Current Affairs : May, 2016
Important Days in May
India’s first integrated web portal to promote Net Zero Energy Buildings launched
The Union Ministry of Power and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched India’s first integrated web portal designed to promote and mainstream Net Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) in India.
The portal (www.nzeb.in) was launched by Secretary of Union Ministry of Power Pradeep Kumar Pujari and Ambassador Mr Jonathan Addleton, USAID Mission Director to India.
A first of its kind portal provides complete information about NZEB that generate as much energy as they use.
It also helps to achieve near-zero energy status through the use of efficient lighting and equipment, best practice design strategies and integration of renewable energy technologies.
In addition it also hosts the NZEB Alliance, an industry-wide body setup to drive the Indian markets toward highly energy-efficient buildings.
It will also provide information for policymakers, architects, engineers, developers, sustainability consultants and academia.
Lakshadweep becomes first UT to sign 24×7 ‘Power for All’ document
Lakshadweep became first Union Territory (UT) in the counry to sign 24×7 Power for All document. The document was signed by representative of Union Government and administration of Lakshadweep.
At present, 10 inhabited islands of Lakshadweep are mostly fed by diesel.
The 24×7 Power for All document chalks out
A plan to increase solar capacity from 2.15 MW to 8.45 MW of the island region. Envisions reduction of AT & C losses from current level of 21% to 6.7% till 2019 by increasing the collection efficiency up to 99%.
As a part of energy efficiency measures, 1 lakh LED bulbs will be distributed by Lakshadweep UT administration through Energy Efficiency Services (EESL).
Besides under UJALA programme incandescent lamps/CFL bulbs will be replaced with LED bulbs. Additionally, 3000 conventional street lights will be replaced with LED street lights.
About Power for All programme
Union Government has undertaken this programme as a joint initiative with respective State Governments for preparation of State specific documents.
This document envisions for providing 24×7 power supply to all households /homes, commercial and industrial consumers and to Agricultural consumers as per state policy. So far, 22 States have signed the ’24×7 Power For All’ Documents.
Union Cabinet approves MoU between ISRO and United Arab Emirates Space Agency
The Union Cabinet has approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA) for cooperation in the exploration and user of outer space for peaceful purposes.
Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The MoU seek to set up a Joint Working Group with members from ISRO and UAESA. It will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing the MoU.
Union Cabinet gives approval to 6 new IITs
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to amend The Institutes of Technology (IIT) Act, 1961 for incorporation of 6 new IITs. This amendment will declare these 6 IITs as the institutions of national importance Six new IITs will come up at: Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Palakkad (Kerala), Dharwar (Karnataka), Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Goa, Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir).
Besides, Union Cabinet also gave its approval to convert of Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad into an IIT under the ambit of the IIT Act, 1961. The Cabinet also gave its ex post facto approval to set up the National Institutes of Technology (NIT) Andhra Pradesh which has been registered as a Society under the Andhra Pradesh Societies Registration Act, 2001.
In this regard, National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will be introduced in the parliament for inclusion of the NIT, Andhra Pradesh in its first schedule. The bill will amend NITSER Act, 2007 to ensure a high level of public accountability and increase participation of the stakeholders in administration and academic activities of NIT.
Cyclonic storm ROANU hits eastern coast of India
Cyclonic Storm Roanu, an active tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal has hit the eastern coast of India. It is the first tropical cyclone of the annual cyclone season.
Roanu originated from a deep depression (low pressure) area that formed south of Sri Lanka and later gradually drifted north and intensified into a cyclonic storm.
In its early stages, the storm was responsible heavy rainfall in Sri Lanka causing flooding in its northern parts.
It also brought torrential rainfall to the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and is also affecting Odisha and West Bengal.
Parliament passes bill on potable alcohol
Parliament has passed the Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 after with the Lok Sabha adopted certain amendments made by the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill seeks to amend the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 that provides for development and regulation of certain industries.
The Bill seeks to transfer from the Centre to states the control over industries engaged in the production of potable alcohol. It seeks to amend a schedule in the parent Act to exclude production of alcohol for potable purposes.
It empowers central government to formulate policy and regulate foreign collaboration for all products of fermentation industries, including industrial and potable alcohol.
India, Australia sign MoU to enhance R&D capabilities in biotech
India and Australia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance research and development (R&D) capabilities in biotechnology by launching a joint funding call. The MoU was signed between India’s BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) and Horticulture Innovation Australia.
The MoU seeks to stimulate and enhance the strategic research and innovation capabilities of the Indian biotech industry.
The focus of the funding call is to undertake horticultural research in order to develop and deploy modern tools of plant biotechnology to improve crop productivity.
The funding commitment from BIRAC and Horticulture Innovation is up to 6 million Australian dollars over a period of three years.
BIRAC: It a PSU under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology. It seeks to stimulate and enhance the strategic research and innovation capabilities of the Indian biotech industry, particularly start-ups and SMEs, for the creation of affordable products addressing the needs of the largest section of society.
China sign two agreements with Sudan to build nuclear reactor
China has signed two agreements with Sudan, its close ally in Africa to build 600-megawatt (MW) atomic reactor. It was the first of its kind project to be built by China in African country.
The two framework agreements in this regard have been signed by state-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) with Sudan. These agreements include nuclear power development and building a 600 MW atomic reactor.
These agreements may involve a blueprint for nuclear power development for Sudan in the next decade and building the first nuclear power station in the country.
As part of agreement, CNNC has not disclosed the contract value and also the type of nuclear technology to be used for the reactor.
But experts believe that China may use its homegrown reactor design Hualong One, a type of third-generation technology.
In recent years, Sudan has faced power shortages and is seeking to build two 600-MW pressurised water nuclear reactors to meet the growing demand for electricity.
Mamata Banerjee sworn-in as West Bengal Chief Minister for a second term
Mamata Banerjee was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for second successive five-year term at oath taking ceremony held on Red Road. State Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi administered her oath of office and secrecy along with the 42 ministers of her government. Mamata Banerjee is eighth chief minister of West Bengal and the first CM of the state.
Islamic Development Bank to open its first branch in India at Ahmedabad
Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has decided to open its first branch in India at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. In this regard, IDB and its private sector arm, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), already have met with top officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), EXIM Bank and India’s other nationalized banks.
This announcement comes as part of MoU signed between IDB and India’s EXIM Bank during Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April 2016.
As part of the MoU a US 100 million dollars line-of-credit (LoC) was to be given to IDB’s member countries to facilitate exports. Besides, IDB also has decided to provide Gujarat state 30 medical vans as part of its social sector initiatives.
About Islamic Development Bank
The IDB is a multilateral development financing institution based in in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Presently, it has 56 Islamic countries as its members. It was founded in 1973 by the Finance Ministers at the first Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now Organisation of Islamic Cooperation).
IDB’s objective is to foster the economic development and social progress of member countries as well as the Muslim community in accordance with principles of Islamic (Shariah) law.
Pinarayi Vijayan sworn-in as Kerala Chief Minister
Veteran CPI (M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan was sworn-in as 12th Chief Minister of Kerala after the left Democratic Front (LDF) had won 2016 state assembly election. State Governor P Sathasivam administered his oath of office and secrecy to him along with other 18 ministers of his government in Thiruvananthapuram.
In the 2016 state assembly election, the CPI (M)-led coalition of LDF had emerged victorious after winning 91 seats in the 140 member Assembly. Then ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) had emerged as largest opposition coalition after winning 47 seats.
India, World Bank ink US$ 100 million loan agreement for Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization
India and World Bank have signed the Loan and Project Agreements for World Bank (IBRD) assistance of US 100 million dollars for Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization project. Objective of the project: (i) Provide city-wide access to a continuous piped water supply in the eligible cities in Karnataka. (ii) Strengthen the service delivery arrangements at the city level. KUIDFC is the nodal implementing agency for the project.
The project has four broad components: (i) Capital Investment Program (ii) Technical Assistance for Sector Development (iii) Institution Building and (iv) Project Management.
The project will be implemented initially in the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad over a period of six years, and other eligible cities will join the project later.
Under it, Hubballi Dharwad Municipal Corporation has hired a professional water supply operating company for improving the water supply system. The municipality will retain its ownership over the water supply assets and shall also control of the service delivery set up.
Sarbananda Sonowal sworn-in as Assam Chief Minister
BJP leader and former Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal (54) was sworn-in as the 14th Chief Minister of Assam after winning 2016 state assembly election with absolute majority. State Governor Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya administered the oath of office and secrecy to Sarbananda Sonowal at the oath taking ceremony held in Khanapara, Guwahati.
Besides, Governor also administered oath of office and secrecy to the 10 ministers of his government. With this, maiden BJP government assumed power in the North Eastern state for first time in the political history of independent India. Sarbananda Sonowal also became second tribal chief minister of Assam after Jogen Hazarika who was in the office 1970s.
J Jayalalithaa sworn-in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for sixth time
Ms. J Jayalalithaa has sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for record sixth time after winning 2016 state assembly election with absolute majority.
State Governor Dr.K. Rosaiah administered the oath of office and secrecy to her at oath taking ceremony held at the Centenary Auditorium, Madras University.
Besides, Governor also administered oath of office and secrecy to the 28 ministers of her government.
This is J Jayalalithaa’s second consecutive term as chief minister and sixth overall. She is the second female Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after Janaki Ramachandran.
President appoints Kiran Bedi as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry
President appoints Kiran Bedi as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry
President Pranab Mukherjee has appointed BJP leader and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi as the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Puducherry as per Article 239 of the Constitution.
The a post LG was vacant for the past two years after the Union Government had sacked Virendra Kataria from the post in July 2014. Since then, it was under the additional charge of Ajay Kumar Singh, Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
World’s largest Single Rooftop Solar Power Plant inaugurated in Amritsar
World’s largest single rooftop solar power plant of 11.5 MegaWatt (MW) capacity was inaugurated at Dera Baba Jaimal Singh in Beas near Amritsar in Punjab. This is the largest Solar Power Plant spread over 82 acres of rooftop in single campus on multiple roofs with installed capacity of 19.5 MW.
The plant has been set up with the cost of 139 crore rupees and would generate clean and green energy sufficient to power approximately 8,000 homes. It will also help in abating 4-lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the next 25 years.
The clean power produced from this plant will be purchased by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) as per the power purchase agreement signed Dera for 25 years.
The first phase (7.5 MW) of this project was launched in September 2013 and was synchronised with the grid in April 2014. Later, the second phase (12 MW) was launched in February 2015 and synchronised in December 2015.
Union Government approves NIMZ in in Kalinganagar, Odisha
The Union Government has given its final approval to setting up of National Investment & Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) in Kalinganagar, Odisha. It will come up on a massive area of 163 square kilometres and on completion will be the third NIMZ of India.
For execution NIMZ project, Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry has approved fund of Rs. 4241 crore. Of this total amount, estimated Rs. 3816 crore will be invested for the first phase of the project which will be completed by 2020.
NIMZ in Kalinganagar will create employment opportunities for around 1.5 lakh people. It will help Odisha grow as a manufacturing hub and also help Paradip port’s growth.
About National Investment & Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ)
Under National Manufacturing Policy (NMP), Union Government in 2014 had announced to set up 16 NIMZs to boost manufacturing sector. Till 2013-14, 16 NIMZs were set up, 8 of them are along the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). NMP aims to enhance the share of manufacturing sector in GDP to 25% and create 100 million employment opportunities over a decade.
Union Cabinet approves National Capital Goods Policy 2016
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for National Capital Goods Policy 2016 to give an impetus to the capital goods sector and the Make in India initiative. This is first ever policy for Capital Goods sector framed by the Union Government (Ministry of Heavy Industry & Public Enterprise).
Key features of Policy
Objectives: (i) Increase production of capital goods from 2,30,000 crore rupees in 2014-15 to 7,50,000 crore rupees in 2025. (ii) Raise direct and indirect employment from the current 8.4 million to 30 million. (iii) Increase exports from the current 27% to 40% of production. (iv) Increase the share of domestic production in India’s demand from 60% to 80% to make India a net exporter of capital goods.
Aim of Policy: (i) Facilitate improvement in technology depth across sub-sectors, (ii) Ensure mandatory standards, (iii) Increase skill availability and promote growth and (iv) Capacity building of MSMEs. Help in realising the vision of ‘Building India as the World class hub for Capital Goods’ and also play a pivotal role in overall manufacturing as the pillar of strength to the vision of ‘Make in India’.
The Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) will meet the objectives of the policy in a time bound manner through obtaining approval for schemes as per the roadmap of policy interventions.
World Bank launches Pandemic Emergency Finance Facility
The World Bank has launched Pandemic Emergency Finance Facility (FEP) to help countries and health agencies fight deadly disease outbreaks. FEP is a financing mechanism designed to quickly mobilize funds to tackle global disease outbreaks and create a new insurance market for pandemic risk. It was unveiled at the G-7 Finance Ministers Summit held in Ise-Shima, Japan. Japanese Government has committed to donate $50 million dollars to it, becoming the first donor.
It was designed and built by World Bank in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the private sector reinsurance companies etc.
PEF is meant to work almost like an insurance policy, but it will be mainly to protect against deadly disease outbreaks by ensuring “surge funding” to response efforts. The funding will be disbursed according to a complex trigger mechanism and activation criteria based on four categories of infectious diseases.
It will provide coverage up to US 500 million dollars for outbreaks of infectious diseases most likely to cause major epidemics for an initial period of 3 years.
The major epidemics covered under PEF include new influenza pandemic virus A, B and C, MERS, SARS, Ebola, Crimean Congo, Marburg, Rift Valley, Lassa fever, etc.
The insurance window under it will combine the funding from the reinsurance markets with the proceeds of catastrophe or Cat bonds (World Bank issued pandemic bonds) as well as a complementary cash window. It will be for the first time World Bank Cat Bonds will be used to combat infectious diseases.
SEBI tightens P-note norms to keep vigil on foreign investments to curb black money inflow
SEBI tightens P-note norms to keep vigil on foreign investments to curb black money inflow
The market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has tightened the Participatory Notes (P-note) norms. The main purpose of this decision is to keep vigil on foreign investments to curb black money inflows in the country.
In this regard, SEBI has introduced Know Your Client (KYC) compliance for holders of these instruments in order to bring them on a par with domestic investors. SEBI also has sought information on the ultimate beneficiaries of these products.
What are Participatory notes?
Participatory Notes are offshore/overseas derivative instruments (ODIs) issued by registered foreign institutional investors (FII) to overseas investors. They are commonly known as P-Notes. P-Notes are issued to overseas investors who wish to invest in the Indian stock markets without registering themselves with the market regulator SEBI.
Investing through P-Notes is very simple and is very popular amongst FIIs. SEBI had permitted FIIS to participate and register in the Indian stock market in 1992. P-Notes are not used within the country but are mainly used outside India for making investments in shares listed in the Indian stock market.
For example, India-based brokerages buy securities from the Indian stock and then issue P-Notes to foreign investors for the securities. Any capital gains or dividends collected from the underlying securities go back to the investors.
SBI seeks to take over 5 associate PSBs, Bhartiya Mahila Bank
The country’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) has decided to merge its five associate public sector banks (PSBs) and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) with itself. In this regard, SBI has informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that it is seeking in-principle approval for acquisition from the Union Government.
5 subsidiary banks are: (i) State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, (ii) State Bank of Hyderabad, (iii) State Bank of Mysore, (iv) State Bank of Patiala and (v) State Bank of Travancore.
Besides, the boards of the subsidiary banks and the SBI also met individually in Mumbai to begin merger talks to acquire the businesses including assets and liabilities.
The merged entity will increase SBI’s market share from 17 per cent to 22.5-23 per cent the country with total business of over Rs. 35 lakh crore.
It will have one-fourth of the deposit and loan market in the country and SBI’s staff strength will increase by 35-49 per cent.
The merged entity will also increase branch network by 6,000. At present, SBI alone has more than 15,000 branches in the country.
Sunrisers Hyderabad win 2016 Indian Premier League title
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) has won the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). It is their maiden IPL title. In the final match played at Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore (Karnataka), SRH defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by eight runs. SRH had won the toss in final summit and had chosen to bat first. Batting first, SRH had set the target of 209 runs to their opponent team. However the RCB failed to reach the target score.
Discus thrower Seema Punia qualifies for 2016 Rio Olympics
Discus thrower Seema Punia has qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August 2016. She is the 19th Indian track and field athlete to qualify for Rio Olympics.
Seema was able to qualify after throwing discus at 62.62 meters at the Pat Young’s Throwers Classic 2016 event held at Salinas (California) in the United States. She crossed the Rio Games qualification standard of 61meters with her season’s best effort of 62.62 meters and winning gold medal in the event.
Pankaj Advani creates history by winning Asian 6-Red Snooker title
India’s ace cueist Pankaj Advani has created history by clinching the Asian 6-Red Snooker title held in Abu Dhabi. With this victory, Advani became the first cueist in the world to hold both world and continental titles in 6-red snooker at the same time.
In the Asian 6-Red Snooker title held in Abu Dhabi, Advani defeated top seeded Malaysian cueist Keen Hoh Moh by 7-5 score. Advani is 14-time World Billiards and Snooker Champion.
He is only player in the world to win world titles in all formats of both, Billiards and Snooker.
He is the first cueist in the world to win the Grand double three times in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
In recognition of his achievements in sports, Union Government has bestowed several awards upon him including Arjuna Award (2004), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2006) and Padma Shri (2009).
Anurag Thakur unanimously elected BCCI President
Anurag Thakur (41) was unanimously elected as President of BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) by the board’s special general meeting (SGM) held in Mumbai. He is 34th BCCI President and shall have tenure till September 2017.
He succeeds Shashank Manohar who stepped down to take get elected as ICC’s first independent chairman.
Thakur is the second youngest BCCI President after Fateh Singh Gaekwad who was the youngest BCCI President to get elected at the age of 33 in 1963.
Before getting elected as President, Thakur had resigned as BCCI Secretary. He is a BJP MP in Lok Sabha from Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh.
Science & Technology
NASA successfully deploys BEAM, first inflatable room attached to International Space Station
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has successfully deployed the first experimental inflatable room attached to the International Space Station (ISS). The experimental inflatable room dubbed as BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) was deployed after it was successfully expanded and pressurized.
The inflatable room BEAM has been built by Nevada Company Bigelow Aerospace. It will be attached to the ISS for a two-year test and is the first such habitat to hold humans in orbit.
It is made up of aluminium and soft fabric which expands in space. It is light weight and also takes minimal space. It creates place for astronauts to live and work.
It is 4 metres long and 3.2 metres in diameter with 16 cubic metres of interior volume when fully expanded.
Its 2 year orbital test is intended to pave the way towards the use of such habitable rooms for long space trips, including to Mars and Moon
India’s first reusable space shuttle RLV-TD launched
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully test launched the first indigenous Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD).
Launch Details: It was launched from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The launch was part of a series of technology demonstration missions, which is considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle.
After launch RLV-TD glided back onto a virtual runway in Bay of Bengal and re-entered the atmosphere after reaching a height of over 70 km.
RLV-TD is winged body aerospace vehicle that operated in hypersonic flight regime. It is capable of launching satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter the atmosphere
It has been configured to act as a flying testbed to evaluate various technologies, including hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight. It was launched using a nine-ton solid rocket motor (SRM) which is designed to burn slowly to accommodate the vertical lifting of winged body
The RLV-TD was 6.5 meter long and has aeroplane like structure. It weighs about 1.75 tonnes and is very similar to the retired US space shuttle.
It was built by a team of 600 scientists over five years at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram.
World’s first robot lawyer ‘ROSS’ hired by US law firm
The world’s first robot lawyer named ‘ROSS’ has been employed by a US law firm BakerHostetler. The first of its kind artificial intelligence (AI) lawyer will assist the law firm and its various teams in legal research.
The robot was built by the company ROSS Intelligence and its working is based on cognitive computing. The project had started in 2014 out of research at the University of Toronto to build an artificial intelligence legal research assistant to allow lawyers to enhance and scale their abilities.
The ROSS started functioning with first ten months after they began teaching it bankruptcy law.
The ‘ROSS’ robot is built upon IBM’s cognitive computer Watson.
It will function using Watson’s cognitive computing and natural language processing capabilities. Lawyers can ask ROSS their research question and which it will answer by reading through the law, gathered evidence, drawn inferences. ROSS will also monitor the law around the clock to notify users of new court decisions that can affect a case.
It is programmed to continually learn from the lawyers who will in turn use it to bring back better results each time.
India’s own submarine assembly workshop inaugurated at Mazgaon
Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar a state-of-the-art submarine assembly workshop at the Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The inauguration is considered as a major step towards self-sufficiency in the area of submarine construction for the Indian Navy.
The newly built Submarine Marine Assembly Workshop is a pre-engineered building structure built at a cost of Rs 153 crore. It is capable to handle construction of multiple submarines simultaneously and will make it possible to assemble five submarines in the workshop at the same time.
The workshop has features such as sewage treatment plan, grey water treatment plant, rain water harvesting, oily water separator plant for treatment of sewage, oily water and grey water respectively, with zero discharge into the municipal drains.
This facility will enable MDL to go in for a second line of submarines concurrently which is assembling Scorpene class submarines at its East Yard in collaboration with DCNS of France.
Indian Air Force successfully test fires Brahmos missile at Pokaran
The Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully test-fired a land-attack version of the supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos at the Pokaran field firing range in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
Test: During the flight trial, the missile met its mission goals and destroyed a designated target. Two squadrons of IAF already have been equipped with the land-attack version of the missile version (One squadron has about 70 to 80 missiles). IAF is deploying this version of the missile in the border areas to take out the enemy’s communication towers, runways, and radar in case of a conflict.
It is capable of carrying a warhead of 300 kilogram and has top supersonic speed of Mach 3 (that is, three times the speed of sound). It can strike a target at maximum range of 290-km.
It is two-stage missile, the first one being solid and the second one ramjet liquid propellant.
BrahMos missile already has been inducted into the Indian Army and Navy.
Indian Navy launches underwater Harbour Defence Systems in Visakhapatnam
Indian Navy launches underwater Harbour Defence Systems in Visakhapatnam
Indian Navy has launched the state-of-the-art Harbour Defence Systems, viz. Integrated Underwater Harbour Defence and Surveillance System (IUHDSS) in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
Besides, Mine Warfare Data Centre (MWDC) was also launched. IUHDSS and MWDC systems seek to enhance the Indian Navy’s surveillance capability and response to security threats at the Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam.
IUHDSS: It is a multi-sensor system capable of detecting, tracking, identifying and generating warnings for all types of surface and underwater threats to Visakhapatnam harbour.
MWDC: It will collate, classify and analyse data collected by the Indian Navy’s Mine Hunting Ships from various ports along the East coast. This state-of-the-art facility will be the nodal centre for maintaining an underwater information database of harbours along the East coast.
Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh wins 2016 India Biodiversity Award
Pakke Tiger Reserve in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh has won the ‘India Biodiversity Award 2016’. The tiger reserve was selected in the conservation of threatened species category for its Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme.
Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme
The Programme is a joint collaboration of Ghora-Aabhe Society, Nature Conservation Foundation and the State Forest Department. Under it, urban citizens contribute money to protect hornbill nests around Pakke Tiger Reserve.
The programme has been a major step towards conservation of four hornbill species that are found in the adjoining areas of the reserve. Besides, Hong Niitii, Lower Subansiri has been awarded under category IV Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) award.
Union HRD Ministry to launch ASMITA, student tracking system
The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has decided to launch ASMITA, a student tracking system programme. ASMITA is acronym for All School Monitoring Individual Tracing Analysis and shall be launched under Shala Asmita Yojana (SAY).
SAY aims to track the educational journey of school students from Class I to Class XII across the 15 lakhs private and government schools in the country.
ASMITA will be an online database which will carry information of student attendance and enrolment, learning outcomes, mid-day meal service and infrastructural facilities among others. \
Students will be tracked through their Aadhaar numbers and incase those not having unique number will be provided with it.
Tsai Ing-wen sworn-in as first women President of Taiwan
Tsai Ing-wen (59) has sworn-in as the first female and 14th President of Taiwan on 20 May 2016 in front of national flag. She succeeds outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou. She is the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which favours independence from China.
Union Cabinet approves Amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for introduction of two Bills in the Parliament for certain amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950. These bills seek to modify the list of Scheduled Tribes in respect of five States, namely, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Tripura.
They also seek identification of new communities in the Union Territory of Puducherry.
The Bills add the following communities to the list of Scheduled Castes:
Assam: Inclusion of Boro, Boro Kachari, Bodo, Bodo Kachari and Karbi (Mikir) communities in the list.
Chhattisgarh: Inclusion of Bhuinya, Bhuiyan, Bhuyan, Dhanuhar/Dhanuwar,Kisan, Saunra, Saonra and Dhangad communities in the list.
Jharkhand: Inclusion of Bhogta, Deshwari, Ganjhu, Dautalbandi (Dwalbandi), Patbandi, Raut, Maajhia, Khairi (Kheri) and Puran communities in the list.
Tamil Nadu: Inclusion of Malayali Gounder, Narikoravan and Kurivikkaran communities in the list.
Tripura: Inclusion of Darlong community in the list.
Puducherry: Identification (First Order) of Irular (including Villi and Vettaikaran).
After these Bills become Acts, members of the included communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes will be able to derive benefits meant for Scheduled Tribes under the existing schemes.
Constitutional provisions: The Constitution provides certain privileges/concessions to the members of Scheduled Tribes which are notified under the provisions of Article 342.
Article 342: It empowers President after consultation with the State Government to issue an order for the first list of Scheduled Tribes. Any subsequent inclusion or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Tribes can be effected through an Act of Parliament as envisaged under clause (2) of Article 342.
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