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Current Affairs (May 28th - June 03rd, 2018)

  • UN trains Rohingya refugees to deal with rain-linked challenges
    Current Affairs Anticipating that about 2,00,000 Rohingya refugees may again turn homeless during Bangladesh’s monsoon, the UNHCR has trained “thousands of volunteer[s]” to mitigate the challenges, a UNHCR release noted.

    Since April, the UNHCR, with Bangladesh’s biggest non-governmental organisation BRAC, has trained more than 20,000 ‘community outreach members’ (COMs) on emergency preparedness. But with the onset of monsoon, at least two lakh — out of the 9,00,000 refugees settled in Cox’s Bazar — will face fresh challenges to survive.

    The members at present receive training on basic awareness, landslide risk mitigation, first aid and weather hazard management, the UNHCR release noted.

    The UNHCR and its partners have also distributed more than 82,000 upgraded shelter kits, which provide families with sturdier and more waterproof shelters. The UN said they are distributing 80,000 pre-monsoon “tie-down” kits to help families to anchor their shelters firmly when strong winds start to approach.

  • US nuke watchdog opposes Pakistan's application to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
    A US-based international nuclear proliferation watchdog on 31st May said, Pakistan's application to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) should not be granted.

    In its report, the Institute for Science and International Security said, Pakistan's application should not be granted the present time as it appears committed to building one or two large uranium enrichment plants in its Kahuta nuclear power plant site.

    After a detailed analysis of the latest satellite images obtained by it, the institute said, there are also other reasons to refuse its membership including Pakistan's ongoing illicit nuclear procurements abroad and its refusal to even minimally split its military and civil nuclear programs.

    The watchdog said, while much of the world's attention has been directed to the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea, Pakistan has greatly expanded its nuclear complex dedicated to producing nuclear weapons.

    It said, other members of the NSG should tell China that the supply of goods to Pakistan's enrichment programme would violate China's NSG commitments.

  • RIMPAC military exercise from June 27; India among 26 participant countries
    As many as 26 countries, including India, will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific, RIMPAC military exercise from June 27 to August 2, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The Pentagon announced this on 30th May.

    Known as the world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC this year involves 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.

    Ahead of the announcement, the United States had disinvited China from RIMPAC, a move Beijing described as "unfortunate".

    The countries participating in the exercise include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom among others.

  • Denmark bans Islamic full-face veil in public spaces
    Denmark has banned Islamic full-face veil in public spaces. The Danish parliament passed a law in this regard, becoming the latest European country to do so.

    As per the law, anyone who wears a cloth that hides the face in public will be punished with a fine. The law was passed with 75 votes against 30.

  • UN Security Council possible sanctions on South Sudan
    The UN Security Council has given South Sudan's warring sides a month to reach a peace deal or face possible sanctions. A resolution drafted by the United States narrowly won backing in the 15-member council, picking up nine votes.

    Six countries abstained, including Russia, China and Ethiopia, a key player in regional peace efforts.

    South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, with critical backing from the United States, which remains Juba's biggest aid donor.

    But the US administration has grown increasingly frustrated with President Salva Kiir's government as the brutal war grinds on, now in its fourth year.

  • IMF urges countries to work constructively together to reduce trade barriers
    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged countries to work constructively together to reduce trade barriers.

    Describing the United States' decision to impose metal tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico as unfortunate, IMF Spokesperson, Gerry Rice said in Washington that trade tensions are rising at a moment where the global recovery is being supported by trade.

    He said for the first time in a long time, trade is growing faster than global GDP, and spreading recovery around the world.

    Rice said that because of trade and innovation, billions of people today enjoy longer, healthier and more prosperous lives and IMF encourage countries to resolve trade disagreements without resorting to exceptional measures.

  • US vetoes Arab-backed UN draft resolution to protect Palestinians
    The United States vetoed an Arab-backed UN draft resolution calling for measures to protect the Palestinians after more than 100 people were killed in Israeli fire during protests at the border with Gaza.

    Ten countries including China, France and Russia voted in favor of the draft put forward by Kuwait on behalf of Arab countries at the Security Council on 1st June. Four countries Britain, Ethiopia, the Netherlands and Poland abstained.

    A draft resolution requires nine votes to be adopted in the 15-member council and no veto from the five permanent members including US.

    US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council that the measure was wildly inaccurate in its characterization of recent events in Gaza by condemning Israel for the violence. She said, there is not a single mention of Hamas in the resolution, when it is chiefly responsible for the recent violence in Gaza.

  • Cuba, US to restore direct postal service
    Cuba and the US have agreed to permanently restore the direct postal service between the two countries. In a statement on 1st June, the state-run Correos de Cuba Business Group said, this measure is coming into force after the execution of a pilot program, approved by Washington and Havana in December 2015.

    Correos de Cuba added that the execution of the service in its current format began on April 16, 2018. This service allows the postal delivery of mail, parcels, and express courier deliveries on direct flights between Cuba and the United States, and through post offices in both countries. During 48 years, letters and parcels had to travel through other countries like Canada, Mexico, Panama and Jamaica. This led to increased operational costs for the Cuban side and caused large delays to deliveries, leading to customer complaints.

    The direct postal service between the two neighbouring nations was suspended by Havana in 1968 after the explosion of a bomb in a parcel coming from New York that killed five postal workers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • India and China agree to start talks on bilateral social security agreement
    Current Affairs India and China have agreed to start formal negotiations on a bilateral social security agreement aimed at protecting Indian professionals and skilled workers abroad.

    The understanding was reached between the two sides during the two-day talks held in Beijing on 28th and 29th May.

    Indian Embassy in Beijing said, during the talks, India and China carried out detailed and extensive discussions on the next steps towards the formal negotiation phase on the social security agreement that is expected to begin next year (2019).

    An official release said, so far, India has signed social security agreements with 18 countries from different parts of the world. India is currently engaged in discussions with a number of other countries.

    The bilateral social security agreements are aimed at protecting the interests of Indian professionals and skilled workers working abroad by providing them benefits like avoidance of double social security contributions and facilitating remittances of accumulated social security contribution.

  • Joint military exercise SURYA KIRAN-13 between India and Nepal begin at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand
    The joint military exercise SURYA KIRAN-13 between India and Nepal began at Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand on 30th May.

    The military exercise, which is set to conclude of 12th of June, is a biannual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India every six months.

    Over 300 soldiers from both the countries are taking part in the exercise. During the exercise, both nations will share their experiences gained during conduct of various counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations in the past.

    The aim of this exercise is to conduct battalion level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorism operations in mountainous terrain. Aspects of disaster management and joint effort towards relief work have also been included.

  • Indonesia, India upgrade ties with 15 agreements
    Indonesia and India agreed on 30th May to upgrade bilateral relations by signing more than a dozen agreements on a broad range of areas including defense, maritime affairs, trade and investment.

    After meeting with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said they agreed to make their economies open and hoped a comprehensive economic partnership can be completed this year (2018).

    The 15 agreements include cooperation in defense, exploration and use of outer space, science and technology, capacity building of public officials, dialogue and interaction between governments and think tanks as well as in health and railways.

    Jokowi said that India is Indonesia’s largest export trading partner in South and Central Asia with a value of nearly $15 billion while the number of Indian tourists also rose sharply, up 28 percent to nearly 500,000 in 2017

    A joint statement said the two leaders agreed to hold annual summit meetings, including on the margins of multilateral events. Indonesia was the first leg of Modi’s three-nation visit that will also take him to Malaysia and Singapore.

  • India, World Bank sign $500 million additional financing for PMGSY Rural Roads Project
    India and World Bank on 31st May signed a 500 million Dollar loan agreement to provide additional financing for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Rural Roads Project.

    The project was implemented by Ministry of Rural Development, which will build 7,000 km of climate resilient roads, out of which 3,500 km will be constructed using green technologies.

    The World Bank has supported PMGSY since its inception in 2004. So far, it has invested over 1.8 billion dollars in loans and credits mostly in the economically weaker and hill states across North India - Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. It has built and improved about 35,000 km of rural roads and benefited about eight million people with access to all-weather roads.

  • India, Singapore to upgrade Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement
    India and Singapore have agreed to upgrade their Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement soon to boost bilateral trade as the two sides signed eight agreements in the fields of the training of public service officials, cyber security, narcotics control and defence cooperation.

    The two sides concluded the second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. The review includes expanded tariff concessions for an additional 30 products and improved rules to provide more flexibility for Singapore exports into India to qualify for preferential tariffs under the agreement, Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry said after the completion of review.

    Another key benefit from the upgraded CECA includes a mutual recognition agreement on nursing to facilitate a better understanding in regulating training and practice of nursing. The India-Singapore CECA entered into force on August 1, 2005, and had its first review concluded on October 1, 2007.

    During PM Modi's visit, the two sides signed eight agreements, including a mutual recognition pact on nursing. Implementation agreement signed between the Indian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy concerning mutual coordination, logistics and services support for naval ships, submarines and naval aircraft (including Ship borne Aviation Assets) visits.

    Extension of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) and the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SINGCERT) in the area of cybersecurity. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of Singapore signed an MoU on cooperation to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors.

  • PM Narendra Modi unveils Mahatma Gandhi's plaque with former Singaporean premier Goh Chok Tong
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore's former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong jointly unveiled a plaque to pay tribute at the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes at the waterfront Clifford Pier. Adding to that, the exceptional musical performance of 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram' also sent a strong message of peace to the world.

    India's history is closely linked to Clifford pier of Singapore. Prime Minister Narendra Modi added a new chapter in this page of history in Singapore on 2nd June. It was the year in 1948 that Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were immersed in the Singapore water. And In memory of the world's greatest leader of peace and non-violence, PM Narendra Modi unveiled a plaque at the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes at the waterfront Clifford pier in the city.

  • India launched its second IT corridor in China
    Current Affairs India on 27th May launched its second IT corridor in China to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese software market. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has established one more Digital Collaborative Opportunities Plaza (SIDCOP) platform in China. The NASSCOM said, it is an effort to provide market access to Indian IT firms in the huge Chinese market.

    A NASSCOM official said in Beijing that agreements worth about six million US Dollars were signed between Indian service providers and Chinese customers at the launch of the corridor by China's Guiyang Municipal government and the NASSCOM.

    In a statement, it said, the pilot projects launched on the SIDCOP platform would be executed over the next year (2019).

    Last December (2017), the NASSCOM established its first SIDCOP platform in the Chinese port city of Dalian, which is India's first IT hub in China.

  • National Informatics Centre (NIC) launches fourth data centre in Bhubaneswar
    Bhubaneswar has become the fourth National data centre of National Informatics Centre, NIC after Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune.

    The new cloud-enabled National Data Centre aims to offer round-the-clock operations with secure hosting for various e-governance applications of Central and State Governments and has ability to support 35,000 virtual servers.

    Unveiling the data centre, Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the data centre in Bhubaneswar is of global standards.

    Emphasizing the significance of the new national data centre, Prasad further said that Data centre is important because data sanctity is important and in the IT ecosystem, data centre adds to the digital clout of a State or location and raises its global profile.

    NIC currently has 4,500 people across India in its various operations and will hire 800 professionals in the next one year, including for 355 cyber security experts, to tackle rising risks of cyber security.

    The new cloud-enabled National Data Centre will provide benefits like on-demand access to ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructure for easy availability and quick deployment of applications and standardized platforms of deployment.

    In the traditional model, Departments have to budget and procure infrastructure at the commencement of the project, leading to either over provisioning of infrastructure or under-sizing of the requirements whereas the cloud service offerings of NIC would allow departments to provision infrastructure and add to the computing capacity on demand.

  • Organic farm produce sees 38% rise in 2016-17: APEDA report
    According to the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority's report, there is a 38% increase in total certified organic produce in 2016-17 compared to 2013-14. The organic farming concept is gaining ground rapidly in India.

  • No change in GST law and taxation relating to farmers
    The government has clarified that there has been no change in the GST law and taxation relating to farmers since its implementation.

    The Finance Ministry in a statement said that support services to agriculture, forestry, fishing or animal husbandry are exempted from GST.

    The exempted support services include renting or leasing of vacant land with or without a structure incidental to its use. It said, thus, renting or leasing of land by farmers for agriculture, forestry, fishing or animal husbandry on share cropping or otherwise is also exempted from GST.

    The clarification of the Ministry came in view of the media reports that certain changes have been made in GST law.

  • India signs Loan Agreement with the World Bank for USD 21.7 Million
    India on 29th May signed a loan agreement with the world bank for 21.7 million dollars for strengthening the public financial management in Rajasthan project.

    The agreement was signed by the Joint Secretary (FB and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Acting Country Director, World Bank (India). Whereas, the implementing entity agreement was signed by the Secretary, Finance (Budget) on behalf of the Government of Rajasthan, and the Acting Country Director (India) on behalf of the World Bank.

    The project size is approximately 31 million dollars, of which 21.7 million dollars will be financed by the World Bank, and remaining amount will be funded out of the state budget. The project duration is 5 years.

    The project aims to contribute to improve budget execution, enhanced accountability and greater efficiency in revenue administration in Rajasthan.

  • Moody’s cuts India's growth forecast to 7.3% from 7.5% on higher oil prices
    Moody's Investors Service on 30th May cut India's 2018 growth forecast to 7.3 per cent from the previous estimate of 7.5 per cent, saying the economy is in cyclical recovery but higher oil prices and tighter financial conditions will weigh on the pace of acceleration. Moody's, however, maintained its 2019 growth forecast at 7.5 per cent.

    Moody's said growth should benefit from an acceleration in rural consumption, supported by higher minimum support prices and a normal monsoon.

    Also, the ongoing transition to the new Goods and Service Tax regime could weigh on growth somewhat over the next few quarters, which poses some downside risk to the forecast, it said.

    For the world economy, Moody's expected 2018 to be a year of robust global growth, similar to 2017.

    The G-20 countries, it said, will grow 3.3 per cent in 2018 and 3.2 per cent in 2019. The advanced economies will grow at a moderate 2.3 per cent in 2018 and 2.0 per cent in 2019, while G-20 emerging markets will remain the growth drivers, at 5.2 per cent in both 2018 and 2019, down from 5.3 per cent in 2017.

    Moody's said downside risks to growth stem from emerging markets turmoil, oil price increases and trade disputes.

    The outlook for global monetary policy is broadly unchanged with the US Federal Reserve on a predictable and gradual tightening monetary policy path. Three additional increases in the US federal funds rate this year is expected to be followed by three more hikes in 2019.

    The European Central Bank will likely stop additional asset purchases by year-end and start increasing the deposit facility rate in the first half of 2019. The Bank of Japan will maintain its current monetary policy over the next two years.

  • PM Narendra Modi launches international Rupay Card, Bhim app and UPI in Singapore
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched international Rupay Card, Bhim app and Unified Payment Interface for international remittance in Singapore on 31st May.

    As part of Digital India Initiative, these financial remittances are for Indian diaspora in Singapore.

    He said, digital transactions witnessed 7000 per cent growth and 99 per cent of households in the country have bank accounts providing dignity and identity to the marginalised sections of the society.

    Stating that GST is the biggest tax reform since independence, Mr Narendra Modi said, it created new economic opportunities by increasing the tax base in the country.

    The Prime Minister said, the economic transformation is underway in India at such a speed and scale that was not imagined a few years ago. He said, India remains the fastest growing economy in the world with lower fiscal deficit and inflation.

    He said, Indian currency is stable and foreign direct investments are growing. Mr Narendra Modi elaborated on the growth story of India in the field of infrastructure, development and financial inclusion and the government's commitment to realize the dream of New India by 2022.

    The Prime Minister said, 10 green field airports, five major ports, 111 waterways, 30 logistic parks are being developed in the country. He said, the government’s goal is to ensure “ ease of living” by providing modern infrastructure to every citizen.

  • Indian economy grows 7.7 per cent in fourth quarter of 2017-18: Central Statistics Office (CSO)
    Indian economy grew 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017-18. The GDP had expanded 5.6 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 7 per cent, in the first three quarters of 2017-18.

    According to the data released by Central Statistics Office 31st May, robust performance in manufacturing, construction and service sectors as well as good farm output contributed to the overall growth. However, the economic growth slowed to 6.7 per cent in 2017-18 compared to 7.1 per cent in 2016-17.

    The previous high GDP growth of 8.1 per cent was recorded in first quarter of 2016-17. The GDP growth was 6.1 per cent in fourth quarter in 2016-17.

    Meanwhile, the government said, it is keeping its forecast of GDP growth of 7.5 per cent for fiscal year 2018-19 unchanged.

  • Tourism Minister K J Alphons launches Government guidelines on adventure tourism in India
    Tourism Minister K. J. Alphons launched the Government guidelines on adventure tourism in India. These guidelines on safety and quality norms have been formulated along with the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India in an effort to make adventure sports safer.

    Releasing the guidelines in New Delhi on 31st May, Mr K.J.Alphons said, India has immense potential for adventure tourism ranging from the Himalayas to the coastal regions.

    He said, these guidelines are a beginning to building adventure tourism in India. The Minister also said that for India to be a well sought after destination, the facilities and support staff should be developed to global standards.

    The aim of this initiative is to help adventure tour operators understand and execute safety guidelines in a better manner. These guidelines cover land, air and water based activities which include mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, river rafting and many other sports.

    The guidelines codify the standard operating procedures and instructions for risk mitigation and emergencies as well as provide for details like safety precautions, training required and insurance.

  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh launches online Analytical tool for monitoring foreign contributions
    Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 1st June launched an online analytical tool to facilitate closer monitoring of the flow and utilisation of foreign contributions received by various organisations registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

    The web-based tool enables decision-makers in various Departments of Government to scrutinise source of foreign funds and their actual use in India. Home Ministry, in a statement said, it gives them capacity to take data-driven and evidence-based decisions regarding the compliance of the provisions of the FCRA, 2010.

    It has analytical features to conduct big data mining and data exploration. Its dashboard will be integrated with the bank accounts of the FCRA-registered entities through the Public Financial Management System for updation of transactional data on a real-time basis.

    Home Minister witnessed a presentation on various aspects of the Analytical Tool and appreciated the painstaking work done by all concerned officials.

    There are approximately 25 thousand active organisations registered under the FCRA. Foreign Contributions worth 8,065 crores rupees were received by such organisations from foreign donors for various social, cultural, economic, educational and religious activities during financial year 2016-17.

  • IT department’s new scheme “Benami Transactions Informants Reward” aims to encourage efforts to curb black money
    With an aim of getting people's participation in the effort to unearth black money and curb tax evasion, the Income Tax Department has come out with a new reward scheme titled Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018.

    Under this scheme, a person can be rewarded up to Rs. 1 crore for giving specific information on such transactions and properties. Even the citizens belonging to other countries will also be eligible for such reward.

    The government also assured that the identity of the whistleblower will be kept safe and strict confidentiality about his details would be maintained.

  • BCCI, UN Environment sign agreement to promote ‘green' Cricket in India
    Current Affairs The BCCI and UN Environment on 27th May signed an agreement to promote ‘green' Cricket in India. BCCI acting Secretary Amitabh Choudhary and Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, signed a letter of intent at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai ahead of the IPL final between Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

    The BCCI in a statement that the partnership aims to spread greater awareness about key environmental challenges facing the country, and highlight alternate and more sustainable solutions. The BCCI will endeavor to reduce its environmental impact by greening operations and engaging cricketers and fans in green initiatives.

    The partnership will also focus on phasing out single-use plastic across stadiums in the country.

    Even during the course of IPL, a film with messages from captains of various franchises was created and aired in stadiums highlighting hazards of plastic pollution.

  • CSK beat Sunrisers by 8 wickets to lift third IPL title
    Current Affairs Chennai Super Kings has won Indian Premier League 2018. It is its third IPL title. In final Chennai Super Kings defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad.

  • Virat Kohli emerged as International Cricketer of the Year at CEAT Cricket Ratings Awards
    India skipper Virat Kohli has emerged as the International Cricketer of the Year at the CEAT Cricket Ratings awards, which were presented in Mumbai on 29th May

    The 29-year-old cricketer had a memorable last season with the bat. Batsman Rohit Sharma collected the award on behalf of Kohli. Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan was presented the International Batsman of the Year Award, while New Zealand pace sensation Trent Boult won International Bowler of the Year Award.

    Afghanistan leg spinner Rashid Khan, who impressed everyone with his skills in the recently concluded IPL grabbing 21 wickets, was presented with the T20 Bowler of the Year Award.

    Woman cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur, who single-handedly took the team to the final of the ICC Women's World Cup with her breathtaking knock of 171 not out against Australia in the semi-final, won the Outstanding Innings of the Year Award. Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed on former India wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer.

  • International Cricket Council includes Nepal, Netherlands, Scotland and UAE in ODI rankings list
    The ICC on 1st June included Nepal, Netherlands, Scotland and the UAE in their ODI rankings list apart from the 12 existing countries. The ICC release states that results of all the bilateral ODIs involving these new teams will henceforth be taken into account while calculating the rating points.

    The Netherlands secured ODI status and a place in the 13-team ODI league by winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship last year, while Scotland, Nepal and the UAE earned ODI status by finishing as the three leading associates (along with the Dutch) in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018.

    Persons in news:
  • Pakistan appointed former chief justice, Nasir Ul Mulk as interim Prime Minister
    Current Affairs Pakistan appointed former chief justice, Nasir Ul Mulk as interim Prime Minister until general elections are held on July 25.

    The announcement was made by Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah at a press conference in Islamabad following a meeting between himself and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

    Prime Minister Abbasi was also present at the press conference along with National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

  • Ganeshi Lal: Prof Ganeshi Lal was sworn in as the Governor of Odisha at Raj Bhavan in Bhubaneswar on 29th May. Orissa High Court Chief justice Vineet Saran administered the oath of office to Prof Ganeshi Lal.
Published on 6/12/2018 12:48:00 PM

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