Home Current Affairs CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN ; JANUARY 2015 - PART-1
CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN ; JANUARY 2015 - PART-1
Monday, 23 February 2015 05:32

 

 

ABBREVIATIONS

NOFN: National Optical Fibre Network.

DTTI: Defence Trade and Technology Initiative.

BOOKS

THE INDIAN PARLIAMENT – A CRITICAL APPRAISAL WRITTEN BY SUDHA PAI AND AVINASH KUMAR RELEASED

Book titled The Indian Parliament – A Critical Appraisal was released by Vice President Hamid Ansari on 8 January 2015. The book is authored by Prof. Sudha Pai and Avinash Kumar of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

The book examines the credibility and legitimacy of the Indian Parliament and has scrutinised various aspects of its functioning. It also provides a broad-ranging analysis of the relationship between the functioning of Parliamentary institutions and the rapid changes that has been witnessed by the Indian society, particularly the onset of coalition politics and the initiation of economic reforms.

The book has been divided into three parts, namely

• Examines the institutional standards of performance of the Parliament

• Focuses on different forms of parliamentary control, as well as the evolving relationship between the legislature and the executive in a period of unstable coalition formations

• Analyses the external factors which affect and determine the internal functioning of Parliament

TAMIL NOVEL MADHORUBHAGAN WRITTEN BY PERUMAL MURUGAN

Madhorubhagan: Perumal Murugan

Tamil Novel titled Madhorubhagan authored by Perumal Murugan was in news in the second week of January 2015. It was in news as some organisations have demanded to ban the book and jail the author.

The threat from organisations has led the author Murgan to give up writing.

The book, though written four years back, came into limelight after its English translated version One Part Woman was published by Penguin India on 1 December 2015. It has been translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan.

The book lays bare with unsparing clarity a relationship caught between the dictates of social convention and the tug of personal anxieties, vividly conjuring an intimate and unsettling portrait of marriage, love and sex.

The book unfolds the complexity of social convention by telling the love story of Kali and Ponna who faced problems in conceiving a child. To conceive child they did prayers, penance, potions and pilgrimages.

Their hopes and apprehension came to converge on the chariot festival in the temple of the half-female god Ardhanareeswara and the revelry surrounding it.

BOOK ON SONIA GANDHI TITLED THE RED SARI WRITTEN BY JAVIER MORO RELEASED IN INDIA

The Red Sari:  written by Spanish author Javier Moro

The Red Sari, an unauthorized biography of Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, was released by Roli Books in India on 16 January 2015. The book has been written by Spanish author Javier Moro.

The book describes about how Sonia Gandhi’s courage, honesty, and dedication have made her a leader in the eyes of one-sixth of humanity that is from her idyllic childhood to her passionate love affair, and from her days as a docile daughter-in-law to her current status of being the only Indian politician to have refused Prime Ministership.

This book also examines the lives of the famous Nehru-Gandhi family set against the backdrop of the Bangladesh War, the Emergency, Operation Blue Star, and other events that have shaped modern Indian history.

The controversy related to book

Originally, the book was written in Spanish language and was titled El Sari Rojo. It was first published in 2008.

The English version of the book was not allowed to release in India in 2010 because it was argued by the Congress Party and Sonia Gandhi's lawyers that the book is full of untruths, half-truths, falsehoods, defamatory statements, completely imaginary and invented conversations.

HINDI NOVEL FARISHTA AUTHORED BY KAPIL ISAPURI

Hindi novel Farishta was in news in the fourth week of January 2015 after its author Kapil Isapuri accused the makers of film PK of plagiarism. The book was published in 2013.

The novelist Isapuri approached the Delhi High Court and claimed that certain portions of the film like characters, expression of ideas and sequences were stolen from his novel Farishta and was used in the film.

He sought punitive damages of 1 crore rupees from the filmmakers along with the credit of his work.

About film PK

PK is Indian satirical comedy-drama film that raises questions on religious dogmas and superstitions. The film was directed by Rajkumar Hirani and was produced by Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and written by Hirani and Abhijat Joshi.

Lead actors of the film are Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma and the other actors include Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla, and Sanjay Dutt in supporting roles.

PAKISTAN'S EX-FOREIGN MINISTER KHURSHID M KASURI PENNED A BOOK TITLED NEITHER A HAWK NOR A DOVE

Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, Ex-Foreign Minister of Pakistan, authored a book titled Neither a Hawk nor a Dove.

The book will be published by Penguin in India at the end of January 2015. The book is based upon the relations between India and Pakistan.

Kasuri in his book writes that the two countries have no option but to go for a just and peaceful solution to Jammu and Kashmir and other contentious issues between them. He further writes that he knew on the basis of his experience that both the countries have major fault lines and that both are equally capable of destabilizing the other.

Thus both the countries are left with no option but to act in a responsible manner since the fate of almost 1.5 billion people of the two countries depended on that.

The book contains update till November 2014 including the advent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the current policies of the new Indian government.

IMPORTANT DAY

NATIONAL YOUTH DAY OBSERVED ACROSS INDIA ON 12 JANUARY

National Youth Day was observed across India on 12 January 2015. The day is observed annually to mark the birth anniversary of social reformer, philosopher and thinker Swami Vivekananda.

This is the 152nd birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and his birth anniversary is being celebrated as National Youth Day in India since 1985.

The Union Government in 1984 had declared that 12 January, the birthday of Swami Vivekananda will be observed as the National Youth Day.

Swami Vivekananda's lectures and writings are a source of inspiration for youth and have motivated numerous youth organisation.

His writings derive their inspiration from Indian spiritual tradition and the broad outlook of his Master Sri Ramakrishna.

All his teachings can be found in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, in nine volumes, published by Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata.

Swami Vivekananda was born on 12 January 1863 as Narendra Nath Datta and regarded as a patriotic saint of India.

He was the key figure who introduced the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India.
He is best known for his inspiring speech at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893 in which he introduced Hinduism, his words began with words, Sisters and brothers of America.

Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission and died at an early age of 39 on 4 July 1902 at Belur Math in Bengal Presidency, British India.

67TH ARMY DAY OBSERVED ON 15 JANUARY

India on 15 January 2015 observed the 67th Army Day. The day is celebrated to commemorate the day, when Lieutenant General (later Field Marshal) K M Cariappa on 15 January 1949 became the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army post Independence. He had succeeded General Sir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander-in-Chief of India.

To mark the day, all three service chiefs, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Robin K Dhowan and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha paid tributes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti here at India Gate by laying floral wreath and remembering the martyred soldiers. Thereafter they also signed the record book at the India Gate.

Various parades and military shows were organized in national capital New Delhi and all army headquarters to mark the day.

NATIONAL IMMUNIZATION DAY FOR THE YEAR 2015 OBSERVED ON 18 JANUARY

National Immunization Day for the year 2015 was observed on 18 January 2015. As a part of this, Children below 5 years of age were given polio drops as part of the government's drive to sustain polio eradication in India.

Earlier on 17 January 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee launched the Pulse Polio Programme for the year 2015 by administering polio drops to children in New Delhi.

Every year, India observes National Immunisation Day in January to mark the launch of pulse polio programme. 
India has been implementing the Pulse Polio Programme since 1995. In India, the last case of wild polio was reported on 13 January 2011.

On 27 March 2014, India was certified as polio free country along with other 11 countries of South-East Asia Region of World Health Organisation (WHO). These countries were Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

NATIONAL GIRL CHILD DAY OBSERVED ON 24 JANUARY

National Girl Child Day is observed on 24 January 2015 across the nation.

This celebration was started to offer more supports and new opportunities to the girls in the country. It is celebrated to increase the awareness among people about all the inequalities faced by the girl child in the society. This day is being observed every year on 24 January since 2008.

Ministry of Women and Child Development has been taking a multi pronged approach to address and reverse the trend of declining child sex ratio in the country. The objective of all these initiatives is to work towards ensuring that girls are born, loved and nurtured and grow up to become empowered citizens of this country with equal rights and opportunities.

Government of India has started National Girl Child Day as a national girl’s development mission. The mission raises the awareness among people all over the country about the importance of girls’ promotion. It helps in enhancing girls’ meaningful contribution in decision making processes by active support of the parents and the community members.

Girl Child Rights in India

Government of India has taken various steps by declaring variety of schemes to make the girl child status better. Some of are:

•Sex determination during pregnancy through the clinics has been blocked by the government.

•Child marriages of the girls have been restricted.

•Antenatal care has been made necessary for all the pregnant women to fight with the malnutrition, high illiteracy, poverty and infant mortality in the society.

•Save the Girl Child scheme has been introduced by the government to save the girl child.

•Girl child education status in India has been improved through the free and compulsory primary school education for both boys and girls till 14 years of age.

•To improve the status of the girl child in India, the government of India has reserved 1/3 seats in the local government for women.

•Anti-MTP, anti-sati laws, anti-dowry Act has also been introduced by the legislature to enhance the women status and employment opportunities.

•Five Year Plan has been implemented to pay attention towards the education status in the backward states of the country.

•School children are well availed with the uniforms, noon meal and educational materials and repayments to the SC and ST caste girl’s families.

•Balwadi-cum-creeches have been implemented for caring the girl babies and attend the primary school.

•Operation Blackboard including other programmes has been organized for the teacher’s education to make the school services advance.

•The Open Learning System has been established for easiness to the girls of backward areas.

•It has been declared for the girl child that girls must be given equal treatments and opportunities from the very beginning to expand the opportunities for them.

•The SHG means Self-Help Groups has been introduced by the government as the main policy in order to make better the livelihood of rural areas girls.

ANTI-LEPROSY DAY OBSERVED TO FOCUS ATTENTION ON DISEASE

Anti-Leprosy Day was observed on 30 January 2015 nationwide to focus attention on the disease which is also known as the Hansen’s disease. On this occasion President of India extended his best wishes to the Indian Leprosy Association.

The day is celebrated in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi in order to re-memorize his selfless efforts and care for the people affected by the infectious disease leprosy.

Objectives of Celebrating Anti-Leprosy Day

• To raise the leprosy awareness among people

• To offer help to those affected by disease through the regular and free of cost treatment they need

• To make the diseased person psychologically strong and help them to cope up with physical impairments of skin sores and nerve damage

• To ascertain that all affected persons are getting the necessary treatment, rehabilitation and care or not
• To estimate the marked decrease or increase in the rate of spreading disease

About Leprosy Disease

Leprosy also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is a chronic infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Initially, infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to as long as 20 years.

Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries. Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present.

A drug Chaulmoogra oil was used for leprosy treatment until Dapsone was discovered with anti-leprosy effects during 1940s.

It was in 1970s when multi drug therapy (MDT) consisting of Rifampicin, Clofazimine and Dapsone were identified as cure for leprosy which came into wide use from 1982 following the recommendations of WHO.

Facts about Leprosy in India

• 55 percent of the leprosy cases in world are in India. 127000 new cases of leprosy were reported in India from 2010-2011.

• Leprosy is particularly prevalent among the poorest and most marginalised communities due to their lack of access to healthcare, poor sanitation and congested living spaces.

• 14.31 percent of new cases were found among Scheduled Tribes and 18.69 percent among Scheduled Castes between 2010-11 although these groups accounted for only 8.2 percent and 16.2 percent of the population respectively in 2001.

• As on 1 April 2013, 33 out of 35 States/Union Territories have eliminated leprosy, that is, the prevalence rate is below one case per 10000 populations. Also as of March 2013, 528 districts (81.4%) out of total 649 districts achieved the elimination target.

• At present Chhattisgarh has the highest prevalence rate of leprosy in India followed by Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

India’s success story in eliminating Leprosy

• 1955: National Leprosy Control Programme launched

• 1983: National Leprosy Eradication Programme launched

• 1983: Introduction of Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT) in phases

• 2005: Elimination of Leprosy at National level achieved on 31 December 2005 with prevalence rate of 0.95 per 10000 populations. Less than one case per 10000 populations is the globally-accepted level of elimination.

• March 2011: Prevalence rate stood at 0.69 per 10000 populations

• 2012 - Special action plan for 209 high endemic districts in 16 States/UTs

INDIA DAIRY

1 January 2015
• Union Government formed NITI Aayog to replace Planning Commission
• Gujarat government announced new industrial policy for 2015
• Maharashtra government launched online RTI application filing facility
• Union Government launched integrated women safety mobile app called Himmat

2 January 2015
• R K Srivastava took over as Chairman of AAI
• Union Government accepted Bezbaruah panel report on safety of North East people
• RBI relaxed KYC rules for Non-Banking Financial Companies
• Union Sports Ministry recognised Boxing India as national federation for representing Boxing
• Kiran Bhai Vadodaria elected as INS president
• Former ISRO Chairman V R Gowarikar died in Pune
• R. Koteeswaran took charge as new CMD of Indian Overseas Bank

3 January 2015

• T Anilkumar won 7th Chennai Open FIDE Rating Chess Tournament (Category B)

4 January 2015
• Chrysopelea taprobanica, the Sri Lankan flying snake, sighted in Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve
• Transgender Madhu Kinnar won Mayoral election from Raigarh Municipal Corporatio
• Gujarati film actor Upendra Jethalal Trivedi died

5 January 2015
• Union Cabinet approved to set up India-based Neutrino Observatory in Tamil Nadu
• S Shrikrishna won the National Sub-Junior Billiards title 2015
• Indian Junior weightlifters ended their campaign by bagging 14 medals
• PM launched National Programme for LED-based Home and Street Lighting
• Union Cabinet approved promulgation of ordinance for amending MMDR Act, 1957
• Union Petroleum ministry launched LPG schemes for benefitting BPL families
• Nomura forecasted Indian Economic Growth at 5.5 percent for FY 2015-16
• Union Government aligned FDI policy with NIC 2008
• Union Cabinet approved 2G telecom spectrum auction targeted to fetch 64840 crore rupees
• Union Government nominated 17 Telugu personalities as brand ambassadors of Swachh Bharat campaign

6 January 2015
• BCCI announced 15-man Indian cricket team for World Cup 2015
• Ishpreet Singh Chadha won National Sub-Junior Snooker title 2015
• Bihar Government increased maternity leave period to 180 days from 135 days
• President signed Ordinance to amend Citizenship Act, 1955
• Amitabh Bachchan named as the Brand Ambassador of AP health sector

7 January 2015
• Jharkhand Assembly adopted resolution on opening HC bench in Dumka
• Atul Khare appointed as the UN Under-Secretary-General
• India to host World Bridge Championships 2015
• Union Government launched National Toll Free Helpline to assist the drug dependent persons
• Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers approved 100 percent production of Neem-Coated Urea
• DMRC launched first public bicycle sharing scheme for Delhi Metro users 
• President signed ordinance to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
• Dinesh Oraon of BJP unanimously elected Speaker of Jharkhand Legislative Assembly

8 January 2015
• Vaccine Raksha Blu for bluetongue disease launched
• K K Paul sworn in as sixth Governor of Uttarakhand
• Kotak Mahindra Bank secured shareholders approval for merger with ING Vysya Bank
• Commemorative Postage Stamps released to mark 100 Years of Mahatma Gandhi’s Return to India
• Haryana Government appointed Yash Pal Singhal as Haryana DGP
• Jharkhand Assembly adopted resolution on opening High Court bench in Dumka
• Kotak Mahindra Bank secured shareholders approval for merger with ING Vysya Bank

9 January 2015
• Presidential rule imposed in Jammu and Kashmir
• Vistara airline started domestic flight operation in India
• Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari presented Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2015

10 January 2015
• Sindhushree Khullar appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog
• Tech Mahindra signed definitive agreement to acquire Swiss firm SOFGEN Holdings Limited

11 January 2015
• Sultanpur National Park shut down after migratory birds found dead
• Adani Enterprises & SunEdison signed JV to build solar park in Mundra

12 January 2015
• CSO released Quick Estimates of Index for Industrial Production for November 2014
• RBI and ECB signed MoU on cooperation in Central Banking
• SEBI proposed easier norms for domestic mutual fund managers
• Idukki in Kerala became first District of India to have Complete Rural Broadband Coverage
• Supreme Court issued notice to Union Government on voting rights for inter-state migrants
• President signed Ordinance to amend Mines and Minerals Development & Regulation Act, 1957
• Union Government identified five areas for Varanasi-Kyoto partnership

13 January 2015
• Union Government reconstituted Pollution Control Board Working Group
• Supreme Court sought assistance of Premier institutes to find missing children
• Union Ministry of Health proposed COTPA (Amendment) Bill 2015
• Ministry of Railways inaugurated India’s first CNG powered train
• Golfer Anirban Lahiri voted Asian Tour’s 2014 Players’ Player of the Year
• NGT gave directions to clean Yamuna under Maily se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalization Plan 2017

14 January 2015
• RBI relaxed Forex Hedging Norms for Exporters and Importers
• NFL, EIL and FCIL signed agreement to form Ramagundam Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd
• Wholesale price Index-based Inflation raised 0.11 percent in December 2014
• Bhakti Sharma set world record by swimming 1.4 miles in 52 minutes in the Antarctic Ocean

15 January 2015
• RBI issued final guidelines for banks to act as Insurance brokers
• RBI cut Repo Rate by 0.25% in sixth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2014-15
• Trade deficit of India declined to ten month low in December 2014
• Indian cricket team’s new ODI kit launched
• Critically endangered Forest Owlet sighted in Betul, Madhya Pradesh

16 January 2015
• Union Government launched two schemes to support Scheduled Castes
• CCEA approved revised buffer norms of foodgrains for better management of food stocks
• Stephen Constantine appointed as head coach of India's men football team
• J & K selected for the National Award of e-Governance for Best District Level initiative

17 January 2015
• Former PM Manmohan Singh adopted Pachim Bekeli Gaon Panchyat under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana
• Jimjang Deru created national record in weightlifting in 56-kg category
• Pankaj Advani won National Billiards title for seventh time
• HDFC Bank featured among world's 50 most valuable banks in 2014
• Indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft Tejas handed over to IAF

18 January 2015
• National Immunization Day for the year 2015 observed on 18 January
• Paladugu Venkata Rao, former Minister of Andhra Pradesh, died
• Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay visited India
• Hyderabad to host World Congress on Information Technology in 2018

19 January 2015
• Union Government banned mobile handsets with fake, duplicate identity numbers
• Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) inked Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) in Hydrocarbons and Energy with Pan-Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)
• Ayonika Paul, Annu Raj Singh won gold at 4th Gun for Glory Shooting Championship
• Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) won 10th Savio Cup All India Basketball tournament
• 17 Skill Development Centres launched by Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
• National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notice to Uttar Pradesh Government over Hooch Tragedy
• Four Indian Coast Guard (ICG) vessels commissioned at Mormugao Port of Vasco
• Filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani appointed as Chairman of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)

20 January 2015
• National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) released report on Status of Tigers in India, 2014
• Periyar Tiger Reserve won NTCA biennial award
• Netherlands, Thailand inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sikkim to help in development of floriculture
• Jasjit Ahluwalia appointed as Dean of School of Public Health at Rutgers University
• Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna made it to Guinness World Records

21 January 2015

• Union Government launched National Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)
• Shanta Kumar Committee on FCI restructuring submitted its report to the Prime Minister

22 January 2015
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Sukanya Samridhi Yojana under Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign
• Kerala to get first International Institute of Music
• Hindi Novel Farishta authored by Kapil Isapuri

23 January 2015
• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) simplified procedure for External Commercial Borrowings Policy
• Telugu comedian Mailavarapu Surya Narayana died
• Jagannathan Chakravarthi appointed as Chief Financial Officer of Mindtree Limited

24 January 2015
• Bhagabatpur Crocodile Project in Sunderbans got a fresh start with expert assistance
• Maharashtra government decided to buy a house in London where Bhim Rao Ambedkar stayed
• Arundhathi Subramaniam won Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry
• Prime Minister presented National Bravery Awards 2014 to 24 awardees
• National Girl Child Day observed 

25 January 2015

• Saina Nehwal won women’s single of Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold Badminton Tournament 2015
• Wing Commander Puja Thakur became first lady officer to lead Inter-Service Guard of Honour
• Divya Prakash Sinha appointed as Security Secretary in the Union Cabinet Secretariat
• Goa hosted Indo-Russian Musical Festival ZimaFest

26 January 2015
• 66th Republic Day celebrated across the nation 
• Hanumanthu Purushotham took charge as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of National Research Development Corporation (NRDC)

27 January 2015
• Chandigarh launched a smart city app named Smart Chandigarh
• K Durga Prasad appointed as the Special Director-General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
• Kunal Jeswani appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ogilvy & Mather India

28 January 2015

• Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved HDFC Bank’s proposal to raise foreign holding limit to 74 per cent
• Union Government launched Website, Logo, Vision, Mission of National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL)
• Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved mandatory packaging of food-grains, sugar in Jute material for the Jute Year 2014-15
• World Bank released a report on Social Inclusion and Sustainable Development in Himachal Pradesh
• Union Cabinet reconstituted Empowered Committee on setting up of Semiconductor Wafer FAB projects with VK Saraswat as Chairman of the Committee
• Hockey Olympian Jaswant Singh Rajput died
• ErosNow tied up with RailTel to provide streaming services to Rail Passengers
• GTU launched e-Raksha Research Centre to fight cybercrime

29 January 2015
• Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) received approval to build missile launch testing facility in the Krishna Delta Complex
• Karnataka Government decided to amend Karnataka Compulsory Primary Education Act, 2012
• 20th Law Commission submitted 253rd Report titled Commercial Courts Bill 2015 to Union Governments
• Union Sports Ministry revised the Scheme of Special Awards to medal winners
• India to host ICC Twenty20 World Cup in 2016
• Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel launched Taluka Planning Atlas
• Union Ministry of Defence announced 2015 Republic Day Parade Awards
• Subhash Ghising, the President of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), died
• Shekhar Sen appointed as Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi
• S Lakshminarayanan appointed as Chairman of Shriram Transport Finance Co Ltd

30 January 2015
• Andhra Pradesh Government decided to file a defamation suit against the State Bank of Hyderabad
• Union Government released Commemorative Postage stamps with Swachh Bharat Mission as theme
• Krishna Chaudhary appointed as the Director General of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
• Anti-Leprosy Day observed to focus Attention on Disease
• Union Government approved a rehabilitation package of 1102-crore rupees for J&K

31 January 2015
• Railway Minister launched Wi-Fi broadband services at Ahmedabad station
• Maharashtra approved field trials for GM food
• India successfully test-fired canister-based Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-5 missile
• 35th National Games began in Kerala
• Arvind Kumar Jain appointed as Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh
• Mithileshwar awarded with Shrilal Shukla Sahitya IFFCO Award 2014
• Committee on Infrastructure Development approved development of no-frill airports at Ajmer, Belgaum  

WORLD DAIRY

1 January 2015
• Indians awarded with Queen’s New Year Honours 2015
• Mario Matthew Cuomo, former New York Governor, died at 82

2 January 2015
• Jaffna-Kankasanthurai rail track restored by IRCON in North Sri Lanka inaugurated
• Jiaolong, the Chinese deep sea submersible, began exploration in Indian Ocean
• American country music singer Little Jimmy Dickens died at 94

3 January 2015

• Israel stopped transfer of tax collected from Palestinians to Palestinian Authority Government
• Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara became fastest to score 12000 Test runs

4 January 2015
• Andy Murray won ATP World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
• China launched official website for military weapons procurement
• Veteran Chinese sports administrator He Zhenliang died
• New Jersey to host International Hindi Conference in April 2015

5 January 2015
• Tropical forests absorb more Carbon Dioxide than thought: NASA
• Excessive concentration of antibiotics found in three Chinese rivers

6 January 2015

• Russian Popov Ivan won 7th Chennai International Open Grandmaster Chess title
• Tencent Holdings Limited launched China's first online bank WeBank
• Australian airline Qantas named world’s safest by AirlineRatings.com
• Russian President issued decree to enable foreign soldiers to serve in Russian Military
• Pakistan Parliament passed 21st Constitutional Amendment, Army Act Amendment Bills
• NASA Kepler Space Telescope made 1000th Exoplanet Discovery

7 January 2015
• Teixobactin, a new antibiotic discovered
• French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office attacked by terrorists
• New Zealand won Test series 2-0 against Sri Lanka
• ICC announced Associate & Affiliate panel of umpires for the year 2015
• China included potatoes as staple diet after rice, wheat and corn

8 January 2015
• India to provide 60 million dollar LoC to Guyana for road infrastructure projects
• The Lunchbox nominated for BAFTA 2015 under Non-English Best Film Category
• Egypt to hold Parliamentary elections in March 2015

9 January 2015
• Maithripala Sirisena won 2015 Presidential Elections of Sri Lanka
• Yu Min honoured with State Preeminent Science and Technology Award 2014
• US House of Representative passed legislation approving construction of Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

10 January 2015

• Australia won 4-match Border-Gavaskar Test series, 2-0
• Misbah-ul-Haq announced to retire from ODIs after Cricket World Cup 2015

11 January 2015
• Stanislas Wawrinka won Chennai Open title of Tennis
• US to host international Anti-terror Summit on 18 February 2015
• Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic won the 2015 Presidential elections of Croatia
• Roger Federer won Brisbane International Tennis title

12 January 2015
• Madagascar Government led by Prime Minister Kolo Roger resigned
• Australia launched Online Visa Pilot Programme for Indian business and tourism visitors
• Cristiano Ronaldo won the 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or Award

13 January 2015

• World Bank Group released Global Economic Prospects (GEP) Report, January 2015
• India - China trade deficit increased to 37.8 billion US dollars in 2014
• India and Australia signed MoU for skill and infrastructural development in sports
• First Border Haat of Tripura opened at Srinagar-Feni border
• Chinese scientists published first genetic map of Tibetan Highland Barley

14 January 2015
• Japan approved its largest ever Defence Budget for 2015
• Pope Francis cannonised Joseph Vaz, the first saint of Sri Lanka
• Brett Lee announced retirement from all forms of Cricket 
• Parliament of Europe adopted resolution on two Italian marines

15 January 2015
• China to launch construction of five new nuclear reactors with total capacity of 5 gigawatts in 2015
• China Food and Drug Administration approved new vaccine to treat Poliomyelitis
• Petra Kvitova won women’s single title of Sydney International Tennis tournament
• Mark Knowles, Ellen Hoog named FIH Player-of-the-year 2014

16 January 2015
• Japan committed 2620-crore rupees Overseas Development Assistance loan to India
• Andrey Baryshpolets won the 13th Parsvanth International Grandmasters Chess Tournament
• Sania Mirza, Bethanie Mattek-Sands won women’s doubles title of Sydney International
• Year 2014 ranked as Earth's hottest year since 1880

17 January 2015
• The US and UK announced cooperative measures in combating cyber threats
• Scientists discovered hybrid insecticide-resistant mosquito in Mali

18 January 2015

• Viktor Troicki won Men’s Single title of Sydney International Tennis Tournament
• South Africa's AB de Villiers hit fastest century in ODIs

19 January 2015
• European Union (EU) decided to appeal a decision by European Court of Justice (ECJ) to remove Hamas from terror list
• India signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with South Africa for developing Youth Enterprises
• World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 report released by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
• Scientists developed two new global maps to provide help in search for fresh farmland
• Doctors successfully performed the first organ transplant on a newborn baby in Britain
• Oxfam released study titled Wealth: Having it All and Wanting More
• World Health Organisation (WHO) released Global Status Report on Non-communicable Diseases 2014

20 January 2015
• European Union (EU) decided to lift ban on import of mangoes from India
• India signed an agreement on transfer of sentenced persons with Hong Kong
• International Labour Organisation (ILO) released a report titled World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2015
• Indian Novelist Vikram Chandra named among the finalists of NBCC awards

21 January 2015
• Dubai’s Maze Tower listed in Guinness World Records

22 January 2015
• RV Easwar appointed as Interim Chairman of DDCA

23 January 2015
• Former Thailand Premier Yingluck Shinawatra impeached
• Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died

24 January 2015

• Pakistan's Ex-Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri penned a book titled Neither a Hawk nor a Dove
• UN Secretary–General appointed Saraswathy Menon in peace-building panel

25 January 2015

• India-US declared Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region
• India-US released Joint Statement titled Sajha Paryas; Sab Ka Vikas
• India-US released Delhi Declaration of Freindship
• Famous Greek Singer Demis Roussos Died
• Miss Colombia Paulina Vega crowned Miss Universe 2014


6 January 2015
• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Supervisory Cooperation with Banco Central do Brasil
• Argentine playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme retired from Football
• Alexis Tsipras sworn in as Prime Minister of Greece

27 January 2015

• Sean Abbott of Australia named as the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year 2015
• Apple Inc recorded the highest-ever profit of 18 billion US dollars in corporate history worldwide

28 January 2015

• Steve Easterbrook appointed as Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s Corporation

29 January 2015

• United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released Global Investment Trends Monitor Report
• ICC lifted the five-year ban imposed on Pakistan’s fast bowler Mohammad Amir
• Malaysia declared MH370 flight disappearance an accident
• Australian golfer Kelvin David George Nagle died
• Zomato Media Pvt Ltd acquired Turkey-based firm Mekanist

30 January 2015

• Churches in England opposed Mitochondria Donation Technique to produce babies
• Kanagasabapathy J Sripavan sworn-in as 44th Chief Justice of Sri Lanka
• Canada announced an anti-terror law criminalising public terror threats, strengthening Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS)

31 January 2015

• Serena Williams of US won the women’s single title of Australian Open 2015

1 February 2015

• Novak Djokovic of Serbia won the men’s singles title of the Australian Open 2015
• Australia defeated England to win Tri-Nation ODI Series
• Japan successfully launched the Information Gathering Satellite


APPOINTMENTS; ELECTED; ETC.

A.K. MITTAL APPOINTED AS CHAIRMAN OF RAILWAY BOARD

A.K. Mittal was appointed as the Chairman of Railway Board on 31 December 2014. He succeeded Arunendra Kumar who superannuated from Railway Services on 31 December 2014.

At the time of this appointment, Mittal was Member Staff, Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India. He had also served as General Manager of South Western Railway-SWR (Headquarters Hubli) and was also looking after the additional charge of General Manager, South Central Railway- SCR (Headquarters Secunderabad).

Apart from this, other 11 appointments including eight General Managers were done. The eight general managers were appointed by Railways Minsiter Suresh Prabhu to head different zonal railways and departmental organizations. Some appointments in Railways include

• Pradeep Kumar – succeeded Mittal and became new Member Staff. At the time of being appointed in as member staff, he was serving as a Genral Manager of the North Central Railway and was also holding additional charge of Northern Railway,

• Navin Tondon – appointed as the Member Electrical and at the time of appointment he was serving as a General Manager of South Eastern Central Railways

• V.K. Gupta, Member Engineering - given additional responsibility of Member Mechanical at the Board

M SATHIYAVATHY APPOINTED AS DIRECTOR GENERAL OF CIVIL AVIATION

Union Government on 31 December 2014 appointed M Sathiyavathy as Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). With this appointment, Sathiyavathy, a 1982 batch Union Territories cadre IAS officer became the first women DGCA and will hold the post till 28 January 2017.

She succeeded Prabhat Kumar, a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, who completed his central deputation and return to his parent UP cadre. In January 2014, Kumar was appointed as the DGCA head for three years.

At the time of appointment, Sathiyavathy was serving as additional secretary and financial advisor in the aviation ministry.

Biggest challenge to be faced by Sathiyavathy as DGCA chief

Her first challenge is to take Indian aviation safety ranking back to its lost top position in category-I. Due to poor regulatory oversight, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in January 2014 downgraded DGCA’s safety ranking to Category-II on par with countries like Bangladesh, Barbados, Ghana and Nicaragua.

R K SRIVASTAVA TOOK OVER AS CHAIRMAN OF AAI

R K Srivastava on 2 January 2015 took over as the new chairman of Airports Authority of India (AAI). He is appointed for the period of five years.

Union Government has confirmed his appointment on 19 December 2014. Srivastava is a 1984-batch Jharkhand-cadre IAS officer.

He succeeded Sudheer Raheja. Raheja is a Board member (Planning). He was in charge of the post since August 2014.

The post of chairman was lying vacant when the then chairman V P Aggarwal. The additional charge was given to Alok Sinha. Alok Sinha was working as joint secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry.

About AAI

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for creating, upgrading, maintaining and managing civil aviation infrastructure in India.

AAI was founded in 1994. It provides Air traffic management (ATM) services over Indian airspace and adjoining oceanic areas.

It also manages a total of 125 Airports, including 11 International Airports, 8 Customs Airports, 81 Domestic Airports and 25 Civil enclaves at Military Airfields.

R. KOTEESWARAN TOOK CHARGE AS NEW CMD OF INDIAN OVERSEAS BANK

R. Koteeswaran on 2 January 2015 took charge as new Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of public sector Indian Overseas Bank (IOB).

He succeedded M Narendra. He is appointed for a period of three years or till the date of superannuation, whichever is earlier.

Earlier, Koteeswaran was serving as Executive Director of Bank of India.Koteeswaran began his career in 1976 in Bank of Baroda and later joined Bank of India as its Executive Director.

R. Koteeswaran served as General Manager of Information Technology & Projects at Bank of Baroda and served as its General Manager. Koteeswaran has been Executive Director of Bank of India since August 2013.

His appointement was confirmed by the Department of Financial Services (DFS) under the Union Ministry of Finance on 31 December 2014, along with the appointment of three others chiefs of Public Sector Bank (PSB).

They were appointed on the recommendations of Appointments Board chaired by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan.

KIRAN BHAI VADODARIA ELECTED AS INS PRESIDENT

Kiran Bhai Vadodaria on 2 January 2015 was elected as President of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) for 2014-15. He is the Chairman and Managing Director of Gujarati newspaper Sambhaav Metro.

He succeeded Ravindra Kumar of The Statesman. The appointment was announced at the 75th annual general meeting of the organization in New Delhi.

PV Chandran of Grihalakshmi was elected Deputy President of the INS while Somesh Sharma of Rastradoot was made Vice President.

Mohit Jain of Economic Times and V Shankaran were appointed as Treasurer and Secretary General of INS.

Among the 41-member Executive Committee, the notable members include Mahendra Mohan Gupta (Dainik Jagran), Sanjay Gupta (Dainik Jagran), Shailesh Gupta (Mid-Day), Vijay Kumar Chopra (Punjab Kesri), Viveck Goenka (The Indian Express, Mumbai), R Lakshmipathy (Dinamalar) and Jayant Mammen Mathew (Malayala Manorama).

About INS

The society was founded in 1939. Its headquarter is located in New Delhi.

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) acts as the central organization of the Press of India. It is an independent body authenticating circulation figures of newspapers and periodicals in India. It is an organization which plays a major role in protecting and promoting the freedom of press in India.

SUTIRTHA BHATTACHARYA TOOK CHARGE AS CMD OF COAL INDIA LIMITED

Sutirtha Bhattacharya on 5 January 2015 took charge as Coal India Limited’s full-time Chairman and Managing Director (CMD). The post was vacant for over six month.

Prior to taking the charge of Coal India, Bhattacharya, a 1985 batch IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre was the CMD of the state-owned Singareni Collieries Company.

Bhattacharya’s name was recommended for the CMD of Coal India Limited (CIL) by the Public Enterprises Services Board (PESB) on 19 November 2014. Later in November 2014, his named was cleared for the top post by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

Coal India was without a full-time head since May 2014 when S Narsing Rao resigned from the post to join Telangana government. But it was being handled by additional secretary, coal, AK Dubey who was given the additional charge as CMD of CIL from 26 June 2014.

PRIME MINISTER APPOINTED ECONOMIST ARVIND PANAGARIYA AS THE VICE CHAIRMAN OF NITI AAYOG

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 5 January 2015 appointed economist Arvind Panagariya as the Vice-Chairman of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. He is an Indian-American economist and Professor of Economics at Columbia University.

Panagariya is an Alma matter of Rajasthan University and holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics from Princeton University.

He has written around 10 books, the latest being India: The Emerging Giant, which was published in March 2008 by the Oxford University Press, New York.

Besides Arvind Panagariya, PM also appointed other members of the newly constituted NITI Aayog that came into existence on 1 January 2015 replacing 65 year old Planning Commission.

The other members appointed are:

Full-Time Members

  • Bibek Debroy, Economist
  • Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Former Secretary Defence Research & Development

Ex-officio members

  • Rajnath Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs
  • Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting
  • Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Railways
  • Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture

Special Invitees

  • Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping
  • Thawar Chand Gehlot, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
  • Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister of Human Resource Development

ATUL KHARE APPOINTED AS THE UN UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL

Atul Khare was on 7 January 2015 appointed as the United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General, Department of Field Support (DFS). He will succeed Ameerah Haq of Bangladesh.

His appointed was announced by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Khare is currently providing charitable medical advice in India.

Atul Khare

• Khare joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1984 and has served Indian diplomatic missions in France, Mauritius, Senegal, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

• Khare has been serving the UN since years, most recently as Assistant Secretary-General leading the Change Management Team in 2011-2012.

• He was the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Deputy Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York from 2010 to 2011.

• He was previously the Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) at the level of Under-Secretary-General in 2006.

K K PAUL SWORN IN AS SIXTH GOVERNOR OF UTTARAKHAND

Krishan Kant Paul on 8 January 2015 was sworn in as the sixth Governor of Uttarakhand. Chief Justice of Uttarakhand Justice V K Bisht administered the oath of office and secrecy to him at the Raj Bhavan.

He succeeded Governor Aziz Qureshi who was appointed as the Governor of Mizoram on 30 December 2014.

Prior to this, he was the Governor of Meghalaya and held additional charge Governor of Manipur and Mizoram.

Paul joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1970 of AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh–Goa–Mizoram–Union Territories) cadre.

He was Delhi Police commissioner from February 2004 to July 2007, thus becoming the longest serving commissioner of Delhi Police.

After retirement, he became a member of Union Public Service Commission in July 2007.

SINDHUSHREE KHULLAR APPOINTED AS THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF NITI AAYOG

Senior bureaucrat Sindhushree Khullar was on 10 January 2015 appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog with effect from 1 January 2015. She will serve the position for one year.

Her appointment was approved by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet.

Sindhushree Khullar

• Sindhushree Khullar is 1975-batch officer of the Indian Administrative Service’s (IAS) Union Territories cadre. 
• She became the Member-Secretary of Planning Commission in April 2012 by replacing Sudha Pillai.

• In March 2013, she was appointed as Secretary of the Planning Commission on contract basis for two years.

Background
Union Government on 1 January 2015 replaced the decades old Planning Commission with a new institution named National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog). The institution will be chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Noted Economist Arvind Panagariya was appointed as the Vice Chairman of the NITI Aayog. Economist Bibek Debroy and former DRDO chief V K Saraswat were appointed as full-time members of NITI Aayog.

ARVIND PANAGARIYA TOOK CHARGE AS VICE-CHAIRMAN OF NITI AAYOG

Arvind Panagariya took charge as Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog on 13 January 2015. He became the first vice-chairman of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, which replaced the Planning Commission on 1 January 2015.

NITI Aayog comprises of Prime Minister as chairperson, one vice-chairman, two full-time members, four ex-officio members (Union ministers) and three special invitees.

About Arvind Panagariya

• Panagariya, 62, is an Indian-American economist.

• He has been a professor of Economics at the Columbia University.

• He also served as the Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank.

• He served as a Professor of Economics and Co-director, Centre for International Economics, University of Marylan at College Park.

• He has also worked for the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in various capacities.

HARI SHANKAR BRAHMA APPOINTED AS THE NEW CHIEF ELECTION COMMISSIONER

Hari Shankar Bramha was appointed as the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) by President Pranab Mukherjee on 15 January 2016.

Brahma, the senior-most Election Commissioner in the Election Commission of India succeeds V.S. Sampath.

Sampath demitted the office on 15 January 2015 after attaining the age of 65, the upper age limit under the Constitution for holding the post.

Brahma (64) will assume the charge of the office of Chief Election Commissioner with effect from 16 January 2015. He will have a small tenure of three months till 19 April 2015, when he turns 65, the upper age limit for the post.

About Harishankar Brahma

• He is a 1975 IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre

• He hails from Assam and has served as the former Union power secretary

• He was appointed as an Election Commissioner on 25 August 2010

After J.M. Lyngdoh, Brahma is the second officer from northeast to be appointed to this post.

About Election Commission

Election Commission of India is a permanent Constitutional Body. It was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25 January 1950.

Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner, but now it is a three-member body, including the CEC and two election commissioners.

For the first time two additional Commissioners were appointed on 16 October 1989 but they had a very short tenure till 1 January 1990. Later, on 1 October 1993 two additional Election Commissioners were appointed. The concept of multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision making power by majority vote.

FILMMAKER PAHLAJ NIHALANI APPOINTED AS CHAIRMAN OF CBFC

Filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani on 19 January 2015 was appointed as the Chairman of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

Nihalani, known for the 1990s blockbusters Shola aur Shabnam and Aankhen will succeed Leela Samson who resigned from her office on 16 January 2015.

Nihalani is also known for producing a fan-song for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 titled Har Ghar Modi-The Power House of India.

Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry who reconstituted the complete Board also appointed nine new members in it. The tenure of the Chairperson and the members of the CBFC will be of three years.

The Chairman and the members were appointed in accordance with the sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and Rule 3 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983.

Appointed members of the board are

• Film director Dr. Chandra Prakash Dwivedi – he is known for his epic TV serial Chanakya and critically acclaimed national award winning film Pinjar

• BJP leader Vani Tripathi Tikoo - she acted in films like Chalte Chalte and Dushman

• Kashmiri activist and filmmaker Ashoke Pandit - he is known for films like And the World Remained Silent and Sheen

• Dalit RSS activist Ramesh Patange – he authored Me, Manu anee Sangh (I, Manu, and Sangh)

• Gujarat Central University Vice-Chancellor Syed Abdul Bari

• Bengali actor George Baker

• Tamil actor Sattanathapuram Venkataraman Shekhar

• Telugu actor Jeevitha

• Writer Mihir Bhuta

UN SECRETARY–GENERAL APPOINTED SARASWATHY MENON IN PEACE-BUILDING PANEL

United Nation (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 24 January 2015 appointed Indian sociologist Saraswathi Menon in peace-building panel. This panel will review peace building activities.

The others on the seven-member panel, formally known as advisory group on the review of the peace-building architecture, include a retired Pakistani major general, Anis Bajwa and Charles Petrie of France, who headed an internal review panel on UN actions in Sri Lanka.

The appointment was made in accordance with the Terms of Reference endorsed by the General Assembly and the Security Council.

On 15 December 2014, the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council asked the Secretary-General to nominate up to seven experts to form an advisory group on the review of the peacebuilding architecture.

The advisory group will undertake country studies in Burundi, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste and will conduct a policy and institutional review of the peace-building architecture. It would also develop findings and recommendations based on this work.

About Saraswathy Menon

Before joining UNDP, she taught at Madras University in India. She has extensive experience in women’s and development issue. She has been the director of the Policy Division of UN-Women, the UN body for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, and the director of the UN Development Program’s Evaluation Office. Her other UNDP assignments included postings in Mongolia and Nepal.

She has a doctorate in sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi.

K DURGA PRASAD APPOINTED AS THE SPECIAL DG OF CRPF

K Durga Prasad was appointed as the Special Director General (DG) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 27 January 2015. Prasad, an IPS officer of 1981 batch from Andhra Pradesh cadre will be in office for next three years or till further orders are given.

Earlier, Prasad served as the director of the Special Protection Group (SPG). SPG provides security to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their family members.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

• It was established in 1939 and is the largest Central Armed Police Forces in India that operates under Union Ministry of Home Affairs

• It was established under Crown Representative’s Police but it was made statutory Central Reserve Police Force after the enactment of the CRPF Act, 1949 on 28 December 1949

• It is one of the oldest Central Para Military Forces (now termed as Central Armed Police Force)

• It was raised following the political unrest and the agitations in the then princely States of India. The Madras Resolution of the All-India Congress Committee in 1936 proposed for its establishment

• It is called as the Peace Keeper of the Nation

• At present, Prakash Mishra is the Director General of CRPF

S JAISHANKAR APPOINTED AS THE FOREIGN SECRETARY OF INDIA

India's Ambassador to the US, Dr. S Jaishankar was appointed as the Foreign Secretary on 28 January 2015. He will have tenure of two years from the date he assumes charge.

The decision of appointing Jaishankar as the Foreign Secretary was taken by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Jaishankar replaced current Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh whose tenure was curtailed by nearly seven months. Singh’s two-year tenure was to end in August 2015. She was appointed as Foreign Secretary in 2013.

Jaishankar’s appointment came few days before he was supposed to retire. He was due to retire on 31 January 2015.

Jaishankars’s Achievements as Ambassador to US and China

• He as the Ambassador to the US is credited for rebuilding India-US ties after the Devyani Khobragade incident.

• From 2004-07, he served as Joint Secretary in-charge of the Americas and is regarded as one of the architects of the Indo-US nuclear deal that saw a breakthrough during the US President Barack Obama’s visit to India.

• Jaishankar as Ambassador to China is credited for his deft handling of tensions between New Delhi and Beijing over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 2013.

• He is the India’s longest serving Ambassador to China.

His father Dr. K. Subrahmanyam was India’s most prominent defence strategist. He advised several governments as the long-time Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Analysis.

SHEKHAR SEN APPOINTED AS CHAIRMAN OF SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI

Renowned music composer and actor Shekhar Sen was on 29 January 2015 appointed as the Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA). He was appointed for a term of 5 years with immediate effect.

Shekhar Sen will succeed Leela Samson who resigned from the position on 5 September 2014. The post was lying vacant since October 2014.

Shekhar Sen

• Born and brought up in Chhattisgarh, Sen began to learn music from his parents who were renowned classical singers of Gwalior Gharana & Musicologists.

• Sen established himself as a singer with a different style by singing the medieval poets like Raskhan, Raheem, Lalitkishori, Bhooshan Bihari and many more.

• He is famous for his mono act musical plays Tulsi, Kabeer, Vivekananda, and Soordas.

• Sen’s performances are acclaimed in India, US, UK, Belgium, Surinam, Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, South Africa, UAE, Mauritius and Trinidad.

• Shekhar Sen has received prestigious awards including Padam Shri Award in 2015, Safdar Hashmi Puraskar in 2001 for his contribution in field of theatre and V. Shantaram Lalit Kala Puraskaar in 2008.

About Sangeet Natak Akademi

• The Sangeet Natak Akademi was created by the then Union Ministry of Education through a resolution dated 31 May 1952 notified in the Gazette of India of June 1952.

• The Akademi was inaugurated on 28 January 1953 by India’s first President, Rajendra Prasad to promote performing arts such as dance, drama and music across the country.

• SNA has established several institutions over the years including Manipur Dance Academy in Imphal, Sattriya Centre, Kathak Kendra in New Delhi and Centre for Kutiyattam in Thiruvananthapuram.

KRISHNA CHAUDHARY APPOINTED AS THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF ITBP

Krishna Chaudhary was appointed as the Director General (DG) of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on 30 January 2015. Chaudhary, an IPS officer of 1979-batch Bihar cadre will be in office till June 2017.

At the time of appointment, he was working as the Director General of the Railway Protection Force.

His appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Chaudhary succeeded Subhas Goswami who retired on 31 December 2014. CRPF DG Prakash Mishra was holding the additional charge of the ITBP since the retirement of Subhas Goswami.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

Indo-Tibetan Border Police was raised on 24 October 1962. Initially, it was raised under the CRPF Act, 1949 however the Parliament in 1992 enacted the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force Act, 1992 and rules there under were framed in 1994.

ITBP is a specialized mountain force and most of the officers and men are professionally trained mountaineers and skiers.

Being the first responder for natural disaster in the Himalayas, ITBPF has been carrying out numerous rescue and relief operations.

Currently, ITBP is deployed on border guarding duties from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh covering 3488 km of Indo-China Border. It is also present on the manning Border Outposts on altitudes raging from 9000 feet to 18700 feet in the Western, Middle and Eastern Sector of the Indo-China Border.

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS

PRIME MINISTER OF BHUTAN LYONCHHEN TSHERING TOBGAY VISITED INDIA

Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay visited India from 10 January to 18 January 2015. He visited along with his spouse Aum Tashi Doma, Foreign Minister Rinzin Dorji and Economic Affairs Minister Norbu Wangchuk.

As a part of his visit, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held wide-ranging discussions on bilateral relations as well as on regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern.

Both the leaders agreed that cooperation in the field of hydropower was mutually beneficial and a win-win situation for both countries. They reiterated their commitment to the 10000 MW hydro power plant initiatives and also committed for early implementation of the four JV-model projects, totaling 2120 MW.

He also met President of India Pranab Mukherjee, Union Minister of Home Affairs -Rajnath Singh, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley, Chief Minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel and many other leaders.

He also attended the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2015 and also visited a number of very successful projects in Gujarat such as the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), Solar Park, Kaushal Vardhan Kendra (Skill Development Institute), Sabarmati river front, Garima Park and Kids City. Further, Prime Minister also visited the Buddhist sites in Vadnagar, Gujarat.

The visit of the Prime Minister of Bhutan to India reinforced the tradition of regular visits at the highest levels, and extensive exchange of views between the two counties.

DIED

FORMER ISRO CHAIRMAN V R GOWARIKAR DIED IN PUNE

Senior Scientist and former Chairman of ISRO Vasant Ranchhod Gowarikar died after a brief illness in Pune, India on 2 January 2015. He was 82.

Chiefly known as the Father of the Indian Monsoon Model, Gowarikar was the first scientist to develop first indigenous weather forecasting model that predicted monsoon correctly. Between 1991 and 1993, he served as Scientific Advisor to late Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.

He was Protégé of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, and was a part of the band of scientists who initiated India’s satellite research programme. Some other scientists in the team were A. P. J. Kalam, E. V. Chitnis, Pramod Kale, U. R. Rao and others.

His collaboration with Dr. F.H. Garner helped in creation of the Garner-Gowarikar theory, a novel analysis of heat and mass transfer between solids and fluid. It was under Garner’s supervision, he pursued his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham, UK.

About Vasant Ranchhod Gowarikar

• He made valuable contributions in the fields of space research, weather forecasting and others

• He was associated with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as Chief and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre as Director between 1979 and 1985

• He had also served as Secretary to Department of Science and Technology

• In 1967, he joined the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Kerala as Head of Propellant Engineering Division. He pioneered solid propellant development

• He was Chairman of the Marathi Vidnyan Parishad between 1994 and 2000.

• Between 1995 and 1998, he served as the Vice-Chancellor of Pune University and was associated with several other varsities in different capacities

• In 2008, he along with his associates compiled The Fertilizer Encyclopedia that featured 4500 entries detailing the chemical composition of fertilizers

• He was born on 25 March 1933 in Maharashtra

• He also worked with the UK Atomic Energy Authority

• Awards conferred on him include

a) Padma Shri (1984)

b) Padma Bhushan (2008)

c) The Fie Foundation Award

SAUDI ARABIA KING ABDULLAH BIN ABDULAZIZ DIED

Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz passed away on 23 January 2015 following a brief illness. He was 90.

After the death of Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, his brother and Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was named as the new king. The new crown prince is Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Both Salman and Muqrin are younger brothers of Abdullah.

Abdullah bin Abdulaziz

Abdullah was born in Riyadh in 1924 and was one among the dozens of sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

• Abdullah was selected as crown prince in 1982 on the day his half-brother Fahd ascended the throne. He became de facto ruler in 1995 when a stroke incapacitated Fahd.

Abdullah ascended to the throne as King in 2005. Abdullah’s biggest priority was to confront Iran, the Shiite powerhouse across the Gulf.

• One of his most ambitious projects was a Western-style university that bears his name, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology which was opened in 2009.

LEGENDARY CARTOONIST R K LAXMAN DIED

Eminent Cartoonist Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Laxman died on 26 January 2015 due to cardiac arrest at Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital of Pune in Maharashtra. He was 93.

Maharashtra Government decided to give a state funeral to Laxman, who will be cremated at Vaikunth Crematorium in Pune.

He is survived by his wife Kamala Laxman and son Srinivas Laxman who is a journalist.

One of the post-Independence India’s greatest caricaturists was the creator of The Common Man which was published in Times of India newspaper. He also was an illustrator, humorist and novelist.

His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of trials and tribulations of India's ordinary people. His cartoons also reflected little joys and sorrows of the Common Man and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy.

Laxman had no formal training in cartooning and was denied admission to J.J. School of Art, Bombay, but the work he put out over decades was a sheer genius. He was greatly influence by caricatures of New Zealand born Sir David Low.

About Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Laxman

• He started his career with Free Press Journal where he remained for a brief period

• He joined Times Group in 1947 and with the Group till the end of his life

• He created the popular mascot for the Asian Paints group called Gattu in 1954

• His sketches were included in television adaptation of Malgudi Days, which was written by his elder brother RK Narayan and directed by Shankar Nag

• He was born in the then Mysore State (now part of Karnataka) on 24 October 1921

• Popular comedy programme for the national television Wagle Ki Duniya’s characters were created by R K Laxman which narrated the issues of common middle-class Indian man

Books and Novels written by R K Laxman

• Autobiography: Tunnel of Time; Lakshmanrekha published in Marathi

• 50 Years of Independence through the eyes of R K Laxman

• The Best of Laxman series: The Common Man Seeks Justice published in 2003

• R. K. Laxman: The Uncommon Man: Collection of Works from 1948 to 2008 published in 2009

• Best of Laxman: Common Man Stands in Queue published in 2003

• A Vote for Laughter published in 2003

• The Messenger published in 1993

• Best of Laxman: Common Man Goes to the Village published in 2003

• The Best of Laxman published in 1993

• The Hotel Riviera published in 1989

Awards and honours conferred on him

• Padma Bhushan in 1971

• Padma Vibhushan in 2005

• The Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts in 1984

• Pune Pandit Award (Scholar of Pune Award) by the Art & Music Foundation for excellence in Creative Communication in 2012

• Honorary Doctorate awarded from the University of Mysore in 2005

• There is a chair named after R. K. Laxman at Symbiosis International University

Some famous Indian Cartoonists

• Harish Chandra Shukla: He is a foremost Hindi language cartoonist in India whose pen name is Kaak

• Sudhir Dhar: He is an Indian cartoonist of Kashmiri descent, who began his career with the Statesman in 1960 after which he moved to Hindustan Times. His works have been published in several newspapers like The Independent, New York Times, Washington Post, Delhi Times, The pioneer and others

• Sudhir Tailang: He was awarded the Padma Award in 2004 for his contribution to the art of cartooning. He made his first cartoon in 1970 and then started his career in 1982 with the Illustrated Weekly of India, Mumbai.

He joined Navbharat Times in 1983 and also had stints with the Hindustan Times, the Indian Express and Times of India. At present, he is associated with the Asian Age. He recently launched a book of cartoons titled No, Prime Minister

• Abu Abraham: He drew cartoons under the pen name Abu. He was associated with several national and international newspapers like The Observer, The Guardian, The Bombay Chronicle, Shankar’s Weekly, Blitz, Tribune and The Indian Express

• O V Vijayan: He was an Indian author and cartoonist and was known for his novel Khasakkinte Itihasam. His books of cartoons called Ithiri neramboke, Ithiri Darshanam (A Little Pastime, A little Vision) was published in the year 1990

• Puthukkody Kottuthody Sankaran Kutty Nair: He was an Indian Political cartoonist who sketched with pen name Kutty. His first cartoon appeared in the Malayalam humor magazine Viswaroopam in 1940 and since then his cartoons appeared in several news papers and magazine like Hindustan Standard, Ananda Bazar Patrika, Desh, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, Aaj Kaal and Parivarthan.

• Vijay Narain Seth: A cartoonist and illustrator was the first Indian cartoonist to be appointed in Reader’s Digest Magazine. His works are part of a permanent collection at the International Cartoon Museum and the Karikatur & Cartoon Museum in Basel Switzerland. He considered Mario Miranda as his mentor

• Paresh Nath: He is the first Indian cartoonist to receive multiple awards from the United Nations former secretary general Kofi Annan for best political cartoons. His cartoons were published in more than hundred countries and are syndicated by the New York Times and Cagle. At present, he is working for the daily newspaper Khaleej Times that is published in English in Dubai and United Arab Emirates since 2005.

• Mario Miranda: His works in The Illustrated Weekly of India got accolades to him. The respected cartoonist of India was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2012. His works appeared in the Times of India, Economic Times and other Mumbai-based dailies

• K. Shankar Pillai: Credited as the father of political cartooning in India drew with pen name Shankar. He started Shankar’s Weekly, India’s Punch in 1948 and also set up Children’s Book Trust and Shankar’s International Dolls Museum. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1976

PERSON IN NEWS

KOPPILLIL RADHAKRISHNAN RETIRED AS ISRO CHIEF

Koppillil Radhakrishnan retired as the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 31 December 2014. He was appointed as the Chairman of the organization in October 2009 as successor of G. Madhavan Nair.

Earlier, Radhakrishnan’s tenure as ISRO chief, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission was extended by four months in August 2014 till 31 December 2014.

Shailesh Nayak, a Secretary, Union Earth Sciences Ministry, will hold additional and interim charge as Chairman for a month or until a regular chief is named.

Radhakrishnan spearheaded ISRO through several milestones like low-cost (74 million US dollars) Mangalayaan, the Indian mission to the red planet, Mars. The mission was named among the best inventions of 2014 by TIME magazine which described it as a technological feat that will allow India to flex its interplanetary muscles. Some other milestones include five consecutive successful PSLV missions. Some major feats include

• The PSLV-C11 that lofted Chandrayaan-1, India's unmanned mission to the Moon

• GSLV-MK-III that carried a human crew module to the space

About Koppillil Radhakrishnan

• Radhakrishnan is an Indian scientist who is also a recipient of Padma Bhusan (2014), the third highest civilian award of India

• On 18 December 2014, he was named as one of the top ten scientific personalities in 2014 by Nature Science Journal

• Graduated in Electrical Engineering from Kerala University, he joined Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in 1972

• He had served as Director of National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC)

• He was handpicked by Prof. Satish Dhawan - the then Chairman of ISRO, to control and monitor the Budget and Economic Analysis activities at the ISRO headquarters

• From 2000 to 2005, he served at the Ministry of Earth Science during which he established the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and India's Tsunami Warning Centre

• He is a life fellow of the Indian Geophysical Union (IGU) and is also an accomplished vocalist (Carnatic music) and Kathakali artist

LARRY PAGE NAMED BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR 2014

Larry Page, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Google was named as the Business person of the Year for 2014 on 6 January 2015 by Fortune magazine.

Page came on the top in the list of global corporate leaders’ by surpassing people like Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The list was compiled by the magazine on the basis of various factors including company’s performance, leadership style and total shareholder returns.

Top twenty people included in the list were

• Larry Page – CEO and Co-Founder of Google

• Tim Cook – CEO of Apple

• John C. Martin – Chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences

• Montgomery Moran and Steve Ells – co-CEOs of fast food chain Chipotle

• Denise Ramos – CEO and President of ITT

• Bob Iger - Chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co.

• Ken Hicks – CEO and President of Foot Locker

• Mary Dillon – CEO of Ultra Beauty

• George Scangos – CEO of Biogen

• Jack Ma – the co-founder of Alibaba

• Fred Smith – Chairman and CEO of Fedex

• Carol Meyrotwiz – CEO of TJX Cos

• Mark Zuckerberg – CEO of Facebook

• Elizabeth Holmes – Founder and CEO of Theranos

• Brad Smith – President and CEO of Intuit

• Gary Kelly – Chairman, President, and CEO of Southwest Airlines

• Elon Musk – Chairman, Product Architect, and CEO of Tesla

• Walt Bettinger – President and CEO of Charles Schwab

• Kevin Plank – CEO and Chairman of Under Armour

• Laura Alber – President and CEO of Williams-Sonoma

Other parameters which were included to prepare the list included financial results of the company including 12-month and three year growth in profits and revenues, company's stock performance and total shareholder returns over the same periods. Several non-financial elements like business influence, leadership style and strategic initiatives played a part in evaluation were also included.


MAITHIRIPALA SIRISENA SWORN-IN AS 7TH PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA

Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena (Maithiripala Sirisena) was on 9 January 2015 sworn-in as the 7th President of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court Judge K Sri Pawan administered the oath of office to Maithiripala Sirisena at a oath taking ceremony held at the Independence Square in Colombo.

Before the swearing-in ceremony of President Maithripala Sirisena, the leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickramasinghe took the oath as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

Maithripala heads a rainbow coalition of several parties including United National Party and the Buddhist Monk party.

Maithiripala Sirisena

• Born on 3 September 1951, Sirisena earned a Diploma in Political science at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Russia.

• Sirisena joined mainstream politics in 1989 by contesting the parliamentary elections as an Sri Lankan Freedom Party candidate in Polonnaruwa district and was elected to Parliament.

• In 2001, Sirisena became the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

• In 2004, he was appointed as the Cabinet Minister of Mahaweli, River Basin & Rajarata Development.

• He was appointed as the Cabinet Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development in 2005.

Later in 2010, he was appointed as Cabinet Minister of Health.

TEHRIK-E TALIBAN PAKISTAN’S CHIEF MAULANA FAZLULLAH DESIGNATED AS GLOBAL TERRORIST BY US

The United States (US) Department of State on 13 January 2015 designated Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) chief Maulana Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Fazlullah, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

He was designated as a global terrorist under Executive Order (EO) 13224 that targets terrorists and people who provide support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

Reason for designating Fazlullah as a Global terrorist

He was designated as a global terrorist after Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) under Fazlullah’s leadership claimed the responsibility of 16 December 2014 attack on the army school of Peshawar, Pakistan. The attack claimed lives of about 148 individuals including 134 students.

Effect of this designation

• It prohibits any US person from engaging in transactions with Fazlullah

• It freezes all property and interests of Fazlullah that are in the United States, or come within the United States or the possession or control of US persons

About Maulana Fazlullah

• In November 2014, he was elected as commander of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after death of former TTP leader 1 November 2013

• Before becoming the leader of TTP, he was involved in several terrorism activities like

a) Killing of Pakistani Army Major General Sanaullah Niazi in September 2013

b) In 2012, he ordered shooting of schoolgirl and activist Malala Yousafzai, the winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2014

c) He was responsible for the beheading of 17 Pakistani soldiers after an attack in June 2012

d) He ordered the targeted killings of elders who led peace committees against the Taliban

Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also known as Pakistani Taliban is an alliance of militant groups which was formed in 2007. It was formed to unify groups fighting against the Pakistani military in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. TTP maintains close ties to senior al-Qa‘ida leaders, including al-Qa‘ida’s former head of operations in Pakistan.

• TTP was designated as the Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on 1 September 2010 by the US Department of State

• TTP was also listed as terrorist organisation at the United Nations 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee on 29 July 2011.

Previous Chief’s of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan

• 1st Chief - Baitullah Mahsud who was killed in an explosion on 5 August 2009

• 2nd Chief - Hakimullah Mehsud who died on 1 November 2013 in a drone strike

AMITABH BACHCHAN PRESENTED WITH SOCIAL MEDIA PERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD 2015

Actor Amitabh Bachchan was on 13 January 2015 presented with the Social Media Person of the Year Award 2015  by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

The award ceremony was scheduled to be held on 15 January 2015 in New Delhi but as Amitabh Bachchan was not be able to make his presence there, so he was honoured in advance.

Amitabh Bachchan was awarded for being an active blogger and user of different social networking sites. He makes the most use of social media to communicate with his fans and well-wishers.

He has over 12.5 million followers on Twitter and more than 18857196 likes on his Facebook page.

FORMER PM MANMOHAN SINGH ADOPTED PACHIM BEKELI GAON PANCHYAT UNDER SANSAD ADARSH GRAM YOJANA

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 17 January 2015 adopted Pachim Bekeli Gaon Panchyat under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna (SAGY). Pachim Bekeli Gaon Panchyat is located in Kamrup district of Assam.

Manmohan Singh represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha.

Almost 125 MPs have adopted a village under SAGY since the announcement of the Yojana by PM Narendra Modi on 15 August 2014. Some of the MPs and the villages adopted by them are:

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Jayapur village in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

• Hema Malini: Raval village, Uttar Pradesh

• Sachin Tendulkar: Puttamraju Kandrika village, Andhra Pradesh

• Kaushalendra Kumar: Nanand village in Nalanda, Bihar

• Narendra Sawaikar: Cola village, Andhra Pradesh

• Avinash Rai Khanna: Adamwal village in Hoshiarpur, Punjab

• Rajendra Agrawal: Bhagwanpur Chatawan village in Rajpura, Punjab

Union Minister Sushma Swaraj, MP Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, AK Antony of the Indian National Congress, JD-U’s Sharad Yadav are among others who have each chosen a village to adopt in their respective constituencies.

Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2014 announced Sansad Asarsh Gram Yojana. It aims to cover 2500 villages by 2019. Under the project, each Member of Parliament (MP) will take up the responsibility of providing infrastructure and developing three villages by 2019.

The objective of the project is to create a holistic development of all adopted villages by the MPs in all aspects —human, personal, social, economic and environmental development, including provision of basic amenities, services, security and good governance.

INDIAN NOVELIST VIKRAM CHANDRA NAMED AMONG THE FINALISTS OF NBCC AWARDS

Novelist Vikram Chandra on 20 January 2015 was named among the finalists for prestigious National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Awards. He was nominated for the American literary awards for his work about culture of computer programming and classical Indian aesthetics.

Delhi-born Vikram Chandra of 53 is a finalist in the criticism category for his non-fiction work Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty.

Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty has been published thrice but with different titles, namely

• In 2013 as Mirrored Mind: My Life in Letters and Code

• In 2014 as Geek Sublime: Writing Fiction, Coding Software

• In the US as Geek Sublime: The Code of Beauty, the Beauty of Code

Some other acclaimed works of Chandra who at present teaches creative writing at the University of California, include

• Red Earth and Pouring Rain published in 1995. The book won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book and the David Higham Prize for Fiction

• Sacred Games published in 2006. The book won the Hutch Crossword Award for English Fiction for 2006 and a Salon Book Award 2007

He is also the co-writer of Bollywood film Mission Kashmir that starred Sanjay Dutt, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta, and Jackie Shroff.

Besides, the NBCC also announced its 30 finalists in six categories, namely autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction, and poetry-for the best books of 2014. The awards will be presented on 12 March 2015. Some other nominated novelists are

• For being a powerful catalyst in reshaping literary culture over the past half century, American novelist Toni Morrison, 83 will receive the 'Ivan Sandrof' Lifetime Achievement Award

• To recognise outstanding first books in any genre, American writer Phil Klay's short story collection Redeployment will receive the John Leonard Prize, which was established in 2014

WING COMMANDER PUJA THAKUR BECAME FIRST LADY OFFICER TO LEAD INTER-SERVICE GUARD OF HONOUR

Wing Commander Pooja Thakur on 25 January 2015 became the first lady officer to lead the Inter-Service Guard of Honour for a major visiting dignitary at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (presidential palace). The Guard of Honour was inspected by the US President Barack Obama.

Thakur leading the Inter-Service Guard of Honour was in line with the theme of Nari Shakti (Women Power) chosen for the 2015 Republic Day parade. The 2015 parade also saw all women contingents of the army, air force and navy walking down the Rajpath for the first time.

Thakur joined Indian Air Force in 2000 and belongs to administrative branch. She is currently posted at DISHA, the publicity cell under the Directorate of Personnel Officers at the Air Force Headquarters. Her father retired as a Colonel from the Indian Army.

AWARDS

INDIANS AWARDED WITH QUEEN’S NEW YEAR HONOURS 2015

Queen’s New Year Honours for the year 2015 were given on 1 January 2015. The honours were conferred on more than thousand persons, which included several persons of Indian-Origin from various field.

Indians conferred Queen’s New Year Honours

Knighthood
• Nilesh Jayantilal Samani (an Indian-origin professor at the University of Leicester) - his contribution to Cardiovascular Sciences changed scientific thinking and impacted on clinical practice in the field

Medallist of the British Empire

• Fauja Singh (world’s oldest Marathon runner at age 103) – for athletic achievements and charity.

Title of Commander of the British Empire was awarded to

• Meera Syal (Actor and author) - for services to drama and literature

• Shakuntala Michaela Ghosh - for services to Venture Philanthropy and the Voluntary Sector, particularly to the homeless and disadvantaged young people in London

• Uma Mehta (chief community services lawyer in the London borough of Islington) – for services to children

Title of Officers of the Order of the British Empire was awarded to

• Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia - for services to interfaith and community cohesion

• Venugopal Karunakaran Nair - for services to Science

• Dilip Nathwani - for services to treatment of infectious diseases

• Surat Singh Sangha - for services to entrepreneurship

• Jatinder Kumar Sharma - for services to further education

Title of Members of the Order of the British Empire was awarded to

• Subhash Chander Chaudhary - for services to biotechnology manufacture in North East England)

• Surinder Kaur Ghura - for services to interfaith understanding and to the community in Newcastle upon Tyne

• Gurmel Singh Kandola (chief executive, National Sikh Museum, Derby) - for services to the community

• Surinder Pal Singh Khurana - for services to the community in North East Lincolnshire

• Atul Maru - for services to law enforcement

• Vanita Parti - for services to the beauty industry and to street children in India

• Ushma Patel - for services to public administration and to the community through the Dharmaj Society of London
New Year Honours

The New Year Honours is a part of the British honours system and is given annually on New Year's Day, i.e. 1 January. It is marked by naming new members of orders of chivalry and recipients of other official honours. These awards are presented by or in the name of the reigning monarch, at present by Queen Elizabeth II. The honours are being given since 1890.

YU MIN HONOURED WITH STATE PREEMINENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AWARD 2014

Chinese nuclear physicist Yu Min was on 9 January 2015 presented with the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award 2014 by Chinese President Xi Jinping. He was awarded for his involvement in research into nuclear weapons since the 1960s.

Yu Min is presently an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Yu Min

• Born in Tianjin, China in 1926, Yu began serving as a researcher at the Modern Physics Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1951.

• Yu Min was behind China's first successful hydrogen bomb test in the Cold War era in 1960s.

• He was part of the miniaturization of nuclear weapons, technological breakthroughs in the neutron bomb and the theory of atomic nucleus.

• He was also the recipient of the Two Bombs, One Satellite Achievement Medal in 1999 for his contributions to China's first satellite project.

About State Preeminent Science and Technology Award

• The State Preeminent Science and Technology Award was set up in 1999. It is awarded to the top two scientists of China every year.

• The award includes a cash prize worth 5 million-yuan (805200 US dollars), 10 percent of which is given to the awarded scientist.

• The first State Preeminent Science and Technology Award  was given to Yuan Longping in 2000. So far, 25 Chinese scientists have won the award including Zhang Cunhao and Wu Liangyong.

VICE PRESIDENT MOHAMMAD HAMID ANSARI PRESENTED PRAVASI BHARATIYA SAMMAN AWARDS 2015

Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari on 9 January 2015 presented the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2015 to sixteen personalities. The awards were presented during the occasion of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

The awardees were:

1. Mala Mehta from Australia

2. President Donald Rabindernauth Ramaotar from Guyana

3. Dr Rajaram Sanjaya from Mexico

4. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi from New Zealand

5. Rajamal Parakh from Oman

6. Duraikannu Karunakaran from Seychelles

7. Essop Goolam Pahad from South Africa

8. Bharat Kumar Jayantilal Shah from UAE

9. Ashraf Pellarkunnmal from UAE

10. Mahendra Nanji Mehta from Uganda

11. Nathuram Puri from the United Kingdom

12. Satyanarayan Nadela from USA

13. Kamlesh Lulla from the US

14. Nandani Tandon from US

15. Lord Raj Lumba from the United Kingdom

Apart from these fifteen awardees, Senator Liza Singh from Australia also received the award as he could not accept the award in 2014

About the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards

The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award was constituted by the Union Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to honour the contributions of Non-Resident Indians in their respective profession. The award is given by the President of India.

Organized annually since 2003, the award is presented to a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), Person of Indian Origin or an organization established and run by the NRIs.

SDSC-SHAR DIRECTOR MYS PRASAD CHOSEN FOR VIKRAM SARABHAI MEMORIAL AWARD 2015

The director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota Range (SHAR) MYS Prasad was on 10 January 2015 selected for the Vikram Sarabhai memorial award 2015. The award will be presented to MYS Prasad by the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA).

Prasad was selected for his outstanding contribution to Research and Development in the field of space science in his long career at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Generally, the ISCA awards are presented at the inaugural function of the Indian Science Congress but this award will be presented in a separate function that will be organised by ISCA.

MYS Prasad

• MYS Prasad did his Doctorate in Satellite Communications field from Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS).

• He is the Chairman of Launch Authorization Board including for MARS Orbiter Mission since January 2013.

• He established Satellite based 24 hour connectivity between Indian Research Station Maitry at Antarctica to NAOCR in Goa for Data transfer facilities.

• He was the Director of Master Control Facility (MCF) of ISRO which controls all GSO Satellites of India from 1998 to 2005.

• He was Vice-President of International Astronautical Federation (IAF) for four years from 2006 to 2010.

Vikram Sarabhai memorial award

• The Vikram Sarabhai memorial award was instituted by the Indian Science Congress Association in 1997-98. The award carries a Gold Medal and is given in every alternate years.

• The award is given to distinguished Scientist of the Country in recognition of their outstanding contributions.
• The award is presented at the inaugural function of the Annual Session of the Indian Science Congress Association.

• The previous awardees of Vikram Sarabhai memorial award are former ISRO chairmen Dr Satish Dhawan, K. Kasturi Rangan, G. Madhavan Nair and K. Radhakrishnan.

RBI GOVERNOR RAGHURAM RAJAN RECEIVED GOVERNOR OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR 2015

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan received the Governor of the Year Award for 2015. The award recognises the Governor of a Central Bank who has demonstrated strong leadership during the period under review.

The Central Banking Awards for 2015 were announced by the Central Banking Publications on 12 January 2015.

Central Banking Awards for 2015

• Governor of the Year Award: Raghuram Rajan, RBI Governor

• Central Bank of the Year award: The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ)

• Lifetime Achievement Award: Jacques de Larosiere former Governor of the Banque de France (1987–1993)

• Economics in Central Banking (inaugural award): Claudio Borio, head of the monetary and economic department at the Bank for International Settlements

Why Raguram Rajan awarded?

He was awarded for his disciplined and focused approach to tackling macroeconomic instability. His insights combined with his strong leadership skills made Rajan an inspirational figure in the central banking community. Rajan took over as RBI governor in September 2013 for a three-year term.

In 2014, Rajan was conferred with the Central Bank Governor award for 2014 by the Euromoney magazine for his tough monetary stance to combat the ravaging deficit-ridden economy and battling vested interests to arouse a sleepy financial system of India.

ISRO MARS ORBITER MISSION TEAM WON THE 2015 SPACE PIONEER AWARD

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Team of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 12 January 2015 won the 2015 Space Pioneer Award in the Science and Engineering category.

The award will be presented to an ISRO representative during the National Space Society's 2015 International Space Development Conference (ISDC) that is scheduled to be held in Toronto, Canada from 20 May 2015 to 24 May 2015.

The Mars Orbiter Mission team is located in Bangalore and is headed by Mylswamy Annadurai.

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission was launched on 5 November 2013 and it reached the Mars orbit on 24 September 2014. The Indian spacecraft has gone into orbit around Mars on the very first attempt and no other country has been able to do this till now.

Moreover, very few full disk images of Mars have ever been taken in the past, mostly by approaching the planet as most imaging is done looking straight down in mapping mode.

But, with the placing of Indian spacecraft in an elliptical orbit with a high apoapsis, it has become possible to take full-disk colour imagery of Mars with the high resolution camera available on the spacecraft. These images will aid planetary scientists.

About the Space Pioneer Award

• The Space Pioneer Award was instituted in 1988 to recognize those individuals and teams whose accomplishments have helped to open the space frontier. The award is divided into thirteen categories.

• The 13 Space Pioneer Award categories include Corporate, Entrepreneur, Compelling Art, Education, Government Service (Non-legislative), Government Service (Legislative), Mass Media, Public Awareness, Scientist/Engineer, Service to the Space Community, Space Development, Special Merit, Wide Media.

• Every year, only three number of Space Pioneer awards are presented so not every category is awarded each year. The Space Pioneer awards consist of a cast globe of the Moon.

NOTED RTI ACTIVIST SUBHASH CHANDRA AGRAWAL CONFERRED WITH GIRAFFE HERO AWARD 2015

Renowned Indian RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal was on 15 January 2015 conferred with the Giraffe Hero award 2015 by a US-based NGO The Giraffe Heroes Project. The award will be presented to him on 22 January 2015.

Agrawal was awarded for his bravery in utilising the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 for public good despite innumerable challenges. Agrawal also holds the Guinness record of filing highest number of published letters to the editors.

His RTI applications has delivered some important orders in India like declaration of assets by Supreme Court judges, bringing political parties under the RTI act among others.

About the Giraffe Hero award

The Giraffe Heroes Project is a non-profit group which honours the risk-takers, people who are largely unknown, people who have the courage to take risks for the common people in the US and around the world.

Earlier, the following people from India were honoured with the Giraffe Hero award including Baba Amte, Mabelle Arole, Jaya Arunachalam, C P Bhatt, Sunitha Krishnan, Usha Narayane, Bunker Roy, Vijay Saluja and G Venkatasamy.

21ST SCREEN AWARDS ANNOUNCED

21st Screen Awards were announced on 15 January 2015 at Mumbai. Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra won the Best Actor Award for Male and Female category respectively.

Shahid won the Best Actor (male) award for Haider and Priyanka won Best Actor (female) award for Mary Kom. Best Film award was given to film Queen, while its Director Vikas Bahl won the Best Director award.

Hema Malini was honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other awards declared on the occasion includes

• Best Actor (male) in the popular choice category - Shah Rukh Khan for Happy New Year

• Best Actor (female) in the popular choice category - Deepika Padukone for Happy New Year

• Hero of the Year (male) - Shahid Kapoor

• Hero of the Year (female) - Alia Bhatt

• Best Supporting Actor (female) – Tabu for Haider and Seema Pahwa for Ankhon Dekhi

• Best Actor Supporting Role (Male) – Inamul Haq for Filmistaan

• Best Actor in a Negative Role award (male) - Tahir Raj Bhasin for role of villain in Mardanni

• Best Actor in a Negative Role award (female) - Huma Qureshi for Dedh Ishqiya

• Best Jodi award – Shahid with Tabu for Haider

• Best Actor in Comic Role (male/female) – Sharib Hashmi for Filmistaan

• Entertainer of the Year – Sajid Nadiadwala

• Ramnath Goenka Award – Manjunath

• Best Ensemble Cast – Ankhon Dekhi

• Best Child Actor – Parth Bhalerao for Bhoothnath

• Best Playback Singer (male) – Arijit Singh for song Muskurane Ki Wajah of Citylights

• Best Playback Singer (female) – Jyoti and Sultana Nooran for song Pattakha Guddi of film Highway

• Best Music – Mithoon and Ankit Tiwari for Ek Villain

• Best Lyrics – Kausar Munir for song Suno Na Sangemarmar of Youngistan

• Most Promising Debut Director – Nitin Kakkar for Filmistaan

• Best Promising Newcomer (male) – Tiger Shroff for Heropanti

• Best Promising Newcomer (female) – Patralekhaa for Citylights

• Best Animation – Char Sahibzade

• Best Dialogue – Rajkumar Hirani, Abhijat Joshi for PK

• Best Screenplay – Sandeep A Varma for Manjunath

• Best Story – Rajat Kapoor for Ankhon Dekhi

• Best Editing – Sanjib Datta for Mardaani

• Best Production Design – Haider

• Best Cinematography – Bobby Singh for Queen

• Best Action – Heropanti

• Best Film Marketing – 2 States

• Best Choreography – Ahmed Khan for Kick’s song Jumme Ki Raat

• Best Costume – Manoshi Nath and Rishi Sharma for PK

The awards were also announced for Marathi films and the winners include

• Best Actor (male) - Dilip Prabhavkar for Vitti Dandu and Nandu Madhav for Tapal

• Best Actor (female) - Usha Naik for Ek Hazarachi Note

• Best Marathi Film -Vitti Dandu produced by Leena Devre, Ajay Devgn and Kajol

• Best Director - Laxman Utekar for Tapal

• Best child actor – Nishant Bhavasar for Vitti Dandu

In 2014, Deepika Padukone for Ram-Leela and Farhan Akhtar for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag won the Best Actress and Best Actor awards at the 20th Screen Awards.

Best Director Award was won by Shoojit Sircar for Madras Cafe while the Best Film Award was won by Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

HAL CHAIRMAN R K TYAGI CONFERRED WITH JGBS-TOP RANKERS’ EXCELLENCE AWARD

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chairman R.K. Tyagi was on 16 January 2015 conferred with the JGBS-Top Rankers' Excellence Award for CEO of the year 2014.

Tyagi played a key role in 2014 being a successful year for HAL through series of initiatives. The year was dedicated for Integrity, Customer Focus and Quality (ICQ).

The award has been instituted by Jindal Global Business School (JGBS) and Top Rankers’ Management Consultants.

JGBS is part of O P Jindal Global University, Delhi whereas Top Rankers’ Management Consultants is a Delhi based executive search company which provides recruitment and HR solutions to various organizations.

HAL's performance under R K Tyagi in 2014

• HAL was rated as Excellent with a score of 1.08 for the year 2013-14 which is the best among all Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).

• The company emerged in top six public sector companies out of over 180 PSEs assessed by Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).

• HAL designed and developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Technology Demonstrator TD-3 that showcased Company’s approach for design and development.

• The Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) run of Light Utility Helicopter was another important milestone.

• The first ROH Su-30 aircraft was recently handed over to the Indian Air Force in Nashik by the company.

• On Research and Development front, HAL did extremely well during 2014 by focusing on patents and Intellectual Property Rights. The number of patents filed by HAL increased from 71 in 2012-13 to 209 in 2013-14 and to 773 in 2014-15.

• HAL also contributed to the success of Mars Orbiter Mission and GSLV Mk III launch in 2014.

PRIME MINISTER PRESENTED NATIONAL BRAVERY AWARDS 2014 TO 24 AWARDEES

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 January 2015 presented National Bravery Awards 2014 to 24 awardees.

8 girls and 16 boys were conferred with National Bravery Awards. Four of them have been awarded posthumously. The awardees receive a medal, certificate and cash incentive. Also, they will participate in the Republic Day parade.

In addition, Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) provides financial assistance under its Indira Gandhi Scholarship Scheme to those undertaking professional courses such as engineering and medicine. For the others, this assistance is provided till they complete their graduation. The Government of India has reserved some seats for the awardees in medical and engineering colleges and polytechnics.

The selection was made by a high powered committee comprising representatives of various Ministries/Departments, non-governmental organisations as well as Office Bearers of ICCW.

The lists of awardees are

Sanjay Chopra Award

•Devesh Kumar

Bapu Gaidhani Award

•Monika

•Rumoh Meto

•Riya Chaudhary

Geeta Chopra Award

•Gunjan Sharma

Bharat Award

•Resham Fatma

General National Bravery Award

•Aqil Mohammad N K

•Anjith. P

•Gaurav Kumar Bharti

•Hiral Jitubhai Halpati

•Midhun P P

•Ripa Das

•Zeal Jitendra Marathe

•Rajdeep Das

•Stevenson Lawriniang

•Ashwini Bandu Ughade

•Gaurav Kumar Bharti

•L. Brainson Singh

•Labhanshu

•G. Tooldev Sharma

•Mhonbeni Equng

•Mesak K. Remnalalnghaka

•Sahanesh R

•Balram Dansena

About the National Bravery Awards

The National Bravery Award was initiated by the ICCW to give due recognition to the children who distinguish themselves by performing outstanding deeds of bravery and meritorious service and to inspire other children to emulate their examples.

It was in 1957 that two children – a boy and a girl – were first rewarded for their presence of mind and courage. Since then ICCW decided to confer national awards on children every year.

In 1987-88 ICCW instituted the Bharat Award for an exceptionally outstanding, meritorious and gallant deed. The other special awards include the Geeta Chopra and Sanjay Chopra awards (instituted by ICCW in 1978) and the BapuGaidhani Awards (instituted in 1988-89).

Since the inception of the scheme in 1957, the ICCW has given awards to 895 brave children - 634 boys and 261 girls.

MISS COLOMBIA PAULINA VEGA CROWNED MISS UNIVERSE 2014

Miss Colombia Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe 2014. She was crowned at the final of 63rd edition of Miss Universe held in Miami, US on 25 January 2015. Vega, a 22-year-old student of business administration from Barranquilla, Colombia was crowned by Miss Universe 2013 winner Gabriela Isler of Venezuela.
With this, Vega became the second beauty queen from Colombia to win the title. Luz Marina Zuluaga was the first Colombian to win the crown in 1956.

The first runner-up was Miss USA Nia Sanchez and the second runner-up was Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha. The other two finalists in the top five were Miss the Netherland Yasmin Verheijen and Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell.

The 63rd edition of Miss Universe witnessed 87 contestants 87 from across the world. The crown is valued at 300000 US dollars and is designed to resemble the skyline of New York City.

India’s Noyonita Lodh from Bengaluru, Karnataka, 21, failed to reach the top five finalists although she was one of top 15 semi-finalists. The last time an Indian won the Miss Universe title was Bollywood actress Lara Dutta in 2000. The first Indian to win the Miss Universe title was Sushmita Sen in 1994.

PRESIDENT APPROVED CONFERMENT OF PADMA AWARDS 2015 ON 104 PERSONS

The President of India Pranab Mukherjee on 26 January 2015 approved the conferment of Padma Awards 2015 on 104 persons from the fields of activities including art, social work, public affairs, science, trade, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.

The 2015 list of Padma Awardees comprises of 9 Padma Vibhushan, 20 Padma Bhushan and 75 Padma Shri Awardees.  Out of these 104 awardees, 17 of the awardees are women.

The awards will be given in March/April 2015 at a ceremonial function in Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

Padma Vibhushan

S. No.

Name of the Awardee

Discipline

State/Domicile

1

Lal Krishna Advani

Public Affairs

Gujarat

2

Amitabh Bachchan

Art

Maharashtra

3

Prakash Singh Badal

Public Affairs

Punjab

4

Dr. D Veerendra Heggade

Social Work

Karnataka

5

Mohammad Yusuf Khan alias Dilip Kumar

Art

Maharashtra

6

Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Swami Rambhadracharya

Others

Uttar Pradesh

7

Malur Ramaswamy Srinivasan

Science and Engineering

Tamil Nadu

8

Kottayan K. Venugopal

Public Affairs

Delhi

9

Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan (Foreigner)

Trade and Industry

France/UK

Padma Bhushan

S. No.

Name of the Awardees

Discipline

State/Domicile

1

Shri Jahnu Barua

Art

Assam

2

Dr. Vijay Bhatkar

Science and Engineering

Maharashtra

3

Swapan Dasgupta

Literature and Education

Delhi

4

Swami Satyamitranand Giri

Others

Uttar Pradesh

5

N. Gopalaswami

Civil Service

Tamil Nadu

6

Dr. Subhash C. Kashyap

Public Affairs

Delhi

7

Dr. (Pandit) Gokulotsavji Maharaj

Art

Madhya Pradesh

8

Dr. Ambrish  Mithal

Medicine

Delhi

9

Sudha Ragunathan

Art

Tamil Nadu

10

Harish Salve

Public Affairs

Delhi

11

Dr. Ashok Seth

Medicine

Delhi

12

Rajat Sharma

Literature and Education

Delhi

13

Satpal

Sports

Delhi

14

Shivakumara Swami

Others

Karnataka

15

Dr. Kharag Singh Valdiya

Science and Engineering

Karnataka

16

Professor Manjul Bhargava

(NRI/PIO)

Science and Engineering

USA

17

David Frawley (Vamadeva)

(Foreigner)

Others

USA

18

Bill Gates (Foreigner)

Social Work

USA

19

Melinda Gates (Foreigner)

Social Work

USA

20

Saichiro Misumi (Foreigner)

Others

Japan

Padma Shri

S. No.

Names of the Awardees

Discipline

State/Domicile

1

Dr. Manjula Anagani

Medicine

Telangana

2

S. Arunan

Science and Engineering

Karnataka

3

Kanyakumari Avasarala

Art

Tamil Nadu

4

Dr. Bettina Sharada Baumer

Literature and Education

Jammu and Kashmir

5

Naresh Bedi

Art

Delhi

6

Ashok Bhagat

Social Work

Jharkhand

7

Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Art

Maharashtra

8

Dr. Lakshmi Nandan Bora

Literature and Education

Assam

9

Dr. Gyan  Chaturvedi

Literature and Education

Madhya Pradesh

10

Professor Yogesh Kumar Chawla

Medicine

Chandigarh

11

Jayakumari Chikkala

Medicine

Delhi

12

Bibek Debroy

Literature and Education

Delhi

13

Dr. Sarungbam Bimola  Kumari Devi

Medicine

Manipur

14

Dr. Ashok Gulati

Public Affairs

Delhi

15

Dr.  Randeep  Guleria

Medicine

Delhi

16

Dr. K. P. Haridas

Medicine

Kerala

17

Rahul Jain

Art

Delhi

18

Ravindra Jain

Art

Maharashtra

19

Dr. Sunil Jogi

Literature and Education

Delhi

20

Prasoon Joshi

Art

Maharashtra

21

Dr. Prafulla Kar

Art

Odisha

22

Saba Anjum

Sports

Chhattisgarh

23

Ushakiran Khan

Literature and Education

Bihar

24

Dr. Rajesh Kotecha

Medicine

Rajasthan

25

Professor Alka Kriplani

Medicine

Delhi

26

Dr. Harsh Kumar

Medicine

Delhi

27

Narayana Purushothama Mallaya

Literature and Education

Kerala

28

Lambert Mascarenhas

Literature and Education

Goa

29

Dr. Janak Palta McGilligan

Social Work

Madhya Pradesh

30

Veerendra Raj Mehta

Social Work

Delhi

31

Tarak Mehta

Art

Gujarat

32

Neil Herbert Nongkynrih

Art

Meghalaya

33

Chewang Norphel

Others

Jammu and Kashmir

34

T. V. Mohandas Pai

Trade and Industry

Karnataka

35

Dr.Tejas Patel

Medicine

Gujarat

36

Jadav Molai Peyang

Others

Assam

37

Bimla Poddar

Other

Uttar Pradesh

38

Dr. N. Prabhakar

Science and Engineering

Delhi

39

Dr. Prahalada

Science and Engineering

Maharashtra

40

Dr. Narendra Prasad

Medicine

Bihar

41

Ram Bahadur Rai

Literature and Education

Delhi

42

Mithali Raj

Sports

Telangana

43

P. V.  Rajaraman

Civil Service

Tamil Nadu

44

J. S. Rajput

Literature and Education

Uttar Pradesh

45

Kota Srinivasa Rao

Art

Andhra Pradesh

46

Bimal Roy

Literature and Education

West Bengal

47

Shekhar Sen

Art

Maharashtra

48

Gunvant Shah

Literature and Education

Gujarat

49

Brahmdev Sharma (Bhaiji)

Literature and Education

Delhi

50

Manu Sharma

Literature and Education

Uttar Pradesh

51

Yog Raj Sharma

Medicine

Delhi

52

Vasant Shastri

Science and Engineering

Karnataka

53

S. K. Shivkumar

Science and Engineering

Karnataka

54

P. V. Sindhu

Sports

Telangana

55

Sardara Singh

Sports

Haryana

56

Arunima Sinha

Sports

Uttar Pradesh

57

Mahesh Raj Soni

Art

Rajasthan

58

Dr.Nikhil Tandon

Medicine

Delhi

59

H. Thegtse Rinpoche

Social Work

Arunachal Pradesh

60

Dr.Hargovind Laxmishanker Trivedi

Medicine

Gujarat

61

Huang Baosheng (Foreigner)

Others

China

62

Professor Jacques Blamont

(Foreigner)

Science and Engineering

France

63

Late Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin (Posthumous)

Others

Maharashtra

64

Jean-Claude Carriere (Foreigner)

Literature and Education

France

65

Dr. Nandrajan Raj Chetty

(NRI/PIO)

Trade and Industry

USA

66

George L. Hart (Foreigner)

Others

USA

67

Jagat Guru Amrta Suryananda Maha Raja(NRI/PIO)

Others

Portugal

68

Late Meetha Lal Mehta (Posthumous)

Social Work

Rajasthan

69

Tripti Mukherjee (NRI/PIO)

Art

USA

70

Dr. Dattatreyudu Nori (NRI/PIO)

Medicine

USA

71

Dr. Raghu Rama Pillarisetti (NRI/PIO)

Medicine

USA

72

Dr. Saumitra Rawat (NRI/PIO)

Medicine

UK

73

Annette Schmiedchen (Foreigner)

Literature and Education

Germany

74

Late Pran Kumar Sharma (Posthumous)

Art

Delhi

75

Late R. Vasudevan (Posthumous)

Civil Service

Tamil Nadu

Padma Awards

• Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian Awards of the country that are conferred in three categories Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.

• The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. The Awards are given in various fields of activities including art, social work, public affairs, science, trade, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.

• Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan is awarded for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri is awarded for distinguished service in any field.

MAJOR MUKUND VARADARAJAN, NAIK NEERAJ KUMAR SINGH POSTHUMOUSLY AWARDED WITH ASHOK CHAKRA

Major Mukund Varadarajan and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh were on 26 January 2015 posthumously awarded with the highest peacetime military honour the Ashok Chakra by President Pranab Mukherjee. The awards were received by their wives at the 66th Republic Day celebrations.

Both the army men sacrificed their lives while battling groups of militants in separate operations in Shopian and Kupwara districts of Kashmir.

In April 2014, Major Mukund Varadarajan had killed three terrorists in an encounter in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir. He was an officer in the 44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (22 Rajput) of the Indian Army. However, he died after being severely hurt in the operation.

In August 2014, Naik Neeraj Singh died after heavy fire from terrorists. He was leading a search operation in general area Gurdaji of Kupwara district. He was serving in  the 57th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles.

About Ashok Chakra

• Ashok Chakra is India’s highest peacetime military decoration awarded for valor, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield.

• The decoration is awarded either to military or civilian personnel and can be awarded posthumously.
• The Ashok Chakra medal is circular gold gilt with the chakra (wheel) of Ashoka in the center surrounded by a lotus wreath and with an ornate edge.

ARUNDHATHI SUBRAMANIAM WON KHUSHWANT SINGH MEMORIAL PRIZE FOR POETRY

Poetess Arundhathi Subramaniam on 24 January 2015 won the inaugural Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry at Jaipur Literature Festival. She was awarded for her work When God is a Traveller.

Subramaniam’s name was chosen from a list of 5 shortlisted names which were announced on 10 October 2014. Other shortlisted works were

• Escape Artist by Sridala Swami

• Central Time by Ranjit Hoskote

• Fire Altar by Keki N Daruwalla

• Selected Poems by Joy Goswami translated by Sampurna Chattarji

Arundhathi Subramaniam

• She is a poet and a writer on spirituality and culture

• She has worked as a poetry editor and curator and as a journalist on literature, classical dance and theatre

• She is the author of numerous books, namely

a) Where I Live published

b) Sadhguru: More Than a Life

c) The Book of Buddha

d) On Cleaning Bookshelves

e) She edited Pilgrim’s India, an anthology of essays and poems on sacred journeys

f) She has co-edited Confronting Love, an anthology of contemporary Indian love poems titled

Awards and honours on Subramaniam

• The Raza Award for Poetry in 2009

• The Charles Wallace Fellowship for a 3-month writing residency at the University of Stirling in 2003

• The Visiting Arts Fellowship for a poetry tour of the UK (organized by the Poetry Society) in 2006

• The Homi Bhabha Fellowship in 2012

Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry

The award was instituted in 2014 by Suhel Seth in memory of the late Khushwant Singh. The award is open for Indian poets writing in English or Indian language translation to English. The award carries a cash prize of 2 lakh rupees.

The award was instituted during the annual Khushwant Singh Literature Festival, set in the hills of Kasauli.

The inaugural award was given for the poetry by a single author published between 15 September 2013 and 15 September 2014.

UNION MINISTRY OF DEFENCE ANNOUNCED 2015 REPUBLIC DAY PARADE AWARDS

Union Ministry of Defence on 29 January 2015 announced the Awards of the 2015 Republic Day Parade.

The awards were announced by three panels of judges. The panels was appointed by the Defence Ministry for assessing the marching contingents from three Services, Para-Military Forces and tableaux from various States/ Ministries/Departments and School Children items from Schools of Delhi as well as outside Delhi.

The awards were announced in the following category:

Services category: Brigade of Guards Regiment and Sikh Regiment jointly adjudged the best marching contingents in the Republic Day Parade 2015.

Para-Military Forces: Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) contingent was awarded the best contingent.

Tableaux Category: First position won by Maharashtra Tableau, which depicted Wari to Pandharpur (the pilgrimage to Pandharpur). While Jharkhand tableau on Maluti Temples won the second best and the third position went to Karnataka Tableau based on famous Channapatna Toys.

Competitive category of school children items: Daang Dance of Gujarat presented by West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur (Rajasthan) won the award. A Consolation Prize was awarded to South Central Zone Cultural Centre, Nagpur (Maharashtra) for their beautiful portrayal of Lezim Dance of Maharashtra.

The Tableau presented by the CPWD giving a majestic floral depiction of Gaumukh was also selected for a Special Prize by the Jury.

DEFENCE

INDIGENOUSLY-BUILT LIGHT COMBAT AIRCRAFT TEJAS HANDED OVER TO IAF

The first of the indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Series Production-1 (SP1) was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) on 17 January 2015. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar handed over Tejas to IAF in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Anup Raha at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru.

LCA Tejas was handed over to the Air Force after Initial Operational Clearance-II, which signifies that the aircraft is irworthy in different conditions. It received its Initial Operational Clearance-I in January 2011, after being built by state-owned HAL. It is expected that the aircraft will receive its Final Operational Clearance by December 2015.

Characteristics of Tejas

• Tejas is a Light Combat Aircraft that uses fourth generation technologies

• It is built from CFC materials and has unstable aerodynamics

• It is equipped with a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by the pilot

• It incorporates an advanced glass cockpit that comprises all the round dialed electro-mechanical instruments

• It is fitted with the coherent pulse-Doppler Multi Mode Radar that is designed to operate equally effectively in the Air to Air and Air to Surface domains.

• It is fitted with Open Architecture Computer (OAC)

LCA Tejas

LCA Tejas is a lightweight multi-role jet fighter developed by India under a project that commenced in 1983 and had cost 17000 crore rupees to the exchequer. It is a tailless, compound delta wing design powered by a single engine. It came from the LCA programme that was initiated to replace the ageing MiG-21 fighters in Indian Air Force’s combat.

Timeline of LCA Project

• LCA project was approved with an initial budget of 560 crore rupees in August 1983

• Its first fighter prototype flew in January 2001

• It received initial operational clearance (IOC) in December 2013

• 1st fighter (in IOC configuration) was handed over in January 2015

• It will receive Final Operational Clearance (FOC) in December 2015

• 20 jets will be delivered for 1st IOC squadron by 2017-18

• 2nd squadron with 20 Tejas in FOC configuration will be created after 2018

• IAF will begin 80 Tejas Mark-II inductions for 4 squadrons by 2021-2022

FOUR ICG VESSELS COMMISSIONED AT MORMUGAO PORT OF VASCO

Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 19 January 2015 commissioned four Indian Coast Guard (ICG) vessels at Mormugao Port of Vasco in Goa. The launched vessels include two fast patrol vessels namely ICG Amogh and ICG Ameya and two interceptor boats Charlie 413 (C-413) and Charlie 414 (C-414).

These boats will be mainly used for patrolling and interception and will also be used for the purpose of research and rescue by the agency.

The two fast patrolling vessels have been built by Cochin Shipyard Ltd and have a displacement of 290 tons and can hit maximum speed of 33 knots. On the other hand, the smaller interceptor boats have been built by Larsen & Turbo shipyard Ltd. Hazira and have a displacement of 106 tons and can hit a maximum sped of 45 knots.

INVENTION & DISCOVERIES

SCIENTISTS DISCOVERED TWO EARTH-LIKE PLANETS KEPLER 438B AND KEPLER 442B

The Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics have discovered two Earth-like planets Kepler 438b and Kepler 442b. The findings of the discovery were published in The Astrophysical Journal on 5 January 2015.

The planets were spotted by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope which detects planets as they move across the faces of their stars. Kepler collected the data for four years.

The Harvard-Smithsonian team led by Guillermo Torres used a computer program called Blender to confirm that the planets were real.

Kepler-438b
• Kepler 438b is 475 light years away. It gets about 40 percent more heat from its red sun than Earth gets from the Sun.

• With a diameter just 12 percent bigger than Earth, Kepler-438b has a 70 percent chance of being rocky.

• The planet completes an orbit around its star every 35 days, making a year on the planet pass 10 times as fast as on Earth.

• Its proximity to its star places it in the Goldilocks or habitable zone where the temperature is appropriate for liquid water to flow.

• The mean temperature of Kepler 438b is expected to be 60 degrees Celsius.

Kepler-442b
• Kepler-442b is 1100 light-years away. It is 33 percent bigger than Earth and orbits its star once every 112 days. has a 60-percent chance of being rocky.

• There is 97 percent chance that Kepler-442b has water on its surface.

• The mean temperature of Kepler-442b is expected to be 0 degree Celsius.

COMMITTEES | COMMISSIONS

SUBRAMANIUM COMMITTEE RECOMMENDED SINGLE WINDOW SYSTEM FOR ENVIRONMENT PROJECTS

High-level committee (HLC) headed by former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanium was in news in first week of January 2015. The four member high-level committee (HLC) was appointed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Climate Change (CC) to review environmental laws.

In its recommendation, the committee suggested single window clearance mechanism for green nods.

The committee submitted its reports with recommendations after studying six environment laws. Some recommendations include

• To evaluate project clearance in a time bound manner, it has asked for setting a full-time expert body, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) at the Centre and State Environmental Management Authority (SEMA), which will be the pivotal authorities to process applications for green clearance. Existing Central Pollution Control Board and corresponding State agencies will be subsumed under these agencies

• To benefit community at large as well as power and mining projects and projects of national importance, it had recommended fast tracking procedure for linear projects

• Use of national GIS enabled environmental information data base which would assist both the project proponent and the scrutinising agency in obtaining authentic data vital for decision making on an application.

These recommendations were suggested after the committee observed that the corporate seek short cuts to get clearance for their environment projects.

UNION CABINET RECONSTITUTED EMPOWERED COMMITTEE ON SETTING UP OF SEMICONDUCTOR WAFER FAB PROJECTS

The Union Cabinet on 28 January 2015 reconstituted the Empowered Committee on setting up of Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication (FAB) manufacturing facilities in the country. The reconstituted committee will be headed by NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat.

The members of the Committee include:

• K. Radhakrishnan, former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation

• M.J. Zarabi, former Chairman of Semiconductor Complex Limited

• Narendra Krishna Karmarkar, Visiting Professor of IIT-Bombay

• Ratan P. Watal, Secretary of Department of Expenditure,

• Amitabh Kant, Secretary of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion

• R.S. Sharma, Secretary of Department of Electronics and Information technology

The setting up of FAB units will promote Electronics System Design and manufacturing in India which will stimulate the flow of capital and technology.

Besides, these units will also create employment opportunities, help higher value addition in the electronic products manufactured, reduce dependence on imports and lead to innovation.

Background
Earlier on 20 April 2011, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government constituted an Empowered Committee headed by the then adviser to Prime Minister to identify technology and investors and recommend incentives for semiconductor manufacturing.

The committee submitted its recommendations in March 2013. In September 2013, the Union Government approved the setting up of two such units including:

• Jaiprakash Associates Ltd teamed up with International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and Israel-based TowerJazz to set up a 29000 crore rupees unit in Greater Noida.

• Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. in partnership with STMicroelectronics (STM) Limited and Silterra Limited decided to set up 34000 crore rupees facility in Prantij near Gandhinagar.

ENVIRONMENT

ICRISAT LAUNCHED GREENPHABLET FOR SMALL FARMERS

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) on 29 December 2014 launched GreenPHABLET for small farmers. GreenPHABLET is a customised low-cost combination of phone and tablet computer. The device was powered by GreenSIM.

The GreenPHABLET is dust- and shatter-proof, readable under bright sunlight; operates from -20°C to +60°C.

The device has been developed by the ICRISAT Centre of Excellence in ICT Innovations for Agriculture in collaboration with NUNC Systems.

Features of GreenPHABLET

The GreenPHABLET will allow information to be precisely targeted to individual smallholder farmers. This will help farmers purchase inputs at lower price, get a better price for their produce, and link them to markets.

The device will act like a mobile village knowledge centre/common service centre which enables farmers to benefit from contemporary information and communication technologies and expanding Internet connectivity in remote rural regions.

The device will enable to share real time information between farmers and researchers which would help to improve crop productivity and researchers to collect accurate data in real time.

Apart from regular phone services developing world smallholder farmers receive free messages about the weather and pest problems while sharing the most competitive agricultural input and crop prices.

About GreenSIM

The GreenSIM is a special SIM card that can be used with any mobile phone. The GreenSIM was created under partnership between ICRISAT, mobile phone service provider Airtel, and the IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative) Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL).

Through the GreenSIM, a farmer will be entitled to receive five voice messages. These messages are in Telugu, covering various fields like agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture, insurance, government policies and schemes, mandi prices, weather forecast, sericulture, pisciculture, crop loans, plant protection and health.
About International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT)

ICRISAT is a non-profit agricultural research organization headquartered in Patancheru in Hyderabad, Telangana.
It was founded in 1972 by a consortium of organisations convened by the Ford and the Rockefeller Foundations. Its charter was signed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

NGT GAVE DIRECTIONS TO CLEAN YAMUNA UNDER MAILY SE NIRMAL YAMUNA REVITALIZATION PLAN 2017

National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 13 January 2015 gave directions to clean River Yamuna under Maily se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalization Plan 2017.

The directions were given by the principal bench of NGT presided over by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar. The tribunal's judgment came on a petition by Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan against pollution in the Yamuna and covering of drains in Delhi.

Directions given by bench are

•    Impose a fine of 5000 rupees on individuals for throwing waste or religious items into the river

•    Banned the dumping of construction material into the Yamuna while imposing a fine of 50000 rupees on the violators

•    Restrained real estate developers from carrying out any construction work on the floodplains

•    It also directed states where Yamuna and its tributaries flow to come up with an action plan to ensure environmental flow to revive the Yamuna stretch in Delhi.

•    The bench directed that 4000 crore rupees, as estimated by the expert committee be made available from the 20000 crore rupees Budget of Delhi Government.

Constitution of a committee to implement the directions

The bench decided to constitute a principal committee which will be responsible for implementation of the judgment.

The committee will consist of the Special Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), joint secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, chief secretary of Delhi, vice-chairman DDA, commissioners of all corporations and the state secretaries of Haryana, UP, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Members of the expert committees earlier constituted by NGT — including professor emeritus of DU C R Babu, former professor of JNU Brij Gopal and IIT Delhi professor A K Gosain — were also made members of the principal committee.

The Union government has been implementing Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) for cleaning of Yamuna River with assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency, without much success.

YEAR 2014 RANKED AS EARTH'S HOTTEST YEAR SINCE 1880

The year 2014 was ranked as the Earth’s hottest year since 1880 as per the two separate analyses done by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. The findings of NASA and NOAA were released on 16 January 2015.

Both NASA and NOAA conducted independent analyses based on satellite and ground readings, but they arrived at similar conclusions.

The global average temperature for 2014 was roughly 1.24°F (or 0.69°C) warmer than the 20th-century average that included record heat in the western United States, Europe, Australia, and much of the Pacific Ocean.

Rankings of 10 warmest years

1. 2014

2. 2010

3. 2005

4. 2007

5. 1998

6. 2002

7. 2013

8. 2009

9. 2003

10. 2006

Findings
As per GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP), since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), which was caused by the increase in carbon dioxide into the planet’s atmosphere.

The 2014 temperatures were the warmest ones, but scientists still expect to see year-to-year fluctuations in average global temperature caused by phenomena such as El Nino or La Nina.

The phenomena El Nino and La Nina in the Pacific Ocean played an important role in the flattening of the long-term warming trend over the past 15 years. Moreover, 2014’s record warmth occurred during an El Nino-neutral year.

Regional differences in temperature are more strongly affected by weather dynamics than the global mean temperature.

Study Process

The scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York mapped the five-year global temperature averages from 1880 to 2014.

The GISS analysis incorporated surface temperature measurements from 6300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.

This raw data was analyzed using an algorithm that measures the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe. The result is an estimate of the global average temperature difference from a baseline period of 1951 to 1980.

SCIENTISTS DEVELOPED TWO NEW GLOBAL MAPS TO PROVIDE HELP IN SEARCH FOR FRESH FARMLAND

Scientists from International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) developed two new global maps to provide help in search for fresh farmland.

The maps were released in the third week of January 2015 in the journal Global Change Biology. It offered two types of data that experts argue is essential for the search. Now, two new global maps may provide some help in the search for fresh farmland.

The first map was created using a great deal of international and vetted crowd-sourced data, showing global cropland percentages at one kilometer resolution for the year 2005.

This data, cross-checked for accuracy and combined with pre-existing large-scale maps, created something researchers are claiming is more intergraded than anything else seen before.

A second map, based entirely off crowd-sourced data through the Geo-Wiki project, helps verify the rate of change that cropland goes through.

This map was produced after a global network of citizen scientists looked at thousands of high-resolution images of land cover to determine whether cropland was present or not in regions that likely had land back in 2005.

This can help them determine where and when cropland remained, and if it is still in use.

Comment
Current sources of information on cropland extent are not accurate enough for most applications. With the world growing increasingly warmer, the global cropland map is a low cost solution to fill this need.

However, finding this land so that it can quickly be put to use remains a challenge.

The trouble with being certain about farmland distribution is that there are not many detailed records in developing countries, especially when smaller lands often look no different that the surrounding vegetation from planes or satellites.

However, where maps agree there is cropland, there is a higher likelihood that cropland is actually present.

PERIYAR TIGER RESERVE WON NTCA BIENNIAL AWARD

The Periyar Tiger Reserve of Kerala on 20 January 2015 won the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) biennial award. It was awarded for encouraging local public participation in managing the reserve.

People participation in managing Periyar Tiger reserve

People participation in the reserve started with setting up of India Eco-Development project (IEDP) in 1996.

This was followed by setting up of Periyar Foundation in 2006 which involved participation of 75 communities including 15 tribal groups in the reserve in eco-development programmes.

The eco-development programmes were carried on by development committees formed under the Periyar foundation. This resulted in boosting community-based eco-tourism in Periyar reserve.

The foundation acted as a model for other reserves in biodiversity conservation and community participation in managing natural resources. As a result, the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was amended to ensure that each tiger reserve sets up a Foundation, similar to Periyar Foundation.

PETA ANNOUNCED TO CREATE INDIA'S FIRST FENCED ELEPHANT SANCTUARY NEAR BENGALURU

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on 29 January 2015 announced to create India's first fenced elephant sanctuary within the Bannerghatta Biological Park in Karnataka. The forested space will allow elephants to move around freely within the secure area.

The model of the sanctuary was designed by the PETA consultant and elephant expert Carol Buckley and it will come up in an area of 49.5 hectare within the Biological Park which is an extension of the Bannerghatta National Park.

The sanctuary will allow the herd to roam and bathe in ponds freely without being restricted by chains or without any human interference and to allow elephants to live naturally.

PETA will train local caregivers in the principles of protected contact. Protected contact is a method of ensuring safe interaction between human beings and elephants by keeping them separated by a sturdy barrier and using positive reinforcement techniques instead of the age-old routine of physical punishment to manage the elephants.

Further, there is a provision for the elephant and mahout training facilities and safety measures.

REPORT | SURVEY

WHO RELEASED GLOBAL STATUS REPORT ON NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES 2014

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on 19 January 2015 released the Global Status Report on Non-communicable Diseases 2014.

As per the report, every year, 16 million people die prematurely before the age of 70  from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Most of these deaths are preventable.

WHO estimated the cost of reducing the global non-communicable diseases (NCD) burden is 11.2 billion US dollars a year. From 2011-2025, cumulative economic losses due to NCDs in low and middle-income countries is estimated at 7 trillion US dollars.

With an investment of only 1-3 US dollars per person per year, countries can dramatically reduce illness and death from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The report provides the most current estimates based on NCD mortality (2012) and risk factors in 194 countries. The report outlines 9 global voluntary targets in the action plan that address key NCD risk factors including tobacco use, salt intake, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and harmful use of alcohol.

The 9 global NCD targets are:

1. 25 percent relative reduction in risk of premature mortality from cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases.

2. At least 10 percent relative reduction in the harmful use of alcohol within the national context.

3. A 10 percent relative reduction in prevalence of insufficient physical activity.

4. A 30 percent  relative reduction in mean population intake of salt.

5. A 30 percent relative reduction in tobacco use in persons aged 15+ years.

6. A 25 percent relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure according to national circumstances.
7. Halt the rise in diabetes and obesity.

8. At least 50 percent of eligible people receive drug therapy to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

9. 80 percent availability of the affordable basic technologies and essential medicines to treat major NCDs in both public and private facilities.

Highlights of the report

• Out of the 38 million lives lost to NCDs in 2012, 16 million or 42 percent were premature and avoidable, this was 14.6 million in 2000.

• Premature NCD deaths can be significantly reduced through government policies reducing tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, and delivering universal health care.

• The report calls for more action to be taken to curb the epidemic, particularly in low and middle-income countries, where deaths due to NCDs are overtaking those from infectious diseases.

• The WHO report provides the baseline for monitoring implementation of the Global action plan for NCDs 2013-2020 aimed at reducing the number of premature deaths from NCDs by 25 percent by 2025.

• Though some countries are making progress towards the global NCD targets, but the majority are off course to meet the 2025 targets. Till December 2013, only 70 countries had operational national NCD plan in line with the Global NCD action plan.

• High rates of death and disease, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are a reflection of inadequate investment in cost-effective NCD interventions.

Regional cost-effective successes listed in the report:

Turkey was the first country to implement all the best-buy measures for tobacco reduction. In 2012, the country increased the size of health-warning labels to cover 65 percent of the total surface area of each tobacco product. There is currently a total ban on tobacco advertisement.

Hungary passed a law to tax food and drink components with a high risk for health such as sugar, salt and caffeine. Around 40 percent of manufacturers changed their product formula to reduce the taxable ingredients.

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Mexico and the USA have promoted salt reduction in packaged foods and bread. Argentina has already achieved a 25 percent reduction in the salt content of bread.

In 1993, Finland introduced mandatory salt labelling and products containing particularly high levels of salt were also required to carry warning labels. Daily salt intake in Finland dropped from approximately 12 g/day in the late 1970s to as little as 6.8 g/day among women by 2002.

OXFAM RELEASED STUDY TITTLED WEALTH: HAVING IT ALL AND WANTING MORE

Anti-poverty charity Oxfam on 19 January 2015 released study tittledWealth: Having it all and wanting more.

The study highlighted that the wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world's population by 2016.  Currently, 85 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population.

The study show that the share of the world's wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014.

These wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and insurance and pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

Main Highlights of the study

Global wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite

In 2014, the richest 1% of people in the world owned 48% of global wealth, leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet. Almost all of that 52% is owned by those included in the richest 20%, leaving just 5.5% for the remaining 80% of people in the world.

The very richest of the top 1%, the billionaires on the Forbes list, have seen their wealth accumulate even faster over this period. In 2010, the richest 80 people in the world had a net wealth of $1.3tn. By 2014, the 80 people who top the Forbes rich list had a collective wealth of $1.9tn; an increase of $600bn in just 4 years, or 50% in nominal terms.

Wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their riches through interests and activities in a few important economic sector

There are a few important economic sectors that have contributed to the accumulation of wealth of billionaires. In March 2014, 20 percent  of them were listed as having interests or activities in, the financial and insurance sectors,the most commonly cited source of wealth for billionaires on this list.

Since March 2013, there have been 37 new billionaires from these sectors, and six have dropped off the list. The accumulated wealth of billionaires from these sectors has increased from 1.01tn US dollar to 1.16tn US dollar in a single year; a nominal increase of 150 billion US dollar or 15%.

Between 2013 and 2014 billionaires listed as having interests and activities in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors saw the biggest increase in their collective wealth.

Companies from the finance and pharmaceutical sectors spent millions of dollars in 2013 on lobbying

During 2013, the finance sector spent more than 400 million US dollar on lobbying in the USA alone, 12% of the total amount spent by all sectors on lobbying in the US in 2013.

The number of US finance billionaires increased from 141 to 150, and their collective wealth from 535 billion US dollar to 629 billion US doolar. It is  an increase of 94 billion US dollar, or 17% in a single year.

In the EU, an estimated 150 million US dollar is spent by financial sector lobbyists towards EU institutions every year. Between March 2013 and March 2014, the number of billionaires in the EU with activities and interests in the financial sector increased from 31 to 39, an increase in collective wealth of 34 billion US dollar to 128 billion US dollar.

The most prolific lobbying activities in the us are on budget and tax issues

In the US, the two issues which most lobbying is reported against are the federal budget and appropriations and taxes. These are the public resources, which companies are aiming to directly influence for their own benefit, using their substantial cash resources.

Lobbying on tax issues in particular can directly undermine public interests, where a reduction in the tax burden to companies results in less money for delivering essential public services.

Oxfam suggestion for reducing inequality

• Make governments work for citizens and tackle extreme inequality

• Promote women’s economic equality and women’s rights

• Pay workers a living wage and close the gap with skyrocketing executive reward

• Share the tax burden fairly to level the playing field

• Close international tax loopholes and fill holes in tax governance

• Achieve universal free public services by 2020

• Change the global system for research and development (R&D) and pricing of medicines so that everyone has access to appropriate and affordable medicines

• Implement a universal social protection floor

• Target development finance at reducing inequality and poverty, and strengthening the compact between citizens and their government

ILO RELEASED A REPORT TITLED WORLD EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL OUTLOOK – TRENDS 2015

International Labour Organisation (ILO) on 20 January 2015 released a report titled World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2015 (WESO).

The report warned that unemployment will continue to rise in the coming years, as the global economy has entered a new period combining slower growth, widening inequalities and turbulence.

By 2019, more than 212 million people will be out of work, up from the current 201 million.

Main Highlights of the report

• The employment situation has improved in the United States and Japan, but remains difficult in a number of advanced economies, particularly in Europe.

Vulnerable employment

• Two regions, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, accounted for three quarters of the world’s vulnerable employment. East Asia is among the regions that are likely to make the biggest dent in vulnerable employment,

which is expected to be reduced in the region from 50.2 per cent in 2007 to 38.9 per cent in 2019.

• The employment situation has not improved much in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite better economic growth performance. And in the Arab region and parts of Latin America and the Caribbean the employment outlook has deteriorated.

• The steep decline in oil and gas prices may improve the employment outlook somewhat in many advanced economies and several Asian countries according to some forecasts.

• Young workers aged 15-24 are particularly hit by the crisis, with a global youth unemployment rate of almost 13 per cent in 2014 and a further increase expected in coming years. By contrast, older workers have fared relatively well since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Middle classes in developing countries on the rise

• In developing countries, the middle class now makes up more than 34 per cent of total employment. The biggest progress has been in emerging and low-income countries.

Income inequality, unemployment and social unrest

• The report explained growing and persistent inequality and uncertain prospects for enterprise investment, has made it difficult for countries to rebound from the crisis.

• Income inequality in some advanced economies now approach levels observed among emerging economies. By contrast, the emerging economies made some progress in reducing their high levels of inequality.

• The report said income inequality will continue to widen, with the richest 10 per cent earning 30 to 40 per cent of total income while the poorest 10 per cent will earn between 2 and 7 per cent of total income.

• Social unrest is particularly acute in countries and regions where youth unemployment is high or rising rapidly.

• In line with the global unemployment rate, social unrest shot up since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, and has now reached levels almost 10 per cent higher than before the crisis.

• Only developed economies and countries in South-East Asia and the Pacific region have seen a reduction in social unrest – after peaks before or around the global crisis. But even there, levels of social unrest are significantly above historical averages.

Challenges ahead

• Other factors include major shifts in demand for skills. At the global level, the share of both low-skilled, non-routine jobs, such as security personnel and some personal care workers, and high-skilled non-routine cognitive jobs, such as lawyers and software engineers, has increased.

• By contrast, routine middle-skilled jobs – like book-keepers and clerical workers – are declining.

SPACE RESEARCH

DAWN SPACECRAFT GETS CLOSE VIEW OF CERES

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has got a close-up view of its target dwarf planet Ceres, obtaining navigational images of more than half of Ceres using its framing camera.

Ceres lies between Mars and Jupiter and is the largest body in the main asteroid belt, with a diameter of 950 km.  Scientists believe that there are large amounts of ice located on Ceres and there might even be an ocean currently being concealed by the surface.  Scientists estimate that if Ceres were composed of 25 percent water, it may have more water than all the fresh water on Earth.

Dawn was originally launched in 2007 with a mission of studying the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.  It first arrived at Vesta, the second largest body in the asteroid belt, in July 2011 and has already successfully completed a 14 month study of the protoplanet, which included more than 30,000 images of Vesta.

Should the mission be a success, Dawn will be the first spacecraft to successfully orbit and study two separate extraterrestrial bodies.  The spacecraft will arrive at Ceres on 6 March 2015, when it will be captured into orbit to begin its study of the dwarf planet.

MICROSOF HOLOLENS TO HELP NASA EXPLORE MARS

NASA has teamed up with Microsoft to develop a new software that will enable scientists to work on Mars virtually using a wearable technology called Microsoft HoloLens.

Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, the software calledOnSight will give researchers a means to plan and, along with the Mars Curiosity rover, conduct science operations on the Red Planet.

OnSight will use real rover data and extend the Curiosity mission’s existing planning tools by creating a 3D simulation of the Martian environment where scientists around the world can meet. Program scientists will be able to examine the rover’s worksite from a first-person perspective, plan new activities and preview the results of their work firsthand.

Until now, rover operations required scientists to examine Mars imagery on a computer screen and make inferences about what they are seeing. But images, even 3D stereo views, lack a natural sense of depth that human vision employs to understand spatial relationships. The OnSight system uses holographic computing to overlay visual information and rover data into the user’s field of view.

Holographic computing blends a view of the physical world with computer-generated imagery to create a hybrid of real and virtual. To view this holographic realm, members of the Curiosity mission team don a Microsoft HoloLens device, which surrounds them with images from the rover’s Martian field site.  They then can stroll around the rocky surface or crouch down to examine rocky outcrops from different angles. The tool provides access to scientists and engineers looking to interact with Mars in a more natural, human way.

SUMMIT | CONFERENCE

102ND INDIAN SCIENCE CONGRESS HELD IN MUMBAI

The 102nd Indian Science Congress (ISC) was held from 3 January to 7 January 2015 in Mumbai. The theme of the ISC was Science and Technology for Human Development.

The 102 ISC was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The ISC was organized by the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) in association with University of Mumbai.

Nobel Laureates, eminent scientists, technology experts and research students from India and abroad were participated the Indian Science Congress.

Ancient sciences through Sanskrit, Ancient Indian aviation technology, Biodiversity conservation, Space application, clean energy systems and other topics were discussed. Science and Technology in SAARC Countries and issue of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in India were also discussed.

Besides, Children’s Science Congress, Women’s Science Congress and Science Exhibition were also organised. The Children’s Science Congress was inaugurated by the former President APJ Abdul Kalam.

101th Indian Science Congress was held in Jammu with the theme: Innovations in Science & Technology for Inclusive Development in February 2014.

About Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA)

ISCA was established in Kolkata in 1914. ISCA was conceived with an objective of advancing, promoting and furthering the cause of science in India, thus stimulating scientific research in India.

13TH PRAVASI BHARATIYA DIWAS 2015 CONCLUDED IN GUJARAT

13th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) 2015 concluded on 9 January 2015 in Gujarat. PBD is the flagship event of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA).

The event concluded with giving away Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards to 15 members of the Indian Diaspora by the Vice-President Hamid Ansari.

The chief guest of the 13th PBD was Guyana President Donald Ramotar.  The theme of 2015 PBD was Bharat ko jano and Bharat ko mano.

PBD conventions are being held every year since 2003 and are celebrated on 9th January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India.

The 13th edition of PBD marked the 100th year of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa.

So far, twelve PBDs have been held in various places of India as follows:

Year  Venue   Chief Guest

2014  New Delhi  Datuk Seri. G. Palanivel, President of the Malaysian Indian Congress

2013  Kochi   Rajkeswur Purryag, President, Mauritius

2012  Jaipur   H.E. Ms. Kamla Persad Bissessar, Trinidad and Tobago

2011  New Delhi  Sir Anand Satyanand, Governor General, New Zealand

2010  New Delhi  Dr. Khalid Hameed, Chairman, Alpha Hospital Group, UK

2009  Chennai  Dr. Ramdien Sardjoe, Vice President, Suriname

2008  New Delhi  Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, Mauritius

2007  New Delhi  Prof. S. Jayakumar, Dy. Prime Minister, Singapore

2006  Hyderabad  Ahmed Kathrada, Political Activist and a Contemporary of Nelson Mandela

2005  Mumbai  J.R. Ajodhia, Vice President, Suriname

2004  New Delhi  Bharrat Jagdeo, President, Guyana

2003  New Delhi  Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister, Mauritius

SEVENTH VIBRANT GUJARAT SUMMIT 2015 HELD IN GANDHINAGAR

The Seventh Vibrant Gujarat Summit was held from 11 January to 13 January 2015 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The summit was organised by the Government of Gujarat. The sixth Vibrant Gujarat summit was held in 2013.

During the summit, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel announced that the MoUs singed includes as many as 1225 strategic partnerships. The companies that have disclosed their investment committments include Reliance Industries, Adani Group, Aditya Birla Group, Suzlon and Videocon, and also some foreign players like Rio Tinto, Suzuki and CLP Holdings.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Chief Minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Union Finance Minister Arun Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was attended the summit.

Highlights of the Summit

• The various leaders and experts from across the world also called for greater reforms in India.

• Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel announced that Gujarat has become a global business hub.

• John Kerry was highly inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's slogan of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. He said that the US wants to promote co-operative federalism in India with a competitive element among the states.

• World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said that World Bank raised targeted growth of India to 6.4 percent. And also, he said that tax and subsidy reforms are essential for inclusive growth in India.

• Prime Minister Modi called for sustainable, inclusive growth and said that fluctuations in the global economy are the biggest concern. He also said that India wants to work with global leadership on issues ranging from poverty to ecology with various countries that are coming forward to work with India.

• Adani Group committed 20000 crore rupees investment in port sector in Gujarat and also another investment of 25000 crore rupees power sector plan.

• Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani had announced one lakh crore rupees investment and Birla Group has committed 20000 crore rupees in 12- 18 months across businesses.

• Among foreign companies, Mining giant of Australia Rio Tinto announced 30000 jobs in diamond cutting industry in Gujarat, and Australia is looking forward to Gujarat as a promising business destination.

NGO PRATHAM RELEASED 10TH ANNUAL STATUS OF EDUCATION REPORT (ASER 2014)

NGO Pratham on 13 January 2015 released 10th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2014). The report noted that overall situation with basic reading continues to be extremely disheartening in India.

The report is based on the survey in 577 districts and 16497 villages covering 341070 households and about 569229 children in the age group 3-16.

The report reveals that for six years in row school enrolment in India was 96 percent or above for the 6-14 age group and India is close to universal enrollment in this age group.

Nationally, the percentage of children out of school in the age group 6-14 remains at 3.3 percent. This is the same as was in 2013.

Highlights of the Report

• The 25 percent of Class 8 students cannot read a Class 2 level text.

• Only one-fourth of all children in Class 3 can read a Class 2 text fluently in 2014. This number rises to just under half in Class 5.

• Close to 75 percent of Class 8 children can read Class 2 level text, which implies still 25 percent children, cannot read.

• The proportion of Class 5 children who can at least read a Class 2 level text has raised from 46.8 percent in 2012 to 47 percent in 2013 and to 48.1 percent in 2014.

• 38.7 percent of Class 3 children can read at least a Class 1 level text in 2012, which is slightly higher at 40.2 percent in 2014.

• Tamil Nadu has shown major gains in reading over 2013 for Class 5.

• 30.8 percent of children of age group 6-14 in rural India were enrolled in private schools in 2014, which has increased in number slightly from 29 percent in 2013.

• However, Mathematics continued to be a serious and major source of concern.

• All India (rural) figures for basic arithmetic have remained virtually unchanged over the last few years.

• 26.3 percent of Class 3 children could do two digit subtractions in 2012 and this number is at 25.3 percent in 2014.

• For Class 5 children, the ability to do division has increased slightly from 24.8 percent in 2012 to 26.1 percent in 2014.

• The percentage of children in Class 2 who still cannot recognize numbers up to nine has increased from 11.3 percent in 2009 to 19.5 percent in 2014.

NATIONAL CONCLAVE ON ENDING UNDER-NUTRITION AMONG TRIBAL CHILDREN CONCLUDED

National Conclave on ending under-nutrition among tribal children concluded on 16 January 2015. The two-day conclave was organized by ST and SC Development Department of Odisha government, SC & ST Research and Training Institute, Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs and UNICEF.

At the conclave participants reaffirmed their commitment to end chronic under-nutrition of tribal children across nine Schedule V States.

The conclave ended with eight-point agenda to end the under-nutrition in these States. These are:

• Making nutrition of tribal children a political and bureaucratic priority to stir policy dialogue and coordinated action

• Setting up mechanisms for coordinating actions for nutrition, health, drinking water and sanitation and livelihoods at the highest level at both State and Central levels

• Universalisation of public funded crèches in tribal areas

• Disaggregated data on tribal nutrition through surveys

• Institution of weekly haat should be tapped to deliver services and take messages

• Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) has relevance and requires strengthening with more representation from all concerned departments

• Community nutrition and day care centres can provide meals to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, counselling and linkage to savings groups and livelihoods options

• Civil society and faith-based organizations with established grassroots presence and credibility can increase outreach of services and information on government schemes and generate community demand

HYDERABAD TO HOST WORLD CONGRESS ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN 2018

Hyderabad will host the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in 2018. This will be the first WCIT to be held in India and the theme of the 2018 WCIT will be Future of enterprises.

The decision to hold the event was taken during a meeting between Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrasekhar Rao and National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) on 16 January 2015.

WCIT will be attended by over 2500 delegates from 80 countries and would cover Issues such as cyber security, global collaborative models, IT continuing education policies, global convergence, future of technology and others.

As part of this, the Chief Minister would visit the US, the UK and other countries to invite the bigwigs of the IT industry to the 2018 event. Also, a State government delegation would visit WCIT to be held in Brazil in 2016 as part of the preparations for 2018 event. The State Government would release 1 million US dollars funds for the event by March 2015.

The hosting of WCIT will give a big push to the information technology industry in Telangana and is expected to create opportunities for business worth 2 trillion US dollars, besides helping brand building of Hyderabad.

In 2014, the 19th WCIT was held in Guadalajara in Mexico. The theme was Building the Digital Age Together.

The first WCIT was held in 1978 and it is held since then every two years.

18TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON E-GOVERNANCE HELD IN GUJARAT

18th National Conference on e-Governance was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from 30 January 2015 to 31 January 2015.

The main Theme of the Conference was Digital Governance – New Frontiers. The focus sector was Skill Development & Employability.

The conference was organised jointly by Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) under Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) under Ministry of Communications & Information Technology.

The conference explored the benefits of the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), how e-Governance leaders can act as the agents of change, integrated service delivery and use of mobile platform for expanding access rapidly.

Chief Minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel and the Minister of State in the Prime Minister Office and Personnel distributed National e-Governance Awards for the year 2014-15 in 12 different categories concerning various aspects of e-Governance.

MILESTONES

PRIME MINISTER RELEASED COMMEMORATIVE COIN TO MARK 175TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF JAMSETJI TATA

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 6 January 2015 released a commemorative coin to mark the 175th birth anniversary of Tata group founder Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata.

The reverse face of the coin bears the image of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata in the centre, with the inscription 175 वा जन्मदिवस in Devnagri script.

With this, he became the first industrialist to be felicitated by a commemorative coin.

PM launched the coin in the presence of Minister of State (Finance) Jayant Sinha and Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry.

Jamsetji Tata founded the Tata group in 1868. The translation of his vision led to creation of India’s first integrated steel plant (Tata Steel’s Jamshedpur plant—1907), hydroelectric power plants that service Mumbai’s needs till today (Tata Power’s Khopoli plant—1910), and the Indian Institute of Science (1909).

The 100 billion US dollar Tata Group now comprises of over 100 operating companies, with operations in more than 100 countries across six continents, exporting products and services to over 150 countries.

KAILASH SATAYARTHI DEDICATED HIS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE TO THE NATION

Kailash Satayarthi on 7 January 2015 dedicated his Nobel Peace Prize to the Nation.

The medal was presented by Satyarthi to the President at a ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Medal will be put up on display at the Rashtrapati Bhavan museum.

Visitors to the Rashtrapati Bhavan will now be able to see the Nobel Peace Prize received by child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. The medal is made of 18-carat gold and weighing 196 gram.

He became the second indian to dedicate his noble prize to nation after CV Raman. CV Raman received his Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930.

Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December 2014 for their pioneering work on promoting child rights.

His Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Bachpan Bachao Andolan claimed to have rescued over 83000 children from bonded labour and slavery since its inception in 1980.

President Pranab Mukherjee said this was an unusual gesture because most former winners of the award kept the same in their respective institutions, including Tagore, whose medal was housed at Viswa Bharati at Santiniketan.

COMMEMORATIVE POSTAGE STAMPS RELEASED TO MARK 100 YEARS OF MAHATMA GANDHI’S RETURN TO INDIA

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 January 2015 released Commemorative Postage Stamps to mark 100 Years of Mahatma Gandhi’s Return from South Africa to India. A set of two Commemorative Postage Stamps were released during the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

The coins are of denomination of 100 rupees and 10 rupees, while the stamps are of value of 25 rupees and 5 rupees. 
The coins and stamps show two pictures of Gandhi, one when he was a young barrister and another one when he came to be known as Mahatma by people across the globe.

Mahatma Gandhi arrived in South Africa at a young age of 24 years as the legal counsel of Indian traders based in the city of Pretoria. He spent more than two decades in South Africa, where he developed the concept of Satyagraha while fighting against the gross injustice, discrimination and racism prevailing in South Africa.

In 1915, Gandhi returned to India with a formidable reputation to lead the Indian masses struggling for freedom from colonial domination through civil disobedience and non-violence, which proved to be highly effective moral weapon in the struggle for Independence in India.

ALL-WOMEN CONTINGENT OF INDIAN DEFENCE TO MARCH PAST FOR THE FIRST TIME ON 2015 REPUBLIC DAY PARADE

All-women contingent of Indian army will march for the first time on 2015 Republic Day (RD) parade. The chief guest of 2015 Republic Day will be the US President Barack Obama.

The decision to have all-women contingent was taken by the Indian armed forces in the first week of January 2015 following an order from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to display Nari Shakti as a theme for the 2015 RD Parade.

The all-women contingent would comprise of 150-odd women army officers who will give a salute to the President of India.

Women and Indian Armed forces

In 1992 for the first time, Indian Army allowed women as officers. They were introduced as Special Entry Group for four years, which extended up to 14 years in 2004.

However, the extended service cannot promote a woman officer up to the rank of a Colonel, which is mandatory to be the commanding officer of the unit.

At present, women can join the army as short service commission officers and get posted in less-critical branches such as Judge Advocate General Branch, Army Medical Corps and Military Nursing Service.

In 2012, for the first time in history of RD parade, the Indian Air Force contingent was led by women. Flight Lieutenant Sneha Shekhawat from Sikar in Rajasthan led the IAF contingent at the 63rd Republic Day parade.

Recently in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government cleared the Indian Army’s proposal to offer permanent commission to women officers. With this women will get bigger role in units like Intelligence Corps, Signals Corps, Ordinance Corps, Army Service Corps and Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps.

However, still women in Indian armed forces are not allowed into combat fields unlike the countries like the US, Israel, Australia, Sri Lanka and Sweden, where women officers serve in combat roles.

INDIAN-AMERICANS JONODEV OSCEOLA CHAUDHURI AND DEVEN J PAREKH NOMINATED TO KEY POSTS IN US

US President Barack Obama on 14 January 2015 nominated two Indian-Americans Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri and Deven J Parekh to key posts in US.

Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri was nominated as Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) whereas Deven J Parekh was nominated as the Member of the Board of Directors of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

At present, Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri is serving as acting Chairman of NIGC which is responsible for regulating and ensuring the integrity of more than 420 Indian gaming facilities. In 2012, he was named senior counsellor to the Assistant Secretary for Indian affairs in the Department of the Interior.

Deven J Parekh, on the other hand, is currently the Managing Director (MD) at Insight Venture Partner. Since 2011, he has been also serving as a Member of the Technological Advisory Council of the Federal Communications Commission.

PRADHAN MANTRI JAN DHAN YOJNA MADE IT TO GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna(PMJDY) on 20 January 2015 made it to Guinness Book of World Records.

Indian Banks opened 11.50 crore accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana in a short span of five months. The feat was commended by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Out of the total account opened, 5.68 crore accounts belonged to male and 5.82 crore account belonged to females. In percentage terms, 49.37 % accounts belonged to male while 50.63% accounts belonged to females.

6.84 crore accounts were opened in rural areas which is 59.49%  of the total accounts opened while in urban area  4.66 crore accounts were opened which is 40.51%.

In August 2014, Indian Government set a target of opening up 10 crore accounts to pass on benefits of various social security schemes to the account holders.

Now, Government will transfer annual subsidy of around 51029 crore rupees directly to bank accounts of 15.45 crore beneficiaries, plugging system leakages.

PMJDY was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2014. The scheme was launched for opening the most bank accounts—about 1.80 crore— in one week as part of the financial inclusion campaign.

UNION GOVERNMENT RELEASED COMMEMORATIVE POSTAGE STAMPS WITH SWACHH BHARAT MISSION AS THEME

The Commemorative Postage stamps on the theme of Swachh Bharat Mission were released on 30 January 2015 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi to mark the Martyrdom Day of Mahatma Gandhi.

The stamps were released by the Union Ministry for Communications & Information Technology. The Department of Posts issued a set of three Commemorative Postage Stamps.

The design of the stamps was selected through a competition among the children on the theme of Swachh Bharat Mission.

The Swachh Bharat Mission was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 2 October 2014, on the occasion of Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.


THOUGHT OF THE MONTH

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 05:53