Home Current Affairs CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN ; FEBRUARY 2015 - PART - 1
CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN ; FEBRUARY 2015 - PART - 1
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Monday, 30 March 2015 04:23



PART - 1

ABBREVIATIONS

DIHAR: Defence Institute of High-Altitude Research.

MUDRA: Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (Mudra Bank).

SAGY: Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana.

BOOKS

KIRAN BEDI RELEASED COMIC BOOK TITLED KIRAN BEDI — KAISE BANI TOP COP

Kiran Bedi — Kaise Bani Top Cop: Reeta Peshawaria Menon and Anu Peshawaria

Kiran Bedi on 9 February 2015 released a comic book titled Kiran Bedi — Kaise Bani Top Cop at a thanksgiving event organised in her Vidhan Sabha constituency Krishna Nagar, Delhi. The book is penned down by her sisters, Reeta Peshawaria Menon and Anu Peshawaria.

The 32-page comic book with Hindi text and illustrations narrates the story of the first woman IPS officer of the country. 
The comic talks about Bedi’s childhood life in Amritsar, how she met her husband Brij Bedi while playing tennis and how she became the first woman IPS officer on 16 July 1972.

FRAGILE FRONTIERS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF MUMBAI TERROR ATTACKS WRITTEN BY SK RATH

Fragile Frontiers: The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks: Saroj Kumar Rath

The book Fragile Frontiers: The Secret History of Mumbai Terror Attacks was written by SK Rath. The book was published by Routledge, London and simultaneously published in India and the United States in August 2014.

The book is about terrorism in South Asia, centering on the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

This book is a hitherto neglected, intriguing and analytical description of terrorism in South Asia, centering on the diabolic Mumbai Attacks conspiracy of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence; the duplicitous terror policy of the United States; and the lackadaisically self-inflicted capitulation of the Indian State.

The author, Saroj Kumar Rath is Assistant Professor of History, Department of History, Sri Aurobindo College (Eve), University of Delhi, India.

EDITOR UNPLUGGED: MEDIA, MAGNATES, NETAS AND ME AUTHORED BY VINOD MEHTA

Editor Unplugged: Media, Magnates, Netas and Me: Vinod Mehta

Book titled Editor Unplugged: Media, Magnates, Netas and Me written by Vinod Mehta was in news in the first week of February 2015. The book was published on 15 December 2014 by Penguins India.

Vinod Mehta is a veteran journalist and was Editor-in-Chief of Outlook weekly magazine until February 2012.

The author’s new book takes forward the story of Lucknow Boy, recounting his experiences in the corridors of power in Delhi.

Mehta in the book has highlighted his views on Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal and the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and his decoding of coalition politics and the significant changes ushered in by the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, are expressed with his characteristic sharp insights, wit and wisdom.

The book examines the lack of humour in our political leaders and changing perspective of the Indian middle class and mistakes and regrets of his life.

The book also has presented his analysis of the sweeping changes that took place in the print and TV media. He has also tried to portrait personalities such as Ratan Tata, Niira Radia, Khushwant Singh, Sachin Tendulkar and Arundhati Roy.

PR MOHANA RAO AUTHORED A BOOK TITLED FLORA OF GUNTUR CITY ANDHRA PRADESH

Flora of Guntur City Andhra Pradesh: PR Mohana Rao

The book titled Flora of Guntur City Andhra Pradesh authored by PR Mohana Rao throws an exhaustive treatise on the wealth of flora in Guntur City. The book is the only available and authentic work that throws light in the numerous species of plant and trees in Guntur.

The book carries information on 431 flowering plants, shrubs and trees belonging to 76 families of angiosperms. The families of the plants, shrubs and trees have been arranged systematically on the basis of Bentham and Hooker System of Classification.

Mohana Rao is a Professor Emeritus and former Head of the Department (HoD), Department of Botony of Acharya Nagarjuna University (ANU). While writing the book, Rao was assisted by Assistant Professor of Botany, ANU, SK Khasim and former research student Bibi Aasiya, who are the co-authors of the book published by Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh from Dehra Dun.

IMPORTANT DAY

WORLD CANCER DAY OBSERVED ACROSS THE WORLD

4 February: World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day (WCD) 2015 was observed across the world on 4 February 2015.

The tagline for the WCD 2015 was Not beyond Us. The tagline signified that solutions do exist across the continuum of cancer, and that they are within our reach.

The WCD 2015 explored how we can implement what we already know in the areas of prevention, early detection, treatment and care so as to impact the global cancer burden for the better.

The WCD 2015 focused on four key areas. These include:

  • Choosing healthy lives
  • Delivering early detection
  • Achieving treatment for all
  • Maximising quality of life

The global cancer epidemic is huge and is set to rise. Currently, 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years).

In 2016 alone, nearly 9 million people are likely to die of cancer, and the number of deaths will increase to 13 million per year by 2030.

About World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) which aims to unite the world’s population in the fight against cancer and save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action.

Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is a leading international non-governmental organisation that unites the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.

UICC was founded in 1933 and is based in Geneva. It has a membership of over 800 organisations across 155 countries. Moreover, it is a founding member of the NCD Alliance, a global civil society network that now represents almost 2000 organisations in 170 countries.

World Cancer Declaration

World Cancer Declaration sets out 9 Targets to be achieved by 2025 with the overarching goal to reduce cancer death by 25 percent by 2025. The 9 Targets are:

  • Strengthen health systems for effective cancer control
  • Measure cancer burden and impact of cancer plans in all countries
  • Reduce exposure to cancer risk factors
  • Universal coverage of HPV and HBV vaccination
  • Reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer
  • Universal access to screening and early detection for cancer
  • Improve access to services across the cancer care continuum
  • Universal availability of pain control and distress management
  • Improve education and training of healthcare professionals

UNION HEALTH MINISTER DECLARED 10 FEBRUARY AS NATIONAL DEWORMING DAY

10 February: National Deworming Day

Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Jagat Prakash Nadda declared 10 February as the National Deworming Day.

National Deworming Day is an initiative focused on reducing the threat of parasitic worm infections, a widespread health issue affecting over 24 crore children in India alone.

Beside this, Nanda on 9 February 2015 launched the National Deworming Initiative. The initiative aims to protect all pre-school and school-age children (enrolled and non-enrolled) between the ages of 1-19 years from intestinal worms.

Under the massive school-based deworming initiative, the targeted children will be given Albendazole tablets (half tablet to 1-2 years children and one full tablet for 2-19 years).

The Deworming Initiative will be carried out in two phases, they are

• First phase: to be carried out on 10 February 2015 and will cover about 14 crore children across eleven States/UT of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Tripura

• Second phase: to be carried out between 11 February and 14 February 2015 and during this period, rest 10 crore children will be targeted

Children up to the age of 5 years will be given the medicines at Anganwadi centres, while the children in age group of 6 to 19 years will be provided the medication at all government schools.

According to WHO estimates, nearly 24 crore children in the age group of 1-14 years are at risk of intestinal parasitic worm infestation in India.

WORLD RADIO DAY OBSERVED ON 13 FEBRUARY

13 February: World Radio Day

World Radio Day was observed globally on 13 February 2015 with the theme Youth and Radio.

The day is a global celebration of radio as a forum for entertainment and information, as a bridge of communication for remote communities and its role in empowering people.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) annually celebrate the World Radio Day by planning activities with broadcasters, organizations and communities around the world.

World Radio Day

UNESCO at its 36th General Assembly on 3 November 2011 proclaimed 13 February as World Radio Day. The first World Radio Day was officially celebrated in 2012.

World Radio Day marks the anniversary of the first broadcast by United Nations Radio in 1946. 13 February 1946 was the day when the UN Radio transmitted its first call sign.

Currently, UNESCO is using radio to broadcast health emergency messages in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY OBSERVED ON FEBRUARY 21

International Mother Language Day 2015 was celebrated across the world on 21 February 2015. The theme for the year 2015 is Inclusive Education through and with Language - Language Matters.

The year 2015 is the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day.

The day is observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999.

The day, February 21, represents the date in 1952 when students from Bangladesh demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

On 16 May 2007 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vides its resolution 61/266 called upon Member States to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.

By the same resolution, UNGA proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.

INTERNATIONAL RARE DISEASE DAY OBSERVED ON 28 FEBRUARY

28 February: International Rare Disease Day

Eighth International Rare Disease Day was observed globally on 28 February 2015. The Rare Disease Day annually takes place on the last day of February.

To mark the day, hundreds of patient organisations from more than 80 countries and regions worldwide carried-on awareness-raising activities around the slogan Day-by-day, hand-in-hand.

The day is observed to raise awareness for rare diseases and improve access to treatment and medical representation for individuals with rare diseases and their families.

The Rare Disease day is coordinated by European Organization for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS) and the main objective of the day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients' lives.

About Rare Disease Day

The Rare Disease Day was launched by EURODIS and Council National Alliances in 2008. Since its launch, the day has contributed to the advancement of national plans and policies for rare diseases in a number of countries.
Although the campaign started as a European event but became a world phenomenon after the US joined it in 2009. Further in 2014, number of participant nations went up to 84 countries.

 

INDIA DAIRY

1 February  2015
• 10th century sculpture of Buddha discovered in Thanjavur
• Ashok K Agarwal appointed as General Manager of Southern Railway

2 February 2015
• Supreme Court sought response from Union Government on making Moral Science a compulsory subject in Schools
• Madhya Pradesh won the 10th National Award for excellent work in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
• Maharashtra Netball player Mayuresh Pawar died during the 35th National Games
• Acclaimed Indian sculptor and artist Mrinalini Mukherjee passed away
• Telangana government decided to organise Godavari Pushkaralu on the lines of Kumbh Mela
• Andhra Pradesh Government approved reformed Solar, Wind Energy policy

3 February 2015
• Saloni Dalal became youngest medal winner in National Games 2015
• Union Government constituted Anil Baijal Panel to suggest a framework to assess Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities
• 77th Annual Convention of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies held in Lucknow
• Zakir Naik won King Faisal International Prize for the year 2015
• Haryana Government launched e-registration of properties in all tehsils of the State

4 February 2015
• LC Goyal appointed as the Union Home Secretary
• Micromax became India’s biggest and world’s third largest smartphone vendor
• Justice MM Das appointed as Chairman of Commission of Inquiry probing Chit Fund Scam
• Union Government announced 850 crore rupees development package for Andhra Pradesh

5 February 2015

• CSIR-NCL signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd
• Ajaypal Singh Banga appointed as member of US Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations
• MO Garg appointed as Director General of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research
• HAL bagged 1090 crore rupees contract to supply 14 Do-228 Aircraft to Indian Air Force (IAF)
• TR Zeliang led government won Motion of Confidence in Nagaland Assembly

6 February 2015
• Eminent Marathi writer Bhalchandra Nemade chosen for Jnanpith Award 2014
• Madras HC directed Tamil Nadu government to ban beauty contests in colleges

7 February 2015

• Veteran Marathi theatre artist Atmaram Govind Bhende died
• Reliance Jio Infocomm President Sumit Dutta Chowdhury resigned
• Uttarakhand Government launched Himalaya Darshan programme to boost tourism in the State
• Union Government decided to infuse 6990 crore rupees in nine Public Sector Banks

8 February 2015

• Prime Minister constituted 3 sub-groups of Chief Ministers within NITI Aayog
• Two algal species Ulva paschima Bast, Cladophora goensis Bast discovered off India’s west coast

9 February 2015
• Religious decrees cannot override the written code of law: SC
• Union Ministry for Health & Family Welfare launched National Deworming Initiative
• Four new species of Fish discovered in Kerala
• Adani Enterprises, Rajasthan Government signed MoU to set up 10000 MW Solar Park
• Siemens bagged orders worth 450 crore rupees from Varanasi-based Diesel Locomotive Works
• Naveen Chopra appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Vodafone India
• Kiran Bedi released comic book titled Kiran Bedi — Kaise Bani Top Cop
• M Ravindran appointed as Chairman of Indraprastha Gas Limited
• Vinod Mehta awarded with Yash Bharti Samman 2015 by UP Government

10 February 2015
• Union Government approved increase of authorised Share Capital of NMDFC
• Delhi Legislative Assembly elections 2015 results declared
• Facebook, Reliance Communications Ltd tied up to provide free Internet access to people
• ICICI Bank launched India's first digital bank, Pockets
• Union Health minister declared 10 February as National Deworming Day

11 February 2015

• Web-based tool Atrocity Tracking and Monitoring System launched
• India Cements Limited transferred IPL team Chennai Super Kings franchise to CSKC Limited
• 35th National Games mascot Ammu named in Limca Book of Records
• Union Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports revised Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar Scheme
• Himachal Pradesh Government launched Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System Project
• West Bengal Government launched Micro Business Credit Card to boost MSME sector
• Aditya Birla Chemicals to merge with Grasim Industries
• Star India Pvt Ltd acquired Telugu television channel Maa Television Network Ltd
• Uber introduced two new India-specific safety features
• Krishna Chaudhary took charge as DG of ITBP
• Brigade of Guards and Sikh Regiment jointly awarded Best Marching Contingents on Republic Day 2015
• Dr. Ambedkar National Merit Awards conferred by Thaawar Chand Gehlo

12 February 2015
• Union Government approved revised Guidelines for Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
• BIS announced to develop Standards for Solid Waste Management and Potable Drinking Water
• Union Government issued guidelines to tackle increasing number of H1N1 cases
• RBI decided to bring back one rupee notes
• Parle Products launched nationwide Litter Free Campaign
• Odisha Chief Information Commissioner Tarun Kanti Mishra resigned
• Union Government constituted SIT to reinvestigate 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases

13 February 2015

• Vanaj 2015, the first National Tribal Festival
• SC directed CBI to probe RBI and SEBI in multi-crore chit-fund scam
• Tintu Luka won gold in 800m in 35th National Games
• Balasubramaniam Venkataramani appointed as MD & CEO of Multi Commodity Exchange
• Vanaj 2015, the first National Tribal Festival
• Telugu novelist Kesava Reddy passed away

14 February 2015
• Ancient Vishnu idol found in Punjab's Tran Taran
• Arvind Kejriwal sworn-in as Chief Minister of Delhi
• Third National Lok Adalat disposed 56000 cases, disbursed 265 crore rupees for final settlement
• Election Commission announced to launch Electoral Roll Authentication Mission
• 35th National Games concluded in Thiruvananthapuram
• Bihar State Cabinet approved the inclusion of Dusadh caste in Mahadalit category
• Muthoot Group tied-up with WWF for its Friends for Life project
• BrahMos missile successfully test-fired from INS Kolkata

15 February 2015
• Virat Kohli became the first Indian cricketer to score a century against Pakistan in World Cup 
• Chhattisgarh Government awarded for Renewable Power Development in the State
• Dr. Tessy Thomas, Geeta Varadan jointly named for Nayudamma Award 2014

16 February 2015
• Ministry of Urban Development partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies for Smart Cities Initiative
• Union Ministry of Finance imposed Anti-dumping duty on imports of graphite electrodes
• Former Home Minister of Maharashtra Raosaheb Ramrao Patil died
• Dosmoche festival celebrated in Ladakh
• Punit Renjen appointed as CEO of Deloitte’s Global Operations
• Infosys announced to acquire automation technology firm Panaya Inc for 1200 crore rupees

17 February 2015

• Barry Knowles appointed as head of Youth Development Programme of Bharat FC
• Jawed Usmani sworn-in as Chief Information Commissioner of Uttar Pradesh
• Rahul Kaiche became first cardiac surgeon in Maharashtra to use titanium plates for coronary surgery
• Bollywood Actor Ashraful Haque passed away
• First Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo, RE-Invest 2015, held in New Delhi
• India’s first air quality checking Mobile App SAFAR-Air launched
• Reliance Communications and Twitter partnered for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

18 February 2015

• Union Government approved Project-17A worth 8 billion US dollar
• RBI issued Guidelines on Import of Gold by Nominated Banks and Agencies 
• EPFO launched Online Help Desk to trace Inoperative Accounts
• Bihar Government decided to grant 35% reservation for women in Non-Gazetted jobs
• Rajya Sabha MP from Uttarakhand Manorama Dobriyal Sharma died
• The first National Tribal festival Vanaj 2015 concluded
• BJD Vice-President Kalindi Charan Behera passed away
• Producer Daggubati Ramanaidu died
• Snapdeal.com acquired luxury fashion portal Exclusively.com

19 February 2015
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Soil Health Card Scheme
• CCEA approved continuation of incentive scheme for marketing of raw sugar productions
• CCEA approved four Highway Projects in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh
• Union Government launched single window eBiz portal to foster business environment
• Eminent filmmaker Nirad Mahapatra passed away
• Prime Minister presented Krishi Karman Awards 2013-14 to State Government functionaries
• Chief Minister of Assam advocated Naturonomics for NE states to usher in a robust economy
• Nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile test-fired from Chandipur in Odisha

20 February 2015

• KVIC, RSETIS signed MoU to provide vocational training to unemployed youth
• Veteran CPI leader Govind Pansare died
• Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi resigned
• Maheshwar Sahu appointed as Independent Director on board of RIL

21 February 2015

• Justice KS Radhakrishnan panel on road safety submitted its report to the Supreme Court

22 February 2015
• Anirban Lahiri won Indian Open title of Golf
• Nitish Kumar took oath as Chief Minister of Bihar

23 February 2015
• Ranchi Rays crowned Champions of Hero Hockey India League 2015
• Mumbai University signed MoU with Indian Railways to set up Rail Innovation and Technology Centre
• National Green Tribunal banned plying of Vintage cars on Delhi roads
• Veteran Tamil director RC Sakthi passed away
• PR Mohana Rao authored a book titled Flora of Guntur City Andhra Pradesh
• Pioneer of mobile theatre in Assam Adya Sharma passed away
• Union Ministry of Youth Affairs revised the National Sports Awards Schemes

24 February 2015

• Union Government accepted 14th Finance Commission recommendations
• Rajya Sabha passed Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2014
• TRAI issued Regulation on domestic carriage charges
• IDC released a report on Indian Smartphone market
• Ravi Chaudhary appointed as Executive Director for Regions and Centre Operations at FAA

25 February 2015

• Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers declared 2015 as Year of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
• TRAI issued 6th Amendment to Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability Regulation, 2009
• Veteran cinematographer Aloysius Vincent passed away
• Union Cabinet approved the implementation of 15000 MW Grid-connected SPV Projects under NSM
• Union Cabinet approved creation of two additional benches of the Authority for Advance Rulings

26 February 2015
• Railway Budget 2015-16 presented by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
• A person can be accorded Scheduled Caste status on his re-conversion to Hinduism: Supreme Court
• Noted sociologist Meera Kosambi died
• Former Haryana Chief Minister Hukam Singh died

27 February 2015
• Haryana Government raised cash reward under Inter-Caste Marriage Scheme
• Indian Navy concluded TROPEX Exercise 2015
• Economic Survey 2014-15 presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely 
• Kshatrapati Shivaji appointed as CMD of Small Industries Development Bank of India
• Justice Amitava Roy sworn in as Supreme Court judge
• Mukul Roy removed from the post of Chairman of TMC in the Parliament

28 February 2015
• Union Budget 2015-16 presented by Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley
• Union Government blocked private email network for official work
• National Science Day celebrated in India on 28 February

WORLD DAIRY

1 March 2015
• Arun Singh named as India's Ambassador to US

2 February 2015
• Joint Communiqué of tri-nation meet of Foreign Ministers of India-Russia-China released
• Pakistan successfully test-fired Air Launched Cruise Missile Ra’ad
• Bangladesh Cabinet approved National ICT Draft Policy 2015
• India and China jointly launched Visit India Year in China
• Sergio Mattarella sworn-in as the President of Italy
• Lupin got USFDA nod for marketing its diarrhea drug vancomycin hydrochloride in US
• Google-appointed panel to recommend right to be forgotten for EU only

3 February 2015
• International Court of Justice ruled neither Croatia nor Serbia committed genocide during Balkan War
• Hurun Report Inc released the Hurun Global Rich List 2015
• British House of Commons voted to allow creation of babies with DNA from three people

4 February 2015

• First Robot-staffed Hotel of the World to open in Japan
• Alibaba signed an agreement to acquire 25 percent stake in One97 Communications

5 February 2015
• Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Studio resigned
• Nickolay Mladenov appointed as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
• World Cancer Day observed across the world
• Twitter, Google signed a deal to make tweets searchable

6 February 2015
• Taj Mahal Gardens perfectly align with Sun Solstices: Study

7 February 2015
• NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured the rare triple-moon conjunction

8 February 2015

• North Korea test fires homegrown anti-ship short range missiles
• 57th Annual Grammy Awards
• First World Ocean Science Congress held in Kochi
• 68th British Academy Film Awards announced

9 February 2015
• Earth's inner core has an inner core of its own: Study
• Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott survived vote of confidence on leadership of Liberal Party
• China launched first Maritime Silk Road cruise liner from Beihai port
• Amartya Sen won Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize 2015

10 February 2015

• North Korea test fires homegrown anti-ship short range missiles
• US closed its embassy in Yemen and evacuated its staff due to the ongoing political instability and the uncertain security situation

11 February 2015
• Indian-origin scientist Professor Srikanth Jagabathula received CAREER Award
• President of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam visited India
• US announced new cyber security agency CTIIC to respond to enhanced cyber threats
• Microsoft acquired Sunrise for 100 million US dollars

12 February 2015
• UNSC approved resolution targeting sources of financing for ISIS, Al-Nusrah Front
• RWB released the World Press Freedom Index 2015: India ranked at 136th position
• SpaceX successfully launched Falcon 9 rocket from Florida
• 7th round of India Kenya Joint Trade Committee meeting held in New Delhi
• ICICI Bank Limited tied-up with UAE Exchange to offer instant bank transfer service
• Digital Magazine App Flipboard launched Web Browser Version
• The US Senate appointed Ashton B Carter as Defense Secretary
• PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat died at 84

13 February 2015
• Saurav Ganguly awarded Honorary Life Membership of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated Cricket diplomacy, called four SAARC leaders
• India signed Grant Agreement of 8 million US dollars with World Bank for funding SLACC Project
• World Radio Day observed on 13 February

14 February 2015
• Usain Bolt to retire after 2017 World Championships in London
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated Cricket diplomacy, called four SAARC leaders
• The United Arab Emirates closed its embassy in Yemen
• Creator of chocolate-like spread Nutella Michele Ferrero died
• French actor Louis Jourdan passed away
• Nagesh Kukunoor’s film Dhanak won two awards at 65th Berlin International Film Festival

15 February 2015
• Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic sworn-in as President of Croatia
• Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon visited India

16 February 2015
• Cyclist Alberto Contador of Spain announced to retire from Cycling after 2016 season
• France signed an agreement with Egypt for sale of 24 Rafale fighter plane
• India, Sri Lanka signed agreements on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, Cultural Cooperation
• Faisal Siddiqui appointed as South Asia President of HTC

17 February 2015
• Researchers combined solar telescope with Laser Frequency Comb to search for Earth-like planets
• India and Bangladesh decided to step up Joint Border Patrolling
• 5th India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee meet held in Nay Pyi Taw
• Tsunami advisory issued in Japan after 6.9 earthquake
• Lupin signed an agreement with Celon Pharma for developing generic version of asthma drug
• RUAG Aerostructures, Tata Group signed a pact to supply components for Airbus 320

18 February 2015
• Rashad Hussain appointed as US Special Envoy for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications
• Bharti Airtel Ltd tied-up with UNICEF to provide education content in 17 African countries

19 February 2015
• Parliament of Thailand passed a law to ban commercial surrogacy for foreigners
• Manuel Valls headed Socialist Government in France won confidence vote over market reforms
• India and the US held first-ever bilateral dialogue on United Nations
• Samsung acquired US-based mobile wallet startup LoopPay

20 February 2015
• Two tropical cyclones Marcia and Lam hit Australia

21 February 2015

• International Mother Language Day observed on February 21

22 February 2015
• Anil Kumble and Betty Wilson inducted into ICC Cricket Hall of Fame
• Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed arrested in Male under anti-terror law

23 February 2015
• Maria Golovnina, Reuters bureau chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, found dead
• Rana Bhagwandas, the first Hindu Chief Justice of Pakistan died
• Indo-Nepal joint military exercise Surya Kiran VIII started in Nepal
• Indian Army and State Bank of India inked MoU on Defence Salary Package

24 February 2015
• House of Lords of UK passed a legislation allowing creation of babies using DNA of three people
• US announced to allow work permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders from May 2015
• FBI announced 3 million US dollar award for information on Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev
• Rajendra K Pachauri resigned as Chairperson of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
• Abdul Jabbar sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes in Bangladesh
• Chris Gayle became first cricketer to score Double Century in Cricket World Cup

25 February 2015
• Parliament of Jamaica passed a law to decriminalise marijuana for personal use
• Russia and Cyprus signed an agreement to allow Russian navy ships to use Cypriot ports

26 February 2015
• ZSL and Gujarat Forest Department signed a MoU for conservation of Asiatic lion
• Clemson University honoured Ratan Tata with Doctorate of Automotive Engineering
• Forbes released Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen 2015 list
• US Federal Communications Commission approved Net Neutrality Rules to protect Open Internet
• Researchers from Australia unveiled world's first 3D printed jet engine
• AB de Villiers of South Africa hit the fastest 150 runs in One Day Internationals (ODIs)
• Scientists discovered quasar SDSS J0 100+2802 with central black hole mass of 12 billion solar mass

27 February 2015
• Words Ride-share, unboxing added to Oxford Dictionary
• Acclaimed US actor Lionard Nimoy died 
• Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov shot dead in Moscow

28 February 2015
• International Rare Disease Day observed on 28 February
• Martin David Crowe inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame

 

APPOINTMENTS; ELECTED; ETC.

NANDITA CHATTERJEE APPOINTED AS SECRETARY IN THE UNION MINISTRY OF HUPA

Nandita Chatterjee was on 2 February 2015 appointed as the Secretary in the Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA).

Nandita Chatterjee succeeded Anita Agnihotri. Chatterjee's last assignment was as a Member-Secretary in National Commission for Women (NCW).

Nandita Chatterjee

• Chatterjee is a 1980 batch IAS Officer of West Bengal Cadre. She also holds Doctoral Degree in Sociology and Anthropology.

• She served as Collector of 24 Parganas and Hughli districts and as Chief Executive Officer of Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority.

• Chatterjee also served in the Union Ministry of Rural Development and Union Ministry of Environment & Forests.

• She has served for over six years in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organisation(WHO). Her last international assignment was as Capacity Development Advisor, UNDP in Afghanistan.

SERGIO MATTARELLA SWORN-IN AS THE PRESIDENT OF ITALY

Sergio Mattarella was sworn-in as the President of Italy on 3 February 2015. He is the 12th President of Italy since the country became a Republic after World War II.

Sergio Mattarella, 73, a Constitutional Court Judge was elected as the President of Italy on 31 January 2015. He succeeded Giorgio Napolitano, 89, who stepped down from the post in January 2015 citing signs of fatigue.

He was elected after three inconclusive rounds of voting, in which no other candidate secured the two-thirds majority that is needed to win the election.

He won the election in the fourth round of voting conducted on 31 January 2015 that required merely a simple majority of 1009 eligible voters to produce result. His vote passed the threshold of 505-vote needed to get elected as the President.

President’s position is a ceremonial role in Italy but the President reserves the power to appoint a Prime Minister of the country. The president's term of office lasts for seven years.

He is the first judge of the Constitutional Court to become President of the country and also is the first President from Sicily in the history of Italy to become a President

Born on 23 July 1941, Mattarella entered politics in 1983 as a member of parliament from the now-defunct Christian Democrat party, after his elder brother Piersanti, the then island's governor was killed by Mafia.

MO GARG APPOINTED AS DIRECTOR GENERAL OF COUNCIL OF SCIENTIFIC & INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH

MO Garg was on 5 February 2015 appointed as the Director General of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). Prior to his present posting, he was Director in CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehradun.

Born on 17 September 1954, Garg did B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from Nagpur University and M.Tech from IIT Kanpur. He completed his Ph.D. from University of Melbourne, Australia in the area of solvent extraction.

He began his career by working with the Engineers India Limited (EIL) in 1976 where he used his expertise to commercialize large number of technologies related to solvent extraction. Presently, Garg has 37 years of experience in the refining and petrochemical industry.

He has published over 213 papers and has 26 patents to his credit.

Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)

• The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) was constituted in 1942 and is registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860.

• The CSIR is a contemporary Research and Development organization having a pan-India presence with a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, 3 Innovation Complexes and 5 units.

• CSIR is ranked at 84 position among 4851 institutions worldwide and is the only Indian organization among the top 100 global institutions as per the Scimago Institutions Ranking World Report 2014.

M RAVINDRAN APPOINTED AS CHAIRMAN OF INDRAPRASTHA GAS LIMITED

M Ravindran was on 9 February 2015 appointed as the Chairman of Indraprastha Gas Ltd, the firm that sells CNG in New Delhi.

He succeeded KK Gupta who has handed over the charge upon completion of his two-year tenure. Gupta is the Director (Marketing) of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL).

Presently, M Ravindran is Director (Human Resources) of state-owned gas utility firm GAIL (India) Limited. The post of chairman of IGL is rotated among GAIL and BPCL in every two years.

About Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL)

• IGL is a joint venture of GAIL (India) Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Delhi Government.

• It is the sole supplier of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Piped Natural Gas (PNG) in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad.

• It has around 9500 km of pipeline network and meets fuel requirements of over 7.7 lakh vehicles running on CNG in NCR through a network of 297 CNG stations.

• IGL is also supplying PNG to nearly 530000 households in Delhi and NCR towns.

NAVEEN CHOPRA APPOINTED AS CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF VODAFONE INDIA

Naveen Chopra on 9 February 2015 was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Vodafone India. He succeeded Sunil Sood who on 22 January 2015 was elevated to post of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in the company.

Sood will succeed Marten Pieters, who has been its Chief Executive since 2009. Pieters is the longest serving Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a telecom firm in the country.

Prior to this appointment, Chopra was serving Vodafone as Director of Vodafone Business Services (VBS). Naveen Chopra joined Vodafone (the then Vodafone Essar Ltd) in 2004 as Vice-President Corporate Marketing, has served in various posts in the company which includes CMO, Business Head of Mumbai and Rajasthan circles and the Director of VBS.

Both Chopra and Sood’s appointment will come into effect from 1 April 2015.

KRISHNA CHAUDHARY TOOK CHARGE AS DG OF ITBP

Senior IPS officer Krishna Chaudhary on 11 February 2015 took charge as the Director General (DG) of the border guarding force Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

He succeeded Subhas Goswami.  He is a 1979-batch Bihar cadre IPS officer.

Earlier, he was serving as the Director General (DG) of the Railway Protection Force under the Union Railway Ministry.

The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had issued orders for appointment of the officer in January 2015.

He will retire in June 2017. This is one of the rare occasions in paramilitary forces' history that a DG can be expected to hold the top post for over two years time as usually these posts are held by senior officials for a maximum of about 1.5 years as their superannuation comes by.

The officer is a recipient of service medals given by the President to meritorious and distinguished policemen.

THE US SENATE APPOINTED ASHTON B CARTER AS DEFENSE SECRETARY

The US Senate on 12 February 2015 appointed Ashton B Carter as the Defense Secretary. He replaced Chuck Hagel. Chuck Hagel announced his resignation in November 2014.

The senate approved the Bill of his appointment with an overwhelming vote of 93 to 5.

Carter will be the United States’ 25th and Obama's fourth defense secretary in six years after Hagel, Panetta and Robert Gates.

Earlier, he had spent two years as the department's technology and weapons-buying chief, before starting his tenure as the deputy defense secretary from 2011 to 2013.

He also worked as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy during Bill Clinton's administration.

RASHAD HUSSAIN APPOINTED AS US SPECIAL ENVOY FOR STRATEGIC COUNTERTERRORISM COMMUNICATIONS

Indian-American Rashad Hussain was on 18 February 2015 appointed as Special Envoy and Coordinator for Strategic Counter-terrorism Communication in the United States (US). Hussain is currently the Special Envoy of the US to Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and will hold both the posts.

Hussain will lead a staff drawn from a number of US departments and agencies to expand international engagement and partnerships to counter violent extremism and to develop strategic counterterrorism communications around the world.

In 2009, he served as the Director for Global Engagement at the National Security Council and he has also worked as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in Washington DC, where he prosecuted criminal cases.

For exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the US Government, he received the Distinguished Honor Award in January 2013.

The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications was established in 2010. It was codified on 9 September 2011 by President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13584 to coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide strategic communications focused on violent extremists and terrorist organizations.

TAPAN MISRA APPOINTED AS CHIEF OF ISRO’S SPACE APPLICATION CENTRE

Eminent scientist Tapan Misra was on 20 February 2015 appointed as the Chief of ISRO’s Space Applications Centre (SAC) at Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

He succeeded AS Kiran Kumar, who was appointed as Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 12 January 2015.

Prior to this appointment, Tapan Misra was Deputy Director of Microwave Remote Sensing Area in SAC. He is also heading the Office of Innovations Management of ISRO at Bengaluru.

Tapan Misra

• Misra is an electronics and telecommunication engineering graduate from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

• He began his career at SAC as a digital hardware engineer responsible for the development of Quick Look Display System of X-Band Side Looking Airborne Radar in 1984.

• He was lead designer for the development of C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) of India’s Radar Imaging Satellite-1 (RISAT-1).

• He also led the team of SAC that had developed a special airborne radar system called DMSAR (SAR for Disaster Management).

• In 1990, he developed an important algorithm for real time processing of SAR data during his tenure as Guest Scientist in German Aerospace Agency (DLR).

• He also led the development of scatterometer payload of Oceansat-2 Satellite that was launched in 2009.

• He has also been honoured with various awards for his work including Hari Om Ashram Prerit Vikram Sarabhai research Award (2004), ISRO Merit award (2008), Sir JC Bose National Talent Search (JBNSTS) Scholarship (1981).

• He has 2 granted patents, 6 pending patents, 5 copyrights and many research papers to his credit.

KSHATRAPATI SHIVAJI APPOINTED AS CMD OF SMALL INDUSTRIES DEVELOPMENT BANK OF INDIA

Kshatrapati Shivaji was on 27 February 2015 appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director (MD) of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). Shivaji was appointed on deputation basis for a period of three years.

Shivaji, a 1986 batch IAS officer, is currently the Principal Secretary (Expenditure), Finance Department in Maharashtra government.

Prior to this, Shivaji served as Director of state-run manganese-ore mining firm, MOIL Limited until March 2013. Earlier, he served as Principal Secretary of Industries at Government of Maharashtra and as a Chairman and Managing Director at Maharashtra State Financial Corporation.

Shivaji also served as Director of Sicom Limited.

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS

MALDIVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DUNYA MAUMOON VISITED INDIA

Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon on 15 February 2015 met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.

Maumoon was in India to boost ties between the two countries.

During the meet, the two leaders reviewed the developmental projects in Maldives and also the possible agenda for visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Maldives.

The two leaders also discussed ways to boost the bilateral ties and maritime cooperation with each other.

The two maritime neighbours also agreed to strengthen the Ocean diplomacy to commemorate the 50 years of bilateral relations. India and Maldives is set to mark 50 years of bilateral relations in November 2015.

Both the Ministers also discussed cooperation in international foras, including the United Nations (UN).

India-Maldives relationship

India and Maldives shares close and friendly relations. They share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links. India, as a country was among the first nations to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965. India established its mission at Male in 1972.

Regular contacts at all levels have helped the two countries to strengthen their bilateral relations.

PRESIDENT OF SINGAPORE TONY TAN KENG YAM VISITED INDIA

President of Singapore Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam was on a State visit of India between 8 and 11 February 2015. He visited India at the invitation of the President Pranab Mukherjee.

His visit highlighted the celebrations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore.

During his visit, he was accompanied by a delegation that included the Minister in Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Environment and Water Resources and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Communications and Information Lawrence Wong, Parliamentarians and senior officials.

During his visit, President Tan was accorded a Ceremonial Welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan following which he laid a wreath at Raj Ghat. He also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. 
Main Highlights of his Visit

• Both the countries agreed to enhance bilateral relations and strengthen cooperation on regional and international issues to raise partnership to a higher level

• Both the countries also agreed to cover new focus areas that will directly feed into development process of the two nations and they were

a) Specific initiatives to develop Smart cities and urban rejuvenation

b) Promote Skill development

c) Measures to Speed up connectivity and coastal and port development

d) Strengthening linkages with the North East of India

e) Projects to Scale up investments in the new development initiatives launched in India

f) To enhancing exchanges with the State of India

• They also agreed to share their experiences in science and technology, space and other areas to enhance productivity and efficiency as well as broadening cooperation in fighting terrorism

Apart from this, President Tan also inaugurated the Singapore Festival in India tomorrow, launched the commemorative book titled Singapore and India: Towards A Shared Future, opened the Peranakan Exhibition at National Museum and hosted a Food Festival themed Flavours Of Singapore.

DIED

JK GROUP CHAIRMAN GAUR HARI SINGHANIA DIED

JK group Chairman Gaur Hari Singhania died on 4 February 2015 following a heart attack in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He was 80.

He was the president of JK Organisation and a promoter director of JK Cement Ltd since its inception in 1994.

A sports lover, he was also the chief patron of Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association’s (UPCA), he opened Sir Padampat Singhania Bridge Academy to promote bridge as a sports.

In the field of education, he contributed to various universities and had opened a university at Udaipur, Rajasthan.

He also served as chairman of Merchants of Uttar Pradesh, the Employers Association of Northern India. Apart from that he was the founder chairman of UP Stock Exchange and founder patron of Associated Chamber of Commerce.

Besides, he served as Director in various corporations, such as in Pradeshiya Industrial Investment Corporation of Uttar Pradesh, UP State Industrial Development Corporation and Uttar Pradesh State Sugar Corporation.

RANA BHAGWANDAS, THE FIRST HINDU CHIEF JUSTICE OF PAKISTAN DIED

Rana Bhagwandas, the former acting Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan died on 23 February 2015 in Karachi, Pakistan. He was 72.

Bhagwandas was the first Hindu and second non-Muslim to head the Supreme Court of Pakistan. First non-Muslim Chief Justice was Alvin Robert Cornelius (a Christian).

About Rana Bhagwandas

• He studied law and carried a postgraduate degree in Islamic Studies.

• He was considered as an expert on Constitutional law.

• He was appointed as a judge in 1967, two years after he started practicing as an advocate.

• In 1994, he was appointed as a judge of Sindh High Court.

• He was appointed as an acting Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) in 2005 and 2006 during the absence of the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

• He acted as an acting Chief Justice in 2007, the year when the country was going through judicial crisis.

• After retirement from Supreme Court, he was appointed as the chairman of Federal Public Service

Commission (FPSC) of Pakistan.

• He was born on 20 December 1942 in a Hindu Sindhi Rajput family in Naseerabad, Larkana District (now Qambar Shahdadkot District) in Sindh.

Supreme Court of Pakistan is mentioned in Constitution of Pakistan in Part VII: The Judicature, while the acting Chief Justice is defined under Article 180.

Article 180: Acting Chief Justice.

At any time when-

(a) The office of Chief Justice of Pakistan is vacant; or

(b) The Chief Justice of Pakistan is absent or is unable to perform the functions of his office due to any other cause, the President shall appoint [one of the judges of the Supreme Court who have not previously held the office of Chief Justice of Pakistan otherwise than under this Article.] to act as Chief Justice of Pakistan.

RUSSIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN BORIS NEMTSOV SHOT DEAD IN MOSCOW

Boris Nemtsov, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and present leading Russian opposition politician was shot dead on 27 February 2015. The unidentified attacker shot him four times in Central Moscow.

55-year-old Nemtsov was gunned down a day before he was supposed to lead a demonstration against Putin’s support for the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine and his economic policies. The demonstration was scheduled to be held on 1 March 2015.

At the time of his death, he was serving as

• The Member of the regional parliament of Yaroslavl Oblast to which he was elected in 2013

• The Co-chair of the Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party (RPA-PARNAS), which is a member of the European Liberal-Democratic Alliance since 2012

• One of the leaders of the Solidarnost movement. Solidarnost is a Russian liberal democratic political movement founded in 2008 by a number of well-known members of the liberal democratic opposition, including Garry Kasparov, Boris Nemtsov and others from the Yabloko and Union of Right Forces

He also was one of the founders of Young Russia Movement in 1998. Nemtsov had served Russia as its first Deputy Prime Minister under the late President Boris Yeltsin during 1997 - 1998. During this period he also served as Minister of Fuel and Energy of Russia.


PERSON IN NEWS

LOK SABHA SPEAKER SUMITRA MAHAJAN NAMED IN LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s name was included in the LIMCA book of records in the first week of February 2015. Her name was included for being the only woman of the country to represent the same Lok Sabha constituency on the same party ticket for eight times in a row.

As a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she represents the Indore constituency of Lok Sabha in Madhya Pradesh. For the first time she was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989. Since then she has been re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and finally to the 16th Lok Sabha on 18 May 2014.

During this period, Mahajan has served as member/head of various parliamentary committees and as a Minister. She was unanimously elected as Speaker of 16th Lok Sabha on 6 June 2014.

FBI ANNOUNCED 3 MILLION US DOLLAR AWARD FOR INFORMATION ON EVGENIY MIKHAILOVICH BOGACHEV

Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, one of the world’s most prolific cyber criminal from Russia, was in news recently.

He was in news because the US State Department, the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on 24 February 2015 announced a reward of 3 million US dollars for information on him. Bogachev, currently is one of the FBI’s most wanted criminal.

Bogachev is alleged for his involvement in a major cyber racketeering enterprise in which he played a role of administrator for the GameOver Zeus botnet. It is believed that he is responsible for the theft of more than 100 million US dollar from businesses and consumers in the US and around the world.

The reward will be offered under the auspices of the State Department’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Programme, established by Congress in 2013. The programme was established as a tool to assist the US government in identifying and bringing to justice members of significant transnational criminal organizations.

About GameOver Zeus botnet

GameOver Zeus botnet is a sophisticated type of malware designed specifically to steal banking and other credentials from the computers it infected by either secretly logging keystrokes for passwords or creating false webpages where victims would unwittingly enter banking information and passwords.

 

AWARDS

NATIONAL AWARDS FOR E-GOVERNANCE ANNOUNCED

National Awards for e-Governance was announced on 31 January 2015 by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

The awards were announced during the 18th National Conference on e-Governance held in Gandhinagar from 30 January to 31 January 2015.

The awards were given by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances to recognizes and promote excellence in implementation of e-Governance initiatives.

The purpose of the award is to

• Recognize achievements in the area of e-Governance

• Disseminate knowledge on effective methods of designing and implementing sustainable e-Governance initiatives

• Encourage incremental innovations in successful e-Governance solutions

• Promote and exchange experiences in solving problems, Mitigating risks, resolving issues and planning for success.

The awards were given in twelve categories. These are:

Category I – Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering

Gold

TDS Reconciliation Analysis & Correction Enabling System (TRACES)

Directorate of Income Tax

Silver

e-Initiatives in Commercial Taxes

Finance Department,
Government of West Bengal

Category II – Outstanding Performance in Citizen-Centric Service

Gold

Passport Seva Project

Ministry of External Affairs

Govt. of India

Silver

Kanyashree Prakalpa Portal Kanyashree online

Department of Women Development and Social Welfare

Govt. of West Bengal

Category III – Innovative Use of Technology in e-Governance

Gold

Suraksha Setu-Safe City Surat

Office of the Commissioner of Police, Surat, Gujarat

Silver

Force Deployment Software

Office of Chief Electorate Officer, Bihar and National Informatics’ Centre, Bihar

Category IV – Incremental Innovations in existing Projects

Gold

AGRISNET-Farm Crop Management System (FCMS)

Department of Agriculture,

Govt. of Tamil Nadu

Silver

e-Procurement

Industries Department, Industries Commissionerate, Gujarat

Category V – Best District Level Initiative in Citizen-Centric Service Delivery through ICT

Gold

Effective Vehicles Database Management to Trace the owners of Unclaimed Vehicles Lying in Police Stations

Mandya District Police, Home Department, Karnataka

Silver

e-Panchayat

District Reasi, Jammu and Kashmir

Category VI – Innovative use of GIS Technology in e-Governance

Gold

Geographic Information System Project

Chhattisgarh infotech and biotech Promotion Society (CHiPS), Deptt. of Information Technology, Chhattisgarh

Silver

Application of Remote Sensing and GIS Technology in Sericulture Development

Central Silk Board, 
Ministry of Textiles
Government of India, Bangalore, Karnataka

Category VII – Innovative use of Mobile Technology in e-Governance

Gold

State Highway Development Projects

Karnataka Public Works, Ports & Inland Water Transport Department,

Project Implementation Unit,

State Highway Development Project

Silver

SMS Based Failed Distribution Transformer Information and Management System

Madhya Pradesh Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran Co. Ltd.

(Govt. of MP Undertaking)

Bhopal

Category VIII – Specific Sectoral Award

Gold

SAMVIDA

Rural Development Department, Govt. of Bihar &

National Informatics’ Centre, Bihar

Silver

e-Governance Training and Certification

Government of Maharashtra,

Mumbai

Category IX – Innovative use of ICT by Central Government PSUs

Gold

SAMPARK

Information Technology and Services Deptt.

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Category X – Innovative Use of ICT by State Government PSUs/Cooperatives /Federations/Societies

Gold

ANMOL

State Child Protection Committee,

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Silver

Quarry Management System(QMS)

Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited, Tamil Nadu

Category XI – Outstanding e-Governance Initiative by Academic and Research Institutions

Gold

e-Jaalakam

Department of Economics, St. Teresa’s College, Kerala

Category XII–Use of ICT for Development by Non-Government Institutions

Gold

TCS Financial Inclusion Project

Financial Inclusion

Tata Consultancy Services

Silver

Kushal (CREDAI, Pune)

KUHSAL-A CREDAI Pune Metro Initiative

MITHILESHWAR AWARDED WITH SHRILAL SHUKLA SAHITYA IFFCO AWARD 2014

Hindi novelist Mithileshwar was on 31 January 2015 awarded with Shrilal Shukla Sahitya IFFCO Award 2014. He is the fourth recipient of this literary award.

Mithileshwar belongs to Bhojpur district and is known for his insight into the rural heartland of India. He began writing during his student period.

Some of his novels include Prem na Badi Oopjai, Surang me Subah, Yah Ant Nahin, Jhunia (1980), Yuddh Sthal (1981). He has accumulated many awards in his career including Akhil Bhartiya MuktiBodh Puraskar in 1976, Yashpal Puraskar by UP Hindi Sansthan in 1981.

About Shrilal Shukla Sahitya IFFCO Award

The award was instituted by the fertilizer cooperative firm IFFCO in the memory of the great Hindi novelist and writer Shrilal Shukla in the year 2011. Shrilal Shukla’s literary creations such as Rag Darbari and some of his other works received national acclaim.

The previous winners of the Shrilal Shukla Sahitya IFFCO Award are Vidya Sagar Nautial, Shri Shekhar Joshi and Shri Sanjeev.

The Award consists of prize money of 11 lakh rupees, highest in the field of literature.

MADHYA PRADESH WON THE 10TH NATIONAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENT WORK IN MGNREGA

Madhya Pradesh on 2 February 2015 won the 10th National Award for excellent work in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA).

The award was presented to Madhya Pradesh Panchayats and Rural Development Minister Gopal Bhargava by the Union Rural Development Minister Virendra Singh at the MGNREGA summit held in New Delhi.

The award was given to Madhya Pradesh for convergence of MGNREGA and other schemes for construction of permanent assets and for excellent work in providing opportunities for earning permanent income.

Madhya Pradesh is leading in the construction of permanent assets through MGNREGA convergence in the country. 74 percent construction of permanent assets has been done through MGNREGA in the state.

As many as 179 crore 11 lakh man days of employment have been created. Out of these, 77 crore 36 lakh man days of employment have been provided to female labourers.

Electronic Fund Management System was also introduced in the State in April 2014 to ensure transparency in accountancy and immediate payment of wages to labourers.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA)

• MGNREGA aims to ensure livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. 
• It is social security program that aims to guarantee the right to work and create durable assets such as roads, canals, ponds, wells, etc.

• Initially on 2 February 2006, MGNREGA was implemented in 200 districts. It was extended to cover all the districts of India from 1 April 2008.

VISITOR’S AWARDS FOR BEST UNIVERSITY, INNOVATION AND RESEARCH PRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENT

President Pranab Mukherjee on 4 February 2015 presented Visitor’s Awards for Central Universities in the categories of Best University, Innovation and Research for the year 2015. The awards were presented at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Winners of the award in different categories

• Best University Award: University of Hyderabad for academic excellence & overall outstanding work.

• Innovation Award: Prof. Vijay K. Chaudhary and Dr. Amita Gupta of University of Delhi for their invention of TB Confirm, a rapid diagnostic test for Tuberculosis.

• Research Award: Cosmology and Astrophysics Research Group, Centre for Theoretical Physics, Jamia Millia Islamia for path breaking research carried out in the field of Astrophysics and Cosmology. The Research Group comprises of Jamia Millia Islamia faculty, Prof. M. Sami, Prof. Sushant G. Ghosh, Prof. Sanjay Jhingan & Prof. Anjan Ananda Sen.

The Best University received a Citation and Trophy and the winners of Visitor’s Award for Innovation and Research received a Citation and cash award of one lakh rupees.

The awards in these three categories were announced in 2014 by the President at the Vice Chancellors’ Conference with the aim to promote healthy competition amongst Central Universities and to motivate them to adopt best practices from across the world.

60TH FILMFARE AWARDS ANNOUNCED

60th Filmfare Awards were announced on 31 January 2015 at the Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai. Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut won the Best Actor Award for Male and Female category, respectively.

Shahid won the Best Actor (male) award for his role as Haider Meer in film Haider and Kangana Ranaut won Best Actor (female) award for her role as Rani Mehra in film Queen.

Best Film award was given to film Queen, while its Director Vikas Bahl won the Best Director award. Kamini Kaushal was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other awards declared on the occasion includes

• Best Actor (male): Shahid Kapoor for film Haider directed by Vishal Bhardwaj

• Best Actor (female): Kangana Ranaut for film Queen directed by Vikas Bahl

• Best Film: Queen directed by Vikas Bahl

• Best Director: Vikas Bahl for film Queen

• Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award: Kamini Kaushal

• Best Film (Critics): Ankhon Dekhi directed by Rajat Kapoor

• Best Male Actor (Critics): Sanjay Mishra for film Ankhon Dekhi

• Best Female Actor (Critics): Alia Bhatt for film Highway written and directed by Imtiaz Ali

• Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male): Kay Kay Menon for film Haider

• Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female): Tabu for film Haider

• Best Story: Rajat Kapoor for film Ankhon Dekhi

• Best Dialogue: Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani for film PK directed by Rajkumar Hirani

• Best Screenplay: Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi for film PK

• Best Director Debut: Abhishek Varman for film 2 States directed by Bhushan Patel

Best Actor Debut (Male): Fawad Khan for film Khoobsurat directed by Shashanka Ghosh

• Best Actor Debut (Female): Kriti Sanon for film Heropanti directed by Sabbir Khan

• Best Music Director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy for film 2 States

• Best Lyrics: Rashmi Singh for song Muskurane ki wajah of film CityLights directed by Hansal Mehta

• Best Playback (Male): Ankit Tiwari for song Galliyan of film Ek Villain directed by Mohit Suri

• Best Playback (Female): Kanika Kapoor for song Baby doll of film Ragini MMS 2

• Best Choreography: Ahmed Khan for Jumme ki raat of film Kick directed by Sajid Nadiadwala

• Best Background Score: Amit Trivedi for film Queen

Best Action: Sham Kaushal for film Gunday directed by Ali Abbas Zafar

Best Cinematography: Bobby Singh and Siddharth Diwan for film Queen

• Best Editing: Abhijit Kokate and Anurag Kashyap for film Queen

• Best Production Design: Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray for film Haider

• Best Sound Design: Anilkumar Konakandla and Prabal Pradhan for film Mardaani directed by Pradeep Sarkar

• Best Costume: Dolly Ahluwalia for film Haider

The 60th Filmfare awards ceremony was held to honor the best films of 2014 from the Hindi-language film industry. It was hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar, actress Alia Bhatt, and comedian Kapil Sharma.

In 2014, Farhaan Akhtar for his performance in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Deepika Padukone for her role in Ramleela won the Best Actor and Best Actress awards at the 59th Filmfare Awards.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was awarded with the Best Film award, and its director Omprakash Mehra won the award as the Best Director.

ZAKIR NAIK WON KING FAISAL INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR THE YEAR 2015

Dr. Zakir A. Naik, the founder and President of the Islamic Research Foundation of India on 3 February 2015 won the King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) for the year 2015. Naik, an international preacher on Islam was awarded for Service to Islam.

Winner names were announced at Al-Khozama Center in Riyadh by Mecca Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal and KFIP Secretary-General Abdullah Al-Othaimeen. Naik and four others were chosen for the prestigious award for their services. Winners in different categories are

• Prize for Science (Chemistry): Co-winners are two internationally acclaimed scholars of chemistry, Professor Omar Mwannes Yaghi from the United States and Professor Michael Gratzel from Switzerland. Yaghi was awarded for his seminal contributions in the field of metal organic frameworks (MOFs). Gratzel was awarded for his foundational and practical discoveries in the development of photo-electrochemical systems for solar energy conversion.

• Prize for Islamic studies: Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Kaki, a consultant at Madinah Development Authority in recognition for his distinguished research on the cultural heritage of Al-Madinah Al-Munwwarah.

• Prize  for Medicine: Prof. Jeffrey Ivan Gordon from the US in recognition of his seminal work on defining the microbiomes genomic and metabolic role in human health.

The Arabic language and literature prize was withheld as none of the nominees met the criteria laid down by the selection committee for 2015.

Each prize consists of a handwritten Arabic certificate that summarises the laureate’s work, a commemorative 24-carat, 200-gram gold medal and a cash award of 7.5 Lakh Saudi Riyal. The co-winners in any category share the monetary grant.

King Faisal International Prize (KFIP)

The King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) is one of the most important events of the King Faisal Foundation (KFF), a philanthropic organization established in 1976 by the sons and daughters of the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz in commemoration of their father. The General Secretariat in 1976 decided to incept an international prize in the name of King Faisal. The Prize started with three branches; Service to Islam, Islamic Studies and Arabic Language and Literature which were granted for the first time in 1979. The prize in the field of Medicine and Science were added in the list in 1981 and 1982, respectively.

KFIP Objectives

• Ingraining Islamic values and ideals in the society and highlighting them to the world

• Serving Islam and Muslims culturally, intellectually and practically

• Benefiting Muslims in their present and future, and inspiring them to develop and participate in all aspects of civilization
• Contributing to the development of mankind and enriching human knowledge

EMINENT MARATHI WRITER BHALCHANDRA NEMADE CHOSEN FOR JNANPITH AWARD 2014

Eminent Marathi writer Bhalchandra Nemade on 6 February 2015 was chosen for the Jnanpith Award 2014 by the Jnanpith Selection Board.

He will be the 50th recipient of Jnanpith award, the highest literary honour of India and he will receive the award in April 2015.

The decision to confer the award on Nemade was taken in a meeting of 10-member selection board chaired by Prof Namwar Singh, a scholar, writer and critic.

His novel Kosala (Cocoon) published in 1963 was not only instrumental in changing the dimensions of the Marathi novel, but also the world of Marathi fiction was transformed with its advent. Only the mega-novel Hindu published in 2010 appears to match this feat that Kosala achieved over five decades ago.

With this award, he will join the league of three noted Marathi writers who have won Jnanpith award. They are:

• Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar, received the award in 1974

• Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar alias Kusumagraj, received the award in 1988

• Govind Karandikar alias Vinda Karandikar, received the award in 2003

About Bhalchandra Nemade

• He is a novelist poet, critic, academic, and a relentless advocates of the literary movements and the leader of the post-1960s Little Magazine movement.

• His novels among others include Bidhar, Hool, Jarila, Jhool, etc. He composed various poems which are compiled up in his collections named Melody and Dekhani.

• He received various awards for his work including Sahitya Akademi Award (1990) for his critical work Teeka Svayanwar. He is also the recipient of Padma Shri in 2011.

• Nemade was born in 1938 in the village of Jalgoan district of Maharashtra.

• He did his graduation from Fergusson College, Pune and received Doctorate degree from North Maharashtra University.
About Jnanpith Award

• Jnanpith award is one of the prestigious literary awards in India. The name of award is taken from Sanskrit words Jnana and Pitha which means knowledge-seat.

• The award was instituted in 1961 and is presented by Bharatiya Jnanpith, a trust founded by the Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain family.

• The award is given to any Indian citizen who writes in any 22 official languages of India mentioned in VIII Schedule of Constitution of India.

• Prior to 1982, the award was only given for a single work by a writer. But since 1982, the award is given for lifetime contribution to Indian literature.

• The award includes cash prize of 11 lakh rupees, a citation plaque and a bronze replica of Saraswati.

68TH BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS ANNOUNCED

The 68th British Academy Films Awards (BAFTA) was announced on 8 February 2015. The BAFTA Awards were handed out at the Royal Opera House in London.

The awards were announced to honour the best British and international contributions to film in 2014. The nominees for the award were announced on 9 January 2015 by Stephen Fry and actor Sam Claflin.

The American film Boyhood won the Best Film Award. The Theory of Everything was named the Best British Film while The Lego Movie won the Best Animated Film and Citizenfour won the award in Best Documentary category.

List of Winners

• Best Film: Boyhood

• Leading Actress: Julianne Moore for her role in Still Alice

• Leading Actor: Eddie Redmayne for his role in The Theory of Everything

• Best Director: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

• Costume Design: Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel

• Adapted Screenplay: Anthony McCarten for Theory of Everything

• Film Not in English Language: Ida

• Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel

• Outstanding debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: Stephen Beresford (Writer) and David Livingstone (Producer) for Pride

• Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman

• Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

• Supporting Actor: JK Simmons for Whiplash

• Best Animated Film: The Lego Movie

• Best Editing: Tom Cross for Whiplash

• British Short Animation Film: The Bigger Picture

• British Short Film: Boogaloo and Graham

• Best Documentary: Citizenfour directed by Laura Poitras

• Original Music: Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel

• Outstanding British Film: The Theory of Everything

57TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS

The 57th Annual Grammy Awards were held on 8 February 2015 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. In all, 83 Grammy Awards were presented at the function.

The nominations of the award were announced on 5 December 2014.

List of Top Grammy Awards

Category

Album

Artist

Best album of the year

Morning Phase

Beck Hansen

Best record of the year

Stay With Me

Sam Smith

Best song of the year

Stay With Me

James Napier, William Phillips & Sam Smith

Best new artist

-

Sam Smith

Children’s Album

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World (Malala Yousafzai)

Neela Vaswani

Best Pop solo performance

Happy (Live)

Pharrell Williams

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Say Something

A Great Big World With Christina Aguilera

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Cheek to Cheek

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

Best Dance/Electronic Album

Syro

Aphex Twin

Best Rock Performance

Lazaretto

Jack White

Best Metal Performance

The Last In Line

Tenacious D

Best Rock Album

Morning Phase

Beck

Best R&B Performance

Drunk in Love

Beyonce featuring Jay Z

Best Rap Performance

I

Kendrick Lamar

Best Country Solo Performance

Something in the Water

Carrie Underwood

Best New Age Album

Winds of Samsara

Ricky Kej & Wouter Kellerman

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

Fingerprints

Chick Corea, soloist

Best Gospel Performance

No Greater Love

Smokie Norful, Aaron W. Lindsey, songwriters

Best Latin Pop Album

Tangos

Ruben Blades

Best World Music Album

Eve

Angelique Kidjo

Indians in 57th Annual Grammy Awards

This year two Indians have won Grammy Awards. They are:

• Ricky Kej: His collaborated album Winds of Samsara won the Best New Age Album Trophy.

• Neela Vaswani: She won award in Children’s Album category for her album I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World (Malala Yousafzai).

About Grammy Awards

• Grammy Awards are the recording industry’s most prestigious award presented annually by National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) of the United States.

• The awards are awarded to artists and technical professionals for their outstanding achievements in the music industry.

• The awards are presented to recipients at the annual presentation ceremony which features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest.

• The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held on 4 May 1959.

VINOD MEHTA AWARDED WITH YASH BHARTI SAMMAN 2015 BY UP GOVERNMENT

Distinguished journalist Vinod Mehta was on 9 February 2015 awarded with the Yash Bharti Samman 2015 by Uttar Pradesh (UP) Government.

Vinod Mehta has launched a number of successful publications such as the Sunday Observer, Indian Post, The Independent, The Pioneer (Delhi edition) and Outlook. He has authored a biography of Meena Kumari (movie actress and poet) and Sanjay Gandhi- The Sanjay Story (2012).

His other acclaimed work includes memoir Lucknow Boy published in 2012, Mr Editor, How Close Are You to the PM? (1999) and Bombay: A Private View (1971). Currently, he is editorial chairman of the Outlook Group.

Other Awardees

In all, 56 people were bestowed with the award. The other recipients of Yash Bharti Samman are
• Actors: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Jimmy Shergill

• Singers: Rahat Ali Khan Sabri, Kailash Kher, Rajan-Sajan Mishra, Shubha Mudgal, Anup Jalota, Urdu poet Bekal Utsahi, lyricist Sameer, music director Ravindra Jain

• Sports: Wrestler Alka Tomar, weight lifter Poonam Yadav

The other recipients of the award are Jagadguru Swami Bhadracharya, Yogendra Singh Yadav (Paramvir Chakra receipient) and Bekal Utsahi.

About Yash Bharti Samman

• Yash Bharti Samman was instituted by Mulayam Singh Yadav Government in 1994.

• The award is conferred by the Uttar Pradesh Government for excellence in literature, fine arts, folk and classical music and sports.

• The award carries cash prize of 11 lakh rupees, a citation and a shawl.

• The award was discontinued by the Bahujan Samaj Party Government from 2007-2013, but later it was revived after a gap of six years.

AMARTYA SEN WON CHARLESTON-EFG JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES PRIZE 2015

Economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on 9 February 2015 won the newly established Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize 2015.

With this, Professor Sen will receive 7500 British pounds to commission a work of art and will give the annual Charleston-EFG Keynes Lecture at the Charleston Festival in the United Kingdom. This year’s lecture is scheduled for 23 May 2015 and it will be on The Economic Consequences of Austerity.

Professor Sen is regarded as one of the foremost thinkers in the field of famine, poverty, social choice and welfare economics. His ground-breaking work has had a profound impact on the formation of development policy worldwide.

Currently, he is a Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University.

Amartya Sen

• Amartya Sen was born on 3 November 1933 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.

• Sen began his career both as a teacher and a research scholar in the Department of Economics, Jadavpur University, West Bengal.

• In 1972, he joined the London School of Economics as a Professor of Economics where he taught until 1977. From 1977 to 1986 he taught at the University of Oxford.

• His books have been translated into more than 30 languages including The Idea of Justice (2009).

• On 19 July 2012, Sen was appointed as the first chancellor of the proposed Nalanda University (NU) in India.

• He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998 for his work in welfare economics.

Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize

• The award was constituted on 23 May 2014 by Director of the Charleston Trust, Alistair Burtenshaw through an announcement during a lecture given by Channel 4 News Culture and Digital Editor Paul Mason at the Charleston Festival.

• It was jointly conceived by Keith Gapp, Head of strategy and marketing of EFG International, and the Charleston Trust.

• This new global prize aims to honour an individual of any nationality of exceptional and inter-disciplinary talents in the spirit of British Economist John Maynard Keynes’ work, life and legacy.

DR. AMBEDKAR NATIONAL MERIT AWARDS CONFERRED BY THAAWAR CHAND GEHLOT

The Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Thaawar Chand Gehlot on 11 February 2015 distributed the Dr. Ambedkar National Merit Awards. The awards were given away to 84 Students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes category.

The awards were given to Meritorious Students of Secondary and Sr. Secondary School 2014 conducted by State/Central Education Boards/Councils under Dr. Ambedkar National Merit Awards.

Ambedkar National Merit Award

These Ambedkar National Merit awards are presented by Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, an autonomous organization under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in 1992. The awards are given to recognize and encourage three meritorious students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who scores highest marks in the Secondary and Sr. Secondary examinations conducted by all the State Education Boards and Councils. In case none of the first three eligible students are girls, the girl students scoring the highest marks are given special award. The award carries a citation and cash award.

NAGESH KUKUNOOR’S FILM DHANAK WON TWO AWARDS AT 65TH BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Film Dhanak directed by Nagesh Kukunoor on 14 February 2015 won two awards at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. The 65th annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from 5 February 2015 to 15 February 2015.

The awards won by the film are:

• Special Mention for the Best Feature Film by the Children's Jury for Generation Kplus

• The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Feature-length film for which the film received 7500 euro as prize money

The film has been co-produced by Manish Mundra, Kukunoor and Elahe Hiptoola.

The film featuring Hetal Gada and Krrish Chhabria revolves around an eight-year-old visually challenged boy, whose elder sister promises him that his vision will return before his next birthday. This leads to a journey through Rajasthan.

Apart from this,

• Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement: German film director Wim Wenders won the

• Best First feature Award: 600 Millas directed by Gabriel Ripstein

• Golden Bear for Best Film: The Iranian drama film Taxi directed by Jafar Panahi

• Golden Bear for Best Short Film: Hosanna directed by Na Young-kil

INDIAN-ORIGIN SCIENTIST PROFESSOR SRIKANTH JAGABATHULA RECEIVED CAREER AWARD

Indian-origin scientist Professor Srikanth Jagabathula on 11 February 2015 received Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) given by the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States (US). Professor Srikanth Jagabathula is from the New York University Stern School of Business.

He received the award for developing data-driven modelling and learning techniques to improve the accuracy of operational decision making.

As part of this prestigious award, he will receive a total of 500000 US dollar over the next five years to further his research in developing data-driven modelling and learning techniques with the goal of improving the accuracy of operational decision making.

Jagabathula's research is expected to lead to easy-to-use techniques for a wide range of managerial decisions: the right products to design, the right products and prices to offer to customers, and the right quantity of each product to carry.

His research blends techniques from machine learning, statistics, and operations to design an approach that starts with a type of data (purchase transactions, click-streams, marketing studies, choice of insurance policies) and ends with an operational decision.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Programme is a highly competitive, Foundation-wide activity that offers the NSF's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organisations.

PRIME MINISTER PRESENTED KRISHI KARMAN AWARDS 2013-14 TO STATE GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONARIES

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 February 2015 presented Krishi Karman Awards 2013-14 to State Government functionaries. The awards were presented during the launch of the Soil Health Card scheme nationwide at Suratgarh, Rajasthan.

The Prime Minister presented the Krishi Karman Awards to State Government functionaries led by Chief Ministers of States and progressive farmers belonging to the states of Punjab, Odisha, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Gujarat.

Winner States of Krishi Karman Awards 2013-14

Total foodgrains production

  • Category-I States (total foodgrains production exceeds 10 million tonnes): Punjab
  • Category-II States (total foodgrains production is between 1 and 10 million tonens): Odisha
  • Category-III States (total foodgrains production less than 1 million tonnes): Meghalaya

Each award winning state received a trophy, a citation and a cash award of 2 crore rupees

Individual crops

  • Rice: Chhattisgarh
  • Wheat: Madhya Pradesh
  • Pulses: Assam and Tamil Nadu
  • Coarse Cereals: West Bengal
  • Oil Seeds: Gujarat

Each award winning state received a trophy, a citation and a cash award of 1 crore rupees

The Commendation Awards were also presented to the State Government functionaries led by Agriculture Ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Karnataka. Each winning state received a cash award of 25 lakh rupees.

Krishi Karman Awards

• Krishi Karman Awards were instituted in 2010-11 for recognising the meritorious efforts of the states in foodgrains production.

• The awards are given to the best performing states in two broad sets. One for total foodgrains production and the other for individual foodgrain crops of Rice, Wheat, Pulses and Coarse Cereals.

• Each award winning state gets a trophy, a citation and a cash award of 2 crore rupees. For individual crops of Rice, Wheat, Pulses and Coarse Cereals, award winning states get a trophy, a citation and a cash award of 1 crore rupees.

• Commendation awards are given to those states who achieve the production higher than their highest in last 5 years. The amount of Commendation Award is 25 lakh rupees for each state.

PURNENDU DASGUPTA WON THE J. CALVIN GIDDINGS AWARD 2015 OF AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY

An Indian-American Purnendu Dasgupta on 20 February 2015 was awarded with the 2015 J. Calvin Giddings Award for Excellence in Education. The award is given by the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Analytical Chemistry.

Dasgupta, a Jenkins Garrett professor of chemistry at the University of Texas at Arlington, was awarded for his contribution in the field of analytical chemistry.

He had developed an environment friendly field analyser for checking toxic arsenic levels in water.

Dasgupta will receive a plaque and cash prize as an award at the ACS national conference in August 2015 in Boston. He will address the conference and participate in an awards symposium on education in analytical chemistry. 
About Purnendu Dasgupta

Dasgupta is an author of more than 400 scientific papers and book chapters and holds 25 US patents. His work has earned more than 18 million US dollars in research grants. His research area includes

• Methods for environment-friendly analysis of arsenic in drinking water

• Rapid analysis of trace heavy metals in the atmosphere

• Iodine nutrition in women and infants and the role of the chemical perchlorate

• The development of a NASA-funded ion chromatograph for testing extraterrestrial soil, such as on a trip to Mars

About American Chemical Society's J. Calvin Giddings Award

The award is named after J. Calvin Giddings, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Utah, US. Giddings is credited with the invention of field flow fractionation.

The award recognises, a scientist, who has enhanced the professional development of analytical chemistry students, developed and published innovative experiments, designed and improved equipment or teaching labs and published influential textbooks or significant articles on teaching analytical chemistry.

OSCAR AWARDS 2015

87th Academy Award, popularly called Oscar Awards, was conferred on 22 February 2015. The award ceremony was held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

The Oscar Awards for the year 2015 were presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in 24 categories.

The awards were produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan and directed by Hamish Hamilton. Actor Neil Patrick Harris hosted the ceremony for the first time.

The list of winners of 87th Academy Awards

  • Best Picture: Birdman
  • Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman
  • Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything
  • Best Actress: Julianne Moore for Still Alice
  • Best Supporting Actor: JK Simmons for Whiplash
  • Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
  • Achievement in Costume Design: Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Ida directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
  • Best Live Action Short Film: The Phone Call
  • Best Documentary Short Subject: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
  • Original Screenplay: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo for Birdman
  • Achievement in Sound Mixing: Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley for Whiplash
  • Achievement in Sound Editing: Alan Robert Murray Bub Asman for American Sniper
  • Achievement in Visual Effects: Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley and Paul Franklin for Interstellar
  • Best Animated Short Film: Feast directed by Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
  • Best Animated Movie: Big Hero Six 6
  • Achievement in Production Design: Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Achievement in Cinematograph: Emannuel Lubezki for Birdman
  • Achievement in Film Editing: Tom Cross for Whipalsh
  • Best Documentary Feature: Citizen Four directed by Laura Poitras
  • Best Original Song: John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn for Glory
  • Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Graham Moore for The Imitation Game

CLEMSON UNIVERSITY HONOURED RATAN TATA WITH DOCTORATE OF AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING

Ratan Tata was honoured on 26 February 2015 with an honorary Doctorate of Automotive Engineering by the Clemson University at the South Carolina Automotive Summit.

He was awarded for his contributions to the global automotive industry.

Ratan Tata is the ex-chairman of the Tata Group. He was named Chairman of Tata Industries In 1981, where he was responsible for transforming it into a group strategy think tank and a promoter of new ventures in high technology businesses.

Ratan Tata serves on the board of directors of Alcoa and Mondelez. He is also on the international advisory boards of Mitsubishi Corp., JP Morgan Chase, Rolls-Royce, Temasek Holdings and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

WIPRO WON SEVEN AWARDS AT THE CIO CHOICE HONOUR AND RECOGNITION 2015

Wipro on 19 February 2015 won seven awards at the third annual edition of the CIO Choice Honour and Recognition 2015. The awards were given to Wipro to recognise the customer satisfaction and endorsement by the CIO community.

Wipro won the award in the categories of Managed IT Services, Managed Security Services, Enterprise Infrastructure Automation Services, Systems Integrator, Network Maintenance Services, Service Assurance Program, and Application Managed Services.

This recognition emphasizes Wipro's commitment to deliver excellence to its customers. This is the third consecutive time that Wipro has been recognised by the CIO Choice Honor and Recognition.

Wipro Limited is a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company. Wipro has a workforce of over 150000, serving clients in 175 plus cities across six continents.

The CIO Choice Honor and Recognition was organised by the Centre of Recognition and Excellence (CORE). It is an independent democratic platform to help the CIO community connect with vendors who offer the most preferred and stable products, services and solutions.

The CIOs from across India cast their votes to choose the winners.


DEFENCE

HADR EXERCISE CONDUCTED BY INDIAN NAVY IN THE LAKSHADWEEP ISLANDS

Indian Navy on 9 February 2015 conducted a large scale Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise in the Lakshadweep Islands (Karavati, Aggatti, Kalpeni and Androth).

The HADR exercise was designed to validate Indian Navy’s readiness and capability to handle major cyclone striking the Lakshdweep Islands and disrupting essential services, causing widespread destruction of property, loss of life and dislocation of personnel.

The exercise saw participation of more than 20 Indian Naval Ships from the Western and Eastern Fleet along with various aircraft of the Indian Navy. The exercise was conducted in an area of about 8000 square miles in the Indian Ocean.

The activities which were carried out during the exercise, are

• Setting up medical relief camps

• Provision of food, water and clothing to affected populace

• Activation of airfields and setting up of helicopter landing sites

• Setting up emergency power supply for hospitals, airport and communication centres

• Setting up temporary structures and shelters

• Evacuation of critically ill/ injured personnel

• Assistance towards rehabilitation

The ships were grouped into four forces for the four islands and each had a Humanitarian Assistance and Security component, as follows:

Task Group

Island

Humanitarian Assistance

Ships

Security Ships

I

Agatti

Shakti  Sahyadri Sumedha

Tarkash Karmuk

II

Kavaratti

Jalashwa Trishul Gomati Ranvir Subhadra

Trikand Kora

III

Androth

Viraat Delhi Rajput

Mumbai Talwar Kulish

IV

Kalpeni

Deepak  Betwa Kamorta

Godavari Kirpan

BRAHMOS MISSILE SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRED FROM INS KOLKATA

India on 14 February 2015 successfully test-fired a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from Indian Navy's latest destroyer INS Kolkata.

The launch off the Goa coast was flawless as the missile met all its designed parameters.

BrahMos is a missile with a range of 290 kilometers and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kilograms. It has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is three times faster than the US subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. This speed makes BrahMos one of the fastest cruise missiles in the world. It can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft and land.

About INS Kolkata

INS Kolkata the country’s largest indigenously built warship was commissioned in Indian Navy on 16 August 2014. The warship was constructed by Mazagon Dockyards Limited and was designed by Navy’s design bureau. It weighs 6800 tonnes and is a technology demonstrator.

It was handed over to Indian Navy in July 2014 after completing its sea trails. INS Kolkata is a part of the Kolkata Class destroyers of the Indian Navy. The Kolkata class destroyer also includes INS Kochi and INS Chennai which are in pipeline.

INS Kolkata has the capability of firing 16 BrahMos missile in salvo mode, which is the highest as other ships normally has the capacity to fire eight missiles.

10TH AERO INDIA SHOW CONCLUDED IN BENGALURU

10th Aero India show concluded on 22 February 2015 at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The five-day long show had started on 18 February 2015 and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During the 10th Aero India show, audience witnessed the performance of Sarang aerobatic team from the Indian Air Force (IAF) flying the Dhruv helicopters.

Audiences also witnessed the aerobatic performances of the aerobatic teams from Sweden, England, Czech Republic and Open Sky Jump team from US.

Highlights 10th Aero India show

  • The 10th edition of Aero Show was focused on Make in India campaign of the Union Government. It is aimed at encouraging small and medium industries to invest in defence manufacturing base.
  • Delegates from 109 countries participated in the event and over 700 companies from India and abroad took part in the exhibition.
  • In the exhibition, India showcased its indigenously made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv, radars, missiles, satellites, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Airborne early warning and control system (AWACS) .
  • Moreover, the foreign military aircraft also were displayed that included F-15C Eagle, Lockheed F-16C, Boeing KC-135, Boeing C-17, Rafale and Embraer EMB-145I etc.
  • The United States with 64 companies had the biggest presence at the event.

About Aero India show

  • Aero India Show is a biennial air show and aviation exhibition which is held in Bangaluru at the Yelahanka Air Force Station.
  • The exhibition provides a single platform to many manufacturers and service providers from the Indian aerospace and abroad to meet the potential buyers for their products.
  • The Union Ministry of Defence, Indian Air Force, Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Department of Space, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry join hands to organize the Aero India show.
  • The first edition of the air show was held in 1996. Since then, the event has earned international recognition.

INDIAN ARMY AND STATE BANK OF INDIA INKED MOU ON DEFENCE SALARY PACKAGE

The Indian Army and State Bank of India (SBI) on 23 February 2015 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Defence Salary Package.

The MoU is tailor-made to suit the requirements of serving soldiers, pensioners and families. The revised MoU has incorporated a number of additional facilities and basic features of the MoU include

• Number of free/concessional services like free drafts, free cheque books, free funds transfers to any bank in India through RTGS / NEFT, free ATM cards and others

• The provision also includes the Nepal Express Remittance Scheme which enables instant fund transfers to Nepal for the benefit of the Nepali Domicile Gorkha Soldiers serving in the Indian Army.

• Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) was enhanced and was linked to the Savings account instead of the debit card.

• Exemption percentage of margin money for house and car loans was enhanced while the processing charges on the loans were waved off.

The revised MoU will benefit 19.5 lakh pensioners and 10 lakh serving personnel who hold Pay or Pension accounts with SBI. The beneficiaries will be provided an opportunity to access modern banking facilities.

The signing ceremony was chaired by the Adjutant General, Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma and was attended by top dignitaries of SBI Bank, headed by Dr Vaidyan MG, Dy MD (Retail Strategy).

The first MoU between the Indian Army and SBI was signed in 2011 and was valid for a period of three years.

INDO-NEPAL JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE SURYA KIRAN VIII STARTED IN NEPAL

The Eighth India-Nepal Battalion level Combined Military Training named Exercise Surya Kiran-VIII, commenced on 23 February 2015 at Integrated Army Training Centre, Saljhandi, Nepal. The exercise will end on 7 March 2015.

The two week long exercise started with unfurling of the National Flags of the two countries. The Nepalese Contingent was represented by a Battalion from an Infantry Division of Nepalese Army while Indian side was represented by an equivalent strength from a Mountain Brigade.

Objective of Exercise Surya Kiran-VIII include

• To carry out Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist Operations in mountainous and jungle terrain

• To practice facets of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief including actions to be taken during pandemic, epidemic and various other humanitarian assistance situations

• The scope of exercise also includes aviation aspects and environmental conservation

• The two sides will look forward to exchange ideas and concepts and hone the tactical and technical skills of each other

During the exercise, the two sides will train, plan and execute a series of well developed combined tactical drills and neutralisation of likely threats that may be encountered in Counter Insurgency or Counter Terrorism Operations.

INDO-NEPAL JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE SURYA KIRAN VIII STARTED IN NEPAL

The Eighth India-Nepal Battalion level Combined Military Training named Exercise Surya Kiran-VIII, commenced on 23 February 2015 at Integrated Army Training Centre, Saljhandi, Nepal. The exercise will end on 7 March 2015.

The two week long exercise started with unfurling of the National Flags of the two countries. The Nepalese Contingent was represented by a Battalion from an Infantry Division of Nepalese Army while Indian side was represented by an equivalent strength from a Mountain Brigade.

Objective of Exercise Surya Kiran-VIII include

• To carry out Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist Operations in mountainous and jungle terrain

• To practice facets of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief including actions to be taken during pandemic, epidemic and various other humanitarian assistance situations

• The scope of exercise also includes aviation aspects and environmental conservation

• The two sides will look forward to exchange ideas and concepts and hone the tactical and technical skills of each other

During the exercise, the two sides will train, plan and execute a series of well developed combined tactical drills and neutralisation of likely threats that may be encountered in Counter Insurgency or Counter Terrorism Operations.

NUCLEAR CAPABLE PRITHVI-II MISSILE TEST-FIRED FROM CHANDIPUR IN ODISHA

India on 19 February 2015 successfully test-fired nuclear weapons capable, surface-to-surface Prithvi-II missile from Chandipur-on-sea in Balasore district, Odisha as part of a user trial by the army.

The missile was tested for a shortened range of 250 km as against its full range of 350 km. The indigenously developed missile was launched by personnel of Strategic Forces Command (SFC) from a road mobile launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).

The missile carried a dummy payload of 500 kg weight and met all the mission objectives. The missile after a flight duration of nearly seven minutes splashed down near the pre-designated target point in the Bay of Bengal with a high degree of accuracy.

Prithvi-II is the first missile to have been developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and has been inducted into the SFC in 2003.

With a strike range of 350 km, Prithvi-II is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twine engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvering trajectory.

The last user trial of Prithvi-II was successfully conducted in November 2014 from the same test range in Odisha.

INVENTION & DISCOVERIES

10TH CENTURY SCULPTURE OF BUDDHA DISCOVERED IN THANJAVUR

A headless sculpture of Buddha dating back to 10th century AD was discovered at Manalur village in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu in January 2015.

Both the head and the right hand of the granite statue of Buddha were missing when it was excavated. The findings of Buddha sculptures in and around the area show the existence of a Buddhist temple in Thanjavur.

The three-foot long sculpture of Buddha was discovered by Buddhist scholar B Jambulingam and heritage enthusiast Mani Maaran during their search in the region.

Jambulingam's search for Buddha idols began with an ordinary visit to a remote village in Thanjavur in the 1980s. He has so far identified 67 Buddha idols in Thanjavur, Tiruchi and Pudukottai districts during his field study.

Background
Buddhism came to Tamil Nadu during the 3rd century BC and prevailed in the Chola country up to the 16th century AD.

In Thanjavur, Buddha sculptures were found in various places and the prominent among them are those in Vayyacheri, Cholanmaligai, Kumbakonam, Madagaram, Manganallur, Pattiswaram, Perandakottai and Vikramam. 
Of these, only the head of the Buddha were found in Vayyacheri and Perandakottai.

COMMITTEES | COMMISSIONS

UNION GOVERNMENT CONSTITUTED ANIL BAIJAL PANEL TO SUGGEST A FRAMEWORK TO ASSESS CSR ACTIVITIES

The Union Government on 3 February 2015 constituted a High Level Panel to suggest a framework to assess Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities undertaken by companies under the Companies Act, 2013.

The panel will be headed by former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal. It will have members from the Department of Public Enterprises and Corporate Affairs Ministry including:

• Deepak Nayyar, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University

• Onkar S Kanwar, Apollo Tyres Chairman and Managing Director

• Kiran Karnik, Former Nasscom President

The Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) will jointly provide the secretarial and technical support to the panel.

Terms of Reference of Anil Baijal panel

• To evaluate money spent on CSR activities by the companies.

• To recommend suitable methodologies for monitoring compliance of the CSR provisions.

• To suggest measures to be adopted by the companies for systematic monitoring and evaluation of their own CSR initiatives.

• To identify strategies for monitoring and evaluation of CSR initiatives through expert agencies and institutions to facilitate adequate feed back to the government with regard to the efficacy of CSR expenditure.

• To look at whether a different monitoring mechanism is required for government companies undertaking CSR works. If it is found necessary, then necessary suggestions will be made.

About Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) norms defined under Clause 135 of Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 came into effect on 1 April 2014.

The CSR norms is applicable to companies with an annual turnover of 1000 crore rupees and more, or a net worth of 500 crore rupees and more, or a net profit of five crore rupees and more.

The CSR norms also require companies to set-up a CSR committee consisting of their board members, including at least one independent director.

It also encourages companies to spend at least 2 percent of their average net profit in the previous three years on CSR activities

Around 14000 crore rupees are expected to be spent towards CSR activities by companies in 2015-16.

UNION GOVERNMENT CONSTITUTED SIT TO REINVESTIGATE 1984 ANTI-SIKH RIOT CASES

Union Ministry of Home Affairs on 12 February 2015 constituted a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) for re-investigation of the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases. The newly-constituted SIT has been empowered to examine fresh evidence in the cases that had even been closed.

The three-member SIT will be headed by Pramod Asthana, an IPS officer of 1986 batch. Other two members of SIT are retired district and sessions judge Rakesh Kapoor and Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police in Delhi Police Kumar Gyanesh.

The SIT will submit its report in six months and it will look into all serious criminal cases related to the riots, examine evidence and even re-open cases and file charge sheets in the courts concerned.

The SIT was constituted on the recommendations of the Mathur Committee. Mathur Committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice GP Mathur was constituted on 23 December 2014 to examine the possibility of constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for reinvestigation of the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases.

The committee submitted its report to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in January 2015 and recommended a fresh probe of the case.

Anti-Sikh riots erupted in Delhi and other northern States of India after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her security guards at her official residence on 31 October 1984. The riots claimed lives of 3325 people (2733 in Delhi and rest were killed in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other States).

ENVIRONMENT


NASA LAUNCHED ITS FIRST EARTH SATELLITE SOIL MOISTURE ACTIVE PASSIVE

NASA on 31 January 2015 successfully launched its first Earth satellite Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP). The satellite is designed to collect global observations of the vital soil moisture.

The satellite was lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.

The satellite is built to measure moisture in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil from its spot in orbit about 426 miles (685 kilometers) above Earth's surface, completing an orbit once every 98.5 minutes.

The SMAP is equipped with a 20 feet (6 meters) mesh antenna which is the largest of its kind that NASA has ever flown in space. SMAP's antenna is designed to spin at about 14.6 revolutions per minute while mounted to the end of a long arm on the satellite's body.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California will manage SMAP for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, with instrument hardware and science contributions made by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Importance of SMAP

The satellite is designed to measure the moisture of Earth's dirt more accurately than ever before. The probe will make a global map of the planet's soil moisture levels every three days.

It can help scientists create more accurate weather models, learn more about drought conditions and even predict floods.

In addition, since plant growth depends on the amount of water in the soil, SMAP data will allow nations to better forecast crop yields and assist in global famine early-warning systems.

TWO ALGAL SPECIES ULVA PASCHIMA BAST, CLADOPHORA GOENSIS BAST DISCOVERED OFF INDIA’S WEST COAST

Two new endemic and bloom-forming algal species, named Ulva paschima Bast and Cladophora goensis Bast were discovered off the west coast of India.

The discovered species have excellent carbon capture properties, that is, they are capable of absorbing carbon dioxide from atmosphere and reduce global warming.

These species were discovered by Dr. Felix Bast and two research students working with him Satej Bhushan and Aijaz Ahmad John from the Central University of Punjab, Bhatinda. The findings were published in the journals PLOS One and Indian Journal of Marine Sciences.

These two species were determined by using a mix of morphological as well as molecular characteristics. Molecular evidence was particularly strong because the nearest match is less than 90 per cent sequence identity.

This is the first molecular study on Indian algae, and first algal species discovery for last 40 years.

Importance of the discovery

• It can further the research on use of algae as a potential candidate for carbon sequestration as they grow at a high rate and can also absorb atmospheric CO.

• These two species of algae can also be used as bio fuels.

• Its cultivation will not lead to any bio invasion, that is, it will not overgrow local flora and thus will not wreak havoc on the local habitats. This is because these species of algae are endemic to the western coast of India.
• The cultivation of these species does not require use of fertilisers or presticides or any expensive cultivation systems such as photobioreactors. They are capable of spontaneous growth along the shoreline and can sequester CO.

• The discovery of these species can aid in production of pharmaceutical products from algae similar to the algal species Kahalalide-F, which is used in clinical trials against prostate and breast cancers. Kahalalide-F isolated from Bryopsis, is closely related green algae to Cladophora as well as Ulva.

FOUR NEW SPECIES OF FISH DISCOVERED IN KERALA

Four new fish species named Puntius nelsoni, Puntius nigronotus, Systomus chryseusand and Systomus rufus were discovered in Kerala. The findings were published in the journal International Journal of Fauna and Biological Studies in the last week of January 2015.

The fishes were discovered by Mathews Plamoottil, a zoology professor at Baby John Memorial Government College in Kollam.

These new fishes have been deposited in the museum of the Zoological Survey of India at Kolkata and Kozhikode.

Study Process

The freshwater fishes in the Madduvalasa Reservoir were studied from January 2014 to June 2014. The samples were collected monthly with the help of local fishermen by using fishing nets. The fishes were examined for their colour bands or spots present on the body.

A total of 22 species of fishes belonging to 5 orders were recorded during the study. These orders were Cypriniformes with 10 species, Siluriformes with 6 species, Perciformes with 4 species, Anguilliformes with 1 species and osteoglossiformes with 1 species.

The standard identification keys were used for identification of specimens up to species level.

Four new Fish species

1. Puntius Nelson: The body and fins of this fish are yellowish in colour. Its head is deeper, the snout is shorter and the mouth is wider. It was discovered at Kallumkal in Thiruvalla at the place where Pamba and Manimala rivers merge.

2. Puntius Nigronotus: It has dorsal fin and has more rays. It is black in colour. Its lateral line scales are greater than its closest relatives. It was discovered at Mananthavady in the hilly Wayanad district.

3. Systomus Chryseus: It is golden in colour and its pectoral fin is elongated one. It was discovered at Keezhvaipur near Thiruvalla.

4. Systomus Rufus: Its fins are red in colour. It was discovered at Venpala near Thiruvalla district.

All the four new species have received a Zoo bank register number from the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature, the worldwide scientific authority for naming new animals.

MUTHOOT GROUP TIED-UP WITH WWF FOR ITS FRIENDS FOR LIFE PROJECT

Kerala-based business conglomerate Muthoot Group on 14 February 2015 tied-up with World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature-India for its Friends for Life project.

This project was launched in Kochi as part of the Muthoot’s Haathi Mera Saathi Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative.

The partnership is aimed at strengthening existing efforts of managing human-elephant conflict (HEC) to protect the habitats of Asian elephants in six states as 4 priority landscapes and 1 priority site earmarked by WWF-India.

Priority landscapes include North Bank landscape in Arunachal Pradesh, Kaziranga and Karbi-Anglong in Assam, Terai Arc landscape in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Western Ghats landscape in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and also some parts of northern West Bengal.

As part of partnership, WWF-India has also joined hands with local communities of these six states to address problems and solutions in terms of reducing elephant and human lives lost.

It will also secure crop and property damage in villages and will build a future where humans and elephants can live in harmony with each other in selected landscapes.

WWF has already set up electric fencing in Nilgiri North division of Tamil Nadu. Anti-Depredation Squads have also been formed in three locations- Doom Dooma, Majuli and Deepor Beel area in Assam to manage HEC

INDIA SIGNED GRANT AGREEMENT OF 8 MILLION US DOLLARS WITH WORLD BANK FOR FUNDING SLACC PROJECT

India on 13 February 2015 signed grant agreement of 8 million US dollars with World Bank (WB) for funding Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC) Project.

The amount will be used to implement special projects under SLACC to improve adaptive capacity of the rural poor engaged in farm-based livelihoods to climate change in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

This grant is in addition to National Adaptation Fund (NAF) set up by the Union government in 2014 for which 100 crore rupees were set aside for taking up agriculture adaptation measures.

Besides, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had started the process of selecting agencies for implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation projects using the Green Climate Fund(GCF).

GCF is a global fund set up under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010. The fund targets to be 100 billion US dollar by 2020. It is meant to assist developing countries in promoting low-emission and climate-resilient development.

About SLACC Project

SLACC project aims to improve the adaptive capacity of the rural poor to climate variability and change affecting farm based livelihoods, through community based interventions.

The key beneficiaries of SLACC project will be the rural-poor supported by the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) including, self-help groups of women and their federations, common interest/producer groups such as farmers’ groups, livestock rearers’ groups, and their higher order collectives such as producer companies.

NRLM under the Union Ministry of Rural Development is the implementing agency of the SLACC Project.

INDIA’S FIRST AIR QUALITY CHECKING MOBILE APP SAFAR-AIR LAUNCHED

India’s first air quality checking Mobile App, SAFAR-Air was launched on 17 February 2015 at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, Maharashtra.

SAFAR is an acronym for System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research which was first launched in Delhi in 2010 during the Commonwealth Games. The Project Director of SAFAR is Gufran Beig.

The App was launched by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to provide online metro Air Quality information Service in real time.

At present the App service is available only for Pune and Delhi city and it will be available in Mumbai by May 2015.By 2017 the forecasting services will be extended to cover Chennai and Kolkata.

The system is jointly run by the IITM and the India Meteorology Department (IMD) and the forecasting model is running on a supercomputer in IITM called Aditya.

Characteristic Features of SAFAR-Air

• SAFAR-Air is the first mobile application service in India to provide a current and advanced forecast for air quality.

• The application was developed by scientists at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune. It will enable citizens to check their city’s air quality in real time.

• The app will provide current data and a forecast for air quality in the user’s current location through a colour-coded system- green is good, yellow is moderately polluted, orange is poor, red is very poor and maroon is critical.

• The app will initially be available on smartphones operating on Google's Android system and later on devices using Apple's iOS.

• Users can also share the information from the app on Twitter, Facebook, and by email.

• It will aid in enhancing the awareness of the hazards of air pollution and will also aid the policy makers to adopt practical city-level measures to address air pollution.

Air Quality in India

The air quality in Indian metro cities, partcularly Delhi, is worsening day-by-day leading to increasing number of morbidity related to poor air quality. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 1.9 million people in India die every year due to air pollution.

In a study published by the WHO in May 2014 and by Yale University in February 2014, the air in New Delhi was the most polluted in India and in the world.

The incidence of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter was the highest between November 2014 and January 2015 in New Delhi since 2010. On an annual average over the five years, PM 2.5 pollution was around 100, while this year it was 114, as compared to 101 in 2013 and 98 in 2012.

What are Particulate Matters?

Particulate matter (PM) includes sulfates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water. These are considered the most dangerous air pollutants. These can settle deep inside the lungs, making people vulnerable to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer.

According to WHO, the most health-damaging particles are those with a diameter of 10 microns or less, which can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs.

TWO TROPICAL CYCLONES MARCIA AND LAM HIT AUSTRALIA

Two tropical cyclones Marcia and Lam hit Australia on 20 February 2015. This is the first time that two cyclones have hit Australia at one time.

Tropical cyclone Marcia is a category five storm and it made the landfall at central Queensland and left a trail of destruction over Yeppoon and Rockhampton.

On the other hand Cyclone Lam is a category four storm which made landfall in the Northern Territory.

Earlier, in 1977 and 1986 also two cyclones had crossed Australia at once but they were not as severe as tropical cyclones Marcia and Lam.

Tropical cyclones are considered severe once they reach category three, with gusts of 165-224 kilometres (100-140 mph) per hour. Five is the highest rating, with gusts of more than 280 kilometres per hour and capable of wreaking widespread destruction.

CENTRE FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT RELEASED A REPORT TITLED HEAT ON POWER

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on 22 February 2015 released a report titled Heat on Power. The report claims that Indian coal-based thermal power plants are one of the most inefficient in the world. 

The report was released by MS Swaminathan, the father of India’s Green Revolution. It was released after a two-year-long research study conducted under CSE’s Green Rating Project (GRP).

This study on coal sector in India, which evaluates its environmental performance and compliance, is first of its kind in India. The study was conducted with an aim to give a clear picture of the environmental performance of the coal sector.

Findings of the study

• Inefficient resources use and technological backwardness lead to high levels of pollution. There is immense scope for improvement

• Plants are operating at 60-70 percent capacity only, if capacity utilisation is improved, sector can meet additional power requirement without building new plants

• Delhi- based NTPC’s Badarpur plant one of the most polluting in the country

• 55 percent of the units were violating air pollution standards which are already extremely lax – Particulate Matter (PM) norms are at 150-350 mg/Nm3 (milligram per normal metre cube) compared to Chinese norms of 30 mg/Nm3.

• Fly ash disposal is the major problem, as 50 to 60 percent of 170 million tonnes of fly ash that is produced by this sector is ustilised while the rest is dumped into poorly managed ash ponds, resulting in polluting land, air and water

• River and reservoirs of 20 plants were found to be polluted by ash slurry, which is a toxic heavy metal

• 40 percent of plants do not meet the basic Total Suspended Solid (TSS) norms for effluents discharged by them

• 60 percent of plants had not installed effluent and sewage treatment plants

• 36 of the 47 plants were unable to meet the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) mandated target of utilising 90 percent of the solid waste (ash) generated – average use was only 54 percent.

On the occasion of release of the report, three top power plants were awarded for their environmental performance, while two others received awards for their efficient use of resources such as energy and water.

Top performers included West Bengal-based CESC-Budge Budge, JSEWL-Toranagallu (Karnataka), Tata-Trombay (Maharashtra) and JSW-Ratnagiri (Maharashtra). They scored between 45-50 per cent.

Tata-Mundra (Gujarat) received an award for having the highest energy efficiency, while Gujarat Industries Power Company Ltd (GIPCL), Surat, won an award for lowest water use.

Green Rating Project

Green Rating Project is one of the very few public-disclosure projects in the world in which a non-governmental, non-industry organisation rates the environmental performance of industries and makes the results public.

The project was started in 1997 and till date has rated five major industrial sectors of India including pulp and paper, iron and steel, chlor-alkali, cement and automobiles. The coal-based power sector is the sixth it has rated.

ZSL AND GUJARAT FOREST DEPARTMENT SIGNED A MOU FOR CONSERVATION OF ASIATIC LION

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Gujarat Forest Department on 26 February 2015 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for conservation of Asiatic lion and its habitat.

The MoU was signed by ZSL Director General Ralph Armond pledging support to safeguard the future of the precious big cats.

Apart from ZSL, Wildlife Institute of India will also be the knowledge partner with the forest department in conservation of lion.

Highlights of MoU

• ZSL with its expertise in managing zoo will provide technical assistance to forest department in handling rescue operations and treatment centres.

• ZSL will provide animal husbandry and specialist veterinary expertise to train forest guards.

• It will also help to manage Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh.

• Gujarat Forest Department will use smart software jointly developed by the ZSL and the Gujarat forest department for tracking the movement of their staff and even the lions.

Earlier in 2014, the first-ever fundraising event was held by the Zoological Society of London. It launched the charity's Lions400 fundraising campaign and raised over 135000 pounds towards helping to save the Asian lions.

Today, the population of Asiatic lions remaining in a small pocket of the Gir Forest is just 400. They are particularly vulnerable to the threats of disease and conflict with humans.

Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity organisation whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats.

It runs active conservation projects in more than 50 countries and in its two Zoos- ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

 

SUMMIT | CONFERENCE

77TH ANNUAL CONVENTION OF PRESIDING OFFICERS OF LEGISLATIVE BODIES HELD IN LUCKNOW

The 77th annual convention of presiding officers, speakers and secretaries of legislative assemblies and councils was held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The four-day convention was inaugurated by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on 31 January 2015.

Uttar Pradesh hosted the annual convention after 30 years. The welcome address was delivered by the Uttar Pradesh State assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey.

The event that ended on 3 January 2015 was attended by the Speakers and Deputy Speakers from 30 States and Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of six Legislative Councils.

Other participants of the convention were the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Vice-Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Secretary-Generals of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

FIRST WORLD OCEAN SCIENCE CONGRESS HELD IN KOCHI

The First World Ocean Science Congress (WOSC) was held in Kochi, Kerala from 5 February 2015 to 8 February 2015.

The focal themes of the WOSC 2015 were Protect Oceans for Posterity and Blue Economy. WOSC -2015 was organised jointly by the Swadeshi Science Movement, Vijnana Bharati, Kerala chapter and the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), Kochi.

The aim of the WOSC was to find sustainable means to utilize the resources carefully without causing any damage to the oceans and its marine life.

The Congress witnessed presentation of 450 technical papers in 13 sessions by 86 Indian institutions and 14 foreign institutions. It evolved a set of recommendations that will be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for further guidelines.

The Congress urged the Union Government to form a separate ministry to bring all the agencies and institutions working in the fields of ocean research and fisheries research under one roof for the smooth implementation and management of all the government policies related to the sectors.

About World Ocean Science Congress

World Ocean Science Congress (WOSC) is designed as a quadrennial event starting with WOSC-2015. It is expected to serve as a common platform for Oceanographers, Environmentalists, Fishing community, Shipping industry, Navigators, Defense establishments.

15TH DELHI SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT

The 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit was held at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi from 5 February 2015 to 7 February 2015.

The summit was organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The theme of the summit was Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change.

The summit witnessed a pool of distinguished speakers from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. Politicians, Diplomats, Corporates, Government Officials, media, NGOs and activists attended the summit.

Issues like the need for mitigation in Energy supply sector, generating finances for projects focusing on Sustainable Development, and educating the youth about sustainable development were discussed. Stress was laid on collective actions of both public and private sectors in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the summit, two reports namely, Global Sustainable Development Report and Energy Security Outlook were also launched.

ABOUT DSDS

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) annually organizes the DSDS since 2001. DSDS is an international platform to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on all aspects of sustainable development.

Over the past fourteen years, it has emerged as one of the foremost fora on issues related to global sustainability. This flagship event of TERI brings together various Heads of State and Government, thought leaders, policy-makers and academia to deliberate on myriad issues. Till date, over 37 Heads of State and Government and over 50 countries have registered their presence at the Summit.

FIRST RENEWABLE ENERGY GLOBAL INVESTORS MEET & EXPO, RE-INVEST 2015, HELD IN NEW DELHI

The first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo, also called RE-Invest 2015, was held in New Delhi from 15 February 2015 to 17 February 2015. The meet was organised by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as a follow-up to the Make in India initiative of the Prime Minister.

The central theme of RE-Invest is to attract large scale investments for the renewable energy sector in India.

The aim of the meet is to evolve innovative financial models for funding and to ensure the partnership of states and the Centre in harnessing renewable energy. Germany is the partner country for Re-Invest 2015.

Key highlights of Re-Invest 2015

• It showcased the Union Government’s commitment in the development and scaling up of renewable energy in a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable manner to meet the national energy requirement.

• It provided single platform to attract large scale investments for solar and wind power generation in India.

• On the occasion, 14 banks and financial institutions, 8 PSUs and private manufacturers, 15 private sector companies gave their Green Energy Commitments to the Ministers.

• Green Energy Commitments worth 266000 MW were received during the conference. 2800 delegates from 42 countries participated in the event.

• 200 global investors providing financing and investment solutions also participated. 9 states showcased their policy initiatives in the renewable energy sector.

Renewable Energy in India

At present, renewable energy contributes over 6 percent of the total power generated in India. Union government is planning to double its share to 12 percent with an investment of 100 billion US dollar over the next four-five years.

To increase the share of renewable energy, Union Government has revised the target of solar power generation from 20000 MW by 2022 to 100000 MW by 2020.


REPORT | SURVEY

TELECOM REGULATOR TRAI RELEASED A REPORT

Telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 7 February 2015 released a report on subscriber base. India telecom subscriber base reaches all-time high at 970 million at the end of December 2014.

Main highlights of the report

•The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 964.20 million at the end of November 2014 to 970.97 million at the end of December 2014. This surpasses the previous record of 965.5 million reached in June 2012.

•The total broadband subscribers base increased by 4.28% on monthly basis to 85.7 million at the end of December 2014 from 82 million in November 2014.

•Teledensity in the country reached 77.58. It is connection per 100 persons.

•The mobile or wireless subscriber base in country is now already at all-time highs after it crossed 935.3-million mark at the end of October 2014.

•The previous record was set in June 2012 when the mobile subscriber base in the country reached 934 million. Of the total wireless subscriber base, 833 million wireless subscribers were active in December 2014.

•Bharti Airtel has maintained its leadership with 217.2 million mobile customers. It is followed by Vodafone with 178.6 million mobile subscribers, Idea Cellular 150.5 million, Reliance Communications 106.2 million, BSNL 81.3 million, Aircel 78.6 million, Tata Teleservices 66.1 million and Uninor 43.6 million.

•Idea Cellular added over 2500000 customers, the highest by any company, in December 2014. It was followed by Airtel which added over 1700000 new mobile customers, Vodafone about 1500000, Telewings (Uninor) 1200000, Aircel over 900000, Tata Teleservices about 600000, Videocon (including Quadrant) 270000 and MTNL 22445 new mobile customers.

•New operator Videocon registered the fastest growth rate in its mobile subscribers base and was followed by Telewings.

•State-run BSNL in the December 2014, lost 1300000 subscribers and Sistema Shyam lost 68110 customers. Closure of Mumbai-based Loop Mobile business in November also brought down subscriber base by about 700,000.

•During the reported month, about 3500000 subscribers submitted request to change their mobile service provider taking the total number of such requests under Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service to 142.9 million.

•Wireline connections further declined to 27 million from 27.1 million in November 2014.The growth in broadband subscribers was also dominated by mobile operators with 69 million customers.

IDC RELEASED A REPORT ON INDIAN SMARTPHONE MARKET

International Data Corporation (IDC) released a report on 24 February 2015 on Indian smartphone market. For the fourth quarter (October-December) of 2014, report highlighted that South Korean handset maker Samsung continued to retain its top position in the Indian Smartphone market.

Highlights of the report

• Samsung mopped up 22 percent of the market share followed by Micromax (18 percent0, Intex (8 percent) Lava (7 percent), Xiaomi (4 percent) and the rest (41 percent).

• According to IDC India, the smartphone market observed shipment contraction in Q4 for the first time ever (quarter-on-quarter basis).

• The Q4 of 2014 was seen as a correction phase wherein the smartphone market declined by 4 percent whereas the feature phone market plummeted by approximately 14 percent over the third quarter (July-September) 2014.

• The contraction in the shipment was largely owing to a high channel inventory at the beginning of the quarter amongst general trade which in turn was caused by the surge witnessed in online sales during festive season.

• The overall mobile phone market stood at 64.3 million units in Q4 2014, which reflects a sequential drop of 11 percent over Q3 2014 and an annual drop of five percent.

• Feature phone to smartphone migration trend is clearly visible. Smartphones formed a healthy 35 percent of the overall mobile business in Q4 2014, which is up by 13 percent from a year ago, that is, Q4 2013.

• Smartphone vendors are quick in gauging the consumer demand for 4G handsets. In percentage terms, 4G handsets are still in single digit.

• IDC anticipates a sluggish first quarter (January-March) 2015. However, a few global vendors which were in the inventory correction phase until now are likely to exhibit big shipment numbers starting Q1.

EXHIBITION | FARE

29TH SURAJKUND INTERNATIONAL CRAFTS MELA CELEBRATED

The 29th Surajkund International Crafts Mela was celebrated from 1 February 2015 to 15 February 2015 at Surajkund, Faridabad.

The Mela showcased the richness and diversity of the handicrafts, handlooms and the cultural heritage of India.

The Mela was jointly hosted by Haryana Tourism Corporation and Surajkund Mela Authority in collaboration with the Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture and External Affairs.

Chhattisgarh was selected as the Theme State while Lebanon was Partner Nation for the Surajkund Mela. Sri Lanka was chosen as Partner Nation for 28th Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2014 while Goa was the Theme State for the Surajkund International Crafts Mela 2014.

The idea of hosting the Mela is to recreate a pristine rural ambience for foreign and domestic tourists, to show the patrons of arts and crafts of the skills involved in creative arts, to introduce crafts persons directly to the buyers, and to identify, nurture and preserve the languishing crafts of the country.

Every year a theme State and a Partner Nation is chosen. Theme State is chosen with a view to promote and focus the art, craft and cuisine of the theme State whereas Partner Nation is chosen to showcases the best of that nation’s art, culture, traditions and heritage.

For the first time in 2009, Egypt became the Focus Nation and the idea of introducing a country/nation as a Partner Nation was mooted. Thailand was introduced as the first Partner Nation during the 26th Surajkund Crafts Mela 2012.

3RD TORTOISE FESTIVAL ORGANISED AT HAJONG LAKE IN ASSAM

3rd Tortoise Festival was organised at Hajong Lake in Dima Hasao district of Assam on 21 February 2015. The festival was organised to create awareness among people on the endangered tortoise species by Environment and Forest Department of Dima Hasao.

The day-long festival saw various activities like discussions, presentation and others aimed at protection of the species.

About Hajong Lake

• The lake is a unique tortoise habitat and is situated in the Langting Mupa forest reserve at a distance of around 300kilometres from Guwahati

• The lake is the only natural tortoise home in Assam

• Hajong Lake that is popularly known as the tortoise lake is a habitat of few varieties of Hill Terrapins (a rare species)
• At present, around 400 to 500 tortoises are dwelling in the Hajong Lake

RESEARCH

RAHUL KAICHE BECAME FIRST CARDIAC SURGEON IN MAHARASHTRA TO USE TITANIUM PLATES FOR CORONARY SURGERY

Dr Rahul Kaiche on 17 February 2015 became first cardiac surgeon in Maharashtra and second surgeon in India to use titanium plates for Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) surgery. He is a cardiac surgeon at Wockhardt hospital in Nashik.

He used the titanium plates instead of the traditionally used wires for sternal closure in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) surgery. The surgery was performed at the charitable Saibaba hospital in Shirdi.

He used the innovative technique of using titanium plates for closing the mamory sternum bone on a 64 years patient Bashir Sayyed Noor. For this, he used 2 H shaped and one U shaped titanium plates fitted with titanium screws.

Advantages of titanium plates in sternal closure

• This modern technology already in use in the USA was introduced in India since the past three months. The technology has numerous advantages over traditional method.

• The H shaped titanium plates sustain the pressure due to coughing or weight of the patient in a better manner over the traditionally used wires.

• Titanium plates give more stability to chest bone as compared to routine wires or bands.

• The incidence of sternal infection is also reduced with this technique.

• Also the titanium plates are Magnetic Resource Imaging (MRI) friendly and the patient can undergo an MRI if needed, a limitation in case of steel wires.

MISCELLANEOUS

TAJ MAHAL GARDENS PERFECTLY ALIGN WITH SUN SOLSTICES: STUDY

The Taj Mahal Gardens of India align perfectly with the rising and setting Sun during the summer and winter solstices, according to a study. The study is titled Observations on the Orientation of Some Mughal Gardenswas published in the journal Philica on 13 January 2015.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, the author of the study, discovered several alignments between the Sun solstices and the waterways, pathways and pavilions of the Taj Mahal gardens.

Sparavigna used high resolution Google Earth satellite imagery, combined with a programme called Sun Calc to make the discoveries.

Findings of the Study

  • A striking alignment occurs on the north-central part of the gardens of the Taj Mahal during the summer solstice which usually occurs on 21 June every year.
  • If a person was able to stand in the waterway where two paths meet, they would see the Sun rise above a pavilion located to the northeast.
  • If they were to stay in that position throughout the day, they would see the Sun set in alignment with a pavilion to the northwest.
  • The Taj Mahal and its minarets are located between these two pavilions and the Sun would appear to frame them.
  • During the winter solstice which occurs on 21 December every year, the Sun rises in alignment with a pavilion to the southeast and sets in alignment with a pavilion to the southwest.
  • The enclosure of the garden is a symbolic horizon, where its axis is representing the axis mundi, the axis about which the world is rotating. On the solstices, from the centre of the rectangular enclosure, one can see the sun rising and setting at its four corners.
  • When an architectonic structure is aligned in this manner, it is aligned to the projection on the horizontal plane of the axis mundi. However, architects could also use some elements aligned in the directions of sunrise or sunset.
  • Although the alignments likely had symbolic meanings, the Sun solstices could also have served a practical medium in helping architects build the Taj Mahal and its gardens precisely.

The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. It was built in the 1600 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his third wife Mumtaz Mahal.

The mausoleum is one of the components of a quite large complex of structures, composed of buildings and gardens, including subsidiary tombs, waterworks infrastructure, the small town of Taj Ganji and a Moonlight Garden, north of the River Yamuna.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna's study on other Mughal gardens

The Mughal gardens are a typical form of landscape architecture developed during the Mughal Dynasty from 1526 - 1707. These gardens had a style heavily influenced by the Persian gardens of charbagh structure, with a use of rectilinear layouts within walled enclosures.

Aam Khas Bagh

Aam khas Bagh is one of the Babur’s gardens/serais which was extended and almost rebuilt by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It lies between the Mughal military road between Delhi and Lahore. The complex was famous for a perfect air-conditioning system called Sarad Khana and the garden has a rectangular shape with a north-south axis.

Humayun’s Garden Tomb

Humayun’s Garden Tomb is located just south of the Din-Panah citadel built by the second Mughal emperor Humayun. The tomb was finished in 1571 after eight or nine years of work.

Its Timurid appearance must be credited to its Iranian architect Mirak Sayyid Ghiyas and Mirak Mirza Ghiyas

Towards the south-east corner within the Charbagh garden, lies a tomb known as Nai-ka-Gumbad, that is, the Barber's Tomb datable to 1590-91. On the summer solstice, the south gate of the garden and the Barber’s Tomb are aligned to the direction of sunrise.

The Dilkusha Charbagh

Placed at the centre of a walled garden named the Dilkusha Charbagh, the mausoleum was built ten years after the death of Jahangir. The whole mausoleum was surrounded by the garden. Today, only the western part exists.

Rambagh Garden and the Qibla

The Rambagh Garden has the distinction of being the very first garden of the Mughals that was built in India. The Rambagh Garden is in Agra, 3 km away from the Itimad-ud-Daulah's tomb.

Pinjore Garden

The Pinjore Garden is located in Pinjore, Panchkula district in the Indian state of Haryana. It was built under the Patiala Dynasty Ruler, and created in the 17th century by architect Nawab Fidai Khan, during the early reign of his foster brother Aurangzeb from 1658 to 1707.

It has been renamed as Yadavindra Garden in the memory of Maharaja Yadavindra Singh. This garden is interesting because its axis is parallel to the direction of the sunrise on summer solstice.

FIRST ROBOT-STAFFED HOTEL OF THE WORLD TO OPEN IN JAPAN

The Nagasaki-based Henn-na Hotel (meaning Strange Hotel) of Japan in the first week of February 2015 announced to open the first Robot-staffed Hotel of the World. The hotel will be opened on 17 July 2015 and it will significantly reduce the operating costs.

The hotel will come up with a Huis Ten Bosch theme park (after a town of Netherlands) in Japan's Nagasaki Prefecture.

The hotel in its first-phase will be two-storied hotel with 72 rooms. In the second-phase, which will be completed in 2016, 72 additional rooms will be added to it.

The hotel has been developed by Japan's Osaka University and manufactured by the Japanese robotics company Kokoro. Several of these Actroid robots resemble like a young Japanese woman.

Characteristic Features of the Hotel

• It will be partially staffed by actroid androids, human like robots that will greet, carry luggage to rooms, and make coffee for guests

• These robots will be able to speak languages like Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English

• The hotel will have number of robots working for different purposes like three robots will be acting as receptionists, four will act as service and porter robots and others will be engaged in menial tasks like cleaning

• The guestrooms of the hotels will be accessed by facial-recognition technology and guests can request the items through a tablet when needed

• The temperature of the rooms will be adjusted through a radiation panel instead of air-conditioning. The panel will detect the body heat in rooms and adjust the temperature

• To reduce operating costs, solar power and other energy-saving features will be used

3 INDIANS IN THE SHORTLISTED 100 APPLICANTS FOR THE ONE-WAY TRIP TO MARS

Three Indian, two women and one man were among the shortlisted 100 applicants who were chosen for one-way trip to Mars under Mars One mission in the third week of February 2015. These Indians are Ritika Singh, Shradha Prasad and Taranjeet Singh Bhatia.

29-year-old Taranjeet Singh Bhatia is studying Doctorate in Computer Science at the University of Central Florida. 29-year-old Ritika Singh an adventure sports lover who lives in Dubai and 19-year-old Shradha Prasad is from Palakkad, Kerala.

These 100 applicants (fifty men and fifty women) were selected from a pool of 202586 candidates who were looking for a one-way trip to Mars in 2024. The 100 selected candidates are from the US (39), Europe (31), Asia (16), Africa (7) and Oceania (7).

These shortlisted candidates will now appear in the next and third round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process to be conducted by the Netherlands-based non-profit organisation Mars One.

The third round will focus on composing team that can endure all the hardships of the permanent settlement on Mars. These selected candidates will receive their first shot at training in the copy of the Mars Outpost on Earth and will demonstrate their suitability to perform well in a team.

About Mars One Project

Mars One Project aims to set up a human colony on Mars and under the plan around 40 selected people will be sent to the red plant on a permanent basis. The finalists of the plan will be trained for seven years before being sent on the planet. The Mars One will start sending out four people at a time from 2024. The first troop will reach the red planet in 2025.

Before sending off humans on the planet in 2018, an initial unmanned lander will be sent to Mars with payloads including soil extractor and thin film solar demonstrator.

WORDS RIDE-SHARE, UNBOXING ADDED TO OXFORD DICTIONARY

Words Ride-share and unboxing were added to Oxford dictionary on 27 February 2015. These words were added along with other words like bioprinting and vishing.

Ride-share has been defined as to participate in an arrangement in which a passenger travels in a private vehicle driven by its owner, for free or for a fee, especially as arranged by means of a website or app.

The word unboxing has been defined as an act or instance of removing a newly purchased product from its packaging and examining its features, typically when filmed and shared on a social media site.

Other additions included bioprinting, defined as the use of 3D printing technology with materials that incorporate viable living cells, e.g. to produce tissue for reconstructive surgery.

Oxford also added vishing, which is like phishing, but using phone calls or voice messages instead of emails to trick people in revealing sensitive information.

 

CURRENT NATIONAL AFFAIRS

PRIME MINISTER CONSTITUTED 3 SUB-GROUPS OF CHIEF MINISTERS WITHIN NITI AAYOG

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 February 2015 announced constitution of three sub-groups of Chief Ministers within the NITI Aayog. The decision was made after the first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog.

Works assigned to the three sub-groups include

• First sub-group – it will study the 66 centrally-sponsored schemes and recommend which schemes should continue, which should be transferred to states, and which to discontinue.

• Second sub-group – it will focus on skill development and creation of skilled manpower within States.

• Third sub-group – it will decide on the institutional mechanisms to be evolved for Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, so that cleanliness becomes a part of life in perpetuity.

Beside this, the Prime Minister also asked the States to create two task forces under the aegis of the NITI Aayog of which one will focus on poverty alleviation and the other will focus on future development of agriculture in the states.

The first NITI Aayog meet was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

UNION GOVERNMENT APPROVED REVISED GUIDELINES FOR PRADHAN MANTRI GRAM SADAK YOJANA

Union Government on 12 February 2015 approved revised Guidelines for Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). 
The guidelines were revised to accord priority in the selection of roads for new connectivity as well as upgradation, leading to the eligible habitations in the Gram Panchayats identified by the Members of Parliament (MP) under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).

The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Union Minister for Rural Development. This is in accordance with the Cabinet decision wherein all Ministries/Departments of the Central Government have been asked to take necessary action to make suitable changes in the guidelines of their respective Central sector and Centrally Sponsored schemes/programmes to enable priority to be given to the Gram Panchayats selected under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.

Highlights of the guidelines

  • The model villages adopted by the MP under the SAGY will now get rural roads under PMGSY on priority basis. Similarly, in these model villages, rural roads constructed or upgraded under PMGSY would have to be maintained by the State Governments up to prescribed standards and even beyond the built in period of first five years.
  • As per the amended Guidelines, the State Governments shall give priority to all roads leading to the Gram Panchayats identified under SAGY irrespective of Comprehensive New Connectivity Priority List (CNCPL) to include all eligible unconnected habitations in the selected Gram Panchayats.
  • In case of upgradation of roads, priority shall be given to the roads which have Pavement Condition Index (PCI) Value-I & II in the Gram Panchayats identified under SAGY.
  • However, the length required for upgradation of these roads should be within the overall target allocated to various States under PMGSY-I and PMGSY-II.
  • Moreover, in case of roads already built under PMGSY, in the Gram Panchayats identified under SAGY, State should carry out maintenance as per the activities suggested in the Operations Manuals and Rural Roads Manual, even if the maintenance period of 5 years is over.
  • The State Governments must ensure PCI of not less than four for all such roads at all times. Adequate funds for this purpose will be provided by State Governments.

ELECTION COMMISSION ANNOUNCED TO LAUNCH ELECTORAL ROLL AUTHENTICATION MISSION

Election Commission (EC) on 14 February 2015 announced to launch Electoral Roll Authentication Mission (ERAM) and Purification Drive.

The Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma announced the move while inaugurating a workshop, organised on the Linking of Aadhaar with Electoral Roll Database and Launching of Electoral Roll Authentication and Purification Drive, at an institute in Hyderabad.

Under the mission, the EC will use the huge database of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to link Aadhaar number of citizens with the electoral database to further authenticate and purify electoral rolls. The mission will be launched from 1 March 2015.

The move is aimed at weeding out bogus voters from the list. The move will be initiated on a mission mode. The poll panel aims to complete the mission by 15 August 2015.

Earlier, the EC launched a National Voter Service Portal where people can feed their Aadhaar number for linking it with the electoral data base.

PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI LAUNCHED SOIL HEALTH CARD SCHEME

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 February 2015 launched the nationwide Soil Health Card Scheme in Suratgarh town of Sriganganagar district, Rajasthan. The nationwide scheme will help farmers to scientifically analyse the soil of farms in the country.

The scheme aims at helping farmers in improving productivity by appropriate use of nutrients or fertilisers.

Under the plan, 14 crore Soil Health Cards will be issued to farmer of the country in a span of 3 years. Around 3 crore farmers will be covered under the project in financial year 2014-15.

Feature of the Soil Health Card

• It would contain all basic information and crop-wise recommendations of nutrients or fertilizers required for farms of different soil types.

• It will carry crop-wise recommendation of fertilizers required for farm lands and other inputs to increase the productivity of individual farmer.

Government's step to issue soil health cards to farmers will ensure that they are aware of the quality of soil and use right fertilisers. Also, the scheme will help in keeping a check on overuse of fertilisers on farm land and will be provided to over 14 crore farmers.

Apart from this, the Prime Minister also gave a slogan Swasth Dharaa Khet Haraa (Healthy Earth Green Farm). He also asked states to set up high-powered expert committees on agriculture and asked farmers to take agricultural decisions after getting their soil tested under the Soil Health Card scheme.

Background
The Soil Health Card scheme was announced in the first budget presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in July 2014. The finance minister allotted a budget of 100 crore rupees for issuing cards and an additional 56 crore rupees to set up 100 mobile soil testing laboratories across India.

UNION GOVERNMENT LAUNCHED PORTAL MADAD TO REDRESS CONSULAR GRIEVANCES

Union Government on 20 February 2015 launched an online grievances monitoring system called MADAD to redress consular grievances. It was launched by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.

MADAD seeks to help Indian citizens living abroad to file consular grievances online on the services offered by the Indian Missions, Posts, Consulates and Embassy abroad.

The logo of MADAD depicts two persons with a letter M in-between them and MADAD is written underneath.

The tagline is Because You Are Us, means we are helping you because you are us.

All the stakeholders involved in MADAD are tightly linked to the portal, including Missions and Posts abroad and MEA's Branch Secretariats in Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

Characteristic Features of MADAD

  • MADAD is a joint effort of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Overseas Indians Affairs (MOIA) and it is not a general helpline.
  • It allows direct registration of the grievances by the members of the public and effective monitoring of the grievance handling process thereafter, until it is redressed.
  • The portal ensures that entire history of the complaints or grievances registered is maintained online.
  • It incorporates flexible architecture to handle a variety of grievances, linking of similar grievances on the basis of passport number to avoid duplication and automatic escalation and enhancement of priority.
  • It will also help to speed up forwarding and handling of complaints, improve tracking and redressal and escalate unresolved cases.
  • To track the complaints and grievances, the portal employs a colour-coded system of red-amber-green pattern. The green colour indicates cases are cleared, while the pending cases will be indicated in red colour.
  • To ensure accountability, accessibility and responsiveness of officials in various Consulates or Embassy of India, colour code will change its colour automatically. For instance, if the response is not given in a stipulated time it will change its colour to red and escalate the issue to higher officials.

In all, MADAD seeks to promote healthy intra-department competition which would act as a deterrent for officials and respond with greater accountability to ultimately benefit people.

Earlier, MEA had launched the portal as a pilot project for seven countries. These included the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, and Malaysia.

UNION GOVERNMENT ACCEPTED 14TH FINANCE COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

Union Government in the third week of February 2015 accepted the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. The commission headed by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Dr. YV Reddy seeks to provide more power to the states for their progress.

This devolution of more share of revenue to states through tax revenue is an indicator of Union Government’s commitment to move away from One Size Fits All approach.

Recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission

• Tax devolution should be the primary route for transfer of resources to the states

• The increased devolution of the divisible pool of taxes is a compositional shift in transfers – from grants to tax devolution

• The panel recommended horizontal distribution by using broad parameters like population (1971) and changes in population since then, income distance, forest cover and area among others

• Distribution of grants to States and local body was recommended by using 2011 population data with weight of 90 percent and area with weight of 10 percent

• Grants to States should be divided into two and they are

a) Grant to duly constituted Gram Panchayats

b) Grant to duly constituted municipal bodies

• Grants should be divided into two parts and they include, basic grants – depending upon the performance of the gram panchayats and municipal bodies. The ration of basic to performance grant is 90:10 for Panchayats and 80:20 for municipalities

• It recommended a total grant of 287436 core rupees for a five-year period. Of this fund, 200292 crore rupees will go for panchayats while the remainder will go to the municipalities

• It views there is a need to change the sharing pattern in respect to various Centrally-sponsored schemes. It wants the stats to share a greater fiscal responsibility for the implementation of such schemes.

The 14th Finance Commission

The 14th Finance Commission (FFC) was constituted by the orders of President on 2 January 2013 in accordance to the Article 280 of the Constitution of India. The commission submitted its report with recommendations to the President Pranab Mukherjee on 15 December 2014.

The commission was formed to suggest recommendations for the period from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2020.

MUMBAI UNIVERSITY SIGNED MOU WITH INDIAN RAILWAYS TO SET UP RAIL INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY CENTRE

Mumbai University on 23 February 2015 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Railways to set up a Rail Innovation and Technology Centre to train students for expertise in Railway Engineering.

Highlights of the MoU

• Indian Railways will allocate 142.89 crore rupees budget for the centre over the next five academic years.

• Mumbai University will provide education, distribution of facilities for higher education, effective administration and financial control.

• The university will impart practical training to candidates at university’s Kalina, Ratnagiri and Kalyan sub campus.

• The university will also start specialized courses at the Post Graduate level related to rail technology.

• This institute will help the Indian Railways in developing cutting-edge indigenous technologies and turn as a net exporter of such technologies.

The areas identified by the University to carry out innovation and research will include robust designing and construction of railway bridges and tunnels, modernization of signal and communication systems, developing glitch free high speed rail systems, wheel- rail interface related issues rail noise and vibration control and improved safety mechanisms.

TRAI ISSUED 6TH AMENDMENT TO TELECOMMUNICATION MOBILE NUMBER PORTABILITY REGULATION, 2009

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 25 February 2015 issued 6th Amendment to the Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability Regulation, 2009. This amendment will facilitate full MNP (Pan-India Portability) across India with effect from 3 May 2015.

With this, subscribers will be able to retain the same mobile number on relocating to anywhere in India although they can change their service provider.

At present, number portability within a telecom circle is only possible and the subscriber has to pay roaming charges plus applicable STD call rates when he carries the number outside the home circle.

Amendments to facilitate Pan-India Portability includes

  • In case a post-paid subscriber who has ported his number defaults in the payment of his previous bill which was due to the Donor Operator (previous service provider from whom the subscriber has ported out), the Donor Operator has to give a notice within a period of 30 days of due date of payment of its outstanding bill.
  • After a lapse of 60 days from the due date of payment of the outstanding bill, the Donor Operator will not be entitled to raise non-payment disconnection requests with the Recipient Operator.
  • For a post paid subscriber who has defaulted payment to the Donor Operator, the Donor operator will request the Recipient operator to disconnect the ported number.
  • The Recipient Operator in turn will give a notice of 15 days for making such payment, failing which the outgoing services of such subscriber will be debarred for a period of 15 days.
  • In case the subscriber fails to make payment within these 15 days, his mobile number will be disconnected permanently by the Recipient Operator.

Background

The Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability Regulation, 2009 was amended following the recommendations of TRAI to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). TRAI had recommended DoT to implement Full MNP/National MNP and suggested amendments in the the licenses of MNP service providers and mobile service providers.

Further, the amendments were issued by the DoT on 3 November 2014 to the MNP License Agreement and now the Full MNP needs to be implemented across India within a period of 6 months from the date of amendment to the Licenses, that is 3  May 2015.

UNION MINISTRY OF CHEMICALS & FERTILIZERS DECLARED 2015 AS YEAR OF ACTIVE PHARMACEUTICAL INGREDIENTS

Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers on 25 February 2015 declared the year 2015 as the Year of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API). It was declared by the Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers Ananth Kumar.

The aim is to bring about self-sufficiency in the field of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) which is also consistent with the avowed objective of the Union Government Make in India initiative.

In this regard, the Department of Pharmaceuticals will

• take measures to facilitate the growth of the sector;

• interact with the industry on a more regular basis to improve G2B interactions;

• promote better and more coordinated efforts to achieve the objective of Make in India for the API sector

Apart from this, the Ministry also accepted the recommendations of the Katoch Committee. The Katoch Committee was set up by the Union Government to suggest ways to reduce the dependence on bulk drug imports from China and to look into various issues concerning the bulk drugs.

Recommendations of Katoch Committee

• Single window clearance for licensing of drugs in the country

• Providing land at concessional rates

• Setting up of mega pharma parks

• Providing power

• Removing cross subsidy charges

The recommendations will be implemented after taking the Union Cabinet’s approval.

Background

India is very much dependent on import from a single source for basic chemicals, intermediates and APIs for many commonly used medicines. This is detrimental to the country’s interest as it gives rise to sudden price and supply risks.

Thus, to avoid the price and supply risks and ensure assured and sustained availability of these basic inputs to formulation sector, the Ministry of Pharmaceuticals aims to focus the attention to promote the manufacturing of API in India.

CURRENT INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

JAPAN SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED THE INFORMATION GATHERING SATELLITE

Japan on 1 February 2015 successfully launched the Information Gathering Satellite, a spy satellite. The Satellite was launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in the Kagoshima Prefecture in the south of Japan.

The satellite was taken into orbit by the H-2A (H-IIA) carrier rocket. The satellite carries a sophisticated radar payload designed to survey the globe night and day in all weather conditions from an orbit about 300 miles above Earth.

The Satellite was scheduled to be launched on 29 January 2015. However, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries delayed the planned launch due to the possibility of lightning during lift-off.

Background
Japan began putting spy satellites into operation in the early 2000s after its neighbour North Korea fired a mid-range ballistic missile over the Japanese mainland into the western Pacific in 1998.

Following this, Japan began the Information Gathering Satellite program. Although the program was initially aimed at monitoring North Korea, but the satellites could take pictures of nearly any place on Earth each day.

Under the program, Japan had launched various spy satellites. This is the fifth spy satellite that Japan has launched into the Earth’s orbit on 1 February 2015. The other four Japanese satellites that are orbiting the Earth include two optical imaging spacecrafts and two radar satellites.

PAKISTAN SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRED AIR LAUNCHED CRUISE MISSILE RA’AD

Pakistan on 2 February 2015 successfully test-fired indigenously developed Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) Ra’ad. The missile, also called Thunder in Arabic, has been developed by Pakistan's Air Weapons Complex and NESCOM.

The missile gave Pakistan Air Force a strategic standoff capability on land and at sea indicating that Ra'ad can be launched at sea-based targets such as ships as well as land-based targets.

Ra'ad was tested for the first time on 25 August 2007.

About Ra’ad missile

• The missile is designed to operate with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft’s like Dassault Mirage III ROSE and JF-17 combat aircraft.

• This low altitude missile is designed to attack fixed enemy installations such as radar posts, command nodes, surface to air missile launchers, etc.

• High maneuverability capabilities of missile enable it to deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with pin-point accuracy.

• It has a range of 350 km and comprises stealth capabilities due to its cruise technology.

• The missile can also be armed with a 10-35 kilo tonne nuclear warhead.

JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ OF TRI-NATION MEET OF FOREIGN MINISTERS OF INDIA-RUSSIA-CHINA RELEASED

13th meet of the Foreign Ministers of India, Russia and China was held in Beijing, China on 2 February 2015.

The three foreign ministers namely Sushma Swaraj (India), Wang Yi (China) and Sergey Lavrov (Russia) after the meet released a Joint Communiqué.

The communiqué emphasised on cooperation between their countries which is conducive to maintain international and regional peace and stability and promoting global economic growth and prosperity.

Main highlights of the Joint Communiqué

• They agreed to build a more just, fair and stable international political and economic order in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence (Panchsheel) and other basic norms of international law.

• They agreed to further strengthen coordination on global issues and practical cooperation, in the spirit of openness, solidarity, mutual understanding and trust.

• They agreed to enhance cooperation in think-tanks, business, agriculture, disaster mitigation and relief, medical services and public health.

• They explored potential for cooperation in oil and natural gas production and transportation, as well as in other fields of energy, high tech, environmental protection and connectivity

• They agreed to promote parliamentary, media, cultural and youth exchanges including visits of young diplomats.
• China and Russia welcomed India's application for full membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and supported India to join the SCO after completing all necessary negotiations and legal processes.
• Russia and India welcomed and supported the efforts of China to host the 2016 G20 Summit and reiterated their readiness to contribute to its successful results.

• They agreed to hold the next trilateral meeting in Russia in the second half of 2015.

Role of United Nations in International Relations

• They agreed to safeguard a fair and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, preventing war and conflict and promoting the progress and development of mankind.

• They welcomed the inclusion of the item of "Seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War" in the agenda of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, and supported the United Nations and member states to initiate and organize commemorative events.

• They agreed that there is a need for all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations, in accordance with the UN Charter and principles and norms of international law and for the robust implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Asia-Pacific Affairs

• On Asia-Pacific Region, they agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation in a joint effort to maintain lasting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. To this end, they agreed to establish a trilateral Russia-India-China consultation mechanism on Asia-Pacific affairs, with the first meeting to be held at an early date.

Israel-Palestine conflict

• On Israel-Palestine conflict, the leaders of three nations supported the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative, with the purpose of establishing a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side, at peace with Israel.

Syria
• On Syria, they reiterated that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis and urged all parties to abjure violence and resume peace negotiations based on "Geneva Communiqué" of June 2012.

• Further, they called on all parties in Syria to implement relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, and fully cooperate with the United Nations and relevant international organizations in their humanitarian efforts. 
• They called on the international community to abide by the guiding principles of the United Nations on humanitarian assistance.

Afghanistan
• They agreed to support broad and inclusive peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, as well as to help Afghanistan’s integration into the region through its expanded trade and

transport networks and regional connectivity.

• They also stressed their commitment to implementing the Beijing Declaration for security and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region.

Ukraine Crisis

• They called on all parties in the inter-Ukraine conflict to exercise restraint and fully implement the Minsk Protocol, engage in comprehensive dialogue and pursue a peaceful resolution of the crisis through political negotiations.

• They also called for an independent, objective, fair and transparent international investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, and parties concerned should engage in cooperation within the framework of Resolution 2166 of the UN Security Council.

International Financial System

• They called for immediate reform of the international financial system to increase the voice and representation of emerging markets and developing countries, with a focus on the implementation of the 2010 IMF Quota and Governance Reform by the end of 2015.

• They also reiterated their commitments to enhancing cooperation within the framework of G20, and called on all G20 members to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, reject protectionism.

Climate Change

• They reiterated the importance attached by the three countries to the issue of climate change, and expressed their readiness to work together to further strengthen international cooperation to address climate change and its adverse effect.

• The Ministers also welcomed the adoption of the Lima Call for Climate Action by the 20th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP20).

HURUN REPORT INC RELEASED THE HURUN GLOBAL RICH LIST 2015

The Hurun Report Inc on 3 February 2015 released the Hurun Global Rich List 2015, a ranking of the US dollar billionaires currently found in the world. The Hurun Global Rich List 2015 was sponsored by Chinese luxury home builder Star River Property.

The Hurun Global Rich List 2015 ranked 2089 billionaires from 68 countries. Around 649 billionaires saw their wealth increase and there were 341 new faces in the list. Although the list is expanded by 222 individuals, the total wealth dropped by 1.5 percent to 6.7 trillion US dollars.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates topped the Hurun Global Rich List 2015 followed by Mexican Carlos Slim on second position and Warren Buffett on third position.

In context of India, Mukesh Ambani is the richest Indian holding the Rank 41 followed by Dilip Shanghvi at 53 Rank and Pallonji Mistry & family at 60 Rank.

In the list, names of 230 billionaires remained unchanged, 869 individuals saw their wealth decrease and 95 individuals dropped out of list.

Highlights of the List

• Bill Gates remains the world's wealthiest individual increasing his wealth to 85 billion US dollars while Mexican Carlos Slim is second in the list with wealth of 83billion US dollars.

• Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest member of the Top 10 rich list. His wealth increased by 42 percent, moving him up to number 7 in the list.

• New York remains the favourite city of the super-rich people with 91 billionaires while London is still fifth with 49 billionaires.

• Russia's capital city Moscow continued to be the number two city in terms of billionaire density with 73 billionaires.

• The Big Two in the list are the USA and China with 537 and 430 billionaires respectively, amounting to almost half of the billionaires of the world. While, Russia lost 10 billionaires.

• United Kingdom is down by one place to 5th with 80 billionaires.

• Technology produced the most billionaires in 2014 that are 297, accounting for 11 percent of the entire list. The US has the most number of tech billionaires followed by China.

• The richest tech billionaire in the list is widow of Steve Jobs Laurene Powell Jobs with 18 billion US dollars of wealth and ranks 70.

• Around 56 percent of new billionaires reside in Asia. In China, solar energy tycoon Li Hejun replaced e-commerce giant Alibaba's CEO Jack Ma as the country's richest man with a fortune of 26 billion dollars.

• Richest family in world: The Walton family, owner of Wal-Mart, with the wealth of 138 Billion US dollars is the richest family in the world by far.

• The oldest billionaires on the list are 99 year old David Rockefeller Sr with the wealth of 1.4 billion US dollars (Rank 1392) and Taiwanese Lin Yu-Chia with wealth of 1.1 billion US dollars (Rank 1760).

Top 10 Billionaires in Hurun Global Rich List 2015

Rank

Name

Wealth (Billion US dollars)

Country of residence

1

Bill Gates

85

USA

2

Carlos Slim Helu & family

83

Mexico

3

Warren Buffet

76

USA

4

Amancio Ortega

55

Spain

5

Larry Ellison

54

USA

6

Bernard Arnault

45

France

7

Mark Zuckerberg

44

USA

8

Charles Koch

36

USA

8

David Koch

36

USA

8

Dieter Schwarz

36

Germany

Top 10 Billionaires under 40 years in Hurun Global Rich List 2015

Rank

Age

Name

Wealth (Billion US dollars)

Country of residence

1

24

Evan Spiegel

1.5

USA

2

26

Bobby Murphy

1.5

USA

3

30

Mark Zuckerberg

44

USA

4

30

Dustin Moskovitz

13

USA

5

30

Elizabeth Holmes

3.6

USA

6

30

Anton Kathrein Jr

1.4

Germany

7

31

Albert von Thurn und Taxis

2.0

Germany

8

31

Nathan Blecharczyk

1.5

USA

9

32

Scott Duncan

5.0

USA

10

32

Eduardo Saverin

3.7

Singapore

Countries by Self-Made Scorecard

Self-Made Scorecard

Percentage of Billionaires

Top 3 Countries (Percent of Billionaires)

Example

5

30%

1. China (61%)

Self-made without parental financial support like Warren Buffett

2. USA (13%)

3. Chinese Taipei(5%)

4

39%

1. USA (38%)

Self-made, but with a helping hand from parents such as through private education, Example Mark Zuckerberg

2. Russia (10%)

3. India (5%)

3

19%

1. USA (22%)

Inherited a small business and grew it big time, Example Rupert Murdoch

2. India (9%)

3. Germany (9%)

2

8%

1. USA (23%),

Inherited but active in the business, Example Liliane Bettencourt of L’Oreal

2. China (16%),

3. Chinese Taipei(8%)

1

4%

1. USA (33%),

Inherited and not actively involved in the business Example Laurene Powell Jobs of Apple Inc.

2. Brazil (13%)

3. China (7%)

Billionaires by Continent in Hurun Global Rich List 2015

S. No.

Continent

No. of Billionaires

Combined Wealth (Billion US dollars)

1

Asia

943

2523

2

North America

589

2385

3

Europe

401

1445

4

South America

92

267

5

Oceania

33

75

6

Africa

31

80

India in Hurun Global Rich List 2015

As per the list, India has overtaken Russia and United Kingdom in terms of the number of billionaires in the country. India has 97 billionaires, four more than Russia's 93.

India added 27 billionaires in 2014. Combined wealth of the Indian billionaires comes to 266 billion US dollars. Mumbai is headquarters to most of the Indian billionaires.

Mukesh Ambani is the richest Indian with a fortune of 20 billion US dollars (Rank 41). The other Indians to figure in the top 100 are Dilip Sanghvi of Sun Pharma who is ranked 53, Pallonji Mistry & family who own Tata Sons are ranked at 60 and Wipro's Azim Premzi is ranked at 74.

CHINA LAUNCHED FIRST MARITIME SILK ROAD CRUISE LINER FROM BEIHAI PORT

China on 9 February 2015 launched its first cruise liner to sail via its ambitious transcontinental initiative Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The sail was launched from the Beihai port located in southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

During its maiden tour the liner will visit three South-East Asian nations namely Vietnam, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia.

The cruise liner is a 135-meter-long and 20-meter-wide that can accommodate 400 people and is equipped with wireless internet access.

Maritime Silk Road (MSR)

• The 21st century Maritime Silk Road project is an initiative of President of China Xi Jingping who in 2013 proposed the rejuvenation of the MSR and revival of the ancient Silk Road to establish close relation between the China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) communities

• The MSR seeks to string together partnerships with countries in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, including India

• This maritime route entails expanding ports and industrial parks in Asia, the Mideast, Africa and Europe
• For development of the MSR, China had announced a 40 billion US dollar Silk Road fund which became operational from February 2015

NORTH KOREA TEST FIRES HOMEGROWN ANTI-SHIP SHORT RANGE MISSILES

North Korea on 8 February 2015 test fired homegrown anti-ship short range missiles. The missiles were tested off its east coast.

The missiles hit the sea after about 200 km (120 miles). This is the first time the ship and the missiles have been shown by North Korean state media.

The homegrown missile was developed by Korean People's Army from a new class of ship. The vessel is an attempt by the North Koreans to develop a high-speed stealth ship-killer using a surface effect hull—a combination of catamaran and hovercraft.

Surface Effect Ships (SESs) have a pair of rigid outer hulls surrounding a central air-cushion system that allows them to skim along the surface of the ocean and use more efficient marine propellers. Earlier, smaller KPA Navy SES patrol craft have reportedly reached speeds of 50 knots (90 kilometers per hour, or 57.6 miles per hour) and have incorporated some stealth features, such as faceted hull and superstructure designs intended to reduce their radar reflection.

However, the new SESs are bigger—as much as 40 meters (131 feet) long—and carry four of a new class of anti-ship missile derived from the Russian-made Kh-35 Uran—a sea-skimming missile with a range of over 250 kilometers (135 nautical miles) similar to the US' Harpoon missile.

It's not known if the North Korean built version has that sort of range, but during tests it was said to have hit and sunk a target ship 100 kilometers away. The SES is also equipped with two North Korean AK-630 30mm Gatling gun close-in weapons systems, four machine gun turrets, and a short-range anti-aircraft missile system.
Comment
The purpose of the test fire of the new missiles is to defend its waters and strongly react to any attempt of the enemy's fleets of warships for military attack, through close combat or distant combat.

North Korea frequently fires short-range missiles off its coast as part of military drills. The United Nations imposed sanctions banning North Korea from launching longer-range ballistic missiles, but not short-range missiles.

North Korea has increased the scale of air and naval military drills in recent weeks ahead of the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises on the Korean peninsula.

7TH ROUND OF INDIA KENYA JOINT TRADE COMMITTEE MEETING HELD IN NEW DELHI

The 7th round of India Kenya Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meet was held in New Delhi on 12 February 2015.

During the meet, the two sides reviewed bilateral trade between the two nations and reiterated their commitment towards strengthening mutually beneficial relationship. The two sides agreed

• To enhance cooperation in the fields of bilateral investment, infrastructure, SMEs, agriculture, health, energy, skill development & entrepreneurship, pharmaceuticals and tourism

• To ensure enhancement of bilateral trade and mutual cooperation, the two sides also agreed to meet often.

Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (Independent Charge) Nirmala Sitharaman led the Indian delegation in the meeting, while the Kenyan delegation was led by Ambassador Amina C Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade of Kenya.

The 8th meeting of the Joint Trade Committee would be held in Nairobi.

The Joint Commission of India and Kenya was set up in 1999 and the commission’s first meet was held in July 2003 in Nairobi. The 6th Joint Trade Committee (JTC) was held in October 2010 in Nairobi.

India Kenya relation

India was among the first countries to establish an office in Kenya and Indian Diaspora in Kenya has contributed actively to Kenya’s progress. Some major events and visits of the two countries

• Vice President of India Dr. S Radhakrishnan visited Kenya in July 1956

• President of Kenya Daniel arap Moi visited India in February 1981

• In 1981, President Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi also visited Kenya

• 2nd India-Africa Forum Summit was held in Addis Ababa on 24-25 May 2011

• India’s Minister for External Affairs and Union Minister for Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal visited Kenya in 2011

• In May 2011, the Vice President of Kenya, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka led a business delegation to India

• In November 2011, Kenya was also a participant nation at the 11th meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and associated meetings held in Bengaluru

• In August 2011, Indiafrica: A Shared Future Initiative was organised at the AIESEC Business Summit in Nairobi

SPACEX SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED FALCON 9 ROCKET FROM FLORIDA

Experimental aerospace firm SpaceX on 12 February 2015 successfully launched the Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on its third attempt.

The rocket carried an unmanned Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite. This satellite will be used by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to monitor the Sun.

The satellite will collect the information on solar storms and will monitor changes in solar wind and provide warnings on hazardous outbursts from earth to warn forecasters. It will also help forecasters to predict changes which affect satellites, power grids and communication systems.

DSCOVR will be positioned at the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrangian point, 1500000 kilometre away from Earth. The satellite will reach its final orbit in 110 days after launch. DSCOVR was jointly developed by NOAA, NASA and the United States Air Force.

About Falcon 9 rocket

• Falcon 9 rocket is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), a private space transport services company.

• It is basically used for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and Dragon spacecraft into orbit. It is powered by liquid oxygen (LOX) and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellants.

• In 2008, the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule combination had won a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract from NASA to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

RWB RELEASED THE WORLD PRESS FREEDOM INDEX 2015: INDIA RANKED AT 136TH POSITION

The Reporters Without Borders (RWB) on 12 February 2015 released the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) 2015. In the WPFI 2015, India was placed at 136th position out of 180 nations that were surveyed worldwide in terms of press freedom.

In the top of the list were three Scandinavian countries: Finland on the 1st position followed by Norway and Denmark. At the other end of the scale, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea were the worst performers securing the last places in the index.

The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide deterioration in freedom of information in 2014.

Declines in the WPFI 2015

• Andorra with 32nd position witnessed the sharpest fall in the index. It fell by 27 places as a result of the many conflicts of interests and lack of independence of its media from financial, political and religious interests.

• In Asia, East Timor fell by 26 places to 103rd position. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Congo fell 25 places to achieve 107th rank in the index.

• Western Europe saw numerous countries in decline. Italy was ranked at 73rd position, it fell 24 places. Iceland was down by 13 places to get 21st rank in the index by paying the price of worsening relations between politicians and media.

• Pressure on independent media continued to intensify in Russia which fell by 4 places to be placed at 152nd rank.

• The United States was placed at 49th position by falling down by 3 places. In 2014, the New York Times journalist James Risen came under US government pressure to reveal his sources.

The risers in the WPFI 2015

• Mongolia rose 34 places and was ranked at 54th position, the Index’s biggest jump.

• Tonga strengthened its position by achieving 44th rank due to an independent press. It rose by 19 places.

• The end of long-running political crisis in Madagascar boosted the country by 17 places. It stood at 64th position.

• In Europe, Georgia continued to rise for the third year by securing 69th position, up by 15 places.

• In 86th place, Ivory Coast was up by 15 places. It continued to emerge from the political and social crisis that plunged the country into full-scale civil war in 2010.

• Nepal at 105th position was up by 15 places as the country witnessed drop in violence by the security forces against journalists, especially at demonstrations.

• Tunisia rose seven places to achieve 126th rank, a relative increase although in absolute terms the country stagnated.

• A cause for satisfaction was Brazil which rose by 12 places to get 99th rank in the index.

• In America, Mexico managed to pull itself up four places, it got 148th rank.

Top 10 in WPFI 2015

Rank

Country

Overall Score

1

Finland

7.52

2

Norway

7.75

3

Denmark

8.24

4

Netherlands

9.22

5

Sweden

9.47

6

New Zealand

10.06

7

Austria

10.85

8

Canada

10.99

9

Jamaica

11.18

10

Estonia

11.19

India in World Press Freedom Index 2015

In WPFI 2015, India has shown improvement from its rank of 140 in 2014. However, India’s overall score  declined from 40.34 to 40.49. In 2014, India stood at 140th position.

About World Press Freedom Index (WPFI)

• World Press Freedom Index is produced by France-based international non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB). WPFI aims to promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press.

• The WPFI ranks the performance of countries according to index calculated based upon various parameters.

• These parameters include media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.

INDIA, SRI LANKA SIGNED AGREEMENTS ON CIVIL NUCLEAR COOPERATION, CULTURAL COOPERATION

India and Sri Lanka on 16 February 2015 signed bilateral agreements on civil nuclear cooperation, cultural cooperation and cooperation in the field of Agriculture. Besides, an agreement was also signed for Sri Lanka's participation in the Nalanda University Project.

India and Sri Lanka also agreed to expand defence and strategic cooperation, including a trilateral format with the Maldives.

The agreement was signed during Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena four-day visit to India.

Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation

• This agreement will facilitate the transfer and exchange of knowledge, expertise and resources in peaceful use of Nuclear energy between both nations.

• India will assist Sri Lanka in developing its civil nuclear energy infrastructure including training of personnel in peaceful use of nuclear energy, use of radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety and nuclear security.

• It will also facilitate cooperation in radioactive waste management and nuclear and radiological disaster mitigation and environmental protection.

• This is the first such agreement signed by Sri Lanka.

Other Agreements

• The agreement on Cultural cooperation was signed between both the nations for the years 2015-18. It seeks to enhance cooperation in different fields like arts, visuals arts, cultural documentation, archaeology, handicrafts, etc.

• A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on establishment of Nalanda University. It will enable Sri Lanka to participate in India’s Nalanda University project.

• Another MoU was signed between both the nations on cooperation in the field of Agriculture. It will facilitate bilateral cooperation in Agro Processing, Agricultural extension, horticulture, agricultural machinery, training in farm mechanization, livestock diseases, etc.

Comment

The agreement on civil nuclear cooperation between India and Sri Lanka may prove to be a game changer in the South Asia region and is a sign of a closer strategic partnership between Sri Lanka’s government led by Srisena and India.

Also, Srisena making his first official visit to India after becoming the President signifies the importance which the new government in Sri Lanka attaches to India as a regional ally following years of uneasy relations with India.

Further, this is a good sign for stronger and healthy ties between the two countries, especially given India's growing fear of China's proximity to Sri Lanka, which is perceived as a security threat for India.

5TH INDIA-MYANMAR JOINT TRADE COMMITTEE MEET HELD IN NAY PYI TAW

The 5th India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting was held in Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar on 17 February 2015.

India’s Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (Independent Charge) Nirmala Sitharaman co-chaired the meet with Myanmar’s Union Minister of Commerce U Win Myint.

During the meeting, the two nations committed towards strengthening mutually beneficial relationship especially in field of promoting two-ways investment, infrastructure development particularly to promote border trade, connectivity, agriculture, energy, skill and entrepreneurial development, pharmaceutical and people-to-people contacts.

Important Highlights of the Meeting

• Both the countries agreed to work together to remove the bottlenecks that hampers the bilateral trade and investment. The bottlenecks identified were lack of good connectivity, lack of banking arrangement both for regular and border trade.

• In context of bottlenecks, India offered to support Myanmar to develop infrastructure at the border trade points, upgrade trade training institutes in Yangon and provide training to Myanmar officials on World Trade Organisation (WTO) and international trade related issues.

• To promote bilateral trade, India offered to support subsidised direct shipping links between the two countries

• The two ministers also agreed to jointly inaugurate the land custom station in Zawkhatar, Mizoram at a mutually convenient date.

• Both sides also agreed to meet more often to ensure enhancement of bilateral trade and mutual cooperation to impart further momentum to overall strengthening of bilateral relations.

The next Joint Trade and Investment Forum will be held in Chennai. During this forum, Myanmar would organise a roadshow showcasing investment opportunities in Myanmar especially in the special economic zones.

INDIA AND BANGLADESH DECIDED TO STEP UP JOINT BORDER PATROLLING

India and Bangladesh on 17 February 2015 decided to step up joint patrolling along the boundary to act against criminals and smugglers. The coordinated border management plan will also help in enhancing cooperation between the two nations.

The decision was taken at the India-Bangladesh Joint Working Group meeting and the Home Secretary-level talks held in New Delhi on 16-17 February 2015. The Indian delegation was led by Union Home Secretary LC Goyal while the Bangladeshi delegation was led by Senior Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Mozammel Haque Khan.

Agreements and decisions made during the meet include

• The two sides agreed to vigil on the border by deployment of troops of Bangladesh in unguarded border areas of Bangladesh, particularly along the borders facing Tripura and Mizoram.

• The two sides agreed to act against the criminals engaged in human trafficking from Bangladesh to India and other countries.

• The two sides agreed to resolve the issues concerning fishermen drifting inadvertently across the maritime boundaries

• The two sides discussed about the security and border management-related issues between the two countries

• The meetings of Deputy Commissioners or District Magistrates of the districts bordering India and Bangladesh were also resumed, after a long time

Apart from this, LC Goyal also appreciated the steps taken by the Bangladesh authorities in acting against the carriers of fake Indian currency notes as well as the actions taken against the Indian Insurgent Groups taking shelter in the bordering areas of Bangladesh.

INDIA AND THE US HELD FIRST-EVER BILATERAL DIALOGUE ON UNITED NATIONS

India and the US on 19 February 2015 held their first-ever bilateral dialogue on the United Nations (UN) and other multilateral issues in Washington.

The dialogue was held in the spirit of the Delhi Declaration of Friendship which was released during the visit of US President Barack Obama to India in January 2015.

Besides discussing the UN issue, the dialogue between the two countries also focused on international peace and security, peacekeeping operations, counter-piracy, the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the UN Human Rights Council, and other matters of mutual interest.

The Indian delegation in the dialogue was led by Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup while the US was led by Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisation Affairs Sheba Crocker.
Delhi Declaration of Friendship released on 25 January 2015 during the visit of US President Barack Obama as a chief guest on 2015 Republic Day. Within the framework of the Delhi Declaration of Friendship, India and the US vowed to hold regular consultations in multilateral forums and strengthen and expand the relationship between the two countries.

FORBES RELEASED ASIA’S 50 POWER BUSINESSWOMEN 2015 LIST

Forbes on 26 February 2015 released Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen 2015 list. The list features six Indian women CEO and Managing Director (MD).

The Asia's 50 Power Businesswomen list showcases a year of accomplishments by the region's female entrepreneurs and executives.

The list includes following Women from India

• Arundhati Bhattacharya, CMD, State Bank of India

• Chanda Kochchar, CEO, ICICI Bank,

• Akhila Srinivasan, MD/Non-Executive Director, Shriram Life Insurance/Shriram Capital

• Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Founder, Chairman and MD, Biocon

• Shikha Sharma, CEO and MD, Axis Bank

• Usha Sangwan, MD, Life Insurance Corp. of India

The list is dominated by 27 newcomers. Some of them are

• Noni Purnomo, President Director of Indonesia’s Blue Bird Group Holding

• Lee Boo-jin, President and CEO of South Korea’s Hotel Shilla

• Sonia Cheng, CEO of Hong Kong’s Rosewood Hotel Group and Executive Director of New World Development

• Wandee Khunchornyakong, Chairman and CEO of Thailand’s SPCG

• Katie Page, CEO of Australia’s Harvey Norman

• Lucy Peng, co-founder of Alibaba and the energy behind its fast growing Ant financial-services unit

• Maggie Wu, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Alibaba and the driver of its blockbuster IPO

• Garamjav Tseden, Founder and Chairman of mining company Monpolymet

• Win Win Tint

The first time entrants to the list include Maggie Wu and Lucy Peng, Alibaba's top female decision-makers.

For the first time, two women Garamjav Tseden and Win Win Tint are included from developing nations Mongolia and Myanmar.

 

 

 


Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2015 07:36
 

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