954 and 1957 (the first player to receive the honor twice).
Appointment: Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (1961),
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1992.
• Knighted in the 1998 Queen’s New Year Honors.
• President of Kendal Town.
Chennai and Panaji (India) to host World Bridge Championship 2015
February 21, 2014
For the first time, India will host the World Bridge Championship for Bermuda Bowl (men) and Venice Cup (women) in 2015. About 550
players from 66 countries are expected to be seen in action in this world meet.
Cities short-listed to host the World Bridge Championship: Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Panaji, Goa.
About World Bridge Team Championship
• Conducted by World Bridge Federation (WBF) in every two years.
• WBF President: Gianrrigo Rona of Italy.
• Bridge Federation of India (BFI) President: N R Kirubakara Moorthy.
• Premier tournament in international bridge and sees the top teams from each geographic region competing against one
another for the Bermuda Bowl trophy.
In addition, there are separate trophies for the top women`s team as well as the top senior team (D`Orsi Trophy) globally.
Interim Union Budget 2014-15
February 21, 2014
The Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presented the Interim Budget2014-15 in the Lok Sabha with an estimated plan expenditure of
Rs. 5,55,322 crore and non-plan expenditure of Rs. 12,07,892 crore. Excise duty on cars, two-wheelers, SUVs and capital goods and
consumer durables has been slashed to boost the manufacturing and growth. There is no change in income tax rates.
Important points of the Union Budget 2014-15
• Focus: On manufacturing and manufacturing exports.
• Fiscal deficit for FY14 to be contained at 4.6% of GDP; FY15 target at 4.1 %
• FY14 Current Account Deficit seen at $45 bn.
• FY14 Q3 & Q4 GDP growth to be at least 5.2%.
• Agriculture credit will cross $ 45 billion against $41 billion in 2012-13.
• Food grain production estimated at 263 million tons in 2013-14
• Proposed a venture capital fund with an initial capital of Rs. 200 crore to promote entrepreneurship among scheduled
castes and scheduled tribes.
• No change has been introduced under the tax laws but a change has been introduced for the indirect taxes.
• Budgetary support to railways increased from Rs 26,000 crore to Rs 29,000 crore 2014-15.
Ministry-wise allocations for flagship schemes:
• Rs.82, 200 crore rural development, Rs.67, 398 crore for human resource development, Rs.33, 725 crore for health and
family welfare, Rs.21, 000 crore for women and child development, Rs.15, 260 crore drinking water and sanitation.
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• Food subsidy will be Rs 1, 15,000 crore for implementation of National Food Security Act.
• One -rank-one-pension scheme for defense personnel from 2015.
• Defense allocation increased by 10% to Rs 2.24 lakh crore.
• To strengthen the capacity of Central Armed Police Forces by modernization and providing state-of-the-art equipment
and technology, the government has allocated Rs. 11009 crore.
• To formulate and promote the scheme of community radio station, the government sanctioned a fund of Rs.100 crore.
• For the Social Justice Ministry, Rs. 6730 crore has been sanctioned.
• For the Panchayati Raj Ministry, Rs.7000 crore has been sanctioned.
• For food, fertilizer and fuel subsidy, Rs. 246397 crore has been allocated.
• To stimulate growth, the government has slashed excise duty to 10% from 12%.
• Foreign exchange reserves up by $15 billion.
• Rs 2,600 crore for education loan moratorium, to benefit 9 lakh borrowers for loans taken before March 31, 2009.
• A ten point agenda has been created by Mr. Chidambaram to makeIndia the third largest economy after US and China.
• Two projects sanctioned under Nirbhaya Fund of which the original was of Rs.1000 crore that was non-lapsable and
another Rs. 1000 crore has been granted.
• 3 more industrial corridors – Chennai-Bangalore, Bangalore-Mumbai, Amritsar-Kolkata – under various stages of
implementation.
• Govt. committed to Aadhaar-based LPG transfer but scheme on hold temporarily.
Highlights of interim Union Budget 2014-2015 Tax proposal
February 21, 2014
The Union Finance Minister Mr. P Chidambaram presented an Interim Budgetfor 2014-15. For the period up to June 30, 2014, Mr.
Chidambaram reduced excise duty on:
• (a) Capital goods and consumer non-durables (falling under Chapter 84 and 85 of the Schedule to the Central Excise
Tariff Act): from 12 to 10 %.
• (b) Small cars, motors cycles, scooters and commercial vehicles: from12% to 8%.
• (c) Sports Utility Vehicles, SUVs: from 12% to 8%
• (d) Large & Mid-segment Cars: from 27/24% to 24/20%.
• Other Key highlights of Budget 2014-2015 Tax proposal
• No change in income tax rates.
• Proposed to make appropriate reductions in the excise duty on chassis and trailers.
• Excise duty on mobile hand set to be 6% on CENVAT credit to encourage domestic production.
• The custom duty structure on non-edible grade industrial oils and its fractions, fatty acids and fatty alcohols is reduce to
7.5% to encourage domestic production of soaps and oleo chemicals.
• To encourage domestic production of specified road construction machinery, the exemption from Counter Vailing Duty
(CVD) on similar imported machinery is withdrawn.
• A concessional custom duty 5 % on capital goods imported by the Bank Note Paper Mill India Private Limited is provided
to encourage domestic production of security paper for printing currency notes.
• The loading and un-loading, packing, storage and warehousing of rice are exempted from Service Tax.
Dr. VV Dongre and Prof. Guocheng Zhang bagged International Gandhi Award 2013
February 21, 2014
The President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee presented the InternationalGandhi Award for the year 2013 to Dr. Vijaykumar Vinayak
Dongre and Prof. Guocheng Zhang for making outstanding contributions in the field of leprosy to eradicate the disease through
treatment, training and research at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi.
International Gandhi Award
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• Instituted by the Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation (GMLF) that was established in 1950 to commemorate Mahatma
Gandhi’s service and scientific approach towards leprosy.
• GMLF introduced the International Gandhi Award in 1986.
• Recognizes the commendable contributions of individuals and institutions in ameliorating the quality of life of people
afflicted with leprosy.
• The two awards are given every alternate year to individuals/institutions for making outstanding contribution in the field
of leprosy.
• Note: Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and legs.
Avinash Arun’s Marathi film “Killa” won Crystal Bear award at Berlin Fest
February 21, 2014
Mr. Avinash Arun’s directorial debut, the Marathi feature film“Killa” won the Crystal Bear
(Glasernen Bar) for the Best Film awarded by the Children’s Jury in Generation Kplus section at
the 64th BerlinInternational Film Festival (also known as the Berlinale).
About Marathi film Killa
First Indian feature film to win Crystal Bear award.
Deals with the universal conflict of migration and how it impacts the lives of people, especially
children.
• The story is about an 11 year old child, Chinu, who is coping with the death of his father and finds it difficult to adapt to a
new place he has migrated to.
• Directed by Avinash Arun.
• Produced by Madhukar R Musle, Ajay G Rai and Alan McAlex under the banner, Jar Pictures and presented by M R
Filmworks.
• Will be released in May, 2014.
Note: ‘Killa’ is the third Marathi film to premier and compete at the Berlin film festival.
Purushottam Express will get first Braille signage coach in India
February 21, 2014
Purushottam Express (Train Number 12801/12802) will become the first train in India to be attached
with a Braille-embedded AC coach for visually challenged passengersby the end of February 2014.
Purushottam Express is a super-fast train running between Delhi and Puri.
• Purushottam Express (Train Number 12801 UP/12802 DOWN)is a daily train which runs between Puri
in Odisha and New Delhi
About the first Braille signage coach in India
• Manufactured at Integrated Coach Factory in Chennai with the inputs received from Research Designs and Standards
Organization (RDSO), Lucknow and in consultation with blind associations.
• Costs about Rs. 40,000 to make a coach visually-challenged friendly as Braille printing are superimposed on the stickers
which can be used by both a person with normal vision as well as a visually impaired person.
• The AC coach is equipped with Braille-embedded signages on berths, toilets, wash basins and doors as well.
• Presently, coaches are provided with signages, instructions, seat numbers, etc that are mostly in the form of vinyl stickers
or metallic plates and have no Braille characters and cannot be read by visually-impaired passengers.
Note: It was declared in the Rail Budget of 2013-14 that Braille stickers will be introduced for visually-challenged passengers.
P.C. Chacko committee: To recommend punitive measures for the pepper spray incident in the Parliament
February 21, 2014
The Lok Sabha Speaker, Ms. Meira Kumar referred the pepper spray incident in the Parliament to the Committee of Privileges, which has
powers to recommend punitive measures. The senior Congress leader Mr. PC Chacko is the head of the privilege committee.
About the P.C. Chacko committee
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• Consists of 15 members
• Chairman of the Committee of Privileges of Lok Sabha: Mr. P C Chacko
• Function: To examine every question involving breach of privilege or contempt of the House or of the members of any
Committee thereof referred to it by the House or by the Speaker.
• Enjoys power to take punitive measures which include recommending imprisonment and even expulsion among others.
• Would also consider whether Members of Parliament should be frisked for security purposes before entering the two
Houses.
What is the issue behind the forming of the privilege committee?
• On the issue of the introduction of Telangana Bill in the Parliament, a pepper spray was used by some MPs in the
Parliament, which resulted in the hospitalization of three MPs (Member of Parliamentarians) and plunged the House into
extreme confusion and disorder.
• Later congress member Mr. L Rajagopal was expelled and 16 Seemandhra MPs were suspended.
• The Lok Sabha Secretariat stated that the decision to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee has been done under
Rule 227 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, where a question of privilege is referred to the
Committee by the Speaker.
About Committee of Privileges
• Examines the cases of breach of privileges of the House and its members and recommends appropriate action.
• Function: Semi judicial in nature.
• The Lok Sabha committee has 15 members while the Rajya Sabhacommittee has 10 members.
Vizag Zoo: Soon, India’s first breeding centre for wild dogs (Dhole)
February 21, 2014
The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP) or Vizag Zoo will be the first zoo in India to have a conservation
breeding centre for the endangered wild dog or ‘Dhole.’ The Central Zoo Authority selected IGZP to have a
breeding centre for Dholes.
Project: will be completed in two to three months.
Cost: Rs. 50 lakh.
In India, the Dholes are protected under Schedule 2 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. (As per the
schedule 2 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, permission is required to kill any individual unless in self-defense or if an individual is a
man killer.
About Dhole
• Also called the Asiatic wild dog or Indian wild dog.
Scientific Name: Cuon alpinus. Order: Carnivora.
• Highly social and cooperative animal lives in large clans which occasionally split up into small packs to hunt.
Highest number of wild dogs in captivity in India: 22.
Classified as an endangered species by the IUCN: Due to ongoing habitat loss, depletion of its prey base, competition
from other predators, persecution and possibly diseases from domestic and feral dogs.
“ModiNomics” – Sameer Kochhar’s book launched
February 21, 2014
The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mr. Arun Jaitley launched a book titled “ModiNomics: Inclusive Economics,
Inclusive Governance”, by Sameer Kocchar, in New Delhi.
About the “ModiNomics: Inclusive Economics, Inclusive Governance”
Author: Sameer Kochhar.
Focus: On the Gujarat story and tells how BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi brought about a sea change
through his unique brand of ModiNomics. Speaks about the vision of Narendra Modi about economic and development
strategies. Presents a deep insight of Modi’s idea of both Inclusive Economics as well as Inclusive Governance.
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Dua’s layer: Dr. Harminder Singh Dua, Indian origin UK doctor discovered new layer of cornea
February 21, 2014
To cure blindness of eye due to glaucoma, Professor Harminder Singh Dua from
the Nottingham University discovered an ultra-thin layer hidden deep in the human
cornea that can help treat glaucoma. (He is an Indian origin UK doctor).
About the new layer discovered by Mr. Dua
This 15 microns thick new layer also known as Dua’s layer.
Located at the back of the cornea between the corneal stroma and Descemet’s
membrane.
Plays a vital role in the structure of the tissue that controls the flow of fluid from
the eye.
Makes an important contribution to the sieve-like trabecular meshwork called
the Trabecular Meshwork (TM) in the periphery of the cornea.
Benefit of this discovery: It will offer new clues on why the drainage system
malfunctions in the eyes of some people, leading to high pressure.
• The study was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Previously, Scientists believed that the cornea consists of five layers- from front to back— the corneal epithelium, Bowman’s layer, the
corneal stroma, Descemet’s membrane and the corneal endothelium.
What is Trabecular Meshwork (TM)?
TM is a wedge-shaped band of tissue that extends along the circumference of the angle of the anterior chamber of the eye. It is made of
beams of collagen wrapped in a basement membrane to which trabecular cells and endothelial cells attach. The beams branch out
randomly to form a ‘meshwork’.
• Pressure within the eye is maintained by the balance of aqueous fluid production by eye tissue called the ciliary body and drainage
principally through the TM to the canal of Schlemm, a circular channel in the angle of the eye.
• Defective drainage through the TM is an important cause of glaucoma, a condition that leads to raised pressure in the eye that can
permanently affect sight.
Note: Glaucoma is a devastating disease caused by defective drainage of fluid from the eye and is the world’s second leading cause of
blindness.
MSME Ministry to launch virtual network to link clusters
February 23, 2014
The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is set to launch a virtual network wherein different clusters of micro, small
and medium enterprises can connect on a common platform and share information to help them expand their business.
About Virtual Cluster Approach
• An initiative of the Ministry of MSME.
• Purpose: To overcome the limitations of the Physical Approach requiring the location of the units in one geographical
area besides substantial resources for creation of infrastructure.
• Will enable small businesses across different sectors to co-exist with their peers on a web-portal.
• Around 2,000 industrial clusters have been identified for undertaking soft and hard interventions with a view to increase
the competitiveness of the enterprises.
Till now, the Ministry of MSME helped around 850 clusters through its MSE — Cluster Development Programme.
Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned as AP Chief Minister
February 23, 2014
Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned from the post of Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and also quitted from the membership of the State
Assembly and the Congress Party. Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan accepted the resignation of Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar
Reddy and asked him to continue in office till alternative arrangements are made.
Why Mr. Reddy resigned from the CM post of Andhra?
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To protest against the Congress and Centre’s decision to divide AP and the way the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Bill was dealt with in
Parliament. Now, the formation of Telangana state waited for the formal nod of President, as the Telangana Bill passed in both Houses of
Parliament.
Highlights of the Telangana Bill:
• Telangana will have 10 districts and the rest of Andhra Pradesh 13 districts.
• Hyderabad will remain the joint capital of Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh for ten years.
• The Bhadrachalam division will continue to be with Khammam district which will be part of Telangana.
• NTPC will construct a 4,000 MW power project in Telangana to solve the electricity problem in the region.
• A petroleum university will be constructed in Seemandhra region while seats for Semmandhra students in educational
institutes in Telangana will be reserved for ten years.
Article 371 D will continue for the both states to ensure equitable opportunities for education and public employment.
Note: Telangana will become the 29
th
state of India after the approval of President of India.
“Asteroid 2000 Em26”: Potentially hazardous space rock safely passed by Earth
February 23, 2014
The space rock, known as 2000 EM26, poses no threat and passed the Earth at just under nine times the distance to the moon. Though, it
is defined as a potentially hazardous Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) that was large enough to cause significant damage in the event of an
impact.
• This was subtle reminder of the dangers of the asteroid impacts just one year after historic event took place on February,
2013.
• A previous-unknown discovered asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk,Russia and injured 1200 people and sent shock
waves shattering windows and damaging buildings in Chelyabinsk.
About Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) 2000 EM26
• Size: As big as three football fields (270m).
• Speed: Approx 12.37 km/s.
• Minor planet category: Aten asteroid (NEO, PHO).
• Minimum possible close approach distance to Earth: 0.018 AU (27 lakh km).
• Tracked by: Slooh robotic telescope service, Spain (that provided internet access to automated observatories).
Nasa’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM)
• First-ever mission to identify, capture and redirect an asteroid.
• Plans to use capabilities of the new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket and high-power solar electric
propulsion to capture an asteroid in the near future.
Till now, 10,713 known near-Earth objects are discovered.
Parliament nod to bill to protect rights of street vendors
February 23, 2014
Parliament passed “Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) bill-2014” to regulate street vending
activities and protect the rights of urban street vendors besides ensuring steps against harassment by police and civic authorities.
The Rajya Sabha adopted the bill by a voice vote and without discussion. (the bill was already passed by Lok Sabha).
Excerpts of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) bill-2014
• Objective: To protect the rights of urban street vendors and regulating street vending activities and to create conducive
atmosphere where street vendors will be eligible to carry out theirbusiness in a fair and transparent manner, without fear
of eviction and harassment.
• Legalizes street vending activities to ensure urban street vendors’ safety from police harassment.
• Propose: To set up Town Vending Committees (TVC), which will be responsible for deciding vending zones and the
number of vendors that each zone should have.
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• Provides protection of livelihoods rights, social security of street vendors, regulation of urban street vending in the
country and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
• Provides time-bound release of seized goods, for both perishable and non-perishable goods
• There is a provision for establishment of an independent dispute redressal mechanism under the chairmanship of
retired judicial officers to maintain impartiality towards grievance redressal of street vendors.
• In order to avoid uncertainty of authorities, the Bill provides for a survey of all existing street vendors, and subsequent
survey at-least once in every five years, and issue of certificate of vending to all the street vendors identified in the survey,
with preference to SC, ST, OBC, women, persons with disabilities, minorities etc.
• As per Section 29 of the Bill street vendors will be protected from harassment by police and other authorities and
there is a prime clause to ensure they carry on their business without the fear of harassment by the authorities under
any other law.
• To prevent delay in implementation, the bill provides that the Rules under the Bill have to be notified within one year of
its commencement, and Scheme has to be notified within six months of its commencement.
• Note: The Parliament also passed two other bills: Governors Emoluments, (Allowances and Privileges) Amendment
and National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment). These two bills were also approved
by the Rajya Sabha without discussion after these were adopted by the Lok Sabha.
Cabinet nod for Equal Opportunity Commission & Coal Regulator
February 23, 2014
The Union Cabinet approved the creation of Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), to check discrimination of minority communities in
jobs and education.
About Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC)
• Exclusively for minorities.
• Mandate: To ensure that no minority community is discriminated against on religious grounds by redressing complaints.
• Deal with grievances viz. denial of accommodation or buying rights to minorities in housing societies.
• Has to make binding recommendations that people from minority communities find adequate representation in
government employment or educational institutions.
• The Justice Sachar Committee that went into the socio-economicbackwardness of Muslims had recommended setting up
of the Commission.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) also gave its nod to the proposal to set up coal regulator. The coal regulator would
be
• Set up through an executive order.
• Empowered to specify the principles and methodology for determination of price of raw coal and washed coal and any
other by-product generated during washing.
• Also regulate methods for testing for declaration of grades or quality of coal, specify procedure for automatic coal
sampling and adjudicate upon disputes between the parties. The bill for setting up a regulator for the sector is pending
before Parliament.
Facebook announces purchase of WhatsApp for $19bn
February 23, 2014
The social media giant, Facebook announced purchased popular mobile messaging company WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion. To
date, it is the largest acquisition by the Mark Zuckerberg-led firm, which will give it a stronghold in the market for messaging. (Facebook
HQ:Menlo Park, California, US).
• The whopping acquisition price includes $4 billion in cash, about $12 billion worth of Facebook shares and $3 billion in
restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp founders and employees that will vest over four years following the
closing of the deal.
About mobile messaging company WhatsApp
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• A cross-platform mobile app that allows users to exchange messages without having to pay telecom charges.
• In other words, it is simple, fast and reliable mobile messaging service that is used by over 450 million people on every
major mobile platform.
Why Facebook bought WhatsApp?
The acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook is to speed up the company’s ability to bring connectivity and utility around the world. As part of
the deal, theWhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum would join the Facebook board.
• Benefit: WhatsApp would complement the existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for Facebook
community.
• WhatsApp’s core messaging product and Facebook’s existing messenger app will continue to operate as standalone
applications.
The acquisition will not impact the WhatsApp’s brand and the company’s headquarters will remain in California’s Mountain View.
India’s First Minority Cyber Village inaugurated in Rajasthan
February 23, 2014
The Minister for Minority Affairs Mr. K Rehman Khan inaugurated India’s first Minority Cyber Village in Chandoli in Alwar district
of Rajasthan. Ministry of Minority Affairs has targeted villages with substantial population of minorities for this project. Minority people
will be benefited more from this cyber village concept.
About India’s First Minority Cyber Village
• Objective: To provide computer education to the people of 15 to 59 age group.
• Chandoli has been selected as the first village for the pilot project as it holds more than 80% of minority population and
also because the minorities of the Mewat region is still backward in education.
• Under this project, experts will provide training of commuter skills to the people of chandoli.
• Future plan: Government pondering to open special schools on the pattern of Kendriya Vidyalayas for minority
community and planning to come up with 200 new colleges in minority dominated areas and the areas viz. Laxmangarh,
Tijara, Kishengarhbas and Ramgarh.
Study: Fertilization destabilizes Global Grassland Ecosystems
February 23, 2014
As per study led by University of Minnesota researchers, the fertilization of natural grasslands, either intentionally or unintentionally as
a side effect of global farming and industry, is having a destabilizing effect on global grassland ecosystems.
About the study on “Fertilization destabilizes Global Grassland Ecosystems”
• First international experiment by using a network of natural grassland research sites around the world known
as Nutrient Network (or NutNet).
• Assessed the effect of fertilizer on 41 sites across 5 continents.
• The experimental network included eco-systems from alpine areas ofChina to Serengeti in Tanzania.
• Outcome: Found that plant diversity in natural ecosystems creates more stable ecosystems over time because of less
synchronized growth of plants.
• Also found that grassland diversity and stability reduces when fertilizers added.
• In other words, the balance output of the ecological safety net on addition of fertilizer was upset across diverse grassland
as the various organisms in those disappeared.
• NutNet is a “grassroots campaign” that is supported by scientists who volunteer their time and resources.
• Published in the international journal Nature.
“Public Issues before Parliament”- Mr. Vijay Darda’s book released by Vice President of India
February 23, 2014
The Vice President of India, Mr. Hamid Ansari released a book entitled “Public Issues before Parliament” authored by Mr. Vijay Darda
(MP) in NewDelhi.
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• The book is the summarization of the significant contributions made by Mr. Darda during his period as Member of
Parliament (MP).
• It is dedicated to the common who considers Parliament as an embodiment of his hopes and aspirations.
• Mr. Darda is a politician from Indian National Congress party and is a Member of the Parliament of India
representing Maharashtra in theRajya Sabha since 1998.
Note: Mr. Darda is the chairman and editor-in-chief of the Marathi newspaper Lokmat.
SC: People from any religious background are free to adopt child
February 23, 2014
The Supreme Court ruled that people are free to adopt children irrespective of their religious background. The move paved the way for
adoption of child by persons hailing from Muslim community even though it is not allowed under their personal law.
The bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam stated that the
• Law entitles adoption by people belonging to any religion and any person, who does not submit himself to personal law,
can adopt a child.
• Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act is a small step towards the concept of Uniform Civil Code
mentioned in Article 44 of the Constitution of India.
• Act does not mandate any compulsive action by any prospective parent leaving such person with the liberty of accessing
the provisions of the Act, if he so desires.
• Act is an enabling legislation that gives a prospective parent the option of adopting an eligible child by following due
procedure.
• The SC judgment came on petition filed by activist Ms. Shabnam Hashmi who had approached the apex court after being
refused permission to adopt.
India and Bahrain signed three pacts to boost bilateral ties
February 23, 2014
India and oil-rich Gulf nation Bahrain signed three pacts to boost bilateral ties. The pacts were
signed in the presence of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa
Al Khalifa in New Delhi.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bahrain:
• In the fields of youth and sports: To strengthen bilateral cooperation through institutional
exchanges particularly through exchange of youth and sports teams in various disciplines.
• On the establishment of a “High-level joint commission” for bilateral cooperation to replace the Joint Committee for Technical and
Economic Cooperation established in 1981. The ‘High Joint Commission’, to be chaired by the Foreign Ministers, will serve as an umbrella
framework for all cooperation between the two countries.
• Another MoU signed between the Foreign Service Institute and the Diplomatic Institute of Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote
cooperation between the two organizations.
“Email Miles”- Tracks how far our email has traveled
February 25, 2014
Email miles is a new GPS based system that tells us how far our email has travelled. This new technology uses Global Positioning System
(GPS) and internet tracking to calculate the number of miles an email has travelled before reaching an inbox.
About the new technology “Email miles”
• A free and open source plug-in for standard email software.
• Inventor: Jonah Brucker-Cohen
• The system tracks where a message was sent from and where it was received and calculates the total distance between
the two and displays it on the screen alongside a map.
• The system does all of its time and distance calculations using the internet and a ‘coordinate mapping system’. When all
of the mileage amounts are tallied, it adds them all and provides the user with a map, the countries, continents and miles
the email travelled.
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• In other words, Email miles show how indirect the route of emails can be.
“Taj Mahotsav 2014”
February 25, 2014
The 10- day annual festival, Taj Mahotsav 2014 began in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. It is organized by the Uttar Pradesh Department of Tourism
to increase the Indian Tourism.
About Taj Mahotsav 2014
• Celebrated from February 18 to 27 at Shilpgram near the Eastern gate of “Taj Mahal”.
• Theme: Paigham-e Mohahabbat or the message of love.
• This 10 days long carnival is actually a vibrant platform that gives us information of India where we can find India’s rich
arts, crafts, cultures, cuisine, dance and music.
• Legendary artisans from different parts of the country would get an opportunity to display their exquisite works of art viz.
wood or stone carvings from Tamil Nadu, Bamboo or cane work from North East India, Paper mash work from South
India and Kashmir, the marble and zardozi work from Agra.
• Taj Mahal is the most beautiful historical place of India which tells about incredible India.
Note: Taj Mahotsav started in 1992 and is organized by the Uttar Pradesh Department of Tourism to increase the Indian Tourism.
Goverment directs banks: ‘Don’t publish pics of education loan defaulters’
February 25, 2014
The Union Government has directed banks not to publish photographs ofeducation loan defaulters in newspapers. The banks have been
adopting ‘name-and-shame’ policy to force borrowers to pay up defaulted loans, but the step by the government may act as a shield for
the youth.
When the Bombay High Court refused to stop publication of photographs of a defaulter firm, saying it was in larger public interest and in
its ruling prompted banks to even publish names of some education loan defaulters, then the Government of India (GoI) officially stated on
the public identification of defaulters that the same yardstick cannot be applied to all cases.
Note: The directive comes at a time when in the interim budget, the government declared an interest subsidy scheme on unpaid
education loans. The government would provide interest subsidy on outstanding education loans sanctioned before March 2009. The
move will cost the exchequer Rs 2,600 crore. Most students are not wilful defaulters. A large section where loans have gone bad is mostly
because of unemployment.
Connaught Place: World’s 8th costliest office location in 2013
February 25, 2014
As per the global property consultant Cushman & Wakefield report, Connaught Place in Delhi is the world’s eighth costliest office location
in 2013. It fell to the eighth position (from 4th position) due to an appreciation in both the US dollar and euro against the Indian rupee in
2013.
Rank Location/City Occupancy Cost ($/sq ft/yr)
1 West End, London (UK) 271.61
2 Central, Hong Kong 183.32
3 CBD, Moscow (Russia) 139.8
4 CBD, Beijing (China) 131.48
5 CBD, Tokyo (Japan) 128.34
8 Connaught Place, New Delhi 122.73
Excerpts of the & Wakefield report 2014
• Focus: On prime office rental performances and occupancy costs across the globe, including a ranking of the most
expensive locations across the world in which to occupy office space.
• The location continues to remain high on priority for sectors viz. BFSI, consulting, trade, media, etc.
• Global office rents increased by 3% overall.
• The USA and Mexico saw the prime rents rise compared to other top ranked cities that saw the fall in prime rents.
• Moscow and New Delhi recorded no change in rental values.
• In Asia Pacific rental growth was largely flat on the back of a slowing economythough, the economic climate improved as
the year progressed.
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ASI & Google jointly launched the 360 Degree Online View of Indian Heritage Sites
February 25, 2014
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Google jointly launched 360-degree panoramic imagery of 30 out of 100 “nationally-
important monuments”.
Objective: To create a dynamic, immersive online experience by which people within India and around the world can understand and
engage more of India’s diverse cultural heritage.
• In pursuance of the signed agreement with ASI and Union Culture Ministry, Google created a virtual walkthrough application using its
Street View Trekker technology for the first time in India.
The images of sites that can be accessed on Google Maps through Street View are the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Red
Fort, Jantar Mantar, Fatehpuri Sikri, Itimad-ud-Daula, Agra Fort, Krishnagiri Fort, Rajagiri Fort, Chandragiri Fort, Agha Khan Palace, Fort St
George, Nagarjuna Hill, Raigad Fort, etc.
Note: Street View Trekker Technology is a Street View camera platform, with 15 cameras on board that capture a 360-degree view of the
area around. It is mounted on a wearable backpack and the total unit weighs around 20 kg. The operator walks through pedestrian routes
and is designed to reach places that can be accessed by foot.
“Odia”- 6th Indian classical language
February 25, 2014
The Union Cabinet gave its nod for classifying Odia as a classical language to give impetus to scholarships in the language. It is the sixth
Indian language to get such prestigious tag after Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.
There has been a long-standing demand that Odia, which is one of the oldest languages and has no resemblance to Hindi, Sanskrit,
Bengali, Telugu, etc, be declared as a classical language.
What is a ‘Classical Language’?
A classical language is a language with a literature (art of written work) that is classical. U.C.Berkeley linguist George L. Hart defined
Classical Language as follows:
“It should be ancient, it should be an independent tradition that arose mostly on its own, not as an offshoot of another tradition, and it must have
a large and extremely rich body of ancient literature.”
Classical languages are those which are ancient, of an independent nature and not a derivative of any other tradition. And based on
above, Chinese, Sanskrit, Tamil, Hebrew, Greek and Latin are considered as the Classical Languages of the World. Of these only
Chinese and Tamil are used by masses now.
In India, Tamil was the first to gain the Classical Language status, followed by Sanskrit in 2005. These two languages (Tamil and Sanskrit)
are undoubtedly parental sources for many languages belonging to the Indo-European family and the Dravidian family of linguistic groups.
In 2006, the Union Minister for Tourism and Culture announced in the Rajya Sabha the creation of a new category of languages as
classical languages based on 4 norms:
• High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years;
• A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
• The literary tradition should be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
• The classical language and literature being distinct from the modern, there may also be discontinuity
between the classical language and its later forms or offshoots.
A committee of linguistic experts followed it up, and based on its recommendation classical status was conferred on Telugu and Kannada
in 2008. Thus, the definition of classical languages has undergone several changes over the years and the latest criterion too is susceptible
to changes.
Benefits of declaring Odiya as classical language
• Two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in Odia language.
• A ‘Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages’ can be set up.
• The University Grants Commission can be requested to create, to start with at least in Central Universities, a certain
number of professional chairs for classical languages, for scholars of eminence in Odia language.
Which are the Classical Languages of India?
Languages thus far declared to be Classical are:
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1. Tamil (2004)
2. Sanskrit (2005)
3. Kannada (2008)
4. Telugu (2008)
5. Malayalam (2013)
6. Odiya (2014)
Quadricycles to ply from October 1, 2014
February 26, 2014
The Quadricycles will be allowed to run in cities across the country from October 1, 2014. It will have hard top and doors. As a safety
measure, it will be mandatory for such vehicles to have seatbelts for both the occupants in the front and two in the rear seat.
Objective to permit Quadricycles: To replace the auto-rickshaws because the emission norms of these vehicles are better than auto-
rickshaws.
About Quadricycles
• Four-wheel vehicle with a small engine.
• Maximum speed: 70 kmph.
• Manufactured by Bajaj Auto.
• Expected to run 35 km on a litre of fuel.
• Won’t be allowed to ply on highways.
• More efficient on security and safety concerns as it had introduced the provision of seatbelts and braking system like that
of cars, which falls under M1 category of vehicles.
• The weight of the battery excluded from the vehicle curb weight to promote no carbon emission.
Sikkim: Best State in implementation of rural tourism projects.
February 26, 2014
The Union Ministry of Tourism declared Sikkim as the best State in the implementation of rural tourism projects. The Union Minister for
Human Resource Development Dr. Shashi Tharoor presented the National Tourism Award 2012-13 to Sikkim’s Tourism Minister Bhim
Dhungel in New Delhi.
• As per the Union Tourism Ministry, Sikkim is the perfect destination to experience warm hospitality, rich culture and
scenic natural beauty.
• The tourism department of Sikkim had tied up with states viz. Kerala,Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa for tourist flow from
these states to Sikkim.
• To ensure international tourism flow in the state, the department is also negotiating with countries viz. Bhutan and Nepal.
To boost tourism in Sikkim
• The Chief Minister Mr. Pawan Chamling, launched an ambitious Rs.140 crore project for developing various tourism
convenience facilities, view points, halting points, conferences, retiring units and other infrastructural facilities project in
the state.
• Sanctioned Rs.50 crores for setting up facilitation centres in Gangtok and various other important tourist destinations of
the state.
• A total 20 facilitation centres will be set up in the state for strengthening tourism facilities, and added that capacity
building, training, marketing, manpower and human resources will be strengthened under these facilitation centres.
• The main facilitation centre will be set up in Gangtok at a total cost of Rs.40 crores, while the other facilitation centres in
small towns and major tourist destinations will be constructed at a cost of Rs.50 lakh each. All facilitation centres will start
to function by the year 2015.
“Patna” – World’s Longest Free Wi-Fi Zone in India
February 27, 2014
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The Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitish Kumar unveiled the world’s longest free Wi-Fi zone at the e-Bihar summit in Patna. The free Wi-Fi
zone stretched nearly 20 km between the National Institute of Technology (NIT) at the eastern end of the Ashok Rajpath and Danapur at
the western end of the state capital, Patna.
• This new free Wi-Fi zone beats the current world’s longest zone of 3.5 km in China.
• In a bid to make Patna crime-free, Mr. Kumar also inaugurated the ‘city surveillance and dial 100’ project, wherein 100s’
of CCTV cameras would be installed all over the city for better safety and security.
• A state data centre has also been opened for storing of the ‘data’ collected by these cameras.
• This project will enable CCTVs to capture vehicle numbers and person’s identity instantly, which would be shared all over
the network to nab any criminal. Every vehicle entering or exiting the city would be monitored this way.
Positive Outcome of Free Wi-Fi zone: Still, internet connectivity in India is poor and Wi-Fi hubs are rare. Also, free WiFi zones are next to
negligible in the country. Such a step has put not just India on the global map but even made Bihar an example to follow for other states.
IMF projected India’s FY’15 growth at 5.4%
February 27, 2014
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected 5.4% economic growth forIndia in 2014-15 and proposed to strengthen the inflation
management polices and doing away with supply bottlenecks for better GDP.
The IMF forecast:
• Consumer prices based inflation is expected to remain near double-digits in 2014-15, driven by high food inflation that
feeds into wages and core inflation.
• The tight monetary policy would slow the growth recovery.
• For the fiscal year 2013-14, India’s growth will be 4.6% and will pick up to 5.4% in 2014-15 at factor cost. (These
projections of India were a conclusion of its annual discussions with India).
• As per India’s official estimates, the economy is probably to expand at 4.9% in 2013-14 as against 4.5% in the previous
fiscal. The government expects to growth to pick up in the 2014-15 fiscal.
Online shopping portal for authentic tribal products launched
February 27, 2014
The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs launched an online shopping portal for sale of authentic tribal products that will seek to create a ‘niche’
market for indigenous artisans.
About the e-commerce portal
• This online portal is initially open for only Indian shoppers and forinternational buyers later.
• Features 69 tribal products viz. textiles, metal artifacts and jewellery, etc.
• Launched by Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Raj V Kishore Chandra Deo.
• Objective: To provide branding, source certification and developing standards for products.
• Shawls, stoles and mufflers will be in available in Angora, sheep wool and Pashmina material from states
viz. Orissa, Assam, etc.
• Paintings from four states and dokra metal artifacts and jewellery from states viz. Nagaland and Himachal Pradesh will
also be available.
• Detailed write- ups of the products will also be available.
• The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation ofIndia Limited (TRIFED) is making special efforts to
promote the sales of handicrafts.
Future Plans: The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has plans to launch a new website for the minor forest produce viz. honey and tamarind.
Sri Lanka makes graphic warning on cigarette packs mandatory
February 27, 2014
The Sri Lankan parliament passed a law that makes it mandatory for putting graphic warning on cigarette packs. Under the National
Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act, the three regulations passed to discourage smoking in the country.
As per the regulation
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• Pictorial warnings should be printed on the surface of both front and back portions of every cigarette packet, package or
carton containing cigarettes covering 80% of the pack, package or cartoon.
• Also made it mandatory to specify health warnings on the packs and includes Smoking makes children ill, Smoking causes
heart diseases, Smoking causes cancer and Smoking causes sexual impotence mandatory.
Note: In Sri Lanka, the numbers of cancer patients are on increase and annual death toll due to smoking amounts to about 20,000
persons.
Ashok Kumar Mathur-7th Pay Commission: Cabinet approved merger of 50% DA with Pay and 7th Pay
Commission Terms of Reference
February 27, 2014
In order to benefit over 50 lakh employees and over 30 lakh pensioners, the Union Cabinet approved terms of reference for seventh pay
commission. This includes merging dearness allowance above 50% with basic pay.
At present, Dearness Allowance (DA) is around 90% of basic pay and another hike of 10% is expected soon. DA is calculated on the basis
of change in retail inflation.
As per practice, the government uses CPI-IW data of the past 12 months to arrive at a quantum for the purpose of any DA hike. Thus, the
retail inflation for industrial workers between January 1 to December 31, 2013 would be used to take a final call on the matter.
Note: To revise the salary structure of Union government employees from both civil and military services, the Union Government
constituted the 7th Central Pay Commission under the chairmanship of Mr. Ashok Kumar Mathur, a retired Supreme Court judge and
retired chairman of Armed Forces Tribunal.
Sochi 2014: Russia topped medal table as Winter Olympics came to an end
February 27, 2014
The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXII Olympic Winter Games, held in Sochi, Russia. Host nation Russia finished on top of
the medal table by winning 33 medals in the tournament.
Top five Countries who topped the list:
Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze
1 Russia (RUS)* 13 11 9
2 Norway (NOR) 11 5 10
3 Canada (CAN) 10 10 5
4 United States (USA) 9 7 12
5 Netherlands (NED) 8 7 9

“SOMAH Solution- to preserve donated organs”; developed by Indian origin doctor Dr. Hemant Thatte
February 27, 2014
An Indian origin doctor, Dr. Hemant Thatte developed a 21-chemical solution known as SOMAH Solution that could preserve a donated
organ for up to a week before a transplant.
• Dr. Hemant Thatte is a senior cardiovascular surgeon at HarvardUniversity.
• What is SOMAH Solution?
• SOMAH Solution in Sanskrit means elixir of immortality.
• The new preservative that is a mixture of 21 chemicals, has the potential to store the heart (and other organs) for up to 7
days.
• A research paper published in the medical journal Circulation in October 2009 showed cells of organs preserved in
SOMAH had a lower rate of death than in another preservation solution.
• The biggest advantage of SOMAH is that it can be used at room temperatures.
Presently, hearts and lungs need to be transplanted within 4-6 hours of being recovered from a brain-dead donor, the liver within 8 hours
and kidneys within a bit more than 24 hours. In addition, the available organs cannot be transported long-distance for transplant and have
to be made available locally.
M.P.Bezbaruah Committee: For protection of rights of North Eastern people
February 27, 2014
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The Union Government expanded Bezbaruah panel to look into the various kinds of concerns of the persons hailing from the North
Eastern States, who are living in different parts of the country, especially the Metropolitan areas, and to suggest suitable remedial
measures which could be taken by the Government.
• Four new members drafted in the committee: Ms. Marina Nido(Mother of the Student Nido Tania who died after
being allegedly beaten by some shopkeepers in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar), former IPS officer S T Sangliana and
student’s leaders J Mavio and J T Tagam from Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
• Earlier, a six-member panel led by Former IAS officer M P Bezbaruah, was formed to propose remedial measures to
address concerns of people from the Northeast following outrage over the death in Delhi of a 19-year-old student from
Arunachal Pradesh.
• Members: Retired IAS officers H W T Syeim, Allen Temshi Jamir, Tape Bagra and P Bharat Singh and the Deputy Secretary
in Ministry of Home Affairs S Saha as Member Secretary.
Terms of Reference of the Bezbaruah Committee:-
• To examine the various kinds of concerns, including the concerns regarding security, of the persons hailing from the
North Eastern States.
• To examine the causes behind the attacks/violence and discrimination against the people from the North-Eastern States.
• To suggest measures to be taken by the Government to address these concerns.
• To suggest legal remedies to address all the concerns.
The Bezbaruah panel will interact with the students/professionals, NGOs, students’ organizations and other persons from the North
Eastern States living in Delhi to seek their suggestions.
Note: Suggestions can also be sent by e-mail atmpbcomm.Northeast@gmail.com and also by post to S Saha, Member Secretary, Ministry
of Home Affairs, Room No. 172-C, North Block, New Delhi.
Mr. Rishang Keishing: India’s oldest Parliamentarian retired after serving seven decades
February 27, 2014
India’s oldest parliamentarian, Mr. Rishang Keishing (94) decided to retire after serving the nation for seven decades. His
term at Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament) ends on April 9, 2014.
Mr. Keishing started his political career as a socialist and became the member of the first Lok Sabha in 1952 after being
elected from Socialist Party; he joined the Congress in 1962. He had served as Chief Minister of Manipur four times.
Note: After Mr. Keishing’s retirement, Mr. Ram Sundar Das of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) will be the oldest MP in the Lok Sabha.
Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2014: Passed by Parliament
February 27, 2014
The Parliament of India approved the Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2014 to set up a mechanism to encourage persons for disclosure of
information oncorruption or willful misuse of power by public servants. The bill also seeks to provide punishment for false or frivolous
complaints. Recently, the Rajya Sabhagave its nod to the bill without any amendment after keeping it pending for more than two years.
The Lok Sabha had passed the bill in 2011.
About Whistle-blowers Protection Bill 2014
• Objective: To provide and protect mechanism, methodologies to encourage the person for reporting any such corruption
activities or any misuse of power by a bureaucrats or government officer.
• Will provide an adequate protection to persons reporting corruption or wilful misuse of discretion which causes
demonstrable loss to the government or commission of a criminal offence by a public servant.
• Sets the procedure to inquire into the disclosures and provides adequate safeguards against victimisation of the
whistleblower. It will also seek to provide punishment for false or frivolous complaints.
Note: The bill would create a legal framework to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption involving government officials.
“e-wallet Scheme” launched by IRCTC
February 27, 2014
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The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) launched e-Wallet Scheme to make payment process fast and to reduce
transaction failures due to bank payment related problems. (IRCTC is a public sector undertaking of the Ministry of Railways). At present,
one has to make the payment for the fare of the ticket, while booking e-ticket, through Credit card, Debit card or Net banking.
“e-Wallet Scheme“
• A rolling deposit scheme wherein the customers will have an account with the IRCTC and deposit money to be used in
future for booking e-tickets from its website (www.irctc.co.in).
• Names of all passengers booked on a fully wait-listed e-ticket are dropped at the time of preparation of reservation
charts and fare is refunded automatically.
• In case of ticket cancellation, the due refund will be credited to the e-Wallet account next day.
• Available for PAN verified users only.
There is no difference between e-tickets booked through e-wallet scheme or those booked through other payment options available on
the website.
Click here for e-Wallet User Guide: eWALLET User Guide
ATP Delhi open: Somdev Devvarman wins single’s title
February 27, 2014
India’s top singles star, Somdev Devvarman won his third ATP Challenge Tennis title after beating top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov by 6-3, 6-
1 in the final in NewDelhi. Saketh Myneni, lifted the men’s doubles title with Sanam Singh and they put a bow on the Indian swing with
doubles titles in the capital city of New Delhi.
Ms Lakshmi Swaminathan : First Indian President of Administrative Tribunal of the Asian Development
Bank (ADB)
February 27, 2014
Ms. Lakshmi Swaminathan became the first Indian to become president of Administrative Tribunal of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
for three years. Ms. Swaminathan is the seventh president of the Tribunal. At present, she is a member of the Panel of Arbitrators of
several public sector undertakings and NSE.
About Administrative Tribunal of Asian Development Bank (ADB)
• Establish: 1991, as an external mechanism to review personnel decisions by Management.
• Composition: Consists of five judges, who are all nationals of member countries of ADB.
• The Tribunal elected Judge Ms. Lakshmi Swaminathan as President and Professor Roy Lewis as Vice-President on the
occasion of the 35th session held in Manila.
CCEA nod to convert 7,200 km of state roads to highways
February 27, 2014
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its nod to convert 7,200 Kms of states roads into national highways. Together with
this, during the UPA regime, approx 17,000 km of the state highways converted into national highways.
• Also, the Cabinet decided to rename “Ennore Port” in Chennai as“Kamarajar Port”.
Note: National Highways Development Project (NHDP) is the flagship road building programme of Ministry of Road Transport and
Highways, currently running into seven phases. The present length of the National Highways in the country is about 80,000 km.
ISRO: Experimental launch of GLSV Mark III in May/June
February 27, 2014
The Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) would carry out an experimental launch of GSLV Mark III in May/ June. The national space
agency, ISRO is also set to send its next satellite IRNSS-1B on board rocket PSLV C24 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in
March/April 2014.
About Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mark-III)
• Function: Mid-Heavy Lift Launch System.
• Manufacturer: ISRO.
• Objective: To launch heavy satellites into geostationary orbit and will allow India to become less dependent on foreign
rockets for heavy lifting.
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• Three stage vehicle with a first stage consisting of two identical large solid boosters strapped onto the second liquid
stage. The third stage is a cryogenic stage.
• Have an Indian built cryogenic stage with higher capacity than GSLV MK-2 and a passive cryo-stage where no engine will
be burnt in the third stage.
Target Accelerator Programme (TAP) launched first accelerator programme for Indian start-ups
February 27, 2014
The Indian arm of US retailer Target, Target India launched its Target Accelerator Programme in Bangalore to incubate and provide
mentoring to its first batch of five technology start-ups. Target will provide funding of up to $30,000 in cash and operational expenses to
each of its incubated ventures.
About Target Accelerator Programme (TAP)
• Objective: Target’s program is designed to help early-stage startups to develop ideas that could improve the retail
giant’s business and the broader retail industry.
• Focus: on incubating startups operating in the areas of mobile, content, social, search, data and analytics.
• Runs for four-months in Target India’s Bangalore office and will annually incubate four to five startups in the mobile,
social media and big data analytics segment.
• The selected startups will also be mentored and provided with business tools and operational support.
Five shortlisted startups of the first batch of Target Accelerator Programme (TAP):
• Turnaround Innovision: A website that helps in rotating 3D images to display products on host websites.
• Konotor: A two way communication channel between a client and their mobile app users.
• MuHive Technologies: A startup that offers a social engagement platform to help organisations simplify their social
conversations.
• Unbxd Inc: Enables personalised searches, product recommendations and website navigation.
• Instaclique: by Nirmantra Technologies helps organisations to integrate social media conversations online to decrease
website bounce rates and increase customer engagement.
The Target Accelerator Programme is the first such programme launched globally by the Minneapolis head quartered retail behemoth.
India and Canada inked 3 pacts to enhance business and cultural ties
February 27, 2014
India and Canada signed 3 pacts for cooperation inhealth sector, audio-visual co-production and skill
development. Currently, the Governor General of Canada, Mr. David Johnston is on a 9 day visit to India.
MoUs signed between India and Canada:
The Grand Challenges Canada and Department of Biotechnology will work together to address the global
health challenges especially for women and childhealthcare.
The secretary of information and broadcasting, Mr. Bimal Julka and Mr. Stewart Beck (High Commissioner of Canada to India) signed an
agreement on the audio visual cooperation. This MoU will enable Indian and Canadian film producers to utilize a platform for collaboration
on various facets of film making. The agreement is expected to deepen the engagement between the critical sectors of the film industries
of both countries there by, providing a new chapter of collaboration.
National Skill Development Corporation from India and Association of Canadian Community College from Canada will work in skill
development segment and to cooperate and share the information and learning on this aspect.
Cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara: Brand ambassador of Gujarat Election Commission
February 27, 2014
India’s middle order batsman, Cheteshwar Pujara has been appointed as the brand ambassador of the Gujarat stateElection
Commission for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Objective: To encourage young voters of the region to caste their votes in the upcoming elections.
Mr. Pujara is known for his discipline, integrity and sense of duty towards his country as he has been an integral part of
India’s cricket team for the several years. He has a very clean image and has always steered himself clear of controversies. He won the
Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2013.
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“Indira Paryavaran Bhawan” inaugurated by Dr. Manmohan Singh
February 27, 2014
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated Indira Paryavaran
Bhawanin New Delhi, which will house the Ministry of Environment and
Forests and has a provision to accommodate its 600 officials.
About Indira Paryavaran Bhawan
• Project of Ministry of Environment and Forests
A Project for Construction of New office Building at Aliganj, Jor Bagh Road,
New Delhi.
India’s first on site Net Zero green building built by the adoption of Solar
Passive design and energy efficient building material.
The building is targeted to achieve LEED India Platinum Rating and GRIHA
5 star rating.
Cost: Rs. 209 crore, include the cost of land, solar photo voltaic power
generation and its evacuation system, three level mechanized basement
parking system, air-conditioning system supported by geo-thermal
cooling, IT services, audio and video system in auditoriums
and committee rooms, furniture, provision for horticulture and other services including reuse of water by recycling the waste water and
also to make the building friendly to physically challenged.
Requirements of GRIHA 5-Star and LEEDS Platinum ratings
• Effective Ventilation has been achieved by orientating the building in an East-West direction, separating different blocks
with connecting corridors and having a large central court yard.
• The design is such that 75% of natural daylight is utilized to reduce energy consumption.
• The entire building has an access friendly design for differently-abled persons.
• With an Installed capacity of 930 KW peak power, the building has the largest roof top Solar system among Multi storied
buildings in India.
• Total energy savings of about 40% has been achieved by adoption of energy Efficient Chilled Beam system of Air
Conditioning. This is an innovative air conditioning system, where air conditioning is done by convection currents rather
than air flow through diffusers and chilled water is circulated right up to the diffuser points unlike the conventional
systems.
• Green materials have been used like Fly ash bricks, regional building materials, materials with high recycled content, high
reflectance terrace tiles and rock wool Insulation of outer walls.
• Rapidly renewable Bamboo Jute Composite material has been used for door frames & shutters.
• UPVC windows with hermetically sealed double glass, Calcium Silicate ceiling tiles having high recycled content and grass
paver blocks in pavements and roads.
• Reduction in water consumption has been achieved by use of Low discharge water fixtures, recycling of waste water
through Sewage Treatment Plant, use of plants with Low water demand in landscaping, use of Geothermal cooling for
HVAC system, rain water harvesting and use of curing compounds during construction.
What is Tizen? – “Samsung launched Tizen-powered smart watches”
February 27, 2014
Samsung launched second generation Gear smart watches powered by Tizen operating system to break the iOS
and Android duopoly in the mobile market.
Samsung’s NX300M smart camera was the first device to run on Tizen, and the Gear 2 paves the way for what Samsung
calls the “Tizen based wearable platform.”
About second-generation Gear smart watches
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Available in two models: Gear 2 and the camera-less Gear 2 Neo.
Both the variants of the Gear 2 are IP67 certified water and dust resistant.
Powered by the Tizen operating system.
Weight: Gear 2(68 gm) and Gear 2 Neo (55 gm). Both the models are lighter than the original Galaxy Gear (73.8 gm) and thinner too, at
10mm vs. 11.1mm.
The Super AMOLED display on the Gear 2, measures 1.63-inch with a 320-by-320 pixels resolution. It can accept or ignore calls, messages,
and also monitor heart-rate, and our movement activity.
The Gear 2 also has 4GB of internal memory, 512MB RAM, 2.0-megapixel camera (not included in the Neo), Bluetooth 4.0 LE, and an IrLED
sensor that will help control other electronic devices such as TVs and set-top boxes through the Watch ON Remote app.
The Gear 2 will be available in Charcoal Black, Gold Brown and Wild Orange colors while the Gear 2 Neo will be available in Charcoal Black,
Mocha Grey and Wild Orange colors. Gear 2 Neo is made of plastic while the Gear 2 has a metal face. Both the watches will be available
from April,2014.
What is Tizen?
It is a project within the Linux Foundation and is governed by a Technical Steering Group (TSG) composed of Samsung and Intel among
others.
• Open-source Linux powered operating system.
• Standards-based software platform supported by leading mobile operators, device manufacturers, and silicon
suppliers for multiple device categories viz. smartphones, tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle infotainment devices, smart TVs,
smart cameras, etc.
• Objective: To offer a consistent user experience across devices.
• Offers an innovative operating system, applications, and a user experience that consumers can take from device to
device.
• Available programming languages: HTML5, C, C++.
• Provides application development tools based on the JavaScript libraries jQuery and jQuery Mobile.
• Provides a robust and flexible environment for application developers, based on HTML5. With HTML5′s robust
capabilities and cross platform flexibility, it is rapidly becoming the preferred development environment for mobile apps
and services.
• The Tizen SDK and API allow developers to use HTML5 and related web technologies to write applications that run across
multiple device segments.
“1322”- security helpline number launched by Northern Railway for passengers
February 27, 2014
Northern Railway launched 24 x 7 security helpline No.1322 to provide speedy assistance to passengers in the event
of thefts, harassment and other criminal incidents on rail premises.
The call can be made from a landline or mobile number.
Once a passenger calls the helpline, a unique complaint number will be generated and provided to the complainant to
be followed for necessary action.
The security helpline service will be managed by Railway Protection Force (RPF).
At present, the facility will be operational in 731 stations of the Northern zone covering Ambala, Ferozpur, Moradabad, Delhi and Lucknow
divisions.
Future Plan: To launch “1322” as an all India helpline number for Railway passengers.
Indian- American Scientist Sangeeta Bhatia developed cheap paper diagnostic for cancer
February 27, 2014
The Indian-American scientist, Ms. Sangeeta Bhatiadeveloped a simple, cheap, paper test that could improve cancer
diagnosis rates and help people to get treated earlier. Ms. Bhatia is professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
About the paper diagnostic test for cancer
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The diagnostic, which works much like a pregnancy test, could reveal within minutes, based on a urine sample, whether a person has
cancer. The synthetic biomarker technology relies on nano-particles that interact with tumour proteins called proteases, each of which
can trigger release of hundreds of biomarkers that are then easily detectable in a patient’s urine.
• Concept of synthetic biomarker technology: To amplify signals from tumor proteins (that would be hard to detect on their own) by
injecting special nanoparticles into the body.
• These proteins are known as Matrix Metallo Proteinase (MMP) that help cancer cells to escape from their original locations by cutting
through proteins of the extra cellular matrix, which normally holds cells in place.
• These nanoparticles, coated with peptides (short protein fragments), can interact with tumour proteins called proteases. In a patient’s
body, these particles congregate at tumour sites, where cancer proteases cleave the peptides, which then accumulate in the kidneys and
are excreted in the patient’s urine.
• These biomarkers are easily detectable using an approach known as a lateral flow assay, the same technology used in pregnancy tests. In
tests in mice, the researchers were able to accurately identify colon tumours, as well as blood clots.
Note: As per the current version of the technology, patients would first receive an injection of the nanoparticles, and then urinate onto the
paper test strip. To make the process more convenient, the researchers are now working on a nanoparticle formulation that could be
implanted under the skin for longer-term monitoring.
Euthanasia Plea issue: Apex Court refers matter to constitution bench
February 27, 2014
The Supreme Court of India referred the issue of legalizing euthanasia in the country to a five-judge
Constitution bench. Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and
suffering. Due to conflicted opinions on euthanasia, the apex court stated that the Constitution bench
will go into all aspects of the issue and take a final decision on framing guidelines.
The PIL filed by NGO “Common Cause” had contended that a person whose life was ebbing out should
be allowed to die, as the continuance of the life with the support system was an unnatural extension of
the natural life span. The Centre had vociferously opposed the plea terming it as “suicide” which could
not be allowed in the country.
Note: Jurisdictions where euthanasia or assisted suicide is legal –
theNetherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Estonia, Albania, and the USstates of Washington, Oregon and Montana.
“Water, Peace and War – Confronting the Global Water Crisis” Mr. Brahma Chellaney’s book launched
February 27, 2014
The Vice President of India, Mr. M. Hamid Ansarilaunched a book titled “Water, Peace and War – Confronting
the Global Water Crisis” authored by Mr. Brahma Chellaney.
About the “Water, Peace and War – Confronting the Global Water Crisis” book
Focus: On a wide range of research from scientific and policy fields to examine the global linkages between water
and peace.
Author: Mr. Brahma Chellaney.
Founds a way on how we can secure humankind’s water future and promised to become the recognized authority
on the most precious natural resources of this century.
The author sketched a bleak picture of water scarcity in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East regions that are not only struggling with unstable
governments, but also rapidly growing populations.
Water stressed conditions are also appearing in developed countries, viz. Australia, Spain, and South Korea. Even the deep-water aquifers
that support modern agriculture in North America are dwindling.


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