Home Current Affairs CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN ; MAY 2015 - PART - 1
CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN ; MAY 2015 - PART - 1
Saturday, 18 July 2015 06:11

 

 

CURRENT AFFAIRS

MONTHLY BULLETIN

MAY 2015

PART - 1

 

 

INDIA DAIRY

 

1 May 2015
• Nitin Gadkari dedicated two Major Highway Projects in the North East to the Nation
• Union Ministry of Tourism released Draft National Tourism Policy 2015
• Andhra Pradesh and Telangana introduced 5 lakh rupees Accident Insurance Scheme for transport
• Surender Singh took over as Director General of CISF
• DoT extended deadline of full implementation of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) till 3 July 2015
• BHEL commissioned 195 MW Thermal Unit of KBUNL in Bihar

2 May 2015
• Veteran Journalist Amitabha Chowdhury passed away at 88

3 May 2015
• Dr Mahesh Sharma inaugurated Puducherry Science Centre and Planetarium
• NTPC signed MoA with Jharkhand Government for maintaining Patratu Thermal Power Station
• Cow-urine refinery inaugurated at Pathmeda village for research on cow products
• Baleshwar Ram, former Union Minister passed away
• Indian Army emerged champions in 19th Federation Cup National Athletic Championships
• Sandeep Jajodia removed as the president of Boxing India (BI)
• Railways won the 5th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship 2015

4 May 2015
• PM Narendra Modi joined Chinese social media platform Weibo
• Union Government made PAN mandatory for Central Excise Registration
• Haryana Government notified 163 services under Right to Service Act, 2014
• Rajasthan Government signed deal with NHM, UNICEF & GAIN to counter malnourishment
• BHEL commissioned 195 MW Thermal Unit of KBUNL in Bihar

5 May 2015
• Union Cabinet cleared 119th Constitutional Amendment Bill on LBA between India and Bangladesh
• India home to 48 of the 250 known species of bumblebees: Indian Bumblebees
• Indigenously developed Akash Weapon System (AWS) inducted into Indian Army
• A paleo channel claimed as River Saraswati identified in Muglawali village of Haryana

6 May 2015
• Algorithmic Trading caused BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty to close at lowest level in 2015
• Union Government launched Credit Enhancement Guarantee Scheme for Scheduled Castes
• Rajya Sabha passed 119th Constitutional Amendment Bill on LBA between India and Bangladesh
• Union Cabinet gave nod for revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with South Korea
• Union Cabinet approved foreign investments into Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
• CCEA approved hike in investment limit for cases requiring prior approval of FIPB
• CCEA Permitted Central Government agencies to invest beyond 26 percent in Mega Food Parks
• Lok Sabha passed the Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2014
• High Court of Gujarat ordered shutting down of 67 sand mines in Gir Forest Sanctuary
• Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar launched Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme in state
• Bollywood actor Salman Khan sentenced to five-years in jail in 2002 hit-n-run case
• Union Cabinet Approved Building and Launching of GSAT-17 and GSAT-18 Communication Satellites

7 May 2015
• I&B Minister Arun Jaitley launched DD News Mobile App
• Lok Sabha passed Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill 2014
• Union Government, ADB signed loan agreement worth 31 Million US dollars
• Achal Kumar Jyoti appointed as Election Commissioner
• Eminent historian Amalendu Guha passed away
• Navneet Rajan Wasan appointed as DG of Police Research & Development Bureau

8 May 2015

• NGT imposed monthly tax on all households in Delhi
• GIC held consultations on the creation of Nuclear Insurance Pool (NIP)
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi released commemorative coin on Swami Chinmayananda
• Book titled Unbelievable – Delhi to Islamabad written by Prof Bhim Singh released
• Indian Army signed MoU with Bank of India on Defence Salary Package

9 May 2015
• PM Narendra Modi launched Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) for accidental Insurance Cover
• PM Narendra Modi launched Atal Pension Yojana (APY) for unorganised sector workers
• PM launched Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) in Kolkata
• MIDC signed a MoU with SIDBI Venture Capital Ltd to fund MSMEs
• Goa Government launched hot air balloon & amphibious vehicles
• Haryana Government included Deaflympics in its sports policy
• India successfully test-fired advanced version of BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile
• Naval Base at Porbandar commissioned as INS Sardar Patel

10 May 2015
• PM inaugurated upgraded IISCO Steel Plant in Burnpur housing largest blast furnace plant of India
• Discus thrower Vikas Gowda won Gold at Jamaican International Invitation meet
• Asiatic lion population in Gir sanctuary increased to 523: Lion Census report 2015
• Veteran Bollywood actor Shashi Kapoor bestowed with Dada Saheb Phalke award

11 May 2015
• Lok Sabha passed Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill 2015
• RBI advised all Public Sector Banks to appoint Internal Ombudsman
• Telangana Government signed MoU with Google to build a campus in Hyderabad
• India Post launched Dedicated E-Commerce Centre in New Delhi
• Hyderabad to host Indo-Global Pharma Expo and Summit 2015 in July
• National Technology Day observed in India
• Union Finance Ministry appointed Justice AP Shah Committee to look into the issue of MAT on FIIs
• K Satish Reddy appointed as Chairman of National Safety Council (NSC)
• President authorized Justice Cyriac Joseph to act as interim NHRC Chairperson

12 May 2015
• President of India appointed four Governors and transferred two
• RBI released the report titled State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2014-15
• Moody's released the report Global Macro Outlook: 2015-16
• Lee Alan Johnson named Head Coach of U-19 football team of India
• UP Government launched Samajwadi Shudha Payjal Yojna for UP Roadways bus stations
• Bengali Writer Suchitra Bhattacharya passed away

13 May 2015
• Union Cabinet approved Namami Gange programme under National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)
• Supreme Court issued Guidelines on Regulating Government Advertisements
• Union Cabinet approved amendments to Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012
• Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2015 introduced in Lok Sabha
• CCEA gave its approval for 5% disinvestment in NTPC and 10% in Indian Oil Corporation
• Rajya Sabha passed The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2014
• Lok Sabha approved Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015
• Punjab government launched pan-state programme to monitor the soil health of every farm

14 May 2015

• Union Government approved Gujarat State Climate Change Action Plan 2015-2020
• Union Ministry of Minority Affairs launched USTAAD Scheme for Traditional Artisans
• RBI allowed Tap And Pay without PIN for transactions up to 2000 rupees
• Maharashtra government banned digging of borewells deeper than 200 feet
• MHRD Gave Nod for Setting up IIIT in Nagpur, Maharashtra
• Indian Scientists found a rare plant with anti-cancer properties in Western Ghats
• President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil

15 May 2015

• Union Government launched Kayakalp Award Scheme to improve cleanliness in Public Health Facilities
• Union Government decided to implement NERS for women in distress
• Union Government launched Road Asset Management System for National Highways
• Bengaluru airport signed a contract with SITA to allow self check-in from June 2015
• Gagan Narang Won Bronze in 50m Rifle Prone Men Event at ISSF Rifle/Pistol World Cup in Fort Benning
• ISRO announced to commission MOTR in June 2015
• MJ Joseph appointed as Controller General of Accounts
• Anurradha Prasad conferred with Pt. Haridutt Sharma Award for Journalism and Social Services
• 6th National Conference on Nuclear Energy held in New Delhi

16 May 2015
• Official website of 10th World Hindi Conference launched
• Ravishankar Prasad inaugurated first postal ATM in Bihar

17 May 2015
• Union government allocated 5000 crore for development of AYUSH

18 May 2015
• Union Government launched official website of NITI Aayog with blog section
• India Meteorological Department signed MoU with POSOCO Ltd to increase efficiency of power sector
• India assumed Presidency of the 68th World Health Assembly after 19 years
• Mumbai KEM Nurse Aruna Shanbaug died after 42-years in coma
• Union Government sanctioned 30 new cold storage projects
• New Catfish Species Glyptothorax Senapatiensis discovered in Manipur
• Draupadi Murmu sworn in as first woman Governor of Jharkhand
• Himachal Pradesh to host Paragliding World Cup 2015
• SS Ahluwalia appointed as Chairman of JPC on Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, 2015
• HDFC Bank launched HDFC Bank Apollo Medical Benefits Card
• Infosys announced to become carbon neutral by 2018
• Infosys became the first Indian Company to Join RE100 Renewable Energy Campaign

19 May 2015
• Union Ministry of Finance released draft outline of Gold Monetization Scheme (GMS)
• ISRO announced to launch ASTROSAT in October 2015
• Blue whales spotted for the 1st time in 100 years off Sindhudurg coast in Maharashtra
• Delhi Government decided to launch Pay & Play Scheme to promote sports
• PM Narendra Modi concluded his three-nation tour to China, Mongolia and South Korea
• Fourth Corvette of Project-28 christened Kavaratti launched

20 May 2015
• Union finance Ministry constituted Shah Committee to look into the issue of MAT on FIIs
• SEBI notified the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 2015
• Ecologists found a new species of fish called Pethia striata in Western Ghats, Karnataka
• World Bank approved 250 million dollar credit for Enhancing Teacher Effectiveness in Bihar
• Tathagata Roy sworn in as Governor of Tripura
• Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak temple received ISO 9001-2008 certification
• Maharashtra decided to amend Factories Act, 1948 to allow women to work in night shifts
• TP Senkumar appointed as DGP of Kerala
• US President Barack Obama entered Guinness Book of World Record
• Shanmuganathan sworn in as Meghalaya Governor
• Indigenously developed Astra Missile successfully test fired from ITR Chandipur in Odisha
• Eminent Economist Mrinal Datta Chaudhuri passed away
• President inaugurated 50th anniversary of India’s first historic climb of Mt. Everest in 1965
• Actress Sudha Shivpuri died

21 May 2015

• Union Cabinet approved revised FDI norms for NRIs, PIOs and OCIs
• Union Cabinet gave its approval for setting up Ammonia-Urea Complex at Namrup in Assam
• Shuttler Saina Nehwal of India ranked No.1 in single rankings released by BWF
• Andaman & Nicobar Police proposed to reserve 33% seats for women
• India reached 6th position in terms of scientific publications
• Nelong Valley in Uttarakhand opened first time for tourists after closure in 1962
• IGBC reported India registered 3 billion sq ft green building footprint
• Panneerselvam resigned as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
• Union Cabinet approved PSLV Continuation Programme for launching 15 flights PSLV-C36 to PSLV-C50
• Mirage 2000 fighter jet landed on Yamuna Expressway as part of developing road runways
• Anti Terrorism Day observed across India

22 May 2015

• 20th Law Commission submitted report on Guardianship and Custody Laws to the Union Law Ministry
• Expert committee on Health Insurance recommended changes in disclaimer wordings
• Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) appointed G Mohan Kumar as Defence Secretary
• UN observed International Day for Biological Diversity
• SAIL and ArcelorMittal signed MoU to set up Automotive Steel Plant in India

23 May 2015
• Indian boxers won three Gold at World Junior Women's boxing Championship
• Indian boxer won four Gold Medals at Doha International Boxing tournament 2015
• Indian Film Masaan won FIPRESCI Award at 68th Cannes film festival
• J Jayalalithaa sworn-in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for fifth time

24 May 2015

• BCCI recommended Contract system for Indian women cricket team
• Mumbai Indians won IPL 2015 title by defeating Chennai Super kings
• Delhi government tied-up with Rotary club to revamp government schools
• Tamil Nadu CM announced welfare schemes worth 1800 crore rupees
• Manoj Mishra appointed as CMD of National Fertilizers Limited

25 May 2015
• ICICI Bank launched Voice Recognition Service for Biometric Authentication
• Union Government approved 21 FDI proposals worth 281 crore rupees
• CS Santosh presented with 2014 FMSCI Motorsport Man of the Year Award
• Complete Story of Indian Reforms: 2G, Power & Private Enterprise written by Pradeep Baijal

26 May 2015
• Manabi Bandopadhyay became first transgender principal of Krishnagar Women's College
• High Court allowed Greenpeace India to operate two of its domestic accounts
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Doordarshan's farmer-centric Kisan TV Channel
• Himachal Pradesh set up satellite tracking system to check forest fire
• 48 tigers in non-protected Chandrapur forest areas of Maharashtra: WCT Survey
• Delhi Government approved mandatory GPS in public transport from June 2015
• Union Ministry of Finance constituted Committee on Revisiting & Revitalizing PPP Model
• Nirbhay Sharma sworn in as Governor of Mizoram

27 May 2015
• Tripura withdrew AFSPA from state
• RBI notified FIIs to invest up to 49 percent in Gammon Infrastructure Projects Limited
• NCDEX launched Gold Now platform for forward contracts in gold
• Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs notified the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2014
• Five women suspended for anti-doping rule violations named for TOP Scheme
• Union Sports Ministry gave nod for creation of RSFs by recognising federations of indigenous sports
• Ajanmi Beti Ke liye Daud organised for the cause of saving girl child in Himachal Pradesh
• Microsoft announced to open India's first Digital Experience Centre in Gujarat

28 May 2015
• RBI released Draft Guidelines on Net Stable Funding Ratio for Banks
• RBI proposed to introduce PPI for Mass Transit Systems
• Abhinav Bindra became 4th Indian shooter to qualify for 2016 Rio Olympics
• Maharashtra CM sets up a high powered task force to develop IFSC
• Increasing number of hamlets responsible for decline of Tigers in Buxa Tiger Reseve: West Bengal
• Book titled Ahmedabad: A City in the World by Amrita Shah released
• Book titled Super Economies by Raghav Bahl released
• S Christopher appointed as Director General of DRDO 
• Yaduveer of Wodeyar dynasty crowned as 27th Maharaja of Mysuru
• VA Prasanth appointed as the CFO of Indian Bank

29 May 2015
• State Bank of India launched Online Customer Acquisition Solution
• CSO released Provisional Estimates of National Income for FY 2014-15
• Andhra Pradesh brought 16 Sectors under Swiss Challenge method to develop Infrastructure
• Anand Kumar, Founder of Super 30, honoured in Canada
• Veena Jain appointed as Director General of Doordarshan News
• Pradeep Kumar Sinha appointed as Cabinet Secretary to Union Government
• G Satheesh Reddy appointed as Scientific Advisor to Union Defence Minister

30 May 2015
• Finance Minister inaugurated new Bank Note Paper Line unit in Hoshangabad, MP
• Former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo appointed as Chancellor of Nalanda University
• Union Government notified Undisclosed Foreign Income as Assets and imposition of Tax Act, 2015

31 May 2015
• Gurpreet Singh became 5th Indian to get quota place in shooting for 2016 Rio Olympics
• Fourth North East Youth Festival concluded in Jorhat district of Assam
• Mohun Bagan won I-League title of football after 13 years
• Gurpreet Singh became 5th Indian to get quota place in shooting for 2016 Rio Olympics

 

WORLD DAIRY

1 May 2015
• Tennis player Rafael Nadal received Golden Medal for Merit in Work of Spain
• Global warming will lead to extinction of 1 in 6 species by end of century: Study

2 May 2015

• Third India-Tunisia Foreign Office Consultations held in Tunis
• Russian ballet legend Maya Plisetskaya died
• 14th Edition of Indo-French Naval Exercise VARUNA 2015 concluded

3 May 2015

• World Press Freedom day observed globally
• Australia announced new punishments for foreigner investors breaking rules on buying property
• Mazen Darwish honoured with 2015 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
• Michael Blake, Oscar-winning author, passed away
• Lu Ping, Chinese diplomat who oversaw Hong Kong transition, died
• Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated Manny Pacquiao to win Fight of the Century of Boxing
• Roger Federer won the inaugural Istanbul Open Tennis Men’s Singles Title
• Chelsea won Barclays Premier League 2014-15 title with 1-0 win over Crystal Palace

4 May 2015
• French magazine Charlie Hebdo presented with Freedom of Expression Courage Award 2015

5 May 2015
• French Parliament approved Surveillance Law to prevent terrorist attack
• World Asthma Day 2015 observed with theme You Can Control Your Asthma
• Oscar Holderer, the US moon rocket expert, died

6 May 2015
• Philippines and Japan coast guards held anti-piracy drills in Manila Bay
• India, Iran signed inter-Governmental MoU for development of Chabahar Port
• Forbes released Global 2000 Companies list
• Canadian House of Commons approved Anti-Terror Act, 2015
• Save the Children released 16th annual State of the World’s Mothers (SOWM) report

7 May  2015
• Nepal Rastra Bank to provide interest-free loans for rebuilding houses
• 17th Century Scottish pirate captain William Kidd treasure found in Madagascar
• Singapore PM Lee opened first museum Indian Heritage Centre in Little India

8 May 2015
• North Korea successfully test-fired Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile
• India, Russia signed 11 MoIs for Higher Academic Cooperation
• UK General election 2015: Conservative Party won majority by securing 331 seats

9 May 2015
• Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic won the women’s singles title of Madrid Tennis Open
• Hollywood actress Elizabeth Wilson passed away

10 May 2015
• Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany won Spanish Grand Prix of Formula One
• Andy Murray of Britain won the men’s singles title of Madrid Tennis Open
• Rohan Bopanna, Florin Mergea won Men’s Doubles title of Madrid Tennis Open
• President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated Namaste Russia festival in Moscow

11 May 2015
• IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted environmental section of Polar Code
• KV Kamath appointed as first President of New Development Bank of BRICS nations
• Indian-origin Priti Patel appointed as Minister of State for Employment in British Government
• Pop artist Chris Burden passed away
• Picasso's painting Les Femme d’Alger sold for 179.3 million US dollars

12 May 2015

• Indian-American professor Dr. Sivanadane Mandjiny won UNC’s 2015 Award for Excellence in Teaching
• Indian author Neel Mukherjee won 2014 Encore Award for The Lives of Others
• Indian-American Sivanadane Mandjiny won UNC Board of Governors 2015 Award
• Indian-Origin Harbhajan Kaur Dheer became first Asian woman elected as Mayor in UK
• Peter Gay, Eminent American historian on European Thought passed away

13 May 2015

• Vatican recognised Palestine as State in the Holy See-Palestine Joint Statement
• World Economic Forum (WEF) released The Human Capital Report 2015
• Indian-American boy Karan Menon won 2015 National Geographic Bee Championship

14 May 2015

• Japanese Scientists discovered new state of matter called Jahn-Teller-metal
• Riley B. King, the King of Blues, passed away
• UNESCAP released Survey titled Making Growth More Inclusive for Sustainable Development
• Microsoft Sunrise launched Meet Keyboard

15 May 2015
• Palestinians observed 67th Nakba Day
• DD, CCTV signed agreement for exchange of art, culture programmes
• PM Narendra Modi announced e-Visa facility for Chinese Tourists
• India and China Signed 24 Agreements to Enhance Bilateral Co-operation
• Opah, the world’s first fully warm-blooded fish species, discovered by researchers

16 May 2015

• Former Army Brigadier David Granger sworn-in as eighth President of Guyana
• ICICI bank opened its first branch in China

17 May 2015

• Pope Francis Canonizes Two 19th-Century Palestinian Nuns as Saints
• India and Mongolia signed 13 agreements to enhance bilateral relations
• Brad Haddin, the Australia wicketkeeper retired from ODI cricket
• Novak Djokovic won 4th Rome Masters Tennis title

18 May 2015
• Joe Root and Charlotte Edwards named England cricketers of the year 2014-15
• EU approved plan to use Naval Force to combat Smugglers and tackle Migration crisis
• US President Obama banned certain military-style equipment provided to US police
• India, South Korea signed 7 agreements to upgrade relations to special strategic partnership level
• UNCTAD released a report titled Global Investment Trends Monitor
• Indian-American Harkeert Singh Saini won Prestigious Police Award in Texas, US

19 May 2015

• UN released World Economic Situation and Prospects Mid-2015 Update
• Maria Elena South, driest place on earth, discovered in Atacama Desert
• 9th Session of the India-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission held in Durban
• Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasznahorkai won the 2015 Man Booker International Prize
• Tamils in Sri Lanka commemorated war dead for the first time at Mullivaikkal village

20 May 2015

• British magazine SportsPro released World’s 50 Most Marketable 2015 report
• NASA’s Spacecraft provided first direct measurement for Type Ia Supernovae caused by white dwarfs
• Environmental Democracy Index 2015 released; India at 24th position
• Ranjit Singh Baxi elected as Head of Bureau of International Recycling
• Veteran jazz musician Bob Belden passed away
• UBS AG Bank of Switzerland agreed to pay 203 million US dollars for manipulating LIBOR
• Huawei launched LiteOS, world’s most lightweight IoT operating system (OS)

21 May 2015

• US Army developed Blast proof wallpaper to protect soldiers from explosions
• Palmyra, an ancient Syrian city, captured by ISIS militants
• Akhil Reed Amar appointed as member of the National Council on Humanities of US

22 May 2015
• British actor Terry Sue-Patt passed away

23 May 2015
• Nobel Awardee mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. died

24 May 2015
• Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany won Monaco Grand Prix of Formula One
• Argentine footballer Cristian Gomez died
• Cannes Films Festival 2015: French director Jacques Audiard bagged Palme d’Or

25 May 2015
• India and Vietnam signed Joint Vision Statement on Defence Cooperation 2015-2020
• UAE launched Strategic Framework for its Space Agency
• Switzerland named two Indians under probe in its official gazette
• Kumar Sangakkara named CEAT International Cricketer of the Year 2015
• 2000 year old Water supply system unearthed in Umm Tuba quarter of Israel
• NRI scientist Latha Venkataraman created first single-molecule device
• Eminent American Photographer Mary Ellen Mark passed away
• Tornado struck northern city of Ciudad Acuna in Mexico

26 May 2015
• Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of USA granted work Permit for H-4 visa holders
• NATO launched Arctic Challenge Exercise in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland
• Forbes released the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women 2015 list
• Trevor Bayliss appointed as head coach of England Cricket Team
• Abraj Kudai, world’s biggest hotel, set to open in Mecca in 2017

27 May 2015

• UNSC adopted resolution on protection of journalists in conflict zones
• US state of Nebraska abolished death penalty
• Seven FIFA Officials arrested on bribery charges in Zurich by Switzerland authorities
• Sevilla FC won Europa League title
• State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 report released
• Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair resigned as Special Envoy of the Middle East Quartet
• Indian-origin teacher Gurnimrat Nimmy Sidhu named for Oxford University award

28 May 2015
• Nigerian Army launched operations to flush out Boko Haram from Sambisa Forest

29 May 2015

• Sepp Blatter re-elected as FIFA President
• International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers observed across the world
• The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy released
• Winner of three Wimbledon titles in a day, Doris Hart, died at 89

30 May 2015
• Yogathon to be hosted in 100 US cities of first International Yoga Day 

31 May 2015

• Ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili appointed as Governor of Ukraine's Odessa region
• Barcelona won King's Cup final triumph
• WHO launched campaign against illicit trade of tobacco products on World No Tobacco Day 2015

 

 

BOOKS

A BOOK TITLED CHINA – CONFUCIUS IN THE SHADOWS WRITTEN BY POONAM SURIE RELEASED

China – Confucius in the Shadows: Poonam Surie

A Book titled China – Confucius in the Shadows was released by the Vice President M. Hamid Ansari on 1 May 2015. Confucius was considered as the most efficient author in Chinese history.

Book has been written by Poonam Surie. Poonam Surie is an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi.

The book highlights that in the evolving socio political milieu of China; interpreting Confucian philosophy as being non-confrontationist, benevolent and with values such as filial piety and harmony could help the current political regime deal with such problems as corruption and rising inequalities.


BOOK TITLED UNBELIEVABLE – DELHI TO ISLAMABAD WRITTEN BY PROF BHIM SINGH RELEASED

Book titled Unbelievable – Delhi to Islamabad authored by senior Advocate Prof. Bhim Singh was released on 8 May 2015 by Vice President M Hamid Ansari in New Delhi.

The book, a travelogue is an effort initiated by the lawyers of India and Pakistan to work jointly to ensure that Pakistani prisoners languishing in Indian jails are treated in accordance with the spirit of the

COMPLETE STORY OF INDIAN REFORMS: 2G, POWER & PRIVATE ENTERPRISE WRITTEN BY PRADEEP BAIJAL

The Complete Story of Indian Reforms: 2G, Power & Private Enterprise: A Practitioner's Diary: Pradeep Baijal Former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Pradip Baijal’s book The Complete Story of Indian Reforms: 2G, Power & Private Enterprise: A Practitioner's Diary was in news in fourth week of May 2015.

The self published book was in news because the author in the book has claimed that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had warned him of consequences if he did not co-operate in the 2G scam. He also claimed that even CBI warned him that he would be harmed if he did not cooperate.

Besides, in a talk with a news channel he also informed that the UPA government also destroyed some files related to the 2G scam. In the talk, he claimed that his charges are not politically motivated, and the former Prime Minister approved the action of his Ministers.

The author also claimed that Singh also dismissed his concerns in 2004 over Dayanidhi Maran being appointed as telecom minister as a case of conflict of interest. Maran was a broadcaster and TRAI had been made broadcasting regulator in 2004.

THE PAKISTAN PARADOX WRITTEN BY CHRISTROPHE JAFFRELOT

Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience: Christrophe Jaffrelot

Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience by Christrophe Jaffrelot was published by Vintage Books on 15 April 2015. Christrophe Jaffrelot is Research Director at CNRS and teaches South Asian Politics and History at Sciences Po (Paris).

The 688-pages book is an overview of the contemporary Pakistan which was born as the creation of elite Urdu-speaking Muslims who sought to govern a state that would maintain their dominance.

In order to maintain the dominance of this class, Jinnah imposed a unitary definition of Pakistan state that obliterated linguistic diversity. The centralization of power in Pakistan was justified by the Indian threat which fostered centrifugal forces that resulted in Bengali secessionism in 1971 and Baloch, as well as Mohajir, separatisms today.

Concentration of power remained the norm, and while authoritarianism peaked under military rule, democracy failed to usher in reform, and the rule of law remained fragile at best under Zulfikar Bhutto and later Nawaz Sharif.

Today, Pakistan faces existential challenges ranging from ethnic strife to Islamism, two sources of instability which hark back to elite domination. But the resilience of the country and its people, the resolve of the judiciary and hints of reform in the army may open a new and more stable chapter in its history.

BOOK TITLED AHMEDABAD: A CITY IN THE WORLD BY AMRITA SHAH RELEASED

Book Ahmedabad: A City in the World authored by Amrita Shah was released 28 May 2015. The book is a biography of India's seventh-largest city Ahmedabad and its all too frequent complicity in communal violence.

The author in the book has described the six-hundred year old former textile town in Kaka-style development and sketches Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle against British rule.

The book is the story of roadmaps and rivers, kings and kingmakers, merchants and savants; of Dalit labourers and women bootleggers, displaced Muslims and a euphoric middle class. It is also the incredible story of hope and vulnerability at the heart of a metropolis.

Amrita Shah

Amrita Shah has been a columnist and contributing editor with the Indian Express and was the founding editor of Elle India. She has also written Biography of Vikram Sarabhai in 2007.

She received fellowships from the New India Foundation, the Homi Bhabha Fellowships Council and Fulbright to write Ahmedabad: A City in the World.

At present, she is a visiting faculty at the Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.

BOOK TITLED SUPER ECONOMIES BY RAGHAV BAHL RELEASED

Book Super Economies: America, India, China & The Future Of The World: Raghav Bahl

The book Super Economies: America, India, China & The Future Of The World written by Raghav Bahl published in May 2015. He is an Indian businessman best known for his ownership of several television channels, including TV18.

The book explains the vastly changed nature of the world since the Cold War and predicts what will be the likely changes in the 21st centuary.

For this, the author took a cue from the emergence of super powers in the 20th century and the ongoing process of emergence of super economies in the 21st century.

Further, the author defined super economy as one possessing innovation, vast swathes of territory, low unemployment, improving infrastructure, strong currency and a significant military or nuclear capability and explained in detail how  each of the BRICS fare on this score - with China declared a super economy and categorizing India as a sleeper super economy.

At the end of the book, Raghav Bahl concludes that in future the US, India and China will come together against Islamic terrorism.

Raghav’s first book, Superpower? The Amazing Race Between China’s Hare and India’s Tortoise, was published by Penguin Allen Lane in 2010


IMPORTANT DAY

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY OBSERVED GLOBALLY

3 May: World Press Freedom day

The World Press Freedom day was observed globally on 3 May 2015. Every year, over 100 national celebrations take place to commemorate this day. This year, the theme of World Press Freedom day is Let Journalism Thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age.

The day marks the celebrations of the fundamental principles of press freedom to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

Generally, UNESCO on this day identifies the global theme and organizes the main event in different parts of world every year.

Background
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference in 1991. Since then, 3 May is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

This day also marks the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

WORLD ASTHMA DAY 2015 OBSERVED WITH THEME YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR ASTHMA

World Asthma Day 2015 was observed globally on 5 May 2015. Theme of the year is You Can Control Your Asthma and sub-theme is It’s Time to Control Asthma.

World Asthma Day takes place on the first Tuesday of May. The inaugural World Asthma Day was held in 1998.

The day is annually organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world.

About Asthma

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory long-term disease of the lungs which causes breathing problems by narrowing the airways. Symptoms of asthma include breathlessness, coughing, wheezing, and feeling of tightness in the chest and shortness of breath.

Asthma cannot be cured but the symptoms can be controlled enabling people with asthma to live full lives.

Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA)

The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) was launched in 1993 in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA, and the World Health Organization. It works with health care professionals and public health officials around the world to reduce asthma prevalence, morbidity, and mortality.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES OBSERVED WITH THEME MEN IN CHARGE? GENDER EQUALITY

15 May: International Day of Families

International Day of Families was observed on 15 May 2015 with themeMen in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families.

The 2015 theme aims to highlight gender equality and rights of children within families. It also highlights prevention of family violence through fair family law frameworks and a variety of programme interventions.

The day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues related to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families. It highlights different areas of interest and importance of families.

The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 and reflects the importance the international community attaches to families.

On this day, a series of awareness-raising events like and conferences, radio and television programmes, newspaper articles and cultural programmes related to theme  is held in different part of the world.

ANTI TERRORISM DAY OBSERVED ACROSS INDIA

21 May: Anti Terrorism Day/ Martyrdom of Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi

Anti-Terrorism Day was observed across India on 21 May 2015. The day is annually observed on the death anniversary of seventh Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated at an election rally near Chennai by a suicide bomber from the LTTE on 21 May 1991.

The day is observed to make people aware of the ongoing terrorist activities and the precautions to be taken by the commoners to prevent these acts of terrorism. Its motive is to promote unity, peace and harmony across the nation.

On this day, government employees are administered an anti-terror and violence pledge. Apart from this, several discussions, debates, cultural programmes and lecturers are held on the issue of terrorism and violence across the country.

UN OBSERVED INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

22 May: International Day for Biological Diversity

The United Nations (UN) observed the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD) on 22 May 2015. The theme for the year 2015 isBiodiversity for Sustainable Development.

This year theme highlights the relevance of biodiversity in achieving the goal of sustainable development. It also highlights the importance of efforts made to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda (2015-2030).

The selection of the theme also underlines the adoption of the Gangwon Declaration at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in South Korea in 2014.

The Gangwon Declaration recognised the importance of biodiversity in achieving SDGs and called for the further integration and mainstreaming of biodiversity in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

May 22 was proclaimed as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) in December 2000 to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues and to commemorate the adoption of Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act.

Earlier 29 December was designated as IBD to commemorate the date of entry into force of the CBD.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPERS OBSERVED ACROSS THE WORLD

29 May - International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

The international Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was observed on 29 May 2015 with the theme Together for Peace.

To mark the occasion, various events were organised across the globe to commemorate all brave men and women who have contributed towards establishing peace and security in the war torn countries and ravaged societies across the world.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2003 and designated 29 May as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

The day was established to honour the memory of the UN peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace and pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in UN peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage.

On this day, the Dag Hammarskjold Medal is awarded posthumously to the peacekeepers who lost the lives while serving in the cause of peace, during the preceding year.

Incidentally, India began its tryst with UN Peacekeeping by providing the Custodian Force in Korea in 1950. At present, Indian Army is among the top three contributors to UN Missions.

Theme for the year 2014 was A Force for the Future.

 

APPOINTMENTS; ELECTED; ETC.

SURENDER SINGH TOOK OVER AS DIRECTOR GENERAL OF CISF

Senior IPS officer Surender Singh on 1 May 2015 took over as Director General (DG) of central paramilitary force Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

Surender Singh is a 1980-batch police officer of West Bengal cadre. Earlier, he served as a Special Director in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) before getting the new assignment.

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

His tenure will end in August 2016.  He succeeded Arvind Ranjan.

Arvind Ranjan retired on 30 April 2015 as the DG of the CISF. He is a 1977-batch IPS officer of Kerala cadre, had been the head of the force for close to 16 months during which he initiated a slew of best practices in the force, especially, with regard to enhancing the security consultancy wing of the force.

CISF is the largest industrial security force in the world. It is directly under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and its headquarters are at New Delhi.

CIEF is the force of 1.41-lakh personnel strong force tasked to secure some of the most vital and strategic installations in the country like civil airports and facilities in the nuclear and aerospace domain.

ACHAL KUMAR JYOTI APPOINTED AS ELECTION COMMISSIONER

Achal Kumar Jyoti, the former Chief Secretary of Gujarat, on 7 May 2015 was appointed as the Election Commissioner of India. Jyoti (62) will have tenure of nearly three-years, when he will turn 65, the age at which Election Commissioners demit office under the Constitution of India.

His tenure will commence from the day he assumes the charge.

With this, the strength of three-member Election Commission of India has gone up to two. Till this appointment, two posts were vacant in the three-member election commission due to retirement of VS Sampath and HS Brahma.

At present, Nasim Zaidi, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), is the other member of election commission.

Jyoti is a retired IAS officer of 1975 batch and has worked as the Managing Director of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL). He also served as Chairman of Kandla Port Trust between 1999 and 2004. He retired from active service in January, 2013.

ACHAL KUMAR JYOTI APPOINTED AS ELECTION COMMISSIONER

Achal Kumar Jyoti, the former Chief Secretary of Gujarat, on 7 May 2015 was appointed as the Election Commissioner of India. Jyoti (62) will have tenure of nearly three-years, when he will turn 65, the age at which Election Commissioners demit office under the Constitution of India.

His tenure will commence from the day he assumes the charge.

With this, the strength of three-member Election Commission of India has gone up to two. Till this appointment, two posts were vacant in the three-member election commission due to retirement of VS Sampath and HS Brahma.

At present, Nasim Zaidi, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), is the other member of election commission.

Jyoti is a retired IAS officer of 1975 batch and has worked as the Managing Director of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL). He also served as Chairman of Kandla Port Trust between 1999 and 2004. He retired from active service in January, 2013.

UNION FINANCE MINISTRY APPOINTED JUSTICE AP SHAH COMMITTEE TO LOOK INTO THE ISSUE OF MAT ON FIIS

The Union Ministry of Finance appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Justice Ajit Prakash Shah to look into the issue of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs).

The decision was announced by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha on 11 May 2015.

The committee was appointed to resolve the contentious issue of MAT between the tax authorities and the foreign investors.

As per the Finance Act, 2015 the 20 percent MAT on Capital Gains made by FIIs is waived off from the financial year 2015-16. However, the issue of imposing MAT for past years (till 2014-15) has become controversial as the FIIs raised objections to 68 notices (in lieu of 602 crores rupees) issued by the International Taxation Wing of the Income Tax Department in lieu of MAT.

At present, Justice A P Shah is heading the 20th Law Commission of India.

K SATISH REDDY APPOINTED AS CHAIRMAN OF NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL (NSC)

K Satish Reddy, the Chairman of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., was appointed as the Chairman of the National Safety Council (NSC). He was appointed by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment on 11 May 2015.

As the chairman of the NSC, he will oversee its functioning in generating and developing initiatives on Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) at the national level.

He succeeded Venu Srinivasan, the Chairman of Sundaram-Clayton Group, who was appointed to the post in July 2011.

About National Safety Council (NSC)

• Its objective is to generate, develop and sustain a voluntary movement on Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) at the national level.

• The apex non-profit making body was set up by the Union Ministry of Labour on 4 March 1966 and was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950.

• Its headquarters is located in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra.

KV KAMATH APPOINTED AS FIRST PRESIDENT OF NEW DEVELOPMENT BANK OF BRICS NATIONS

Eminent banker Kundapur Vaman Kamath was on 11 May 2015 appointed as the first President of the New Development Bank (NDB) of BRICS nations. He will serve a five year term after the bank becomes operational within one year.

Currently, Kamath is the Chairman of the India’s largest private sector bank, Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI). He was ICICI Bank’s managing director and CEO from 1996 to 2009.

Kamath also served as Chairman of Infosys Limited. He had also worked with Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila in its Private Sector department in 1988. He was conferred with Padma Bhushan Award in 2008.

About New Development Bank (NDB) of BRICS nations

• BRICS group of nations comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in 2014 signed a pact to set up NDB and emergency reserve fund during the 6th BRICS Summit being held in Fortaleza, Brazil.

• In the beginning, bank will start operating with 50 billion US dollars as initial capital with the BRICS nation contributing 10 billion US dollars each.

• According to the pact, the capital of the bank will be divided equally among the five participating nations and initially it will focus on infrastructure projects member countries.

• The headquarters of the bank will be located in Shanghai, China and it will have a regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

• The chairmanship of the bank will be rotational and its first President will come from India for the first 5 years followed by Brazil and Russia.

PRESIDENT AUTHORIZED JUSTICE CYRIAC JOSEPH TO ACT AS INTERIM NHRC CHAIRPERSON

President Pranab Mukherjee on 11 May 2015 authorized Justice (retd) Cyriac Joseph to act as the interim chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

He will act as the Chairperson of the Commission with effect from 13 May 2015. He will act as Chairperson until the appointment of a new Chairperson in the NHRC in place of Justice K.G. Balakrishnan. Currently, Justice Cyriac Joseph is a Member of NHRC.

Former NHRC chairperson K.G. Balakrishnan had completed his tenure on 11 May 2015. He was the sixth NHRC chairman and the longest serving one.

Justice Balakrishnan had joined as NHRC chairperson in June 2010 after his retirement as the Chief Justice of India.

During his tenure, Justice Balakrishnan was instrumental in charting out several new initiatives towards promotion and protection of human rights in the country and laid a lot of emphasis on increasing the outreach of the Commission to build awareness about human rights.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is an autonomous public body constituted in October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of September 1993. It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

The NHRC is the national human rights institution, responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights.

MJ JOSEPH APPOINTED AS CONTROLLER GENERAL OF ACCOUNTS

MJ Joseph was on 15 May 2015 appointed as the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) in the Union Ministry of Finance. He succeeded Jawahar Thakur who has been appointed as OSD (Accounting Reforms) in the Office of CGA.

Prior to this appointment, Joseph was the Director General of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). He is a 1979 batch Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS) officer.

Previously, Joseph has served in various administrative capacities in the Union Government including the post of Additional Secretary in Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs and as Director in Union Ministry of Defence among others.

Joseph has also worked with the International Monitory Fund (IMF) as a Public Financial Management Adviser at the IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance centre based at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

He is a Post Graduate in International Economic Relations and studied Business Management from the University of Sydney, Australia.

About Controller General of Accounts

Controller General of Accounts is the principal Accounts Adviser to the Government of India and is responsible for establishing and maintaining a technically sound management accounting system.

He prepares a critical analysis of expenditures, revenues, borrowings and the deficit for the Finance Minister every month. He also prepares annual Appropriation Accounts (Civil) and Union Finance Accounts for presentation to the Parliament.

SS AHLUWALIA APPOINTED AS CHAIRMAN OF JPC ON LAND ACQUISITION AMENDMENT BILL, 2015

SS Ahluwalia was on 18 May 2015 appointed as the chairman of Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

The committee has 20 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 members from the Rajya Sabha.

The formation of the panel became necessary in the backdrop of disagreement among the political parties on the provisions of the bill which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 11 May 2015.

The committee will submit its report by the first week of the 2015 monsoon session.

SS Ahluwalia is a BJP Lok Sabha member representing Darjeeling constituency in West Bengal.

APPOINTMENTS COMMITTEE OF THE CABINET (ACC) APPOINTED G MOHAN KUMAR AS DEFENCE SECRETARY

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on 22 May 2015 gave its nod for appointing G Mohan Kumar as the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The decision was taken by the committee in a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mohan Kumar will be in the office for a period of two years and succeeds Radha Krishna Mathur who completes his tenure on 28 May 2015.

Kumar, a 1979 batch IAS officer of Odisha cadre, is presently Secretary of the Department of Defence Production in the MoD.

Earlier, he worked as the Secretary in the Ministries of Steel and Commerce and Industry and Additional and Special Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation among others.

J JAYALALITHAA SWORN-IN AS CHIEF MINISTER OF TAMIL NADU FOR FIFTH TIME

AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa was on 23 May 2015 sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for fifth time. Along with her, 28 others were sworn in as ministers in her Cabinet.

The oath was administered by Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah at the Madras University Centenary Auditorium in Chennai.

She is the 18th Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and succeeded O Panneerselvam who resigned on 21 May 2015 following her acquittal on 11 May 2015 in the disproportionate assets case by the Karnataka High Court.

The court overruled the Bangalore’s special court judgment which found Jayalalithaa guilty. The verdict made her ineligible to occupy the post and subsequently, O Panneerselvam assumed the office on 29 September 2014.

Jayalalithaa had been the Chief Minister for four times during June 1991-May 1996, May-September 2001, March 2002-May 2006 and May 2011-September 2014 and will be in the office till the expiry of the fourteenth State Legislative Assembly in May 2016.

MANOJ MISHRA APPOINTED AS CMD OF NATIONAL FERTILIZERS LIMITED

Manoj Mishra was on 24 May 2015 appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of state-run National Fertilizers Limited (NFL). The post of NFL's CMD fell vacant after the retirement of Neeru Abrol in February 2014.

Mishra is currently serving as the Director (Finance) at State Trading Corporation (STC). Mishra is a cost accountant by qualification. He began his career from fertiliser company Kribhco and worked there for 23 years.

NFL has five gas-based urea plants at Nangal & Bathinda in Punjab, Panipat in Haryana and two plants at Vijaipur in District Guna, Madhya Pradesh. The company has a total annual installed capacity of 35.68 lakh tonnes and is the second largest producer of urea in the country.

RANJIT SINGH BAXI ELECTED AS HEAD OF BUREAU OF INTERNATIONAL RECYCLING

Indian-origin entrepreneur Ranjit Singh Baxi was on 19 May 2015 elected as the Head of the Bureau of International Recycling, a global organisation that facilitates free and fair trade of recyclables in a sustainable and competitive world economy.

Baxi succeeded Bjorn Grufman. He will serve a two-year term as President of this global firm. In 2011, Baxi was appointed as the Treasurer of BIR, prior to which he was President of the organisation’s Paper Division from 2007 to 2013. He has also published a book titled Recycling our Future- A Global Strategy.

Ranjit Singh Baxi is a Founder Chairman of J&H Sales (International) Ltd, a major European exporter of recovered fibre to the Far East. He was also a Governor at the University of East London and a Member of British Prime Ministers Trade Delegation to India.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree and is a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

About Bureau of International Recycling (BIR)

Founded in 1948, Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) was the first federation to support the interests of the recycling industry on an international scale. It is a global recycling industry headquartered in Brussels.

It is an association representing over 850 member companies from the private sector and 40 national associations in more than 70 countries. It serves as a platform to establish successful business relations and to promote recycling among other industrial sectors and policy makers.

SUNIL D’SOUZA APPOINTED AS MD OF WHIRLPOOL INDIA

Sunil D’Souza was on 25 May 2015 appointed as the Managing Director (MD) of Indian home appliances maker Whirlpool of India Ltd. D'Souza will join the office of MD on 22 June 2015.

Prior to this appointment, he was the Head of PepsiCo’s VIMAPS Business Unit located in Malaysia. He has been with PepsiCo for about 15 years, holding various senior management positions in Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India.

He has rich and diverse experience across various fields including general management, sales, marketing, strategy and innovation in consumer-driven industries.

About Whirlpool

• Whirlpool is one of the world’s largest consumer durables firms in the world. It has a turn over about 20 billion US dollars in annual sales.

• With over 100000 employees, it has 70 manufacturing and technology research centres globally.

• It markets brands like Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht, Jenn-Air, Amana, Indesit and other major brand names in more than 170 countries.

S CHRISTOPHER APPOINTED AS DIRECTOR GENERAL OF DRDO

Eminent scientist Dr. S Christopher was appointed as the Director General (DG) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on 28 May 2015. He will have tenure of two years from the date of taking over the charge.

His appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC).

At the time of appointment, Christopher was Distinguished Scientist and Programme Director (airborne early warning and control system) and Director, Centre for Air-Borne Systems in the DRDO.

Till appointment of Christopher, the Department of Defence Research and Development (DoDRD) was under the additional charge of Defence Secretary since 30 January 2015, after Avinash Chander's contract was curtailed by the union government.

Chander’s contract as Secretary of Department of Defence Research and Development (DoDRD) and Director General DRDO from that of Scientific Advisor was terminated by the Union Government with effect from 31 January 2015.

Besides, the ACC also appointed Dr. GS Reddy as Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for a two-year term. He is Distinguished Scientist and Director, Research Centre Imarat, and Programme Director of Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) in the DRDO.

G SATHEESH REDDY APPOINTED AS SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR TO UNION DEFENCE MINISTER

Distinguished Scientist G Satheesh Reddy was on 29 May 2015 appointed as Scientific Advisor to Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for a period of two years from the date of taking over charge. Reddy is Director at Research Centre Imarat (RCI) & Programme Director of MRSAM, DRDO.

Reddy joined DRDO in 1986 and led the Conceptualization, Design, Development and productionisation of Inertial Sensors, Navigation schemes, Algorithms & Systems, Calibration methodologies, Sensor Models and Simulation.

As a Project Director, Reddy led the design and development of Ring Laser Gyro based INS System, MEMS based INS System, Sea-Guard Reference System and Ship Navigation system and also successfully developed a 1000 kg class guided bomb.

As a Director of RCI, he led the development of Avionics technologies in critical areas of Inertial Systems, Embedded Computers, Control, Real Time Software and Simulation, Power Supplies, Flight Instrumentation for various Defence programmes- Agni A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, Prithvi, Dhanush, Akash, etc.

He has also been honoured with various awards including the Indian Science Congress Association Homi J. Bhabha Memorial Award, DRDO Young Scientist Award, Agni Award for Excellence in Self Reliance, DRDO Scientist of the Year Award etc.

Reddy is a graduate in Electronics and Communication Engineering from JNTU, Anantapur and received his Doctorate from JNTU, Hyderabad.

PRADEEP KUMAR SINHA APPOINTED AS CABINET SECRETARY TO UNION GOVERNMENT

Pradeep Kumar Sinha was on 29 May 2015 appointed as the Cabinet Secretary to the Union Government with effect from 13 June 2015. He succeeded Ajit Seth.

His appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). The ACC also approved the appointment of Sinha as the Officer on Special Duty (OSD).

Before this appointment, Sinha was serving as Secretary, in Union Ministry of Power since July 2013. He had earlier been Secretary in the Union Ministry of Shipping and has held several other important positions in the Union Government and in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

The Cabinet Secretariat is under the direct charge of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Secretary is the administrative head of the secretariat.

The Cabinet secretariat assists in decision-making in government by ensuring inter-ministerial coordination, ironing out differences amongst ministries or departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing or adhoc committees of secretaries.

PERSON IN NEWS

MHAIRI BLACK BECAME THE YOUNGEST LAWMAKER OF BRITAIN

Mhairi Black on 7 May 2015 became the youngest lawmaker of Britain at the age of 20. The freshly elected lawmaker is from Scotland.

She belonged to Paisley and Renfrewshire South, a constituency outside Glasgow.  She defeated Douglas Alexander, Labour's election chief and a former Cabinet minister with 17864 votes.

She is a member of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

From a young age, she would march for causes as diverse as support for a Scottish parliament and opposition to the Iraq war.

She made history by becoming the youngest lawmaker in UK history since the 17th century. In 1667, after being returned as knight of the shire Christopher Monck took his place in Parliament when he was just 13.

INDIAN-ORIGIN PRITI PATEL APPOINTED AS MINISTER OF STATE FOR EMPLOYMENT IN BRITISH GOVERNMENT

Indian-origin Priti Patel on 11 May 2015 was appointed as Minister of State for Employment in British Government.

Prime Minister David Cameron promoted Priti Patel to his Cabinet after his surprise victory in general elections.

As the new minister of state for employment in the Department of Work and Pensions, the 43-year-old will attend Cabinet as the senior-most Indian-origin member of the newly-elected British government.

Priti Patel is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Witham constituency in Essex since 2010.

Priti Patel is Gujarati by origin. In January 2015, she was awarded the Jewels of Gujarat honour at a reception in Ahmedabad, where she led a British delegation to the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015.

She also played host at the first-ever Gujarat Foundation Day in the House of Commons, celebrating the achievements and contributions of the Gujarati community in the UK and around the world in May 2014.

INDIAN-ORIGIN HARBHAJAN KAUR DHEER BECAME FIRST ASIAN WOMAN ELECTED AS MAYOR IN UK

Indian-Origin Harbhajan Kaur Dheer on 12 May 2015 became the first Asian woman to be elected as mayor in the United Kingdom (UK).

The 62-year-old councilor of the Labour Party assumed the charge as the Mayor of Ealing Council in London in which she was the Deputy Mayor before assuming the present position.

She was a mental health professional and is a rights activist advocating for rights of children and elderly.

She is a Punjabi by origin and migrated to Britain in 1975 for pursuing higher education.

Incidentally, her husband Ranjit Dheer is a former mayor of Ealing Council.

Ealing Council serves the residents and businesses of London's third largest borough, which is located in the heart of west London.

US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ENTERED GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORD

President of the United States (US) Barack Obama on 20 May 2015 entered Guinness Book of World Record for reaching a million followers in a span of mere 5 hours after going live.

Barack Obama debuted on Social Media Platform Twitter with @POTUS account.

He beat the previous record, which was set in April 2014 by Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr., after the actor reached a million followers in 23 hours and 22 minutes.

The US President already has the account @BarackObama, which has amassed nearly 60 million followers. However, the new @POTUS account is associated with the presidential office - or as Obama puts it.

MANABI BANDOPADHYAY BECAME FIRST TRANSGENDER PRINCIPAL OF KRISHNAGAR WOMEN'S COLLEGE

Manabi Bandopadhyay on 26 May 2015 became the first transgender principal of Krishnagar Women's College in Nadia district, West Bengal. She will join her new job from 9 June 2015. Currently, she is working as an associate professor in Bengali at the Vivekananda Satobarshiki Mahavidyalaya.

She did her Master of Arts (MA) in Bengali and joined the Vivekananda Centenary College in Jhargram sub-division as a lecturer in the late 1990s.

In 1995, she published the country’s first transgender magazine, Ob-Manab (sub-human). The magazine, despite a very low circulation, continues to be published.

In April 2015, Supreme Court (SC) declared the transgender community as a legal third gender, granting them minority rights and privileges to education, employment and health benefits.

The court directed the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities. India is estimated to have about two million transgender people.

YADUVEER OF WODEYAR DYNASTY CROWNED AS 27TH MAHARAJA OF MYSURU

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja of Wodeyar dynasty on 28 May 2015 was crowned as the 27th Maharaja of erstwhile kingdom of Mysuru.

The 22-year-old adopted heir to the Wodeyar dynasty was coronated at a grand ceremony that took place in the hallowed precincts of Durbar Hall at the Amba Vilas Palace in Mysuru, also known as the city of palaces.

The grand ceremony was attended by around 1000 special invitees and pontiffs from the region including former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and state ministers KJ George, RV Deshpande, DK Shivakumar, Srinivasa Prasad and Roshan Baig and Lokayukta Y Bhaskar Rao.

The last coronation took place 41 years ago when Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar was crowned at the age of 21.

Srikantadatta Wodeyar, the only son of Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, the last ruling Maharaja of Mysuru, and his second wife Maharani Tripura Sundari Ammani Avaru, succeeded his father as the head of his dynasty in September 1974. He died of cardiac arrest in Bengaluru on 10 December 2013.

Wodeyar Dynasty

The Wodeyar dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Mysuru from 1399 to 1947, the last king being Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, who ruled from 1940 until Indian independence in 1947 when he acceded his kingdom to the dominion of India, but continued as the Maharaja until India became a Republic in 1950.

AWARDS

FOUR INDIANS TO BE CONFERRED WITH 2015 SPRING IMPERIAL DECORATIONS OF JAPAN

Four Indians will be conferred with the Spring Imperial Decorations of Japan which were announced on 29 April 2015.

These Indians are among the 85 foreign recipients who will receive the award at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on 8 May 2015. The awards will be conferred by Emperor of Japan Akihito.

The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star

(i)  Krishna Pillai Aiyappankutty Nair (75): He is a former Advisor and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh.

He was awarded for the contribution to the enhancement of relations and the promotion of friendship between Japan and India.

(ii) Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao (80): He is the Honorary President of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advance Scientific Research, Bangalore and a former Chair of the Japan-India Science Council.  He was awarded with the highest civilian award of India Bharat Ratna in 2014.

He was awarded for contribution to promoting academic interchange and mutual understanding in science and technology between Japan and India.

The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays

(iii) Nikunj Parekh (74): He is the President of Indo-Japanese Association, Mumbai and Director of Bonsai Study Group of Indo-Japanese Association, Mumbai.

He was awarded for contribution to promoting and presenting Japanese Culture in India

The Orders of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays

(iv)Topgay Bhutia (64): Former local employee of the Embassy of Japan in India was awarded for his contribution to the activities of the Japanese overseas establishment.

TENNIS PLAYER RAFAEL NADAL RECEIVED GOLDEN MEDAL FOR MERIT IN WORK OF SPAIN

Ace tennis player Rafael Nadal on 1 May 2015 received the Golden Medal for Merit in Work. Golden Medal is one of the top civilian honours of Spain which aims to highlight an exemplary performance in any job or profession.

Nadal received the honour from the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey at the PM’s official residence Moncloa Palace in Madrid.

Rafael Nadal is 14-time Grand Slam singles champion out of which he has won the French Open for a record nine times. He is often called The King of Clay and is currently ranked World Number 5.

Besides, he has won the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles, a record 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and 15 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments.

MAZEN DARWISH HONOURED WITH 2015 UNESCO/GUILLERMO CANO WORLD PRESS FREEDOM PRIZE

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 3 May 2015 presented the 2015 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Syrian journalist and rights activist Mazen Darwish.
The award was presented in Latvia on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day in recognition of the work he has carried out in Syria for more than ten year as a human rights defender and a journalist.

About Mazen Darwish

• He is a lawyer, press freedom advocate and is the president of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (CMFE) which was founded in 2004.

• He is one of the founders of the Voice newspaper and syriaview.net, an independent news site which was banned by the Syrian authorities.

• He established Media Club in 2011, the first Syrian magazine about media affairs.

• He has been detained by the Syrian Authorities since 16 February 2012 along with Hani Zaitani and Hussein Ghreir, his colleagues at the CMFE on the charges of promoting terrorist acts.

• The UN General Assembly on 15 May 2013 adopted Resolution 67/262 demanding that the Syrian authorities immediately release all persons arbitrarily detained, including the members of the CMFE.

• In January 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) addressed a communication to the Syrian authorities denouncing the arbitrary detention of Darwish and his Media Centre colleagues and called for their immediate release.

In 2014, the award was presented to Ahmet Sik, a Turkish journalist for his investigative work on the controversial Gülen movement of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

FRENCH MAGAZINE CHARLIE HEBDO PRESENTED WITH FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION COURAGE AWARD 2015

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was on 5 May 2015 presented with the 2015 Freedom of Expression Courage Award of the PEN American Centre at the American Museum of Natural History.

The award was accepted by Charlie Hebdo's Editor-in-chief Gerard Biard and critic-essayist Jean-Baptiste Thoret. Other than the magazine, the awards were also presented to playwright Tom Stoppard, Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova and Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle.

The PEN American Centre recognized the Charlie Hebdo for the award as twelve of its staff members were massacred in a January 2015 terrorist attack caused by magazine's offensive cartoons of Muslims.

About PEN American Centre

Founded in 1922, PEN American Centre is an association of 4000 US writers working to break down barriers for free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and in the advancement of human rights.

PEN is composed of centres, each of which represents its membership and membership of its Centres is open to all qualified writers, journalists, translators, historians, and others actively engaged in any branch of literature, regardless of nationality, race, colour or religion.

VETERAN BOLLYWOOD ACTOR SHASHI KAPOOR BESTOWED WITH DADA SAHEB PHALKE AWARD

Veteran Bollywood actor Shashi Kapoor was on 10 May 2015 honoured with the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award by Union Information and Broadcasting Minster Arun Jaitley at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai. With this, Shashi Kapoor became the 46th winner of the award.

He was awarded for his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema. He began his career as an actor as a child artist in the 1940s.

Shashi Kapoor is known for his performances in films like Jab Jab Phool Khile, Deewar and Kabhi Kabhie. Earlier, he has got the National Award for best actor for the film New Delhi Times in 1986, National Film Award – Special Jury Award / Special Mention (Feature Film) for Muhafiz (1993).

He was also awarded with the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi (as Producer) for Junoon in 1979. He has appeared in 160 movies all together, 12 being in English and the rest in Hindi. He was also honoured with the Padma Bhushan Award by the Union Government in 2011.

INDIAN-AMERICAN PROFESSOR DR. SIVANADANE MANDJINY WON UNC’S 2015 AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING

Indian-American Professor Dr. Sivanadane Mandjiny on 12 May 2015 won the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors 2015 Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award carries a commemorative bronze medallion and a 12500 US dollar cash prize.

He was one of the 17 winners of the annual awards that serve to underscore the importance of teaching.

Currently, he is a Chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina. He became department chair in 2011. He had joined University’s Department of Chemistry and Physics in 1996 as a teaching associate.

Sivanadane Mandjiny is a native of Tamil Nadu. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Madras and a master’s degree in biochemical engineering from the IIT.

He also holds a second master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto and a PhD from the Universite de Technologie de Compiegne in France. Mandjiny’s has studied in four languages Hindi, Tamil, French and English

He is the recipient of three Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Mandjiny won the university's Outstanding Teaching Award in 2006.

INDIAN AUTHOR NEEL MUKHERJEE WON 2014 ENCORE AWARD FOR THE LIVES OF OTHERS

Indian author Neel Mukherjee on 12 May 2015 won the 2014 Encore Award for his novel The Lives of Others. The award is worth 10000 pounds.

The Lives of Others is his second novel. The novel is set in Kolkata of the 1960s when Naxalite violence was at its peak. It is the story of Supratik Ghosh and his family, after he leaves home to join the Communist party of India, Marxist and mobilise the peasants against their landlords.

The Lives of Others was also shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and the Costa Novel Award. Neel Mukherjee's first novel, A Life Apart, was published in 2010.

Other short-listed authors are Will Wiles, Deborah Kay Davies and Amanda Coe. Encore award was founded by Lucy Astor in 1990 to celebrate second novels.

2013 Encore award won by Evie Wyld for All The Birds, Singing.

INDIAN-AMERICAN SIVANADANE MANDJINY WON UNC BOARD OF GOVERNORS 2015 AWARD

Indian-American professor Sivanadane Mandjiny on 12 May 2015 won University of North Carolina Pembroke’s UNC Board of Governors 2015 Award for Excellence in Teaching. Mandjiny is currently serving as a Chemistry Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in US.

Annually, the Board of Governors of the University names one professor at each of the 17 UNC campuses to receive the award. The award consists of the prize money of 12500 US dollars and a commemorative bronze medallion.

Mandjiny joined the University's Department of Chemistry and Physics in 1996 as a teaching associate and earned tenure in 2006. He became department chairperson in 2011.

Mandjiny came to Pembroke from France where he obtained his PhD and was doing post-doctoral research. As a native of Tamil Nadu, he earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Madras and a master's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Mandjiny is a distinguished scholar with many published research papers, dozens of conference presentations and significant grant work. He has mentored 118 student research projects on subjects applicable to alternative energy, agricultural science and chemistry in zero gravity.

INDIAN-AMERICAN BOY KARAN MENON WON 2015 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BEE CHAMPIONSHIP

Karan Menon, a 14-year-old Indian-American student, on 13 May 2015 won the 2015 National Geographic Bee championship. Menon answered all questions correctly related to places like Tashkent, Telangana and the Oresund Strait.

In addition to winning the title of National Geographic Bee champion, Menon received a 50000 US dollars college scholarship, lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society and an expedition for two to the Galapagos Islands aboard the Lindblad ship National Geographic Endeavour.

Menon competed against 10 finalists from across the US to win the championship. Out of the 10 finalists, seven were of Indian-origin.

The first-runner up and recipient of a 25000 US dollars college scholarship was 11-year-old Shriya Yarlagadda of Michigan. The third place and a 10000 US dollars college scholarship went to Sojas Wagle of Arkansas, a 13-year-old eighth grader.

Seven other finalists who won 500 US dollars were Kapil Nathan; Nicholas Monahan; Patrick Taylor; Abhinav Karthikeyan; Lucy Chae; Shreyas Varathan and Tejas Badgujar.

PRESIDENT PRANAB MUKHERJEE CONFERRED THE PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS FOR CLASSICAL TAMIL

President Pranab Mukherjee on 14 May 2015 conferred the Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil for the years 2011-12 and 2012-13. The award was conferred on scholars who have made outstanding contribution to the development of Classical Tamil language and literature.

Awardees:
•    Tolkappiyar Award for lifetime achievement in Classical Tamil was given to SV Shanmugam for year 2011-12 and R Krishnamurthi for year 2012-13.

•    Kural Pitam Award was given to Eva Maria Wilden of Germany for 2011-12.

•    Young Scholar Awards was presented to E. Ezhilvasanthan, K. Jawahar and K. Iyyappan for 2011-12.

•    Young Scholar Award for the year 2012-13 was given to R. Venkatesan, A. Sathish, M.R. Devak, U. Alibava and B. Jaiganesh.

About the Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil

The Presidential Awards for Classical Tamil were instituted by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD). The award carries a citation and shawl apart from a cash award of 5 lakh rupees for Tolkappiyar Award and Kural Peedam awardees.

While, the award money of 1 lakh rupees is bestowed on Young Scholar Awardees.

ANURRADHA PRASAD CONFERRED WITH PT. HARIDUTT SHARMA AWARD FOR JOURNALISM AND SOCIAL SERVICES

Anurradha Prasad, the Editor-in-Chief of News 24 Channel, on 15 May 2015 was conferred with the Pt. Haridutt Sharma Award for Journalism, Writing and Social Services.

She was conferred with the award by Vice- President Hamid Ansari in New Delhi.

The award is given in the memory of Pt. Haridutt Sharma who was a renowned journalist and eminent writer. The award is given annually in the field of Journalism, Writing and Social Services for the outstanding contribution in their respective field.

The Award comprises of Cash prize of 51000 rupees, Citation, Trophy, Shawl and Souvenir.

INDIAN-AMERICAN HARKEERT SINGH SAINI WON PRESTIGIOUS POLICE AWARD IN TEXAS, US

Harkeert Singh Saini, an Indian-American policeman in third week of May 2015 won the prestigious Top Civilian Supervisor of the Year. He was awarded for his efficient services to the Houston Police department in the state of Texas of United States.

Saini who hails from Hoshiarpur district of Punjab received his award from Houston Mayor Anise Parker and Police Chief Charles A McClelland. He is a graduate from Deshbandu College in New Delhi.

44-year-old Saini shifted to Houston in 1998 and joined its police department in March 2000. During his 15-year service in Houston Police Department he was subsequently promoted as an office supervisor.

HUNGARIAN WRITER LASZLO KRASZNAHORKAI WON THE 2015 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE

Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasznahorkai on 19 May 2015 won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for 2015. His name was announced as the sixth winner of the award at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

With this award, Krasznahorkai born in 1954 received a cash prize of 60000 pound. He joined the league of other awardees, namely Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare (2005), Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe (2007), Canadian author Alice Munro (2009), and American writer Philip Roth (2011) and American writer Lydia Davis (2013).

Innovative Hungarian writer Krasznahorkai gained recognition in 1985 with his book Satantango, which later was adapted for the cinema in collaboration with the filmmaker Bela Tarr.

Awards and Honours conferred on Laszlo Krasznahorkai

• In 1993, he received the German Bestenliste Prize for the best literary work of the year for The Melancholy of Resistance.

• He has been honoured with numerous literary prizes, amongst them the highest award of the Hungarian state, the Kossuth Prize.

• Krasznahorkai and his translator George Szirtes won the 2013 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for Satantango

• He won the Best Translated Book Award in the US two years in a row, in 2013 for Satantango and in 2014 for Seiobo Their Below

The judging panel for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize was chaired by writer and academic Marina Warner.

About Man Booker International Prize

Man Booker International Prize is an international literary award given every two years to a living author of any nationality for a body of work published in English or generally available in English translation.

The Man Booker International Prize is sponsored by Man Group plc, which also sponsors the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

CANNES FILMS FESTIVAL 2015: FRENCH DIRECTOR JACQUES AUDIARD BAGGED PALME D’OR

French thriller Dheepan was honoured with the Palme d'Or top prize at the Cannes Film Festival on 24 May 2015. The film brings a spotlight on the plight of traumatised refugees building new lives.

Indian film Masaan directed by Neeraj Ghaywan won the Promizing Future Prize Ex-aequo at the festival.

List of awards at the Cannes Film Festival

Feature Films

• Palme d'Or: Dheepan, directed by Jacques Audiard

• Grand Prix: Saul Fia (Son of Saul), directed by Laszlo Nemes

• Award for Best Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien for Nie Yinniang (The Assassin)

• Award for Best Screenplay: Michel Franco for Chronic

• Award for Best Actress Ex-aequo: Emmanuelle Bercot in Mon Roi, directed by Maiwenn and Rooney Mara in Carol, directed by Todd Haynes

• Award for Best Actor: Vincent Lindon in La Loi Du Marché (The Measure of a Man), directed by Stephane Brize

• Jury Prize: The Lobster, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Short Films

Palme d'Or - Short Film: Waves '98 directed by Ely Dagher

Un Certain Regard

• Un Certain Regard Prize: Hrútar (RAMS) directed by Grímur Hakonarson

• Jury Prize - Un Certain Regard: Zvizdan (The High Sun) directed by Dalibor Matanic

• Directing Prize of Un Certain Regard: Kishibe No Tabi (Journey to the Shore) directed by Kurosawa Kiyoshi

• Un Certain Talent Prize: Comoara (The Treasure) directed by Corneliu Porumboiu

Promizing Future Prize Ex-aequo

• Nahid directed by Ida Panahandeh

• Masaan Directed by Neeraj Ghaywan

Cinefondation

• 1st Prize Cinéfondation: Share directed by Pippa Bianco

• 2nd Prize Cinéfondation: Locas Perdidas (Lost Queens) directed by Ignacio Juricic Merillán

• 3rd Prize Cinéfondation Ex-aequo: Victor XX directed by Ian Garrido López

• The Return of Erkin directed by Maria Guskova

Golden camera

• Camera d'or: La Tierra Y La Sombra directed by César Augusto Acevedo

INDIAN FILM MASAAN WON FIPRESCI AWARD AT 68TH CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

Indian Movie Masaan on 23 May 2015 won the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) award at the 68th Cannes International Film Festival. The film is directorial debut of Neeraj Ghaywan.

The movie is jointly produced by Manish Mundra, Macassar Productions, Arte France Cinema, Sikhya Entertainment & Phantom Films. It stars Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi along with Richa Chadda and Sanjay Mishra.
The movie was showcased in the Un Certain Regard section at the movie gala, following which it received a five-minute standing ovation. The film is based in Varanasi and its characters are connected with the River Ganges. 
Apart from Masaan, Hungarian film Son of Saul by Laszlo Nemes won the critics prize in Official Competition and the other movie Paulina Paulinawon the prize in Parallel Sections.

TWO INDIANS POSTHUMOUSLY NAMED FOR UN’S DAG HAMMARSKJOLD MEDAL

Two Indians Lance Naik Nand Ram and Raju Joseph on 23 May 2015 were posthumously named for prestigious United Nations (UN) Dag Hammarskjold Medal.

Lance Naik Nand Ram served the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Raju Joseph served in a civilian capacity with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

They will be awarded on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers observed annually on 29 May 2015.

The 126 military, police and civilian personnel lost their lives in 2014 while serving with the UN as a result of hostile acts, accidents and disease and will receive the medal during a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York.

In 2014, eight Indian soldiers were posthumously awarded the medal, named after Dag Hammarskjold, the second UN Secretary-General.

The Dag Hammarskjold Medal was established in December 2000 and is awarded posthumously to members of peacekeeping operations who lost their lives during service with a peacekeeping operation under the operational control and authority of the United Nations.

Hammarskjold, a Swedish diplomat and second Secretary General of the UN died in a mysterious plane crash in 1961. He was posthumously awarded a Nobel Peace Prize the year he died.

India’s contribution to UN Peacekeeping Mission

India is among the largest contributors of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping. It currently deploys 8112 military and police personnel to the UN peacekeeping operations in Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Middle East, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara.

So far, India has contributed nearly 180000 troops to UN peacekeeping missions, including the 103-strong Indian female police unit in the UN mission in Liberia.

International Day of UN Peacekeepers

The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, as a tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

United Nations Organisation (UNO) was formed in 1945. In 2015, UNO will mark 70th anniversary. The theme for the day in 2015 is UN at 70: Peacekeeping: Past, Present, and Future.

INDIAN-ORIGIN TEACHER GURNIMRAT NIMMY SIDHU NAMED FOR OXFORD UNIVERSITY AWARD

An Indian-origin teacher Gurnimrat Nimmy Sidhu on 27 May 2015 named for University of Oxford Inspirational Teacher Award.

The award was given to her for helping one of her students get into the world-famous varsity. She had received her trophy in Oxford alongside 11 others, also nominated by their students for their role in getting them admission into one of the world's most prestigious universities.

She is among 12 teachers to win the University of Oxford Inspirational Teacher Award. Currently, she is working as the head of science at Oaks Park High School in north-east London.

The award was set up to encourage more state-funded schools to connect with the university. The scheme was set up by the university to counter criticism of elitism with largely wealthy and privately educated students being able to gain admission.

ANAND KUMAR, FOUNDER OF SUPER 30, HONOURED IN CANADA

Super 30 founder and mathematician Anand Kumar on 29 May 2015 was honoured by Legislature of British Columbia in Canada at Toronto University for his pioneering work in the field of education.

The Speaker Linda Reid honoured Kumar with a memento and also appreciated his endeavour at a proposal initiated by Marc Dalton, an MLA. The 42-year-old Kumar was honoured for his rare achievements for the students from India's underprivileged sections.

Kumar was invited by the British Columbia Government in recognition of his work through globally acclaimed Super 30, which has mentors 30 students mostly from the underprivileged sections of the society for IITs free of cost for the last 14 years.

About Anand Kumar

• Anand is a native of Bihar who in 2010 won the Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Shiksha Puraskar, the highest award given by the Government of Bihar

• Mathematical Spectrum and Mathematical Gazette of the UK has published a number of papers of Anand Kumar. During graduation, Kumar submitted papers on Number Theory, which were published in Mathematical Spectrum and The Mathematical Gazette

• Three times, Kumar has been invited jointly by the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society to present his papers

About Super30

• Super30 established in 2002 by Anand Kumar in Patna, Bihar under the banner of Ramanujan School of Mathematics. It provides free residential mentoring to 30 selected students from underprivileged families to appear in the entrance exam of IIT-JEE. Super30 as an institution that has achieved international recognition for social awakening

• In 2010, the Time Magazine selected Super30 in the list of the Best of Asia

• It was included in the list of four most innovative schools in the world by the Newsweek Magazine

UTTARAKHAND’S HEALTH MINISTER SS NEGI CONFERRED WITH WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY AWARD 2015

Uttarakhand’s Medical, Health and Family Welfare Minister Surendra Singh Negi on 31 May 2015 was conferred with the World No Tobacco Day Award 2015 by the World Health Organsiation (WHO).

He was one of the six awardees from the WHO South-East Asia Region.

In addition, the WHO Director-General Special awards were presented to

• Marcelo Fisch, Head of the Fiscal Special Control Division, Federal Revenue Secretariat, Ministry of Finance, Brazil

• Kenya Revenue Authority

WHO Director-General's Special Recognition Certificates were presented to

• Luk Joossens of Belgium, one of the rapporteurs of the WHO expert group on illicit tobacco trade

• Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination of Pakistan.

Every year, the WHO recognizes individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.

This recognition takes the form of WHO Director-General Special Recognition Awards and World No Tobacco Day Awards. The prestigious awards are presented to mark the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).

DEFENCE

INDIAN COAST GUARD (ICG) HELD THEERA VETA DEFENCE EXERCISE IN ARABIAN SEA

Indian Coast Guard (ICG) from 28 April to 29 April 2015 held a security exercise, Theera Veeta, in the Arabian Sea.
The exercise was intended to augment the preparedness of the security agencies in protecting the porous maritime borders of Kerala, Lakshadweep, Minicoy Islands and Mahe (part of Puducherry) from external attacks.

The exercise was conducted by the ICG from its Operation room at Kochi and Kavaratti and monitored from the Joint Operation Centre (JOC) located at the Kochi Naval base.

In the two day exercise, along with the ICG, Indian Navy, Coastal Police and other central and state/Union Territory (UT) police agencies were involved.

Comment
Theera Veta is a periodical exercise conducted by the security agencies in order to assess and augment the defence preparedness against security related threats to the off shore economic assets like oil wells and mineral rich areas in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and coastal population.

14TH EDITION OF INDO-FRENCH NAVAL EXERCISE VARUNA 2015 CONCLUDED

The Fourteenth edition of the Indo-French naval exercise VARUNA 2015 concluded on 2 May 2015. The exercise started on 23 April 2015 off the Goa Coast.

Features of the VARUNA 2015 Exercise

• Its aim was deriving mutual benefit from the experiences of the two navies. The experience gained through such exercises helps in developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the fields of Joint Maritime Air

Operations Planning with exchange of Carrier Operational Capabilities.

• The exercise included both a harbour and sea phase and its mandate was to cover the entire gamut of maritime operations ranging from Aircraft Carrier Operations, Anti Submarines Warfare Exercises, Maritime Interdiction Operations and multi-ship replenishment exercise.

• From the Indian side, the participants included Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat, which is the second largest flagship vessel of the Indian Navy after INS Vikramaditya, destroyer Mumbai, stealth frigate Tarkash, guided missile frigate Gomati, replenishment tanker Deepak, submarine Shankul among others.

• The French Navy was represented by Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle, which is the flagship vessel of the French Navy and the largest Western European warship currently in commission, two destroyers Chevalier Paul and Jean de Vienne, replenishment tanker Meuse and a maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique 2 among others.

About VARUNA Exercise

Though the navies of both the countries have been conducting joint exercises since 1983, these exercises were christened as VARUNA in 2001 following the establishment of a strategic partnership between the two countries. 
Till date, thirteen such exercises have been conducted and the last exercise VARUNA 12 was conducted in the Mediterranean Sea from 19 July to 22 July 2012 off the Toulon Coast.

INDIGENOUSLY DEVELOPED AKASH WEAPON SYSTEM (AWS) INDUCTED INTO INDIAN ARMY

The first regiment of the indigenously developed Surface-to-Air missile Akash Weapon System (AWS) on 5 May 2015 was inducted into the Indian Army in New Delhi.

It is part of the orders for two regiments placed by the Army worth about 19000 crore rupees.

Features of Akash Weapon System (AWS)

• Each regiment of AWS consists of six launchers with each launcher having three missiles.

• It consists of sophisticated radars and control systems to guide the missile towards the target.

• Each missile weighs 720 kg having a length of 5.78 meters.

• It is fully automated and can simultaneously engage multiple targets in all weather conditions including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in addition to helicopters and fighter planes.

• It has a large operational range from a low altitude of 30 metres to a maximum of up to 20 km.

• At 96 per cent indigenisation, it represents a major capability development for a crucial weapon system.

• Unlike the Air Force version, which was inducted in March 2012, the Army variant of Akash is designed for high mobility and can be quickly moved to any operational theatres based on necessity.

• Akash has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and is being built by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

• It was originally planned as part of the five missiles under the Integrated Guided Missile Development (IGMD) Programme initiated in 1984.

INDIA SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRED ADVANCED VERSION OF BRAHMOS SUPERSONIC CRUISE MISSILE

India on 9 May 2015 successfully conducted the 48th test firing of the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile from the Car Nicobar Islands in Andaman and Nicobar.

The advanced version of the land-to-land configuration of BrahMos Block-III version was test-fired from a Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) for its full-range of 290 km.

Features of BrahMos Missile

• It is the first supersonic cruise missile known to be in service and is capable of carrying a conventional and nuclear warhead of 300 kilogram.

• It is a two-stage missile having Solid propellant in the first stage and Ramjet liquid propellant in the second stage.

• It can be launched from land, Sea, Sub-seas and air.

• It operates on Fire and Forget Principle by adopting varieties of flights on its way to the target.

• It approaches the enemy target with a top speed of Mach 2.8; which is about three times faster than the US subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.

• The missile has been developed by the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited. It is a joint venture between Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroeyenia and India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the missile derives its name from the names of two rivers, namely the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.

• While the BrahMos Weapon Complex (BWC) first version was inducted in the Indian Navy in 2005 on board the INS Rajput and the first regiment of BrahMos missile Block (A1) with the formation of N816 missiles was inducted into the Army in 2007; the air version of the missile is still in the testing stage.

NAVAL BASE AT PORBANDAR COMMISSIONED AS INS SARDAR PATEL

The Naval establishment of Indian Navy at Porbandar, Gujarat was on 9 May 2015 commissioned as INS Sardar Patel by Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat. The commissioning ceremony was marked by traditional gaiety and naval precision.

As a part of the ceremony, the commissioning plaque was unveiled along with the marble bust of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Ironman of India.

The commissioning of INS Sardar Patel will enable the Indian Navy to qualitatively augment its infrastructure and organisational effectiveness in Gujarat, which would improve coordination and synergy with other maritime agencies of Union Government.

This Forward Operating Base (FOB) of Indian Navy in Gujarat and the Headquarters of the Naval Officer-in-Charge (Gujarat, Diu & Daman) will also enhance the logistic support being provided to the Indian Navy units deployed in the Northern Arabian Sea, including International Maritime Boundary Line with Pakistan.

Commodore BR Prakash, who is the Naval Officer-in-Charge (Gujarat, Diu & Daman) is the first Commanding Officer of INS Sardar Patel.

INDIAN ARMY SIGNED MOU WITH BANK OF INDIA ON DEFENCE SALARY PACKAGE

Indian Army on 8 May 2015 signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bank of India (BOI) on the Defence Salary Package.

The first MoU between BOI and the Indian Army was signed in 2011 and was valid for a period of three years. This revised MoU is customised to suit the requirements of serving soldiers, pensioners and families. Number of additional facilities was incorporated in the revised MoU after concerted efforts.

Highlights of the MoU

• This MoU will benefit a large number of serving and retired Army personnel who own their accounts with BOI.

• It will also provide them an opportunity to access modern banking facilities.

• It includes the standard bundle of free/concessional services including free drafts, free cheque books, free funds transfers to any bank in India through RTGS / NEFT, free ATM cards etc.

• Some additional features of this MoU are that the Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) cover is extended upto 10 lakh rupees from 5 lakh rupees.

• It provides for Air insurance, Home Loan Insurance on Army Welfare housing Organisation (AWHO) for deaths on account of war/external aggression/ terrorist attack for up to 50 lakh rupees.

• It provides applicability of PAI and overdraft facility to pensioners and waiver of merchant service fee (MSF) for transaction on BOI POS Terminal installed at CSD Canteens for BOI Card holders.

• It also has a provision for yearly review of specific features and requests.

FOURTH CORVETTE OF PROJECT-28 CHRISTENED KAVARATTI LAUNCHED

The fourth Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) Corvette of Project-28christened Kavaratti was on 19 May 2015 launched at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE), Kolkata.

In keeping with the nautical traditions, the ship was launched by Manita Singh, wife of the Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh.

The four ships of Project-28 built by GRSE, Kolkata have been designed indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design, New Delhi and bear the testimony to the acclaimed legacy of Naval Designers. The ships have been constructed using high grade steel (DMR 249A) produced in India.

Key Characteristics of ASW Corvettes

  • With a displacement of 3300 tonnes, the sleek and magnificent ASW Corvettes span 109.1 meters in length and 13.7 meters at the beam.
  • They are propelled by four diesel engines to achieve speeds in excess of 25 knots and have an endurance of more than 3000 Nm.
  • The P-28 corvettes also boast of revolutionary Rail-less Helo Traversing System, Foldable Hangar Door, use of Personnel Locator System and use of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) Superstructure integrated with the Steel Hull in the third and fourth ships of the Class.
  • These ships have common raft mounted Gear Box and Diesel Engines, which give the vessels very low radiated underwater noise.
  • The P-28 Ships also have Total Atmospheric Control System (TACS) and an Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) which include Integrated Bridge System as well as Battle Damage Control System.
  • They also incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and manoeuvrability.
  • Enhanced stealth features of the corvettes have been achieved by including Low Radar Cross Section (RCS) signature through full beam superstructure, inclined ship sides and reduced Infra Red (IR) signature by use of Infra Red Suppression System (IRSS) device.
  • The ships are also equipped to carry and operate one multiple role helicopter.

In addition to these features, Kavaratti will be packed with an array of state of art weapons and sensors, including a Medium Range Gun, Torpedo Tube Launchers as well as Rocket Launchers, Close-In Weapon System and Chaff System.

INDIGENOUSLY DEVELOPED ASTRA MISSILE SUCCESSFULLY TEST FIRED FROM ITR CHANDIPUR IN ODISHA

Indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile, Astra was successfully test fired at the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur in Odisha on 20 May 2015. It was test-fired aboard a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft.

The present test was a part of the series of tests planned to test the missile’s subsystems like propulsion, navigation and guidance and the smooth separation of the missile from the aircraft, etc.

The previous test was conducted on 18 March 2015 from the same place.

About the Astra missile

• Astra is India’s first beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) that is capable of engaging its target at ranges of 37 km or beyond. It has operational range of 60km.

• The all-weather missile has been indigeniously designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

• It is a state-of-the-art missile in the sense that it travels at supersonic speed (4780 km/h), possesses Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP) with active radar terminal guidance, uses smokeless propulsion system to evade enemy radars and has the capacity to engage in multi-target scenario.

• The 3.8 metre long missile is the smallest of the DRDO-developed missiles and can be launched from different altitudes.

• It can reach up to 110 km when fired from an altitude of 15 km, 44 km when launched from an altitude of eight km and 21 km when fired from sea level.

• The missile will be inducted into the armed forces by 2016 after few more tests, including pre-induction trials.

MIRAGE 2000 FIGHTER JET LANDED ON YAMUNA EXPRESSWAY AS PART OF DEVELOPING ROAD RUNWAYS

Mirage 2000 fighter jet of Indian air force (IAF) on 21 May 2015 landed successfully on Yamuna Expressway as part of developing road runaway for emergency landing.

It's a kind of first for military aviation in India. IAF conducted the successful trial run of landing on Yamuna Expressway near Mathura under the plan of use of national highways in emergency situations.

The operations were conducted with active support from the government of Uttar Pradesh, Yamuna Expressway Authority, toll authorities of JP Infratech and the civil police.

This sucessful trial run gives a push to the planning of authorities to convert the upcoming Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which is the longest greenfield expressway in the country, as India's first road runway. For this, Uttar Pradesh government had given a green signal on 11 May 2015.

The 308km Agra-Lucknow expressway is expected to cost 13000 crore rupees. It will pass through Firozabad, Shikohabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Kannauj and Mohanlalganj.

Pre-requisite for road runway

For the road runway, the particular stretch of the road should be straight, level, located at a non-undulating round without any slope and also free of waterlogging and free of floods.

The road runway segment will not have electricity poles, masts or mobile phone towers. There will be portable ground lighting systems that can be quickly placed on the roadsides to guide aircraft during landings.

China, Pakistan, Sweden, Germany and Singapore are among the countries that have road runways. Road runways assume importance if airbases are crippled during hostile situations.

COMMITTEES | COMMISSIONS

UNION MINISTRY OF FINANCE CONSTITUTED COMMITTEE ON REVISITING & REVITALIZING PPP MODEL

Union Ministry of Finance on 26 May 2015 constituted a Committee on Revisiting and Revitalizing the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Model of Infrastructure Development under the Chairmanship of Vijay Kelkar.

Vijay Kelkar is a former Finance Secretary and Chairman, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), New Delhi.

The decision is in tune with the announcement made on 28 February 2015 by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the 2015-16 budget.

The Terms of Reference of the Committee

• Review of the experience of PPP Policy, including the variations in contents of contracts and difficulties experienced with particular variations or conditions, if any.

• Analysis of risks involved in PPP projects in different sectors and existing framework of sharing of such risks between the project developer and the Government, thereby suggesting optimal risk sharing mechanism.

• Propose design modifications to the contractual arrangements of the PPP based on the above and international best practices and our institutional context.

• Measure to improve capacity building in Government for effective implementation of the PPP projects.

Members of the Committee

C S Rajan, Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan

S B Nayar, CMD, IIFCL, New Delhi

Dr. Shekhar Shah, Director General, NCAER

Pradeep Kumar, MD, CBG, State Bank of India

Vikram Limaye, MD, IDFC

Sudipto Sarkar, Barrister-at-law, Kolkata

P S Behuria, IRS (Retd)

Representative of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways – not below the rank of Joint Secretary
Sharmila Chavaly, Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs will be the Member Secretary of the committee.

The committee is mandated to submit the report by 26 June 2015.

Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) will provide secretarial assistance to the Committee.

ENVIRONMENT

UNION CABINET APPROVED THE COMPENSATORY AFFORESTATION FUND BILL, 2015

The Union Cabinet on 29 April 2015 gave its nod for introduction of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill, 2015 in the Parliament.

The objective of the legislation is to provide for institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilization of amounts realised in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.

Key Provisions of the bill

• Establishment of the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) and the State CAFs to credit amounts collected by Union Territory Administrations and State Governments to compensate loss of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.

• Constitution of National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to manage and utilise amounts credited to the National CAF.

• Constitution of State CAMPA in each State and Union Territory to manage and utilise the amounts credited to the State CAFs.

• Establishment of a Monitoring Group to assist the National CAMPA in monitoring and evaluation of activities undertaken from amounts released from the National CAF and State CAFs.

Importance of the bill

• The proposed legislation would bring the CAF within broader focus of both Parliament and State Legislatures and in greater public view, by transferring them to non-lapsable interest bearing funds, to be created under public accounts of the Union of India and each State.

• It will also ensure expeditious utilization of accumulated unspent amounts available with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), which presently is of the order of 38000 crore rupees.

• Further, it would also ensure fresh accrual of compensatory levies and interest on accumulated unspent balance, which will be of the order of approximately 6000 crore rupees per annum, in an efficient and transparent manner.

• Utilization of these amounts will facilitate timely execution of appropriate measures to mitigate impact of diversion of forest land, for which these amounts have been realised.

• Apart from mitigating the impact of diversion of forest land, utilisation of these amounts will also result in creation of productive assets and generation of huge employment opportunities in rural areas, especially in backward tribal areas.

INDIA HOME TO 48 OF THE 250 KNOWN SPECIES OF BUMBLEBEES: INDIAN BUMBLEBEES

India is home to 48 of the 250 known species of bumblebees. It was revealed by the book Indian Bumblebees released in April 2015.

The book was written by entomologist M.S. Saini along with co-authors Rifat H. Raina and Harpeet Singh Ghator.

About Bumblebees

• Like the honeybees, bumblebees are social insects and live in colonies. The size of colonies varies from species-to-species.

• Mostly characterised by black, yellow and reddish body hair, and often striped, bumblebees are generally found on altitudes of 2000-15000 feet along the entire Himalayas, from Jammu and Kashmir to Nagaland.

• The founder of the colony is the queen that hibernates throughout winter. In spring, she finds a site for a nest and then lays her eggs which will result in worker bees.

• They are crucial for the very sustenance of vegetation in high-altitude regions because they are the only pollinators which can live in that adverse climate.

• They pollinate vegetables, fruit trees, cash crops and even ornamental and medicinal plants high in the Himalayas.

ASIATIC LION POPULATION IN GIR SANCTUARY INCREASED TO 523: LION CENSUS REPORT 2015

The number of Asiatic lions in Gir sanctuary of Gujarat increased to 523, according to 2015 Lion census report released in the first week of May 2015. This 14th lion census registered 27 percent increase in the number of Asiatic lions compared to 2010 census which had registered 411 Asiatic lions.

As per recent census, there are 201 female lions, 109 male lions and 213 sub-adults as well as cubs in Gir sanctuary and in other protected areas in Gir Somnath, Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts of Saurashtra region of Gujarat.

268 lions were sighted in Junagadh district and 44 lions in the Gir-Somnath district while 174 lions were sighted in Amreli district and 37 lions in Bhavnagar districts.

The lions’ habitat area almost doubled since 2010 and has considerably increased to 21000 square kilometers.

The 2015 Lion census exercise was carried out from 1 May to 5 May 2015. The lion population was registered using Global Positioning System (GPS) in case of direct sighting or direct contact methods.

The census was conducted by more than 2 thousand persons. It included 600 units of enumerators, government officials, trackers, wildlife experts, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Background

Asiatic lions, which were once found in Syria, Iran, the sub-continent and in Central Asia, are an endangered species. Now, they are found only in the Gir sanctuary and its surrounding areas. They are categorized as endangered species in International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list.

The first lion census was carried out in 1936 by the erstwhile princely state of Junagadh when the lion population was around 287. During the 1975 census, their number stood at 177. The 1990 census counted 234 lions and in 2001 their number increased to 327.

Lion census is carried out after every 5 years by Gujarat state forest department.

UNION CABINET APPROVED NAMAMI GANGE PROGRAMME UNDER NATIONAL GANGA RIVER BASIN AUTHORITY (NGRBA)

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13 May 2015 gave its nod for implementation of Namami Gange programme (NGP).

The programme will be operational under the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).

Key Features of Namami Gange Programme (NGP)

• It is an Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission in the sense that it tries to integrate the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga river in a comprehensive manner and will result in socio-economic benefits in terms of job creation, improved livelihoods and health benefits to the vast population that is dependent on the river.

• Its focus is on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation or appropriate in-situ treatment or use of innovative technologies such as sewage treatment plants (STPs) or effluent treatment plant (ETPs).

• It has a budget outlay of 20000 crore rupees for 2015-20. This is a significant four-fold increase over the expenditure in the past 30 years as the Union Government incurred an overall expenditure of approximately 4000 crore rupees on this task since 1985.

• The Union Government will sanction 100 percent funding for various activities or projects under this program and the operation and maintenance of the assets will be for a minimum period of 10 years.

• It would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations that is State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).

• A three-tier mechanism will be established for project monitoring viz., A high level task force chaired by the Union Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level,  State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level and District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.

• It emphasizes on improved coordination mechanisms between various Ministries or Agencies of the Union and State governments and will involve the States and grassroots level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and people living on the banks of the river in implementation to attain sustainable results.

• It adopts a PPP (Public Private Partnership) or Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) approach for pollution hotspots.

• A 4-battalion Ganga Eco-Task Force, a Territorial Army unit, will be set up to bolster enforcement.

IMO’S MARINE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION COMMITTEE (MEPC) ADOPTED ENVIRONMENTAL SECTION OF POLAR CODE

The 68th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) held between 11 May and 15 May 2015 adopted provisions of the Polar Code related to environmental norms.

The meeting was held at the IMO Headquarters in London, the UK.

While the recent provisions are related to discharges of ships operating in the Polar Waters (Arctic and Antarctic seas), the safety regulationsrelated to ship design, equipment, crew training and search-and-rescue issues were adopted the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in December 2014.

Both of these regulations are part of the Polar Code aimed at protecting the environment of Polar Waters from pollution causing ships operating in the region.

Environmental Provisions of the Polar Code

• Prevention of pollution by oil: Discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures from any ship are prohibited and Oil fuel tanks must be separated from outer shell.

• Prevention of pollution by noxious liquid substances: Discharge into the sea of noxious liquid substances or mixtures containing such substances are prohibited.

• Prevention of pollution by sewage: Discharge of sewage is prohibited unless performed in line with MARPOL Annex IV and requirements in the Polar Code.

• Prevention of pollution by garbage: Discharge of garbage is restricted and only permitted in accordance with MARPOL Annex V and requirements in the Polar Code.

While, the code will apply to all new vessels constructed after 1 Jan 2017 and the vessels constructed prior to it must comply by 1 Jan 2018.

The MEPC meeting gave its approval to MARPOL Annex I amendmentsalso which are related to oil tankers.

The adoption of the Polar Code and associated MARPOL amendments completed the process to make the Code mandatory under both the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and MARPOL treaties.

OPAH, THE WORLD’S FIRST FULLY WARM-BLOODED FISH SPECIES, DISCOVERED BY RESEARCHERS

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discovered the world’s first fully warm-blooded fish species named Opah. These fishes are found in the deep waters off the US, Australia and several other countries.

The finding of the researchers was published on 15 May 2015 in the journal Science.

How the Opah conserves its warmth?

According to the finding, the Opah fish has developed an internal heat exchange system within its gills to conserve the warmth and it raises its temperature by flapping its fins.

This adaptation means warm blood that leaves the opah’s body core helps heat cold blood returning from the surface of the gills where it absorbs oxygen, maintaining an average body temperature of about 4 degree Celsius to 5 degree Celsius.

This system is more akin to a car radiator and is similar to that used by mammals and birds, which are known as endotherms for their ability to maintain body temperature independent of the environment.

While tuna and some sharks can warm certain parts of their bodies, such as their brains and eyes, fish are generally classed among cold-blooded animals, known as ectotherms.

Characteristics of Opah fish

• Opahs are more effective predators by virtue of being a warm-blooded species.

• It swims faster, reacts more quickly and sees more sharply than the other marine life

• It can dwell 50 meter to 400 meter underwater.

• It can weigh up to 90kg and are oval-shaped roughly the size of a car tyre.

• It has fatty deposits around the gills, heart and muscle tissue in order to provide insulation from the cold water.

MARIA ELENA SOUTH, DRIEST PLACE ON EARTH, DISCOVERED IN ATACAMA DESERT

The researchers have discovered the driest place on the Earth in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The site discovered is referred as Maria Elena South (MES).

The results of the discovery was presented in the paper, Discovery and microbial content of the driest site of the hyperarid Atacama Desert, Chile, published in March 2015 in the journal Environmental Microbiology Reports.

The lead author was Armando Azua-Bustos, an environmental biologist and research scientist at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science in Seattle, US.

This discovery toppled the Yungay region which was so far the driest area of the hyper-arid Atacama Desert. Yungay region conditions were close to the so-called dry limit for life on Earth. However, with this discovery, MES is much drier than Yungay.

MES is dry as Mars and has a mean atmospheric relative humidity (RH) of 17.3 percent. It has a soil RH of a constant 14 percent at a depth of one meter.

Soil value taken from the MES site matches the lowest RH measurements taken on Mars by the Mars Science Laboratory at Gale Crater.

The fact that the conditions at MES site, in terms of dryness, are the closest to Mars it means that it is one of the best analogue models on Earth to understand and investigate the potential existence, and type of, microbial life in the Martian subsurface.

BLUE WHALES SPOTTED FOR THE 1ST TIME IN 100 YEARS OFF SINDHUDURG COAST IN MAHARASHTRA

A group of researchers from the Konkan Cetacean Population Study (CPS) team between March and May 2015 spotted two Blue Whales (mother-calf pair) and four Bryde’s whales near Kunkeshwar off the Sindhudurg coast in Maharashtra.

This is for the first time after 100 years that the Blue Whales were sighted off the coast of Maharashtra. Last time, a blue whale was sighted in waters of Maharashtra was in 1914.

According to the records of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) – a dead blue whale had washed ashore at the time.

The blue whales were spotted on 28 March 2015 approximately 2.7km offshore at a depth of 16 metres, while the Bryde’s whales were spotted four times on 11 April, 16 April, 30 April and 6 May 2015.

The whales were spotted during a survey carried out by researchers to study Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins along the Maharashtra coast under United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project on Mainstreaming Coastal and Marine Biodiversity. The project is being implemented by the Maharashtra State Mangrove Cell.

Blue whales are marine mammals and they are the largest animals on Earth. They can reach an average length of 23-27 metres, with the largest known being 33 metres.

These animals tend to be open-ocean species, but they do come close to the shore to feed. Blue whales are resident or migratory, usually seen alone or in pairs.

The mammal is found across the Indian Ocean, southern parts of the Sri Lankan coast and quite often they have been found to migrate to parts of Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. In the recent past, another sighting of the mammal was observed in 2010 along the coast of Mangalore.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEMOCRACY INDEX 2015 RELEASED; INDIA AT 24TH POSITION

Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Access Initiative on 20 May 2015 released the first Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) for the year 2015. The index evaluates the environmental democracy in 70 countries based on recognised international standards.

The index evaluates whether Governments are enacting national laws to promote transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement in environmental decision making. It is assessed and analysed by more than 140 international lawyers and experts.

India was ranked at 24th position out of 70 countries in the first Environmental Democracy Index that is topped by Lithuania at the first position, Latvia at the second and Russia at the third position.

Highlights of the Environmental Democracy Index

• 79 percent of countries assessed earned only fair or poor ratings for public participation adding that many nations lag on providing citizens basic environmental information.

• Nearly half (46 percent) of the countries do not provide any ambient air quality data online for their capital cities.

• In 73 percent of the countries, courts hear environmental cases. But very few countries have assistance for marginalized groups.

• Around 64 percent of countries with laws on the books do not release any information to the public on emissions or wastewater discharges, pollutants that can impact human health and the environment.

• Only 14 percent of the countries have legal mechanisms that help women access courts to obtain redress when their environmental rights are violated.

• The index found that wealth is an important facilitator for environmental democracy, as is being a signatory of a major treaty like the Kyoto Protocol or the Aarhus convention.

• Right to environmental information has been established in the 93 percent of the assessed countries. 
The Top 10 Countries with Strong National Laws for Environmental Democracy

Rank

Countries

Score

1

Lithuania

2.42

2

Latvia

2.31

3

Russia

2.25

4

United States

2.16

5

South Africa

2.16

6

United Kingdom

2.14

7

Hungary

2.12

8

Bulgaria

2.10

9

Panama

2.02

10

Colombia

1.99

10 Lowest-Scoring Countries for Environmental Democracy Laws

Rank

Countries

Score

61

Belize

0.82

62

Cambodia

0.76

63

Jordan

0.76

64

Saint Lucia

0.73

65

Nepal

0.68

66

Sri Lanka

0.67

67

Congo

0.66

68

Namibia

0.59

69

Malaysia

0.58

70

Haiti

0.51

About Environmental Democracy Index

The Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) is the first comprehensive index designed specifically to measure procedural rights in an environmental context.

The United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Bali Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters provide EDI with an international standard against which national laws can be assessed.

REPORT | SURVEY

SAVE THE CHILDREN RELEASED 16TH ANNUAL STATE OF THE WORLD’S MOTHERS (SOWM) REPORT

Save the Children’s 16th annual State of the World’s Mothers (SOWM) report titled The Urban Disadvantage was on 5 May 2015 released by the Union Minister for Minority Affairs Najma Heptulla in New Delhi.

The report's special focus is on the struggle of poorest mothers and children in rapidly urbanizing world. It presents the Mothers’ Index for 179 countries and show where mothers and children fare best and where they face the greatest hardships.

Important findings of the report

• While great progress has been made in reducing urban under-5 mortality around the world, inequality is worsening in too many cities. In almost half of the countries, the urban survival gaps have grown.

• The poorest children in almost every city face alarmingly high risks of death. In all but one of the 36 developing countries surveyed, there are significant gaps between rich and poor urban children.

• The 10 countries showing the greatest survival divide between wealthy and poor urban children are: Rwanda, Cambodia, Kenya, Vietnam, Peru, India, Madagascar, Ghana, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

• The poorest urban mothers and children are often deprived of life saving health care like access to prenatal care and skilled birth attendance. The largest coverage gaps between rich and poor were found in Delhi (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Port au Prince (Haiti) and Dili (Timor-Leste).

• High child death rates in slums are rooted in disadvantage, deprivation and discrimination.

• Among capital cities in high-income countries, Washington, DC has the highest infant death risk and great inequality. Washington, DC had the highest infant mortality rate at 6.6 deaths per 1000 live births in 2013 which is 3 times the rates found in Tokyo and Stockholm.

• In cities around the world, the poorest urban children are at least twice as likely to die as the richest urban children.

• The top five countries showing lower U5MR are: Prague (Czech Republic), Stockholm (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Tokyo (Japan) and Lisbon (Portugal).

Top 10 countries in the Mother Index

Rank

Country

1

Norway

2

Finland

3

Iceland

4

Denmark

5

Swedan

6

Netherlands

7

Spain

8

Germany

9

Australia

10

Belgium

Bottom 10 Countries in the Mother Index

Rank

Country

169

Haiti & Sierra Leone

170

Guinea-Buisseau

171

Chad

172

Ivory Coast

173

Gambia

174

Niger

175

Mali

176

Central African Reblic

178

DR Congo

179

Somalia

Recommendations of the report

• The final post-2015 framework (Sustainable Development Goals) should include an explicit commitment to equitably ending preventable child and maternal deaths with measurable targets.

• Commit to leaving no one behind by embedding equity in the final post-2015 framework.

• Improve the health of the urban poor by ensuring universal health coverage.

• All governments must follow through on Nutrition for Growth commitments and ensure that the World Health Assembly nutrition targets are met.

• National governments should develop and invest in integrated, cross-sectoral urban policies, strategies and plans that include maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) and nutrition, as well as investments in improved access to clean water, sanitation and primary education.

• National governments and donors should invest in strengthening data collection to better identify disadvantaged groups, track quality and use of services and monitor progress against agreed upon plans and targets.

• Mobilize resources to end preventable child deaths in poor urban areas.

The report with respect to India

India is placed at the 140th position in the Mother’s Index which ranks countries on five key factors viz., Risk of maternal death, Under-five mortality rate, Educational status, Economic achievement and Political status.

Further, as per the report, India along with Bangladesh has over half of poor urban children who are stunted compared to 20 percent or less of the wealthiest children and the urban poor are 3.2 times more likely to die compared to the urban rich in Delhi.

In the period between 1990 and 2013, under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) in India declined by 54.4 percent as against the global progress of 44.8 percent.

Globally every 5th child is born in India and any improvement in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of even a single state can positively impact the global situation.

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM (WEF) RELEASED THE HUMAN CAPITAL REPORT 2015

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on 13 May 2015 released the Human Capital Report 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WEF prepared the report in collaboration with Mercer, an American global human resource and related financial services consulting firm.

The report elaborates the status of different countries across the world on the Human Capital Index and provides key inputs for policy makers to augment capacities of human capital in 124 countries it has surveyed.

Import findings of The Human Capital Report 2015

The Human Capital Index was developed using two horizontal themes--Learning and Employment running across five vertical age group pillars  viz., Under 15, 15–24, 25–54, 55–64, and 65 and Over covering  46 indicators.

Top ten Countries in the Human Capital Index

Finaland (1)

Norway (2)

Switzerland (3)

Canada (4)

Japan (5)

Swedan (6)

Denmark (7)

New Zealand (8)

The Netherlands (9)

Belgium (10)

Bottom ten Countries in the Human Capital Index

Ethiopia (115)

Burkina Faso (116)

Cote d Ivoire (117)

Mali (118)

Guinea (119)

Nigeria (120)

Burundi (121)

Mauritania (122)

Chad (123)

Yemen (124)

India’s position in the Human Capital Index

• India occupied the 100th position among the 124 countries surveyed in the Index.

• In the Asia-Pacific region it is placed behind Sri Lanka (60), China (64), Indonesia (69), Iran (80), Bhutan (87) and Bangladesh (99).

• In the learning category , It has secured 67th, 98th, 109th, 115th and 114th position in the Under 15, 15–24, 25–54, 55–64, and 65 and Over categories respectively.

• It has ranked poorly also on the labour force participation rate due to its large informal sector.

UNESCAP RELEASED SURVEY TITLED MAKING GROWTH MORE INCLUSIVE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) 2015 survey titled Making Growth More Inclusive for Sustainable Development was released on 14 May 2015.

The survey analyzes the economic growth performance of the region, along with its outlook and challenges countries face in sharing the benefits of growth with all people.

Highlights of the Survey

• Economic growth in Asia and the Pacific continues to fare well in the global context, but is expected to increase only slightly to 5.9% in 2015 from 5.8% in 2014.

• Unlike other sub-regions, North and Central Asia is facing low economic growth but high inflation.

• Weighed down by lower global oil prices and geopolitical tensions, the economy of the Russian Federation barely grew in 2014; it is expected to contract over 2015 and 2016.

• As the country accounts for 80% of the output in North and Central Asia, sub-regional growth performance and prospects are also bleak. Inflation has also increased in several economies as declining commodity prices led to subdued foreign exchange earnings and the weakening of currencies.

• Economic growth in South and South-West Asia edged up in 2014, mainly led by stronger macroeconomic performance in India, but it remained far below its pre-crisis pace. The consumption-led growth was fuelled by favourable farm incomes, workers’ remittances and monetary easing.

India’s Economic Growth

• The survey has predicted Indian Economy growth at 8.1 per cent in the current financial year 2015 and 8.2 per cent in 2016, spurred by strong consumer spending amid low inflation, infrastructure projects and government's reform measures.

• Investment is also expected to rebound, although unevenly, given the still low capacity-utilisation rate at about 70 per cent.

• Volatile capital flows that may follow monetary policy normalisation in the US remain the downside risk.

Pakistan’s Economic Growth

• Economic growth in Pakistan picked up to 4.1% in 2014 from an average of 3.7% in the previous three years and growth was expected to rise to 5.1% in 2015.

• The report said that inflation was on the decline and budget deficit was being contained and foreign exchange reserves have significantly improved and market confidence in Pakistan’s outlook seems to have improved.

UNCTAD RELEASED A REPORT TITLED GLOBAL INVESTMENT TRENDS MONITOR

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 18 May 2015 released a report titled Global Investment Trends Monitor.

The report highlighted that developing Asia now invests more abroad than any other region. This UNCTAD trends monitor analyses the most recent trends in global outward investment and assesses its prospects for 2015. It covers outward FDI trends in developed, developing and transition economies.

Main highlights of the report

•    Hong Kong (China) and China were the second and the third largest investors in the world, after the United States which remains the largest single source of outward foreign direct investment (FDI).

•    Among the 20 largest investors, nine were either from developing or transition economies.

•    In 2014, transnational corporations (TNCs) from developing economies alone invested almost half a trillion US dollar abroad − a 30% increase from the previous year.

•    TNCs share in global foreign direct investment (FDI) reached a record of 36%, up from 12% in 2007, the year prior to the financial crisis.

•    Developing Asia has become, for the first time, the world's largest investor region with 440 billion US dollar invested, followed by North America and Europe.

•    Investments by developed country TNCs were largely flat at 792 billion US dollar, with the modest rise in flows from North America and Europe more than offset by a 16% decline in Japanese investment abroad.

•    More than half of investments from TNCs based in developing economies were in equity, while as much as four-fifths of FDI outflows from developed country TNCs were in the form of reinvested earnings − the result of record amounts of cash reserves in their foreign affiliates.

•    The value of cross-border merger and acquisitions surged to 399 billion in 2014 − 28% above 2013 levels. Megadeals dominated the scene in 2014. TNCs from the South continued to acquire developed country foreign affiliates in developing world.

•    Announced greenfield investment projects rose by only 7% reaching 744 billion US dollar. The increase was driven mainly by investments from TNCs of the South. Greenfield investors from developed countries, however, account for a larger share (66%).

UNCTAD estimates that TNC investment appetite will improve, encouraged by better economic prospects, especially in the United States, proactive monetary policy in the Eurozone and the large cash holdings of companies. However, TNCs remain guarded due to the fragility in some emerging markets, exchange rate volatility and increased geopolitical tensions.

UN RELEASED WORLD ECONOMIC SITUATION AND PROSPECTS MID-2015 UPDATE

The United Nations (UN) on 19 May 2015 released Mid-2015 World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) update. In the release, it has highlighted that world economy continues to grow at a modest pace.

It characterized the current world economic situation by five lows and they are low growth, low trade flows, low inflation, low investment, and low interest rates, combined with two highs: high equity prices, and high debt levels.

Growth prospects for World Economy

• Growth of world GDP will accelerate slightly from 2.6 percent in 2014 to 2.8 percent in 2015.

• This projection is a downward revision by 0.3 percentage points from the forecast presented in the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 in January 2015.

• In 2016, the global growth would improve to 3.1 percent.

• The growth divergence between various regions is widening in 2015, owing to differing impacts from the recent decline in the prices of oil and other commodities, as well as country-specific factors.

Growth in Developed Economies

• The growth momentum in the developed economies is picking up.

• The major developed economies will see growth at a rate of 2.2 percent in 2015 from 1.6 percent in 2014.

• These nations still faces considerable headwinds from the legacies of the global financial crisis, like subdued employment levels, elevated private and public sector debt and financial sector fragilities.

Growth prospects in Economies in transition

• Growth of these economies has been downgraded against backdrop of low oil prices.

• Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of these economies in transition will contract by 2 percent in 2015.

• The release suggests that the Russian economy will shrink and its impact would have a negative spillover effects on other countries of the region.

Growth prospects in developing economies

• The report predicts that growth in these economies will diverge. The average growth of the developing nations will remain at 4.4 percent in 2015, which is 3 percentage points below the pre-crisis pace.

• In Africa, there seems to be a strong divergence between oil-exporting and oil-importing economies. It may face a mixed picture, which will be caused due to falling commodity prices and declining exchange rates. It may register to see average growth at 4 percent in 2015 and 4.8 percent in 2016.

• In South Asia, the economic outlook has been painted as favourable, as most of the economies would experience strengthening of growth in 2015-2016. This growth will be strengthened on the back of stronger domestic consumption and investment, and a pick-up in exports.

In Western Asia, nations which are termed as diversified economies would perform better than anticipation, but it may face fiscal pressures along with aggravating growth prospects for 2016, if the oil prices remain at the current low level for an extended period in the oil exporting economies

• Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to grow by only 0.5 percent in 2015 and by 1.7 percent in 2016 due to lower commodity prices and persistent domestic fragilities. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will fall into a deeper recession, while Brazil and Argentina are expected to experience slight contractions.

Growth in Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

• The region is expected to grow at 4.9 percent in 2015, which is deceleration from 5.2 percent in 2014.

• Some LDCs like Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania will see a robust and sustained economic growth.

• They will see a robust and sustained growth owing to investments in agriculture and infrastructure, expanding services sectors and rising domestic demand.

Growth prospects in India

In context of India, the report says that it will grow by 7.6 percent in 2015 and 7.7 percent in 2016, which means that it will surpass the growth of China, which will grow at 7 percent in 2015 and 6.8 percent in 2016.

Conclusion
WESP mid-2015 update identifies key challenges in the areas of monetary, fiscal, labour market and trade policies, and underlines the need for strengthened international policy coordination. Such coordination becomes ever more critical as the Member States of the United Nations are expected to adopt a new financing framework for sustainable development and an ambitious post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

STATE OF FOOD INSECURITY IN THE WORLD 2015 REPORT RELEASED

The annual UN hunger report  titled State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 was on 27 May 2015 released by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

As per the report, the number of hungry people in the world has dropped to 795 million. Today, 795 million people are undernourished globally, which is 216 million less than the number of hungry people in 1990–92. The decline is more pronounced in developing regions, despite population growth.

Highlights of the report

• In the developing regions, the prevalence of undernourishment, which measures the proportion of people who are unable to consume enough food for an active and healthy life, has declined to 12.9 percent of the population.

• 72 out of 129 countries monitored by FAO have achieved the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the prevalence of undernourishment by 2015, with developing regions as a whole missing the target by a small margin.

• 29 countries have met the more ambitious goal of halving the absolute number of undernourished people by 201, laid out at the World Food Summit in 1996.

• Over the past 30 years, crises have evolved from catastrophic, short-term, acute and highly visible events to protracted situations, due to a combination of factors, especially natural disasters and conflicts, with climate change, financial and price crises frequently among the exacerbating factors.

• Hunger rates in countries enduring protracted crises are more than three times higher than elsewhere. In 2012, some 366 million people were living in this kind situation, out of whom 129 million were undernourished.

• Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world with 23.2 percent, or almost one in every four people. However, some African nations also achieved their MDG hunger target, notably in West Africa.

• The proportion of hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean has dropped from 14.7 percent to 5.5 percent since 1990.

• In southern Asia, the prevalence of undernourishment has declined modestly, to 15.7 percent from 23.9 percent, but much greater progress was made in reducing underweight among young children.

• In West Asia, where hygiene conditions are generally advanced and child underweight rates low, the incidence of hunger has risen due to war, civil strife and consequent large migrant and refugee populations in some countries. 
State of Food Insecurity in India

The evolution of hunger trends in India has a significant influence on results for the region. Higher world food prices were observed since the late 2000s which have not been entirely transmitted into domestic prices.

During the period 1984–2013, India was prone to sudden increases in imports (defined as imports exceeding the average of the previous three years by more than 30 percent), registering more than a hundred surges.

In India, 194.6 million people are still undernourished. India still has the second-highest estimated number of undernourished people in the world.


SHORT ANSWERS QUESTIONS (SAQ’S)

• City whose Municipal Corporation on 30 April 2015 banned production, storage, transportation and usage of low quality plastic cups, bags, pan-masala packing wrappers across the city - Ahmedabad 

• North and South America became the first regions of the world to eradicate rubella, also known as - German measles

• Argentine parliament passed a law to compensate the victims of an attack on - AMIA Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires 

• The first meeting of the Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) held on 30 April 2015 at NITI Aayog in New Delhi was chaired by - Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu

• The legendary Russian ballerinas who died on 2 May 2015 in Munich, Germany at the age of 89 - Maya Plisetskaya

• Unified World Welterweight title termed as Fight of the Century held at iconic MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada was won by - American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.

• Team that won the 5th Senior Women’s National Hockey championship 2015 on 3 May 2015 - Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB)

• The 47th Science Museum of India was opened by Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Dr. Mahesh Sharma at - Puducherry

• Third India-Tunisia Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) was held in Tunis from 29 April to 2 May 2015 after a gap of - 12 years

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 5 May 2015 approved the 119th Constitutional Amendment Bill on - Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh.

• Haryana government on 4 May 2015 notified 163 services with a view to provide time bound and hassle-free services to the citizens under - Haryana Right to Service Act, 2014

• World Asthma Day was absorbed globally on 5 May 2015, the first Tuesday of May 2015 with theme - You Can Control Your Asthma 

• Rajasthan Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Health Mission (NHM), UNICEF and GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition) in Jaipur to - tackle the severe problem of malnourishment of the state.

• The Chinese diplomat who oversaw Hong Kong’s transition from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, died in Beijing on 3 May 2015 - Lu Ping

• The French Parliament on 5 May 2015 approved a surveillance law that strengthens the intelligence services of the country aimed to - prevent terrorist attacks. 

• United States on 5 May 2015 authorised setting up of commercial ferries run between Florida and Cuba for the first time in more than - 50 years. 

• Bollywood actor Salman Khan was in news was sentenced to five years imprisonment by Mumbai Sessions Court for his - 28 September 2002 hit and run case

• Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on 6 May 2015 launched the state level - ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme’ in Panaji

• The last known surviving member of the German engineering team that designed the rocket that took US astronauts to the Moon died in Alabama on 5 May 2015 - Oscar Holderer

• The Canadian House of Commons on 6 May 2015 approved the Bill C-51, Anti-Terror Act, 2015 that empowers - the country’s spy agency

• India and Iran on 6 May 2015 signed an inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development of the strategically important - Chabahar Port in Iran. 

• The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 6 May 2015 approved amendments in - the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011.

• High Court of Gujarat on 6 May 2015 ordered shutting down of 67 sand mining units in - the Gir Forest Sanctuary, the only adobe of Asiatic lions

• The former Chief Secretary of Gujarat, who on 7 May 2015 was appointed as the Election Commissioner of India - Achal Kumar Jyoti

• State Bank of India on 7 May 2015 launched State Bank RuPay Platinum debit card in association with - National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI). 

• Underwater explorers in Madagascar on 7 May 2015 said that they have discovered treasure belonging to the notorious 17th Century Scottish pirate - Captain William Kidd

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 May 2015 released a commemorative coin to mark the birth centenary of - Swami Chinmayananda in New Delhi

• National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 8 May 2015 ordered that every household in Delhi will have to pay a monthly environmental compensation- To clean up Yamuna River

• State Government of Haryana on 9 May 2015 included Deaflympics in its Sports Policy to enable Deaflympian medalists to get - cash rewards, jobs and other benefits.

• To add attractions to its tourism portfolio, State Government of Goa on 9 May 2015 launched - hot air balloon and amphibious vehicles in the picturesque state of beaches

• Book titled Unbelievable – Delhi to Islamabad that was released on 8 May 2015 by Vice President M Hamid Ansari in New Delhi is authored by -senior Advocate Prof. Bhim Singh

• Novak Djokovic of Serbia on 17 May 2015 won his fourth Rome Masters Tennis title by defeating - Roger Federer of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3. 

• The Australian wicketkeeper batsman on 17 May 2015 retired from One Day International (ODI) cricket - Brad Haddin

• The Union Government on 17 May 2015 allocated 5000 crore rupees for the growth of Department of AYUSH, which comprises - Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy

• Theme for the 10th World Hindi Conference will be - Hindi Jagat: Vistar avm sambhavnai

• The nurse of KEM Hospital, Mumbai whose story became a cornerstone for euthanasia debate in India, who died on 18 May 2015 after being in vegetative state for 42 years - Aruna Shanbaug

• An Indian-American policeman in third week of May 2015 won the prestigious Top Civilian Supervisor of the Year - Harkeert Singh Saini

• Himachal Pradesh will host the Paragliding World Cup from 23 October to 31 October 2015 at -Bir Billing in Kangra valley

• President Barack Obama on 18 May 2105 banned the US government from giving certain kinds of military-style equipment to - local police forces

• The professional cricketers of England on 18 May 2015 were named as England men’s and women’s cricketers of the year 2014-15 - Joe Root and Charlotte Edwards, respectively

• Nepal Government on 18 May 2015 imposed a two-month ban on the construction work of new building projects, the ban would remain in effect until - 16 July 2015.

• To promote sports for all age groups in the national capital, the state government of Delhi on 19 May 2015 decided to launch a Scheme at the designated stadiums or sports complexes - Pay & Play

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19 May 2015 returned to India after completing his tour to three nations namely - China, Mongolia and South Korea. 

• The European Union (EU) on 18 May 2015 approved a plan that empowers naval force to combat smugglers operating from - Libya and tackle illegal migration in its territory.

• The United Nations (UN) on 19 May 2015 released an update that highlighted that world economy continues to grow at a modest pace is - Mid-2015 World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) update. 

• Hungarian writer who on 19 May 2015 won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for 2015 - Laszlo Krasznahorkai

• To allow women employees to work in night shifts, State Government of Maharashtra on 20 May 2015 decided to amend - Section 66(1)(c) of the Factories Act, 1948

• Person who on 20 May 2015 was sworn in as 15th Governor of Meghalaya at the Raj Bhawan in Shillong - V Shanmuganthan

• Temple of Mumbai that on 20 May 2015 received International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001-2008 certification for best quality practices - Siddhivinayak temple

• Anti-Terrorism Day was observed across India on 21 May 2015 to mark the death anniversary of seventh Prime Minister - Rajiv Gandhi

• The ancient Syrian city that was captured by the ISIS militant groups on 21 May 2015 - Palmyra

• Researchers from the Konkan Cetacean Population Study (CPS) team between March and May 2015 spotted two Blue Whales (mother-calf pair) and four Bryde’s whales near Kunkeshwar - off the Sindhudurg coast in Maharashtra.

• Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam resigned on 21 May 2015 by tendering his resignation to - the Governor Konijeti Rosaiah.

• Eighth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was won by - Mumbai Indians (MI)

• Indian film that won the Promizing Future Prize at the Cannes Film Festival 2015 held on 24 May 2015 - Masaan

• The mathematician who shared 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for work that greatly extended the reach and power of modern economic theory, who died on 23 May 2015 in New Jersey - John Forbes Nash Jr.

• Country that on 23 May 2015 voted to make it the first country to legalise gay (same-sex) marriage through a referendum - Ireland

• Expert committee on Health Insurance of IRDA chaired by M Ramaprasad in its report has suggested changing the wordings of disclaimer in advertisements of insurance companies to - Before buying, know the conditions and exclusions, to make a well-informed decision

• First bank to launch Voice Recognition Service (VRS), which authenticates customers based on their speech patterns in India - ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank

• Bangladesh Government on 25 May 2015 banned an Islamist militant outfit for its militant and anti-state activities under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Act, 2013 - Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT)

• Author of the boo k The Complete Story of Indian Reforms: 2G, Power & Private Enterprise: A Practitioner's Diary - Pradip Baijal, the Former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman

• Person who was appointed as the head coach of England cricket team on 26 May 2015 - Trevor Bayliss

• State that has set up the satellite tracking system to check the forest fire incidents during summer season - Himachal Pradesh

• NATO on 26 May 2015 launched the Arctic Challenge Exercise based in- the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland

• Forum for Human Rights and Justice (FHRJ) on 27 May 2015 organised a run for protecting unborn girl in Himachal Pradesh was named as - Ajanmi Beti Ke liye Daud

• State that on 27 May 2015 decided to withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958 from the remaining areas of the state with immediate effect - Tripura

• The US state that on 27 May 2015 abolished death penalty after a veto override was passed through the its legislature - Nebraska

• Person who was appointed as the Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on 28 May 2015 - Dr. S Christopher

• Person who was appointed as the Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar - Dr. GS Reddy

• Fourth Indian shooter who on 28 May 2015 won a berth for 2016 Rio Olympic in men’s air rifle event - India's only individual Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra

• Event that will be celebrated in more than 100 US cities on 21 June 2015, the first International Yoga Day to spread the awareness about Yoga - Yogathon

 

 

THOUGHT OF THE MONTH

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 05:07
 

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