Home Current Affairs CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN ; MAY 2015 - PART - 2
CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN ; MAY 2015 - PART - 2
Tuesday, 11 August 2015 04:59

 

 

 

CURRENT AFFAIRS; MONTHLY BULLETIN

MAY 2015 - PART - 2

 

SCIENCE | TECHNOLOGY

JAPANESE SCIENTISTS DISCOVERED NEW STATE OF MATTER CALLED JAHN-TELLER-METAL

Japanese Scientists on 14 May 2015 discovered a new state of matter called the Jahn-Teller-metal. The matter resembles an insulator, superconductor, metal and magnet all rolled into one.

The study led by Kosmas Prassides, Scientist at Tokohu University made the discovery by studying a superconductor made from carbon-60 molecules or buckyballs.

The research was described in Science Advances. It involves caesium fulleride (Cs3C60) in a face-centred-cubic lattice with a Cs3C60 molecule at each lattice site. The research could help develop new molecular materials that are superconductors at even higher temperatures.

The study shows that the material has a rich combination of insulating, magnetic, metallic and superconducting phases - including the otherwise unknown state, dubbed as Jahn-Teller metal.

The research provides important clues about how the interplay between the electronic structure of the molecules and their spacing within the lattice can strengthen interactions between electrons that cause superconductivity.

Superconductors are a large and diverse group of materials that offer zero resistance to electrical currents when cooled below a critical temperature (TC). Superconducting lattices of fullerides - C60 plus three alkali-metal atoms - have been studied for more than two decades, and provide an interesting test bed.

ISRO ANNOUNCED TO LAUNCH ASTROSAT IN OCTOBER 2015

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 19 May 2015 announced that ASTROSAT will be launched in October 2015 by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-34 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

Features of ASTROSAT

• ASTROSAT is the first dedicated Indian space observatory mission aimed at studying distant celestial objects.

• The mission is capable of performing observations in Ultraviolet (UV), optical, low and high energy X-ray wavebands at the same time.

• The satellite will be launched to a 650 km near equatorial orbit around the Earth.

• ASTROSAT carries four X-ray payloads, one UV telescope and a charge particle monitor.

• Apart from ISRO, four other Indian institutions, viz., Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and Raman Research Institute (RRI) are involved in the development of payloads among which two of them were developed in collaboration with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and University of Leiscester (UoL), UK.

The ISRO also announced that the spacecraft is fully assembled and in the coming days it will undergo several environmental tests like Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) , Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC), Thermal Vacuum, Vibration and Acoustic tests.

NASA’S SPACECRAFT PROVIDED FIRST DIRECT MEASUREMENT FOR TYPE IA SUPERNOVAE CAUSED BY WHITE DWARFS

Kepler and Swift spacecraft of NASA provided supporting evidence and the first direct measurement of supernovae (stellar explosions) which can enable scientists to understand what causes supernovae. This was revealed by studies published in journal Nature on 20 May 2015.

The studies proved that Type Ia supernovae, which produce unprecedented brightness, can either be caused by merging with another white dwarf or by pulling too much matter from a nearby companion star. Awhite dwarf is the Earth-sized remnant of a star like the sun.

Kepler’s Study

The Kepler spacecraft, known for its planet-hunting prowess, has provided the data for three new and distant supernovae, viz., KSN 2011b, KSN 2011c and KSN 2012a. The dataset includes measurements taken before the violent stellar explosions even happened and this is the first direct measurement of supernova.

These supernovae were identified as Type Ia supernovae with the aid of powerful telescopes at the Gemini and the WM Keck Observatories atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

On the analysis of dataset, scientists led by Robert Olling, research associate at the University of Maryland, found that shock wave generated in all directions by these explosions were not disrupted. This proved that there was no evidence of a companion star nearby and concluded the cause to be the collision and merger of two closely orbiting stars, most likely two white dwarfs.

Study of Swift dataset

Swift spacecraft captured the supernova designated iPTF14atg first on 3 May 2014 in the galaxy IC 831, located about 300 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices.

The Swift study led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) graduate student Yi Cao, proved that Type Ia supernovae can also arise from single white dwarfs by pulling too much matter from a nearby companion star.

According to the analysis of Cao, when the supernova debris slammed into and swept around its companion star, it created a region of Ultra Violet (UV) emission and the peak temperature exceeded 19000 degrees Fahrenheit (11000 degrees Celsius) or about twice the surface temperature of the sun.

Conclusion

Type Ia supernovae are destructive explosions of carbon-oxygen white dwarfs and are used empirically to measure cosmological distances. The first direct measurement of such supernovae can help the scientists understand the mysteries of dark energy – a mysterious force that appears to be accelerating cosmic expansion.

GPS AIDED GEO AUGMENTED NAVIGATION (GAGAN) SYSTEM FULLY OPERATIONALISED

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 25 May 2015 announced the complete operationalisation of the GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN).

The final operational phase of the system commenced on 19 May 2015 as it began broadcasting APV1 Certified signals.

With this, India has become the fourth nation after the US, Europe and Japan to have inter-operable Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS). Also, GAGAN is the first SBAS system in the world to serve the equatorial region.

Earlier on 30 December 2013, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) gave its nod for GAGAN for enroute operations (RNP 0.1) and subsequently on 21 April 2015 for precision approach services (APV 1).

While the GAGAN Payload is already operational through GSAT-8 and GSAT-10 satellites, the third payload will be carried onboard GSAT-15 satellite scheduled for launch in October 2015.

Features of GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) System

• It is a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) developed jointly by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

• Its primary objective is to establish, deploy and certify satellite based augmentation system for safety-of-life civil aviation applications for the Indian air space.

• It plays an important role in safety of life applications in transport, sensitive commercial applications and liability-critical applications needing legal course.

• It offers free enhanced satellite navigation signals by correcting deviancies in GPS signals by deploying ground based navigational infrastructure.

• The system is inter-operable with other international SBAS systems like US-WAAS, European EGNOS, and Japanese MSAS etc.

• It has been developed at an estimated cost of 774 crore rupees.

• It will enable transition of the air traffic management system to satellite-based seamless navigation across continents covering the airspace from Australia to Africa as well as west Asia to China and Russia.

NRI SCIENTIST LATHA VENKATARAMAN CREATED FIRST SINGLE-MOLECULE DEVICE

NRI scientist Latha Venkataraman on 25 May 2015 created first single-molecule device.  The electronic device has a potential of real-world technological applications for nanoscale devices. The report was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Under the direction of Venkataraman, researchers created a single-molecule diode which performs 50 times better than all prior designs.

A team of Columbia Engineering researchers has constructed a device where the active element is only a single molecule, has long been a tantalising dream in nanoscience.

With electronic devices becoming smaller every day, the field of molecular electronics has become more critical in solving the problem of further miniaturisation. Single molecule represents the limit of miniaturisation.

The idea of creating a single-molecule diode was suggested by Arieh Aviram and Mark Ratner who theorised in 1974 that a molecule could act as a rectifier, a one-way conductor of electric current.

The researchers are now working on understanding the fundamental physics behind their discovery and trying to increase the rectification ratios they observed, using new molecular systems.

CHINA UNVEILED WORLD'S FIRST FACIAL RECOGNITION ATM MACHINE

China on 30 May 2015 unveiled the world's first facial recognition ATM which will not allow users to withdraw cash unless their face matches their IDs. The ATM machine was created by Tsinghua University and Hangzhou-based technology company Tzekwan.

Highlights of the ATM Machine

• The machine is a combination of high speed ban-knote handling, improved counterfeit-bill recognition and face recognition.

• It has a camera installed in it that captures the facial features of the user and then compares it with a database of identification photos.

• It looks at the biological features and can identify people even if their facial features have changed.

• It will help in preventing thieves from accessing other people's accounts as the ATM records the serial number of every bank note deposited.

• The machine is 20 percent more accurate at verifying the authenticity of multiple currencies compared with the average ATM used globally.

SPACE RESEARCH

UNION CABINET APPROVED BUILDING AND LAUNCHING OF GSAT-17 AND GSAT-18 COMMUNICATION SATELLITES

The Union Cabinet on 6 May 2015 gave its nod for building and launching of GSAT-17 and GSAT-18 communication satellites.

These two satellites with the structure similar to the GSAT-10 are aimed at providing replacement capacity and in-orbit backup that is they will provide for continuance of the services of existing users and augmenting in-orbit spare capacity to meet emergencies.

GSAT-17 and GSAT-18 satellites will weigh about 3425 Kg each and will be built and launched within 30 months at a cost of 1013.20 crore rupees and 1022 crore rupees respectively.

The satellites will augment and support existing telecommunication, television and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) services in the entire mainland of the country.

About GSAT System

• The GSAT or Geosynchronous satellite is a constellation of communication satellites developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with an objective to make India self-reliant in broadcasting services.

• Satellites are called GSAT because they function in a geosynchronous orbit around the Earth.

• Till date, 12 satellites were launched under the system and among them only six are operational.

• The first satellite in the series GSAT-1 was launched in April 2001 and the most recent GSAT-16 satellite was launched in December 2014.

UNION CABINET APPROVED PSLV CONTINUATION PROGRAMME FOR LAUNCHING 15 FLIGHTS PSLV-C36 TO PSLV-C50

The Union Cabinet on 21 May 2015 approved Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) Continuation Programme consisting of fifteen operational flights PSLV-C36 to PSLV-C50.

As part of the programme fifteen operational flights PSLV-C36 to PSLV-C50 will be launched during the period 2017-2020 at a cost of around 3090 crore rupees.

The programme will help meet the demand for the launch of satellites at a frequency of four to five launches per year, with a greater focus on enhancing the level of participation by the Indian industry.

It will also enable the launch of satellites required for Earth Observation, Navigation and Space Sciences along with the possibility of clinching commercial launch service contracts.

PSLV Success Story

Since its first operational flight in 1997, the PSLV has made the country self-reliant in the launching capability of satellites for earth observation, disaster management, navigation and space sciences. It has also emerged as a versatile vehicle to carry out Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbit (SSPO), Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and low inclination Low Earth Orbit (LEO) missions.

So far, PSLV has completed three developmental and twenty-five operational flights and the last twenty-seven flights have been successively successful. The last successful launch was of PSLV-C26 that took place on 16 October 2014.

The PSLV Continuation Programme will sustain this capability and self-reliance in the launching of similar satellites for national requirements.

PLACES IN NEWS

A PALEO CHANNEL CLAIMED AS RIVER SARASWATI IDENTIFIED IN MUGLAWALI VILLAGE OF HARYANA

Muglawali village near Adi Badri:  Paleo channel claimed as River Saraswati identified

Muglawali village of Yamungar district in Haryana located near Adi Badri was in news on 5 May 2015. The village came into news after district authorities claimed that they have dugged out a paleo (old) channel which resembles now inactive River Saraswati.

During digging, which was done under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNGEGS), the water was discovered from nine spots.

Water found at various spots hints towards presence of a paleo channel (remnants of inactive river) and the initial study of water and sediments by a geologist hints that they are distinct from the locally available water and minerals.

It is widely believed by geologists that Saraswati used to flow from upper Himalayas and entered the plains near Adi Badri, located in the foothills of lower Shivalik mountain ranges.

Digging is being done as part of excavation work of Saraswati Revival Project that started at Rullaheri village on 21 April 2015. The project was started after the decision of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to create a new water channel on the dry bed.

Earlier in 2006, a similar attempt towards identifying the River Saraswati route was undertaken under Project Saraswati by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). As part of it, ONGC had successfully drilled India’s deepest fresh-water well at a depth of about 500 metre below the ground-level near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

TAMILS IN SRI LANKA COMMEMORATED WAR DEAD FOR THE FIRST TIME AT MULLIVAIKKAL VILLAGE

Mullivaikkal: The northern village of Sri Lanka where LTTE rebels fought their last fight 
Mullivaikkal, the northern village of Sri Lanka was in news on 19 May 2015 as for the first time in six years the Sri Lankan Tamils publicly commemorated those Tamilians who lost their lives during the civil war between Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Sri Lankan Army.

The Mullivaikkal village is the village where LTTE rebels fought their last fight against security forces in a war that lasted for 37 years. The fight ended on 19 May 2009.

In the war, as per the United Nations estimates, some 40000 Tamil civilians were killed in the district that includes Mullivaikkal village where they had fled after the government declared it a safe area.

They were able to commemorate the day because the country's new government under President Maithripala Sirisena lifted a ban on commemorating Tamil victims.

The commemoration was presided over by the Tamil Chief Minister of Northern Province, CV Wigneswaran who lighted a ceremony lamp on the occasion at a makeshift memorial at Mullivaikal. Then hundreds of Tamils also lit oil lamps during the ceremony.

Besides, the Sri Lankan government also observed the 6th anniversary of defeat of LTTE with a Remembrance Day ceremony at Matara. Till 2014, 19 May was observed as Victory Day, but President Maithripala Sirisena government decided to change the nature of ceremony and renamed it as Remembrance Day for those who sacrificed for the unity of the country.

PALMYRA, AN ANCIENT SYRIAN CITY, CAPTURED BY ISIS MILITANTS

Palmyra: An ancient Semitic World Heritage Site located in Homs Governorate, Syria
Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants on 21 May 2015 seized full control of ancient city of Palmyra in Syria. It is an oasis in the Syrian Desert.

Palmyra, also known as the Pearl of Desert and Tadmur, is located 215 km to the northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus and is a World Heritage Site because of its architecture.

The art and architecture of Palmyra dates back to 1st to the 2nd century AD and were built in Graeco-Roman style with local traditions and Persian influences. It was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world standing at the crossroads of several civilizations.

A grand, colonnaded street of 1100 metres' length forms the monumental axis of the city, which together with secondary colonnaded cross streets links the major public monuments including the Temple of Ba'al, Diocletian's Camp, the Agora, Theatre, other temples and urban quarters.

The site was designated a national monument by Syrian government and was protected by the National Antiquities law 222 as amended in 1999. A buffer zone was established in 2007 but has not yet been submitted to the World Heritage Committee.

Why the capture of Palymra is of concern?

The capture of strategic Palmyra raises security concern as it potentially opens the way for ISIS to advance towards key government-held areas, including the capital Damascus and Homs.

Further, the loss of the al-Tanf crossing in Homs province means the Syrian government does not control any of the country's border posts with Iraq.

On the cultural front, the control of Palmyra raises the concern that this ancient city may also face the fate similar to ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud of Iraq. This is because ISIS has been demolishing those ancient sites which pre-date Islam and trafficking artefacts to get funds.

NELONG VALLEY IN UTTARAKHAND OPENED FIRST TIME FOR TOURISTS AFTER CLOSURE IN 1962

Nelong Valley: A picturesque valley located 45 km away from the Indo-China border

Authorities of the Gangotri National Park in Uttarakhand on 21 May 2015 opened the Nelong Valley for tourists for the first time since its closure in 1962.

However, foreign tourists are still not allowed into the valley.

Nelong valley, situated 45 km away from the Indo-China border in the Uttarkashi district, was closed for civilians after the 1962 war between both the countries.

After the war, villagers were shifted out of the valley and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) checkpoints were set up to augment the security along the border.

Located at a height of 11600 feet, it is a cold desert offering a view of the Tibetan Plateau in China and home to snow leopard and the Himalayan blue sheep.

NIGERIAN ARMY LAUNCHED OPERATIONS TO FLUSH OUT BOKO HARAM FROM SAMBISA FOREST

Sambisa Forest: Hide out for Boko Haram militant group located in Northeastern Nigeria

The Sambisa Forest was in news in April and May 2015 as the Nigerian Army has been conducting special operations to rescue abducted women by the group.

The forest is located in the Northeastern Nigeria along the Nigeria-Cameroon border. It was captured by the group in February 2013 and made it has their primary base in March 2015.

Since its capture, the militant group mined the mountainous forest region and used as the shelter especially during Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping incident in April 2014 in which 276 female students were kidnapped.

Recently, on 28 April 2015, the Nigerian Army freed nearly 300 girls and women from its captivity and destroyed 13 militant camps. However, none of the Chibok girls had been found among them.

INCREASING NUMBER OF HAMLETS RESPONSIBLE FOR DECLINE OF TIGERS IN BUXA TIGER RESEVE: WEST BENGAL

Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR): Situated near India-Bhutan border in Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal

Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in West Bengal was in news as on 28 May 2015 West Bengal Minister for Forests Benoy Krishna Barman stated in the legislature that the dwindling population has been caused by the increasing number of hamlets along the reserve.

His reply came against the claims by some conservationists that the reserve lost all its tigers and no tiger was sighted in it since 2002.

However, Status of Tigers in India 2014 report released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in January 2015 states that though there were no tigers sighted in 2010 as compared to 10 tigers spotted in 2006, their population increased to 3 in 2014.

Further, the report is optimistic that the BTR has potential for increasing tiger population.

MILESTONES

Gagan Toor: He was among five winners who won in a contest held by NASA to name five identified craters on Mercury. The name he suggested was after Enheduanna, a princess poet of the sumerian city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamian civilization.TheInternational Astronomical Union (IAU) has announced that Enheduanna and four other names — Karsh, Carolan, Kulthum and Rivera — have been selected to name five craters on Mercury.


Karan Jerath: An 18-year-old Indian-American boy, he has been awarded the prestigious Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award in the United States for developing a machine which can quickly stop undersea oil spills.


Latha Venkataraman: Indian-American scientist, she led a team of scientists from the Columbia University School of Engineering which has developed a method to create working diodes which comprise only one molecule. The scientists have claimed that the single-molecule diodes have the ability to perform better than the previous iterations of nanoscale diodes.

 

CURRENT NATIONAL AFFAIRS

WORLD’S LARGEST SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC PLANT OF 750 MW TO BE BUILT IN REWA DISTRICT OF MADHYA PRADESH

The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet in the last week of April 2015 gave its approval to build 750 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (SPV) plant atGurh tehsil in Rewa district. The plant, to be developed in three phases of 250 MW, once completed will become the world’s largest solar power plant.

At present, the largest SPV plant is the Topaz Solar Farm (550 MW) in California’s San Luis Obispo county, US, which was commissioned in 2014

Characteristic Feature of SPV plant

  • The plant will use photovoltaic (PV) technology to generate electricity from the sun and is estimated to be completed by March 2017 at an estimated cost of 4500 crore rupees.
  • The loan for it will be provided by World Bank and New and Renewable Energy Department of Madhya Pradesh government will provide land for the project. The state government is also on the lookout for private land.
  • The plant will provide power at a price as low as 5.50 rupees per unit as against the 6.86 rupees per unit, which is the benchmark forlevelised tariff (tariff realised over the span of the project)  of SPV for 2015-16 announced by Central Electricity Regulatory Commission.
  • The project is being set up under the scheme for development of solar parks and ultra mega solar power projects. The PV modules for the plant would be sourced from the domestic market which is not mandatory.
  • The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited will construct the grid connections and transmission lines of the solar plant.
  • Once commissioned, Jabalpur-based Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company Limited will buy 40 per cent of power.

The solar project in Rewa would be one of the first of the 25 solar parks planned in the country. There is a proposal to set up another 750 MW plant in Rewa.

UNION CABINET CLEARED 119TH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL ON LBA BETWEEN INDIA AND BANGLADESH

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.

Under the land boundary agreement, India and Bangladesh will exchange several enclaves which are under each other's adverse possession. The bill also includes the territories in Assam in addition to territories of West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya.

The bill will need ratification by the Parliament and would also require ratification of at least 50 percent of the state legislatures before it comes into effect.

Earlier in 2013, the bill in regard to this was placed in the Rajya Sabha and subsequently was referred to a select committee, which was headed by Shashi Tharoor of Congress. Later, the committee unanimously recommended implementation of the deal.

Background
The historic protocol on the Land Boundary Agreement was inked between India and Bangladesh on 6 September 2011 during the visit of the then Prime Minister Mahmohan Singh to Bangladesh. It was inked following the talks between Mahmohan Singh and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka.

Later, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Bangladesh on 27 June 2014 discussed the Land Boundary Agreement with the leaders of the nation.

PM NARENDRA MODI JOINED CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM WEIBO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 4 May 2015 joined Chinese social media platform Weibo.  Weibo is the main microblogging service of China.   Weibo is often referred to as Twitter of China.

PM Modi joined Chinese social media platform just weeks before his scheduled visit to China. Modi will start off his three-nation tour to the East on 14 May 2015 with China, Mongolia and Later South Korea.

Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging website. It is similar to Twitter and Facebook. It is one of the most popular sites in China, in use by well over 30% of Internet users, with a market penetration similar to the United States' Twitter.

LOK SABHA PASSED JUVENILE JUSTICE AMENDMENT BILL 2014

Lok Sabha on 7 May 2015 passed Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014. The Bill clearly defines and classifies offences as petty, serious and heinous, and defines differentiated processes for each category.

The amendment bill has introduced a new provision that disallows the protection from disqualification in cases where a juvenile is tried and convicted under the adult system.

The bill will allow children in the 16-18 age group to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes.

The bill will replace the existing Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. The bill states that in case a heinous crime has been committed by a person in the age group of 16-18 years it will be examined by a Juvenile Justice Board to assess if the crime was committed as a child or as an adult.

The trial of the case will take place accordingly by the board which will consist of psychologists and social experts.

The bill also proposed to streamline adoption procedures for orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children by making mandatory registration of all institutions engaged in providing child care.

The bill proposes several rehabilitation and social integration measures for institutional and non- institutional children. It provides for sponsorship and foster care as completely new measures.

According to data from National Crime Records Bureau, crimes by juveniles in the age group of 16-18 years have increased, especially in certain categories of heinous crimes.

The number of murder cases against juveniles rose from 531 in 2002 to 1,007 in 2013. Similarly, cases of rape and assault with intent to outrage the modesty of women have gone up from 485 and 522 in 2002 to 1884 and 1424 in 2013 respectively.

In 2013, 933 cases of kidnapping and abduction were registered against juveniles, which was 704 in 2012. According to Women and Child Development Ministry, more than 250 civil society organisations, individuals and experts had given their comments on the draft Bill which were taken into consideration before giving it a final shape.

LOK SABHA PASSED REPEALING AND AMENDING BILL, 2015

Lok Sabha on 7 May 2015 gave its nod for the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2015 which seeks to repeal 36 archaic laws either partially or entirely as they have ceased to be in force or have become obsolete.

With this, the bill has been passed by both the houses of Parliament as Rajya Sabha passed the bill on 5 May 2015.

Out of the 36 acts, four acts will be repealed entirely. These include The Indian Fisheries Act, 1897, The Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1947 and The Sugar Undertakings (Taking over of Management) Act, 1978.

The remaining 32 Acts that are being repealed are amendments to principal Acts. These include amendments to the Representation of the People Act, 1951, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Anand Marriage Act, 1909 the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 among others.

A similar bill, the Repealing and Amending (Second) Bill, 2014 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 8 December 2014 and is lying with the Rajya Sabha. It is sought to repeal 90 laws and pass amendments to two laws. Out of 90 laws, 88 laws will be repealed completely.

Comment
The passage of The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2015 by the Parliament is in tune with the Union government’s objective of repealing the obsolete laws as they have outlived their utility.

Around 1741 laws in the country have become redundant but still they are in existence. In this regard the BJP-led NDA government had identified certain Appropriation Acts that needs to be repealed. These Acts pertain to the domain of Union Finance Ministry and Railway Ministry.

In lieu of this, the Appropriation Acts (Repeal) Bill, 2015 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 24 April 2015 which intended to repeal 758 Acts passed by the Parliament including Appropriation Acts [including also, Appropriation (Railways) Acts] enacted between 1950 and 2012 and 111 State Appropriation Acts enacted by the Parliament between 1950 and 1976.

LOK SABHA PASSED UNDISCLOSED FOREIGN INCOME AND ASSETS (IMPOSITION OF TAX) BILL 2015

Lok Sabha on 11 May 2015 Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill 2015. The Bill was passed by voice vote.

Highlights of the Bill are as follow

Scope: The Act will apply to all persons resident in India. Provisions of the Act will apply to both undisclosed foreign income and assets (including financial interest in any entity).

Rate of tax: Undisclosed foreign income or assets shall be taxed at the flat rate of 30 percent. No exemption or deduction or set off of any carried forward losses which may be admissible under the existing Income-tax Act, 1961, shall be allowed.

Penalties: Violation of the provisions of the proposed new legislation will entail stringent penalties.

The penalty for non-disclosure of income or an asset located outside India will be equal to three times the amount of tax payable thereon, i.e., 90 percent of the undisclosed income or the value of the undisclosed asset. This is in addition to tax payable at 30%.

Failure to furnish return in respect of foreign income or assets shall attract a penalty of 10 lakh rupees. The same amount of penalty is prescribed for cases where although assesses have filed a return of income, but he has not disclosed the foreign income and asset or has furnished inaccurate particulars of the same.

Prosecutions: The punishment for willful attempt to evade tax in relation to a foreign income or an asset located outside India will be rigorous imprisonment from three years to ten years. In addition, it will also entail a fine.

Failure to furnish a return in respect of foreign assets and bank accounts or income will be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of six months to seven years. The same term of punishment is prescribed for cases where although the assessee has filed a return of income, but has not disclosed the foreign asset or has furnished inaccurate particulars of the same.

The above provisions will also apply to beneficial owners or beneficiaries of such illegal foreign assets.

Abetment or inducement of another person to make a false return or a false account or statement or declaration under the Act will be punishable with rigorous imprisonment from six months to seven years. This provision will also apply to banks and financial institutions aiding in concealment of foreign income or assets of resident Indians or falsification of documents.

Safeguards: The principles of natural justice and due process of law have been embedded in the Act by laying down the requirement of mandatory issue of notices to the person against whom proceedings are being initiated, grant of opportunity of being heard, necessity of taking the evidence produced by him into account, recording of reasons, passing of orders in writing, limitation of time for various actions of the tax authority, etc.

Further, the right of appeal has been protected by providing for appeals to the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, and to the jurisdictional High Court and the Supreme Court on substantial questions of law.

To protect persons holding foreign accounts with minor balances which may not have been reported out of oversight or ignorance, it has been provided that failure to report bank accounts with a maximum balance of up to 5 lakh rupees at any time during the year will not entail penalty or prosecution.

Other safeguards and internal control mechanisms will be prescribed in the Rules.

One time compliance opportunity: The Bill also provides a one-time compliance opportunity for a limited period to persons who have any undisclosed foreign assets which have hitherto not been disclosed for the purposes of Income-tax.

Such persons may file a declaration before the specified tax authority within a specified period, followed by payment of tax at the rate of 30 percent and an equal amount by way of penalty. Also, such persons will not be prosecuted under the stringent provisions of the new Act.

PRESIDENT OF INDIA APPOINTED FOUR GOVERNORS AND TRANSFERRED TWO

President of India Pranab Mukherjii on 12 May 2015 appointed four Governors and transferred two others. These appointments and transfers were done in accordance with Article 155 of the Constitution of India.

Appointed Governors

V Shanmuganathan was appointed as the Governor of Meghalaya. He is a member of BJP national executive.

Draupadi Murmu was appointed as the Governor of Jharkhand. She is from BJP and was a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Odisha’s Rairangpur constituency in 2000.

Tathagata Roy was appointed as Governor of Tripura. Roy had unsuccessfully contested on BJP seat from Kolkata Dakshin Lok Sabha constituency in 2014.

JP Rakkhowa was appointed as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. He is a 1968-batch IAS officer. He has been involved in issues related to Northeast after his retirement.

Transferred Governors

Syed Ahmed, Governor of Jharkhand was shifted to Manipur. He was appointed in September 2011. His tenure will end in September 2016.

Lt General (retd.) Nirbhay Sharma, who was serving as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh since May, 2011, was transferred and appointed as Governor of Mizoram for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2018. He is the eighth Governor of the state since 2014.

UNION CABINET APPROVED AMENDMENTS TO CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION & REGULATION) AMENDMENT BILL, 2012

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13 may 2015 approved official amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012.

The official amendments along with the Amendment Bill 2012 seeks to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) (CLPR) Act, 1986and allows children below the age of 14 years to work in select non-hazardous family enterprises

Following official amendments have been approved by the Cabinet:

  • It prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and links the age of prohibition of employment to age under Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. However, it will not prohibit
  • a child helping his family or family enterprise, which is other than any hazardous occupation or process, after his school hours or during vacation; and
  • a child working as artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, except the circus, provided that the school education of the child is not affected.
  • It introduces a new definition of adolescent in the CLPR Act and prohibits the employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) in hazardous occupations and processes.
  • It provides for stricter punishment for employers for violation of the CLPR Act has been proposed to act as a deterrent:
  • In case of first offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, penalty would be imprisonment for a term not less than six months, which may extend to two years or with fine not less than 20000 rupees which may extend to 50000 rupees or with both.
  • In case of a second or subsequent offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, the minimum imprisonment would be one year which may extend to three years.
  • It makes the offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act by an employer a cognizable offence.
  • There would be no punishment in case of a first offence by the parents/guardians and in case of a second and subsequent offence; the penalty would be a fine which may extend to 10000 rupees. This amendment is introduced in light of socio-economic conditions of parents/guardians.
  • It provides for constitution of Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund for one or more districts for the rehabilitation of the child or adolescent rescued.

Why the need for amending CLPR Act, 1986?

Firstly, the official amendments along with Amendment Bill, 2012 seeks to strike a balance between the need for education for a child and the reality of the socio-economic condition and social fabric in the country.

Secondly, the socio-economic milieu of India is such that, on the one hand, children help their parent especially in occupations like agriculture, artisanship etc. and on the other, they learn basics of occupation while helping the parents.

Thirdly, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act (CLPR Act) 1986 was not in sync with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 that enjoins the State to ensure free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. A corollary to this would be that if a child is in the work place, he would miss school.

Lastly, CLPR Act was not in conformity with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 138 and 182, which provide for minimum age of entry into employment and prohibition of employment of persons below 18 years, in work which is likely to harm health, safety and morals.

BENAMI TRANSACTIONS (PROHIBITION) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2015 INTRODUCED IN LOK SABHA

The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was on 13 May 2015 introduced in Lok Sabha after Union Cabinet gave its approval to amend the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988.

The Bill seeks to amend the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 by adding additional provisions that provides for stringent measures against violators in order to curb and check the generation of black money in the country.

It adds provisions for attachment and confiscation of benami properties and imposes fine with imprisonment. It has provision for prosecution and aims to act as a major avenue for blocking benami property, which leads to generation and holding of black money especially in real estate.

Background
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act was earlier enacted in 1988, but the rules under that Act could not be formulated due to inherent infirmities in it. Following this, in 2011 the government introduced a Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill in Parliament.

The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance for examination, which submitted its report in June 2012. However, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha.

UNION MINISTRY OF MINORITY AFFAIRS LAUNCHED USTAAD SCHEME FOR TRADITIONAL ARTISANS

The Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on 14 May 2015 launched USTAAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) Scheme in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Features of USTAAD Scheme

• The objective of the scheme is to preserve rich heritage of traditional arts and crafts of minorities and build capacity of traditional artisans and craftsmen.

• Its purpose is to establish linkages of traditional arts and crafts with the national and international market and ensure dignity of labour to artisans and provide employment opportunities and a better future to the youths belonging to the minority community.

• It will be funded by the Central Government and will prepare skilled and unskilled artisans and craftsmen to compete with major companies in terms of quality of products.

• It will be administered by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs across the country.

The scheme was launched in Varanasi to improve sordid conditions of weavers of world famous Banaras Saree, belonging to minority communities.

UNION GOVERNMENT LAUNCHED KAYAKALP AWARD SCHEME TO IMPROVE CLEANLINESS IN PUBLIC HEALTH FACILITIES

The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda on 15 May 2015 launched kayakalp Award Scheme.

The scheme is intended to encourage and incentivize Public Health Facilities (PHFs) in the country for maintaining the facilities clean and hygienic.

Features of Kayakalp Award Scheme

The objectives of the award scheme are

• To promote cleanliness, hygiene and infection control practices in public health care facilities

• To incentivize and recognize such public healthcare facilities that show exemplary performance in adhering to standard protocols of cleanliness and infection control

• To inculcate a culture of ongoing assessment and peer review of performance related to hygiene, cleanliness and sanitation

• To create and share sustainable practices related to improved cleanliness in public health facilities linked to positive health outcomes

Cleanliness does not apply only to physical cleanliness, but to develop and put in place systems and procedures for activities such as bio-waste disposal or protocols etc.

Five awards will be given under this scheme viz., best two District Hospitals (DH) in each state (only one best district hospital in small states),best two Community Health Centres (CHC) or Sub District Hospitals (SDH) (limited to one in small states) and one Primary Health Centre (PHC) in every district.

Award winners will receive a cash award with a citation. First rank and second rank awardees at DHs will get 50 lakh rupees and 20 lakh rupees respectively. While 15 lakh rupees and 10 lakh rupees are proposed for CHC or SDH, the winner in the PHC category will get 2 lakh rupees under this scheme.

Certificate of Commendation plus cash award would also be given to such facilities that score over 70 percent but do not make it to the list of top two or one in a particular year, which is proposed as 3 lakh rupees for DH, 1 lakh rupees for CHC or SDH and 50000 for PHC.

The awards would be distributed based on the performance parametersincluding sanitation and hygiene, infection control, hospital upkeep, waste management, community participation.

Assessment of the performance would be done sequentially through a three tier system - internal assessment followed by peer assessment and then external assessment.

INDIA METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT SIGNED MOU WITH POSOCO LTD TO INCREASE EFFICIENCY OF POWER SECTOR

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences on 18 May 2015 signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (POSOCO) for optimum use of weather information/forecast in the power sector.

POSOCO Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd.

Highlights of the MoU

• All weather information provided by ESSO-IMD will be used by the Power System Operators across the India for better management of Indian Power System.

• IMD will make available current weather information for the identified stations; and forecasts at different time scales of temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction and rainfall of the identified stations/sectors.

• IMD will also provide weather warnings about likely occurrences of thunderstorm, heat wave, cold wave, rainfall, fog, etc. over various states for up to 72 hours.

• IMD will provide state or region wise Monthly/Seasonal outlooks of weather conditions.

• Both the parties agreed to provide expert opinion and knowledge support in areas of Weather information and its affect on power distribution system.

• Data and Inputs will be exchanged to encourage further study and research work.

• POSOCO will provide economic assessment of impact of weather and climate information. Regular feed mechanism will be put in place for continued up-gradation of the services.

UNION FINANCE MINISTRY CONSTITUTED SHAH COMMITTEE TO LOOK INTO THE ISSUE OF MAT ON FIIS

Union finance Ministry on 20 May 2015 constituted Shah Committee to look into the issue of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs).

The committee will be headed by Justice A P Shah while the other members are Dr. Girish Ahuja, a chartered accountant and former Associate Professor of Commerce, Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi and Dr. Ashok Lahiri, former Chief Economic Adviser and Executive Director, ADB and currently Chairman of High Level Committee to interact with Trade and Industry on tax laws.

Further, the committee would examine the matter relating to levy of MAT on FIIs for the period prior to 1 April 2015.

It will also examine all the related legal provisions, judicial/quasi judicial pronouncements and such other relevant aspects as it may consider appropriate. The committee has been requested to give its recommendations on the above issue expeditiously.

The committee shall set its own procedure for regulating its work. The term of the committee will be for one year or such period as may be notified by the Government from time to time.

The committee may interact with various stakeholders as it may deem fit. The committee may also invite officers from Department of Revenue including the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for consultations/discussions as may be necessary.

Union Finance Ministry had announced the decision to set up the committee on 7 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.

20TH LAW COMMISSION SUBMITTED REPORT ON GUARDIANSHIP AND CUSTODY LAWS TO THE UNION LAW MINISTRY

The 20th Law Commission of India on 22 May 2015 submitted the 257th report titled Reforms in Guardianship and Custody Laws in India to DV Sadananda Gowda, the Union Minister of Law and Justice.

The report reviewed the current laws dealing with custody and guardianship and came up with draft legislative amendments in the form ofthe Hindu Minority and Guardianship (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Guardians and Wards (Amendment) Bill, 2015 to the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 respectively.

Major amendments deal with the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 by introducing a new chapter (Chapter IIA) on custody and visitation arrangements including the concept of joint custody.

Key Aspects of the Draft Legislation

Welfare principle: The welfare principle in the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 was strengthened with a continuous emphasis on its relevance in each aspect of guardianship and custody related decision-making.

Abolition of preference: Preference for the father as the natural guardian under Hindu law was removed and both parents are granted equal legal status with respect to guardianship and custody.

Joint custody: Courts are empowered to award joint custody to both parents in circumstances conducive to the welfare of the child or award sole custody to one parent with visitation rights to the other.

Mediation: Parties to a custody matter must ordinarily consider expert-led and time-bound mediation, which can not only promote better outcomes for parents and children, but also reduce the strain on the overburdened court system.

Child support: Courts are empowered to fix an amount specifically for child support, to meet basic living expenses of the child.

Financial resources of parents and the standard of living of the child must be considered when fixing such amounts. Child support must continue till the child turns 18, but may be extended till 25; or longer, in case of a child with mental or physical disability.

Guidelines: Detailed guidelines were evolved to help courts, parents and other stakeholders arrive at the best arrangement to serve the welfare of the child. Several new concepts in this regard, including parenting plans, grand parenting time, visitation rights, and relocation of parents were also mentioned in the report. 
Comment
The revision of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 has become necessary to ensure these laws are in tune with changes in the social considerations. As per an estimate, divorce rate increased to 13 per 1000 in 2014 as compared to that of 1 in 1000 in 2004.

Additionally, in most of the proceedings of divorce and family breakdowns parents use children as pawns to strike their own bargains without considering the emotional, social and mental upheavals that the children may face.

Hence, in order to protect interest of the children, the commission has recommended amendments to laws by giving substantial powers to courts in dealing with such cases.

 

CURRENT INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

WHO RELEASED A REPORT ON ECONOMIC COST OF THE HEALTH IMPACT OF AIR POLLUTION IN EUROPEAN REGION

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a report titled Economic cost of the health impact of air pollution in Europe: Clean air, health and wealth.

This is the first assessment of the economic burden of deaths and diseases resulting from outdoor and indoor air pollution in the 53 countries of the WHO European Region.

The report provides key inputs for the policy makers and the civil society across region emphasizing the need for evolving stringent environmental friendly norms.

Important findings of the report

• The report estimated that the WHO European region in 2010 lost 1.6 US trillion dollars due to premature deaths and diseases caused by air pollution, out of which around 1.4 US trillion dollars loss was caused only due to 600000 premature deaths.

• The amount of 1.6 trillion US dollars is nearly equivalent to one tenth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the entire European Union in 2013.

• Out of the 53 countries surveyed in 10 countries this cost is at or above 20 percent of national GDP.

• Over 90 percent of citizens in the Region are exposed to annual levels of outdoor fine particulate matter that are above WHO's air quality guidelines. This accounted for 482000 premature deaths in 2012 from heart and respiratory diseases, blood vessel conditions and strokes and lung cancer.

• In 2012, indoor air pollution resulted in an additional 117200 premature deaths, five times more in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

Another report titled Improving environment and health in Europe: how far have we gotten? jointly published by WHO and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) informed that one in four Europeans still falls sick or dies prematurely from environmental pollution.

FORBES RELEASED GLOBAL 2000 COMPANIES LIST

Forbes on 6 May 2015 released Global 2000 Companies list. The Forbes Global 2000 is a comprehensive list of the world’s largest, most powerful public companies, as measured by revenues, profits, assets and market value.

Global 2000 companies hail from 61 countries and account for combined revenues of 39 trillion US dollar, profits of 3 trillion US dollar, with assets worth 162 trillion US dollar, and a market value of 48 trillion US dollar.

Highlights of the Report

•Industrial and Commercial Bank of China tops the list for a third consecutive year, while Bank of China jumped 5 spots to the No.4 spot, knocking down JP Morgan Chase.

•Berkshire Hathaway stays at the 5th place, making Warren Buffet’s conglomerate the largest U.S. Company. For the first time, China’s four biggest banks own the top four spots.

•China and the USA split the top 10 spots for a second year in a row.

•U.S. tops the list with 579 companies. China with 232 stands second, surpassed Japan for the first time. With 218 companies, Japan slid to the third spot.

•The United Kingdom kept its fourth place with 95 companies, Europe overall lost 20 spots to finish with 486 companies this year, falling further behind Asia (691) and North America (645) in continental rankings.

•Two countries debut on the list this year: Argentina and Cyprus.

•India has added two companies to its last year’s tally.

•Reliance Industries is ranked 142 on the list, down from last year’s 135th spot, with a market value of 42.9 billion dollars and 71.7 billion dollars in sales.

•Reliance is followed by State Bank of India which is ranked 152 and has a 33 billion dollars market value.

•The other Indian companies on the list are Oil and Natural Gas ranked 183, Tata Motors (263), ICICI Bank (283), Indian Oil (349), HDFC Bank (376), NTPC (431), Tata Consultancy Services (485), Bharti Airtel (506), Axis Bank (558), Infosys (672), Bharat Petroleum (757), Wipro (811), Tata Steel (903) and Adani Enterprises (944).

INDIA, IRAN SIGNED INTER-GOVERNMENTAL MOU FOR DEVELOPMENT OF CHABAHAR PORT

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 MoU was signed in Tehran by Minister for Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari and Iranian Minister for Transport and Urban Development Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi.

Features of this inter-Governmental MoU

• The MOU facilitates Indian and Iranian commercial entities to commence negotiations for finalization of a commercial contract.

• Under the contract, Indian firms will lease two existing berths at the Port and operationalize them as container and multi-purpose cargo terminals.

Benefit of the MoU

This MoU will facilitate availability of functional container and cargo terminal to India at the port which will provide Afghanistan’s garland road network system alternate access to a sea port. It will also enhance Afghanistan’s overall connectivity to regional and global markets significantly and provide a boost to the ongoing reconstruction and humanitarian efforts in the country.

The port located in Sistan-Balochistan Province on Iran's southeastern coast is of great strategic utility for India and will also provide a sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. The port will be used to ship crude oil and urea, saving India transportation costs.

Comment: The MoU may work as a setback for United States, which has been asking India and other countries not to rush into doing business with Iran. It has asked other countries to halt their process of doing business with Iran as Washington is yet to work out a deal with Tehran on the latter's contentious nuclear programme.

INDIA, RUSSIA SIGNED 11 MOIS FOR HIGHER ACADEMIC COOPERATION

Indian and Russian institutions of higher learning on 8 May 2015 inked 11 Memorandum of Intent (MoI) to establish the Network of Institutions of Higher Education.

Among those that signed the memorandum were IIT Bombay, Madras and Delhi and also University of Delhi, Indian Statistical Institute and Institution of Engineers.

The MoIs were inked in Moscow in presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, who is on a four day visit to Russia to witness the Victory Day parade on 9 May 2015, which is marking the 70th anniversary of Allied forces victory in the Second World War. During this visit, Mukherjee was conferred with honorary Doctorate by the Russian Diplomatic Academy.

The leading Academic Institutes of Russia and India will combine efforts to train highly qualified staff for innovative economy and expand scientific, technical and technological cooperation.

Cooperation agreement signed between the Department of Science & Technology in India and Russian Science Foundation will offer another platform for supporting joint research projects.

Establishment of a network of Indian and Russian Universities would facilitate establishment of more institutional linkages, including exchanges of faculty, researchers and students, joint research activities and scientific conferences and symposia.

NORTH KOREA SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRED SUBMARINE-LAUNCHED BALLISTIC MISSILE

North Korea on 8 May 2015 successfully test-fired a newly developed Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM). The nation described the missile as a world level strategic weapon.

The underwater ballistic missile that will meet the latest military science and technology requirements of the country was test-fired after Leader Kim Jong-Un gave the order to test-fire the missile.  He also watched its launch from attack submarine.

This underwater ballistic missile is capable of striking and wiping out hostile forces in any waters.

This missile programme has violated the UN resolution that prohibits Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests.

INDIA AND CHINA SIGNED 24 AGREEMENTS TO ENHANCE BILATERAL CO-OPERATION

India and China on 15 May 2015 signed 24 agreements to augment bilateral co-operation between the two countries.

The agreements were signed in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi andChinese  Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, China.

The details of agreements covering the fields of Education, Railways, People-to-People exchanges, skill development, Security among others were outlined in the Joint Statement issued by the two leaders after the conclusion of bilateral talks.

Some of the important agreements are

Both the countries agreed to establish State/Provincial Leaders’ Forumto enhance relations among the provinces (China) and states (India).  The first meeting of the Forum was held in Beijing on 15 May 2015, with the participation of Prime Minister Modi and Premier Li.

An additional Consulate General shall be established in each other’s country. India shall open a new Consulate General in Chengdu, while China shall open a new Consulate General in Chennai. These new consulates will facilitate and promote greater cultural, tourism, economic and people-to-people engagement between the two countries.
The fifth joint counter-terrorism training between the two armies will be held in China in 2015. The two sides will exchange visits of naval ships and hold PASSEX and SAR exercises.

Both the countries agreed to abide by the three-stage process for the settlement of the boundary question, and continuously push forward negotiation on the framework for a boundary settlement based on the outcomes and common understanding achieved so far, in an effort to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution as early as possible.

Both sides agreed to optimally exploit the present and potential complementarities in identified sectors in the Five Year Trade and Economic Development Plan signed in September 2014, including Indian pharmaceuticals, Indian IT services, tourism, textiles and agro-products.

It was agreed to conduct the next meeting of the Strategic Economic Dialogue, co-chaired by Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog of India and Chairman of NDRC of China in India during the second half of 2015.

Both the countries agreed on an Action Plan outlining the next steps to enhance the partnership in the Railway Sector. It is in continuation of the ongoing initiatives including the projects on speed raising on the existing Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore line, the proposed feasibility studies for the Delhi-Nagpur section of high speed rail link, the station redevelopment planning for Bhubaneswar & Baiyappanahalli, heavy haul transportation training and setting up of a railway university.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to institute a dialogue mechanism between the NITI Aayog of India and the Development Research Centre of the State Council of China.

Both the countries agreed to enhance cooperation between the financial regulators and enterprises of the two countries in support of the building of the Closer Developmental Partnership.

The International Yoga Day will be organised jointly on 21 June 2015 in collaboration between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Yunnan National University.

Agreement on expanded Educational Exchange Programme to promote student exchanges in higher education.

The two sides will have the annual exchange of 200 youths from each side in the second half of 2015 as part of the India-China Cultural Exchange Initiative.

Agreements related to establishing provincial partnership between Karnataka and Sichuan and sister-city relationships between Aurangabad – Dunhuang, Chennai – Chongqing and Hyderabad – Qingdao were signed.

India-China Think Tanks Forum will be established to foster closer dialogue and mutual understanding between the two countries. The forum will meet annually, alternately in India and China.

It was agreed to institutionalize the High Level Media Forum and tasked the Ministry of External Affairs of India and the State Council Information Office of China to convene it on an annual basis, alternately in India and China.

Action Plan on the establishment of Mahatma Gandhi National Institute for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship at Gandhinagar/Ahmedabad in Gujarat was signed.

It was agreed to initiate cooperation in development of smart cities with identification of GIFT City in India and Shenzhen in China as pilot smart cities for joint demonstration projects.

The 2015-2020 Space Cooperation Outline was signed between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) of the Republic of India and China National Space Administration of the People’s Republic of China to reinforce the cooperation in the field of Satellite Remote Sensing, Space-Based meteorology, Space Science, Lunar and Deep Space Exploration, Satellite Navigation, Space Components, Piggy-back Launching Services, and Education and Training.

It was agreed to further strengthen cooperation through the Expert-Level Mechanism on the provision of flood-season hydrological data and emergency management.

The two sides agreed to hold negotiation on augmenting the list of traded commodities and expand border trade at Nathu La, Qiangla/Lipu-Lekh Pass and Shipki La passes to transform the border into a bridge of cooperation and exchanges.

China agreed to allow Indian pilgrims to use the Nathu La Pass (Sikkim) route for Kailash Manasarover Yatra (Gang Renpoche and Mapam Yun Tso Pilgrimage) in 2015.

They agreed to further strengthen coordination and cooperation in multilateral forums including RIC (Russia, India and China), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and India) and G20 to promote the interests of developing countries and the building of a better world. India agreed to support China in hosting the G20 summit in 2016.

bilateral consultative mechanism on WTO (World Trade Organisation) related issues will be launched for enhancing coordination in the context of global trade talks.

The two sides agreed to work together with relevant parties to accelerate the preparation for establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to promote regional infrastructure and economic development.

Joint Statement on Climate Change was issued which underscored the importance of working together and with other countries to conclude an ambitious, comprehensive, universal, balanced and equitable climate agreement at the forthcoming CoP (Conference of Parties) 21 to UNFCCC to be held in Paris in late 2015.

DD, CCTV SIGNED AGREEMENT FOR EXCHANGE OF ART, CULTURE PROGRAMMES

Doordarshan and China Central Television (CCTV) on 15 May 2015 signed an agreement for exchange of art, culture and development television programmes. The agreement was signed by Prasar Bharathi CEO Jawhar Sircar on behalf of India in Beijing during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China.

This agreement will enable both Doordarshn and CCTV to share programmes on their networks at free of cost. Under the agreement, Doordarshan will offer programmes pertaining to art, culture and tourism while CCTV in turn will exchange human interest, development programmes and success stories.

The exchange of programmes will begin by the end 2015 and both networks will also take up co-production works for this initiative.

PALESTINIANS OBSERVED 67TH NAKBA DAY

Palestinians on 15 May 2015 observed the 67th anniversary of the 1948 Palestinian Nakba Day. As part of it, dozens of Palestinians staged a march in southern Gaza Strip and vowed to return to their ancestral Homeland.

The march was organised by Hamas near the Israeli border in the town of Al-Qarara in eastern Khan Younis.

On 15 May every year, Palestinians mark Nakba Day, the day when the state of Israel was founded. They observe it to reaffirm their right to return to the land from which their ancestors were forcibly displaced by Israel in 1948.

The term Nakba in Arabic means catastrophe and is used by Palestinians to denote their mass expulsion and displacement from their ancestral homes and land in historical Palestine in 1948.

On the other hand, Jews in Israel celebrate this day as Independence Day.

INDIA AND MONGOLIA SIGNED 13 AGREEMENTS TO ENHANCE BILATERAL RELATIONS

India and Mongolia on 17 May 2015 signed 13 agreements to further enhance bilateral ties and co-operation between the two countries. India also announced to provide one billion US dollar credit to Mongolia.

The agreements were inked during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to Mongolia. Modi’s visit to Mongolia is the first ever visit of Indian Prime Minister to the country.

Prime Minister Modi is on a three nation visit to China (14 May to 16 May 2015), Mongolia (17 May 2015) and Korea (18 May to 19 May 2015).

The 13 Agreements include

• Revised Air Services Agreement: This Agreement updates from previous arrangements of international air services between India and Mongolia, both being parties to the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

• Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons: Under the treaty, Indian prisoners convicted in Mongolia can be brought to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence. Similarly Mongolian citizens convicted in India can be sent to their home country to serve their sentence.

• Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Animal Health and Dairy:This Agreement envisages joint cooperation activities in the areas of dairy, quality control, modern technical application and marketing in dairy, animal disease control measures, etc.

• MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy: This MoU intends to establish broad based cooperation in forms such as exchanging of experts for training of practitioners, mutual recognition of pharmacopoeias and formularies, educational qualifications and traditional preparations, setting up of Academic Chairs, providing scholarships, and others.

• MoU on Establishment of Cyber Security Training Centre in the Ministry of Defence of Mongolia: Under this, India will establish a Cyber Security Training Centre and will also undertake the training of personnel in cyber security.

MoU on Establishment of India-Mongolia Joint Friendship School in Mongolia: This MoU is for the establishment of a school jointly by India and Mongolia which would follow an open, inclusive and flexible curriculum to harness the potential of each child enabling them to grow both personally and professionally.

• Programme on Cooperation in the field of Culture for the Years 2015-2018: This Agreement aims to enhance cooperation in the field of culture through organization of exhibitions, film festivals and also exchange of experts, students, journalists, etc.

MoU for Cooperation between the National Security Council of India and Mongolia: This MoU was entered to hold regular consultations alternatively in New Delhi and Ulaanbaatar. It would cover both traditional and non-traditional security issues, counter-terrorism, intelligence cooperation and exchange, and others.

MoU on Cooperation between the Ministry of External Affairs of India and Mongolia: The MoU will focus on all aspects of the bilateral relationship, especially in the areas of political, economic, commercial, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation. The MoU supersedes the existing Protocol on Cooperation between the Ministry of External Affairs of India and Mongolia signed on 17 September 1996.

• MoU for cooperation on development of new and renewable energy technologies: This will cover cooperation on Solar Energy and Wind Energy through the modalities of exchange of information and personnel, transfer of equipment and know-how, development of joint research or technical projects, determination of renewable energy resources, etc.

• MoU on enhancing cooperation between the border guarding forces:This MoU envisages the setting up of a Joint Steering Committee between Ministry of Home Affairs of India and General Authority for Border Protection of Mongolia for cooperation in the areas of capacity building, exchange of best practices, conduct of joint exercises, technologies for border guarding, surveillance and policing, etc.

• MoU between the Tata Memorial Centre of India and the National Cancer Center of Mongolia for Gifting Bhabhatron-II Tele-therapy Unit along with a Radiotherapy Simulator: Guided by the MoU signed between the two countries on the 14 September 2009 for mutual cooperation, the present MoU sets the terms and conditions for the presentation by the Government of India, through TMC of one unit each of the Bhabhatron-II Telecobalt Unit and the Radiotherapy Simulator designed, developed and manufactured in India.

• MoU to enhance their skills and improve the training programme in both the countries: This MoU would help in exchange of trainees, students, faculty members and experts between India and Mongolia.

Apart from this, during this visit of Modi, the two nations issued joint statement on strategic partnership. Modi also addressed to the Mongolian Parliament and gifted a rare history manuscript to Mongolian president.

Besides, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met with Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar. He also visited Gandan Tegchinlen Monastery in Ulaanbaatar.

INDIA, SOUTH KOREA SIGNED 7 AGREEMENTS TO UPGRADE RELATIONS TO SPECIAL STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP LEVEL

India and South Korea on 18 May 2015 signed seven agreements to upgrade relations to special strategic partnership level.

The agreements were inked during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to South Korea. Prime Minister Modi is on a three nation visit to China (14 May to 16 May 2015), Mongolia (17 May 2015) and South Korea (18 May to 19 May 2015).

List of Agreements/MoUs signed during the visit of Prime Minister to South Korea

• Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income: India-South Korea Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (signed 1985) has been revised with a view to avoiding the burden of double taxation on taxpayers in the two countries.

• India-Korea Agreement on Cooperation in Audio-Visual Co-Production: The Agreement is being signed under the provisions of India-South Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA); it would enable co-production of films, animation and broadcasting programmes. The Agreement would enable opportunities for collaboration between Indian and Korean film industries, and facilitate collaboration and exchange.

• MoU for Cooperation between the National Security Council of India and South Korea: The MoU would formalize consultations between National Security Council structures of the two countries in a number of areas.

• MoU for Cooperation in the field of Electric Power Development and New Energy Industries: The MoU envisages cooperation in areas of electric power development and new energy industries such as renewable energy, smart grids and power information and technology, transmission and distribution of electric power, energy efficiency and storage system.

• MoU on Cooperation in Youth Matters: The MoU will strengthen and encourage cooperation on youth matters through participation in events and activities through exchanges, international conferences, seminars, youth camps, festivals etc.

Framework of Cooperation in the Field of Road Transport: To be signed under the provisions of India-South Korea CEPA, the FOC envisages cooperation in areas including road policies, design and construction, road operation, road management and safety, intelligent transport systems and electronic toll collection systems.

• MoU on Cooperation in the Fields of Maritime Transport and Logistics:The MoU envisages cooperation between the two countries in the fields of maritime transport and logistics including through sharing of technologies, information and experiences, the training of seafarers, exchange of experts and port operations etc.

During the visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with South Korean President Park Geun Hye in Seoul. Later, the two leaders released a joint statement.

Besides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Seoul.

INDIA AND VIETNAM SIGNED JOINT VISION STATEMENT ON DEFENCE COOPERATION 2015-2020

India and Vietnam on 25 May 2015 signed a Joint Vision Statement on Defence Cooperation for the period 2015-2020 in New Delhi.

It was signed by the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the Vietnamese Minister for National Defence General Phung Quang Thanh.

The statement is an outcome of delegation level talks held in New Delhi to discuss cooperation on maritime security.

Besides the Joint statement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation between the Coast Guards of the two countries was also signed in the presence of the two Defence Ministers.

Earlier, in October 2014, India announced 100 million US dollar line of credit to Vietnam during the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visit to the country to enable Vietnam acquire new naval vessels from India.

The above initiatives of the Union Government are part of its Act East policy, aimed at deepening its strategic and economic relations with Asian countries and curtailing growing China’s influence in the region.

FORBES RELEASED THE WORLD’S 100 MOST POWERFUL WOMEN 2015 LIST

Forbes on 26 May 2015 released the list of World’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2015 showing women who impacted businesses, media, philanthropy, politics and more.

All 100 women have the power to shape the world, but 18 stand out this year as entrepreneurs, the women who built their status from scratch.

This is Forbes’ definitive annual audit of the foremost heads of state, iconic entrepreneurs, CEOs, celebrity role models, billionaire activists, and pioneer philanthropists. All are ranked by money, media momentum, spheres of influence and impact.

Highlights of the List

• The world’s most powerful woman in the list is German Chancellor Angela Merkel who fetched the first spot.

• Hillary Clinton ranked at 2nd position, she has been appearing on this FORBES ranking every year as a senator, secretary of state and influential personality.

• The most powerful women in politics, philanthropy, business and tech are Angela Merkel, Melinda Gates, Barra and Sandberg.

• The top ranking billionaire in the list is Oprah Winfrey who stood at 12th spot, having personal net worth of 3 billion US dollars.

• Ana Patricia Botin, the newly installed chairman of Banco Santander, is the top woman in finance at 18th position.

• Beyonce Knowles leads the entertainment field at 21st position while Anna Wintour, Conde Nast artistic director, leads the media sector by fetching 28th slot.

• There are 19 newcomers in the list in 2015 including Beth Comstock, CEO of GE Business Innovations and Elizabeth Holmes, founder of blood testing company Theranos, Google CFO Ruth Porat, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, power pop star Taylor Swift and top venture capitalist Jenny Lee.

• Seven women who appeared on the inaugural list in 2004 are still in the list today including Melinda Gates, Christine Lagarde, Hillary Clinton, Indra Nooyi, Oprah, Queen Elizabeth II and Ho Ching.

• Technology takes a fourth place as a category on the Power Women list, seven tech women made the top 25 this year including Sandberg, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, HP’s Meg Whitman and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

• More than half of the women on the list are American, including immigrants such as von Furstenberg (Belgium), Ambassador Samantha Power (Ireland), Weili Dai (China), Donna Langley (UK), and Padmasree Warrior (India).

• 19 women are off the list from last year, among them are Margaret Hamburg, Amy Pascal, Gracas Silva Foster, Gail Kelly, Helene Gayle, Patricia Woertz and Joyce Banda.

Top 10 powerful women in the List

Rank

Name

1

Angela Merkel

2

Hillary Clinton

3

Melinda Gates

4

Janet Yellen

5

Mary Barra

6

Christine Lagarde

7

Dilma Rousseff

8

Sheryl Sandberg

9

Susan Wojcicki

10

Michelle Obama

Indian Women in the list

Four Indians have been named in Forbes list including Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson of State Bank of India (SBI), who stood at 30th position.

Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, was placed at 35th position; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD of Biocon Limited, was placed at 85th position and Shobhana Bhartia, Editorial Director of the Hindustan Times Group, was placed at 93rd position.

NATO LAUNCHED ARCTIC CHALLENGE EXERCISE IN THE NORTH OF NORWAY, SWEDEN AND FINLAND

NATO on 26 May 2015 launched the Arctic Challenge Exercise based in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The exercise involves 115 fighter planes and 3600 troops from nine countries.

The participant countries include all NATO members like the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands as well as neutral Switzerland.

This exercise is the second of its kind, first similar tests was conducted in 2013.

Apart from this, Russia also on 26 May 2015 begun a four-day-long massive military exercise and described it as a massive surprise inspection, to check combat readiness. The exercise involves 12000 soldiers and around 250 aircraft, including long-range bombers carrying cruise missiles.

This Russian military exercise has coincided with an Arctic training exercise by NATO and has raised debate.

Russian military exercise on the same day when NATO military alliance launched their training exercise may raise tensions with West over Russia’s role in conflict in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in fourth week of May 2015 said that the large number of snap exercises conducted by Russia decreases transparency and practicability. But Russia has defended the exercise by terming that these drills are part of preparation for a larger exercise known as Center-2015, which will be held later in 2015.

 

ECONOMICS / BUSINESS / CORPORATE NEWS

ECONOMICS NEWS

LOK SABHA PASSED THE GOODS AND SERVICES TAX BILL, 2014

Lok Sabha on 6 May 2015 passed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, 2014. The bill also called Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill seeks to introduce GST regime in India.

The bill will transform India into a common market, harmonising myriads of state and central levies into a national goods and services tax which is expected to boost manufacturing and reduce corruption.

Main Highlights of the Bill

• It provides for constitution of a Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council by inserting Article 279A in the Constitution. The Council will recommend to the Union and States on the inclusion and exclusion of goods and services.

• It proposes an additional tax on supply of goods, not exceeding one percent, in the course of inter-State trade will be levied and collected by the Union for a period of two years and apportioned to the States.

• The net proceeds of additional tax on supply of goods, except the proceeds from Union Territories, will not form the part of Consolidated Fund of India.

• It provides for the compensation to the States for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of GST for a period of five years.

• It subsumes all the Central indirect taxes, levies and Central Sales Tax and State Value Added Tax and Sales Tax.

• It covers all goods and services except alcoholic liquor for human consumption for the levy of GST.

Now, the bill needs to be passed in Rajya Sabha after which more than a half of India's 29 states must approve it before the central and state governments would get equal powers to tax goods and services.

With the passage of GST bill at every stage, the whole country, which is one-sixth of world's population, would become a single market and would give a necessary fillip as far as the trade is concerned.

UNION GOVERNMENT, ADB SIGNED LOAN AGREEMENT WORTH 31 MILLION US DOLLARS

The Union Government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 7 May 2015 signed a 31 million US dollars loan agreement to boost water availability in selected river basins in Karnataka and ensure improved water efficiency in irrigation.

The agreement was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Union Government and M Teresa Kho, Country Director of ADB in India.

ADB’s loan of 31 million US dollars will cover about 65 percent of the total project cost of 48 million US dollars with the state government of Karnataka providing the balance of 17 million US dollars.

The loan is the first tranche of the Karnataka Integrated and Sustainable Water Resources Management Investment Program of 150 million US dollars, approved by ADB in 2014. The program will improve irrigation efficiency in three river basins in the state saving 1700 million cubic meters of water.

This saved water could be used on an additional 160000 hectares of farmland which will further lead to increase in farm incomes by about 50 percent and benefit about 1.5 million people.

Besides, the loan will help train and certify over 200 Water Resources Department (WRD) staff in integrated water resources management and build capacities of water users cooperative societies.

Through this project, Advanced Centre for IWRM (AC-IWRM) will be developed into a sub-regional accredited institute to provide certification in the field of IWRM.

PM INAUGURATED UPGRADED IISCO STEEL PLANT IN BURNPUR HOUSING LARGEST BLAST FURNACE PLANT OF INDIA

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10 May 2015 inaugurated the upgraded IISCO Steel Plant (ISP) in Burnpur, West Bengal. The ISP houses the largest blast furnace of India.

The ISP was modernised by the Union Government at a cost of 16000 crore rupees. After modernisation, the plant's production capacity has increased from 0.85 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 2.9 mtpa.

The revamped plant in Burnpur is spread across 953 acres. It is the fifth integrated steel plant of SAIL. Also, the new plant is equipped with the latest green technologies with zero emission.

The revamped plant has already achieved some major milestones, both in production and quality, since 2014. It has started operating the continuous casting plant, and the first batch of 8-mm thermo-mechanical treatment (TMT) bars was produced in January 2015.  The company's reserves of iron ore are the largest in Asia.

The modernization will held India in attaining the target of producing 300 million tonnes of steel by 2025 to meet industry demand. Also, it will help SAIL in achieving the target of enhancing production capacity to 50 million tonnes by 2025.

Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO) was taken over by the Union Government in 1972 as part of a nationalisation drive and made a fully-owned subsidiary of SAIL in 1978. It was thereafter renamed ISP.

PM LAUNCHED PRADHAN MANTRI JEEVAN JYOTI BIMA YOJANA (PMJJBY) IN KOLKATA

PM Narendra Modi on 9 May 2015 launched Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) in Kolkata, West Bengal. The scheme is intended to provide for life insurance cover to the eligible subscribers.

Key Features of PMJJBY

• It provides for an annual life insurance of 2 lakh rupees and covers death due to any reason.

• A premium of 330 rupees per annum is paid by the subscribers to enroll in the scheme.

• People in the age group of 18 to 50 years having a bank account are eligible to join the scheme.

• It will be administered through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and other Life Insurance companies willing to offer the product on similar terms with necessary approvals and tie ups with banks for this purpose.

• The coverage period is of one year duration starting from 1 June to 31 March of the succeding year.

• The Union Government will spend 50 crore rupees per annum between 2015 and 2020 for creating awareness about the PMJJBY and thePradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) launched on the same day to provide insurance cover for disabilities due to accidents.

PM NARENDRA MODI LAUNCHED PRADHAN MANTRI SURAKSHA BIMA YOJANA (PMSBY)

PM Narendra Modi on 9 May 2015 launched Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) in Kolkata, West Bengal.

It is an Accident Insurance Scheme (AIS) offering death and disability cover on account of an accident.

Key Features of Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY)

• It provides for the risk coverage of 2 lakh rupees for accidental death and full disability and 1 lakh rupees for partial disability due to an accident.

• It is available to people in the age group of 18 to 70 years having a savings bank account.

• The coverage period is of one year duration starting from 1 June to 31 March of the succeeding year.

• A premium of 12 rupees per annum is paid by the subscriber which will be deducted from the account holder’s savings bank account through auto debit facility in one installment on or before 1 June of each annual coverage period.

• The product will be offered by Public Sector General Insurance Companies (PSGICs) and other General Insurance companies willing to offer the product on similar terms with necessary approvals and tie up with banks for this purpose.

PM NARENDRA MODI LAUNCHED ATAL PENSION YOJANA (APY) FOR UNORGANISED SECTOR WORKERS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 9 May 2015 launched Atal Pension Yojana (APY) in Kolkata, West Bengal.

The scheme is intended to enhance old age income security of the working poor and is focused on encouraging and enabling them to join the National Pension System (NPS). It will be operational from 1 June 2015.

Key Features of Atal Pension Yojana (APY)

Operational Framework: It is a Government of India Scheme and is administered by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). The institutional architecture of NPS would be utilised to enroll subscribers under scheme.

Eligibility: All citizens in the unorganised sector, who join the NPS administered by the PFRDA and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme are eligible to benefit under the scheme.
The minimum age of joining is 18 years and maximum age is 40 years. All the existing subscribers of Swavalamban Scheme would be automatically migrated to APY, unless they opt out.
It is expected that around two crore subscribers would be enrolled during the financial year 2015-16 under the scheme.

Benefits: The subscribers would receive the fixed pension, as guaranteed by the Union Government, of 1000 rupees per month, 2000 rupees per month, 3000 rupees per month, 4000 rupees per month,  5000 rupees per month, at the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which itself would vary on the age of joining the scheme.

The pension would also be available to the spouse on the death of the subscriber and thereafter, the pension corpus would be returned to the nominee.

Funding: The Government would co-contribute 50 percent of the subscriber contribution or 1000 rupees per annum, whichever is lower, for a period of 5 years starting from 2015-16, who join the NPS before 31 December 2015 and who are not Income Tax payers. The government would also reimburse the promotional and development activities including incentive to the contribution collection agencies to encourage people to join the scheme.

The Government expenditure is expected to range between 2520 crore and 10000 crore rupees on account of co-contribution to subscribers of the APY over a period of five years. Further, an expenditure of 2000 crore rupees for promotional and developmental activities for enrolment and contribution collection is allocated for period of five years.

Enrolment agencies: All Points of Presence (Service Providers) and Aggregators under Swavalamban Scheme would enroll subscribers through architecture of NPS.

Comment
In India, workers in the unorganized sector constitute 88 percent of the total labour force of 47.29 crore, as per the 66th Round of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) Survey of 2011-12, but do not have any formal pension provision. Hence, in order to address the longevity risks and encourage them to voluntarily save for their retirement the Union Government had launched the Swavalamban Scheme in 2010-11. 
However, enrollment under the scheme is not encouraging due to lack of clarity of pension benefits at the age after 60 years. So, in order to address the lacunae in the Swavalamban Scheme the APY was launched.

MOODY'S RELEASED THE REPORT GLOBAL MACRO OUTLOOK: 2015-16

Moody’s, the US research analytics firm, on 12 May 2015 released the quarterly Global Macro Outlook: 2015-16 report.

As per the report, stronger US dollar and shifts in capital flows will widen the gap between global economies in 2015-16. The anticipated tightening of US monetary policy as compared to monetary easing by other central banks reflects different prospects for growth and inflation around the world.

The divergence will be between those economies that have built up resilience, like the US and India, and those that are vulnerable to negative shocks, like Brazil, South Africa and Turkey. This gap will fuel shifts in capital flows and currency values and affect the global economic outlook.

The report further forecasts that although the stronger US dollar will dent the growth prospects of US economy but still the economic growth will be robust. Moody's forecasts US GDP growth of 2.8% in both 2015 and 2016.

Moody's also expects that GDP growth in G20 economies will be 2.8 percent in 2015, which remains broadly unchanged compared to 2014, however, the G20 GDP growth will increase to around 3 percent in 2016.

The weaker euro and lower oil prices is forecast to give a boost to the euro area economy, with GDP growth of around 1.5 percent in both 2015 and 2016. Lower oil prices and the weaker euro will boost growth in the short term.

In China, domestic factors will mainly account for economic developments. Moody's maintains its forecast that GDP growth will slow to 6.8 percent in 2015 and 6.5 percent in 2016, from 7.4 percent in 2014.

Moody’s on India’s growth prospects

India’s GDP will grow at a strong pace of 7.5 percent 2015-16, which is the highest among G20 economies, helped by the reforms drive and lower oil prices.

The report also forecasts a broadly balanced current account for the first time in 10 years. This has been due to lower energy import bill and restriction in gold imports.

Furthermore, Moody’s forecasts that, the Make-in-India campaign will give a boost to domestic manufacturing and other reforms measures would bring in higher investment and boost growth.

On inflation front, it said that inflation will remain moderate helped by adoption of inflation targeting policy by Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This would in turn ensure that higher inflation on food products does not spill onto other goods, services and wages and will raise real incomes, profits and overall GDP growth.

According to the road map, RBI intends to lower retail inflation to 6 percent by January 2016 and 4 percent (+/- 2%) thereafter.

Downside risks to Global economy

The report has identified several risks that could lead to lower growth in some individual countries. These risks are

(a)    a Greek exit from the euro area,

(b)    a disorderly reaction to tighter US monetary policy,

(c)    the impact of any future correction of Chinese equity or property prices, and

(d)    a possible disorderly liberalisation of China's capital account.

RBI RELEASED THE REPORT TITLED STATE FINANCES: A STUDY OF BUDGETS OF 2014-15

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) 12 May 2015 released the report titledState Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2014-15. The theme of this year’s report is Fiscal Consolidation: Assessment and Medium Term Prospects.

The report is an annual publication that provides data, analysis and an assessment of the finances of state governments. It provides the snapshot of the changing dynamics of fiscal federalism over the years.

Main highlights of the report

  • It calls for renewed and sustained efforts by states towards fiscal consolidation in the years following the global financial crisis so as to increase states’ own revenues.
  • It calls for freeing up resources for higher capital outlays, improving the quality of fiscal consolidation and setting the consolidated debt-GDP ratio of the states, including off budget liabilities on a declining trajectory.
  • The rapidly growing e-commerce could contribute to states’ own revenue efforts, provided there is greater clarity in rules and procedures to enable better compliance.
  • Windfall gains accruing over time from auctioning of natural resources need to be channelised effectively for meeting developmental needs of the mineral rich states.
  • Transition from the present origin-based indirect tax regime to a destination-based tax regime under the Goods and Services Tax from 1 April 2016 is expected to create a buoyant source of revenue for the centre and states in the medium term.
  • Improvement in fiscal marksmanship is important for delivering on fiscal consolidation intentions, particularly by minimising the systematic bias towards over-estimation of expenditure relative to receipts.

The report has been prepared in the Fiscal Analysis Division (FAD) of the Department of Economic and Policy Research.

UNION GOVERNMENT ALLOCATED 5000 CRORE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF AYUSH

The Union Government on 17 May 2015 allocated 5000 crore rupees for the growth of Department of AYUSH (it comprises Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy).

It also launched an independent National AYUSH Mission aimed at capacity building for the sector.

Besides, the Union Minister of State (MoS) for AYUSH Sripad Naik in Mumbai informed that to create awareness about Ayurveda his ministry is planning to observe Ayurveda Day.

The Union Government on 19 November 2014 approved and notified National AYUSH Mission (NAM) as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

UNION GOVERNMENT SANCTIONED 30 NEW COLD STORAGE PROJECTS

Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries on 18 May 2015 sanctioned proposals for setting up 30 new cold storage chains in the country.

The total expected grant-in-aid to be released by the Ministry is 274.9 crore rupees which would attract an investment of 470 crore rupees.

These 30 new cold storage chains were sanctioned under the Integrated Cold Chain project. So far, 138 cold storage chains under the project have been sanctioned out of which 108 are under implementation. Out of these 52 cold storages have been completed and are operational.

Importance of the decision

• These 30 projects will help in creating a capacity of 1.12 lakh Million Tonnes (MT) of cold storage, 11.10 lakh litres per day of milk processing, 1434 MT per day of ripening chamber and 209 Reefer Vehicles.

• This decision will also help bridge the shortfall in handling capacity for at least 29-30 million tonnes (mt) of milk and dairy products, fruits and vegetables, fish and marine produce and cereals.

• It will also help in creating a Cold Chain Infrastructure to link the farmer with the consumer seamlessly and creating a Cold Chain Grid in the country.

• This decision along with earlier decision of setting up 17 Mega Food Parks will help attract a total investment of about 3077 crore rupees in the creation of infrastructure in food processing industry in the country.

India is the third largest food producer in the world yet barely 2.2% of fruits and vegetables in India are processed.

Also, Government estimates the food processing sector to be growing at 8.4% and comprised 13% of factory employment in 2012-13.

SEBI NOTIFIED THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE BOARD OF INDIA (MUTUAL FUNDS) REGULATIONS, 2015

The Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 20 March 2015 notified the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 2015.

The notified  regulations dropped the 20-25 rule requiring a minimum of 20 investors and a cap of 25 percent investment by an individual investor in a particular scheme, for certain foreign entities.

The rule will not be applicable to funds managed by local fund managers in regard to Category I and/or Category II FPIs (Foreign Portfolio Investors).

Category I FPIs includes government and government related entities and Category II FPIs includes both broad based entities such as mutual funds, investments trusts and persons such as portfolio managers, investment managers, asset management companies, banks among others.

The relaxation of the rule aimed at making easier for domestic mutual funds to manage offshore pooled assets.

Earlier, the funds not adhering to the 20-25 rule were bound to appoint a separate fund manager to manage the funds.

FINANCE MINISTER INAUGURATED NEW BANK NOTE PAPER LINE UNIT IN HOSHANGABAD, MP

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 30 May 2015 inaugurated the new Bank Note Paper Line unit of 6000 metric tonne capacity at Security Paper Mill in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh.

With opening of this, India will become self-reliant in producing Bank Note Paper for big denominations. Earlier, India was considerably dependent on import of bank note paper for currency of big denominations.

He also flagged off the first consignment of one thousand rupees bank note paper made indigenously to Currency Note Press Nashik.

It is part of the indigenisation of the Bank Note paper under taken by Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited. The project has been completed at a cost of 495 crore rupees within the time schedule.

The plant is capable of incorporating the advanced security features into the Bank Note paper. It is also capable of manufacturing all denominations of Bank Note paper including 1000 rupees.

It is expected that the plant will help in generating both direct and indirect employment and overall will boost the economy of the state.

Another such unit will be soon operationalised in Mysore.

BUSINESS NEWS

The Aditya Birla Group has restructured its retail business by merging Madura Fashion & Lifestyle with Pantaloon to create the India’s largest branded apparel company. Pantaloon, a listed entity, will be renamed Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail, and have a combined turnover of around ₹5,290 crore. Madura sells brands such as Van Heusen, Louis Philippe and Allen Solley.

Future Retail Ltd has agreed to merge its retail operations with local rival Bharti Retail Ltd to create one of India’s biggest retail chains with more than 570 stores across the country.

Instant messaging pioneer BlackBerry aims to recover lost market share among business users by launching software that gives customers nine mobile numbers bundled into one SIM card. The software, WorkLife, allows customers to differentiate usage—Whatsapp, personal, business contacts, foreign travel—and get separate bills for each of them. Idea Cellular will be BlackBerry’s first partner in this tie-up that is expected to help manage telecom expenses, protect employee privacy and control company assets. For instance during foreign travel, using the virtual SIM, a user can get a local virtual connection and be billed in the local tariff rate.

Kazi Nazrul Islam airport in West Bengal’s Andal is India’s first private greenfield airport. It has been set up in collaboration with the Changi International Airport, Singapore. On 10 May 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first passenger to fly out of the Kazi Nazrul Islam airport. The 650-acre airport is the centrepiece of the ₹10,000 crore Aerotropolis, an ambitious township project in the Durgapur-Andal region.

Aditya Birla Group has agreed to acquire the hypermarket business of Jubilant Industries, which operates under the Total Superstore brand, in a slump sale all-cash deal.

NRI billionaire Lakshmi Mittal-led ArcelorMittal has partnered with PSU giant SAIL to set up an automotive steel plant with an estimated ₹5,000 crore investment, taking a fresh shot at entering India after nearly a decade-long wait for its earlier projects to take off.

CORPORATE NEWS

ARUN PUDUR TOPPED WEALTH-X LIST OF ASIA’S WEALTHIEST ENTREPRENEURS UNDER 40

Arun Pudur, the owner and president of software firm Celframe, topped the Wealth-X List of Asia’s wealthiest entrepreneur under the age of 40 with an estimated net worth of 4 billion US dollars.

It was revealed by Wealth-X on 12 May 2015.

Pudur is a 37 year old native of Chennai and founded the software firmCelframe in 1998 which produces the world’s second most popular word processor after Microsoft.

He also has assets tied up in diversified businesses in the fields of mining and real estate and  ranked 10th on a Wealth-X list of the world’s richest billionaires under 40 released in March 2015 that included Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and other technopreneurs.

Nine of the self-made billionaires on the Wealth-X top 10 list made their fortunes from the technology sector. The only exception is 35-year-old Zhang Bangxin from China, who made his wealth from tutoring services company TAL Education Group. Zhang’s estimated net worth of 2.2 billion US dollars puts him in the third spot on the list.

The youngest entrepreneur on the list is 32-year-old Leo Chen. He is the chairman and CEO of Jumei International Holding one of China’s largest online cosmetics retailers.

About Wealth-X

Wealth-X is a reputed agency on wealth intelligence, providing sales, marketing, strategy and compliance solutions to clients in the financial services, luxury, not-for-profit and education sectors. It has operations in 10 locations including Singapore, London and New York. Its award-winning research and thought leadership are regularly cited by the world’s media such as CNBC, Financial Times, Thomson Reuters and BBC.

NIKESH ARORA APPOINTED AS PRESIDENT OF JAPAN’S SOFTBANK CORP.

Indian-born Nikesh Arora was on 11 May 2015 appointed as the President of Japan’s multinational telecommunications and internet company SoftBank Corp.

As per the announcement made at the company’s earning conference, he will also be the Representative Director of SoftBank Corp.

Before the present elevation, he had been the Vice Chairman of the company and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SB Group US, Inc. (former SoftBank Internet and Media, Inc.) since September 2014.

He succeeds Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of the Softbank Corp.

Earlier, Arora worked in Google for 10 years and left the company as the Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer before joining SoftBank Corp. in 2014

DEEPAK IYER APPOINTED AS MD AND CEO OF BHARTI AXA GENERAL INSURANCE

Deepak Iyer was on 12 May 2015 appointed as Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bharti AXA General Insurance.

Currently, he is working as the Managing Director-Indian subcontinent at Wrigley India, a subsidiary of the US-based Mars.

He will take the charge from June 2015. He will take charge from Interim CEO and MD Milind Chalisgaonkar.

Earlier, he worked with PepsiCo for 16 years handling multiple international assignments, including those of Senior Franchise Director-Africa, General Manager-North & East India (including Bangladesh, Nepal & Sri Lanka) and Director-Sales for Modern Trade/ Food service/ Leisure/ Travel & Transport channels of the company.

Iyer brings with him 22 years of diverse experience across various aspects of management, sales, marketing, P&L management, operational turnaround, research and development and franchise management across different countries.

PM MODI INAUGURATED ICICI’S FIRST BRANCH IN CHINA AT SHANGHAI

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 16 May 2015 inaugurated the first branch of ICICI Bank in China at Shanghai. The branch was inaugurated in presence of Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank, Senior Chinese and Indian government officials.

The Shanghai Branch received regulatory approval in March 2015 to commence operations and it will begin with 17 well trained banking professionals spread across different functions including corporate banking, operations, finance and treasury.

The Shanghai branch will engage in banking activities permitted under the guidelines of the China Banking Regulatory Commission.

In addition, the Branch will also facilitate:

• International trade between China and other countries

• Support of Chinese Corporate/EPC contractors bidding for infrastructure projects and funding requirements in India

• Business expansion of Indian joint ventures and subsidiaries of Indian entities in China

• Remittances from China to India

In March 2003, the Bank established a representative office in Shanghai to develop strong relationships with Chinese banks and corporate for their India linked banking needs. ICICI Bank has now upgraded its representative office in Shanghai to a branch keeping in mind the rising trade volumes between India and China.

INFOSYS BECAME THE FIRST INDIAN COMPANY TO JOIN RE100 RENEWABLE ENERGY CAMPAIGN

Infosys became the first Indian Company to Join RE100 Renewable Energy Campaign.  The Climate Group on 18 May 2015 announced it.

RE100 is a global platform for major companies committed to 100% renewable power.

Infosys joined some of the world’s most influential companies such as IKEA, Swiss Re, BT, Formula E, H&M, KPN, Mars, Nestlé, Philips, among others, which are taking bold steps to create transformative change needed to drive a clean energy revolution.

The company is already working to reduce its per capita electricity consumption by 50 per cent from its 2007-2008 levels and source all its electricity from renewable resources by 2018.

During fiscal year 2015, Infosys met 29 percent of its electricity needs - about 72.08 million units - for its locations across India through green power. During the same period, Infosys generated over 2911 MWh of electricity through its onsite solar PV installations across India.

Seventeen companies have now joined the campaign and made a public commitment to become 100% renewable, including founding members IKEA and Swiss Re. As the campaign spreads in India, it is expected that more Indian companies will switch to renewable power and demonstrate the huge opportunity that exists in India’s growing clean economy.

RE100 is a global initiative that celebrates and supports major companies committed to 100% renewable power across their operations. Its goal is that 100 of the world’s most influential businesses commit to 100% renewable power within a specified timeline. RE100 was launched at Climate Week NYC (New York City) on 22 September 2014.

INFOSYS ANNOUNCED TO BECOME CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2018

Infosys on 18 May 2015 announced to become carbon neutral by 2018. For this it earmarked an amount of 400 crore rupees. The company announced to achieve carbon-neutrality on commuting and travel by its nearly 1.8 lakh employees and in doing so deepens its commitment to sustainability.

The company will offset 3.74 lakh tonne of carbon dioxide attributed to employees' travel, and it will spend 70 crore rupees in 2015 on initiatives such as installing solar projects for rural electrification, biogas plants and distribution of smokeless cook-stoves in villages, besides afforestation.

As part of its journey toward sustainability, Infosys will commission 55 MW of solar capacity, including 40 MW in Karnataka, in 2016. It will add another 110 MW of solar capacity in the coming years. It is already generating energy from 2.7 MW capacity solar panels on rooftops across its campuses in India.

Infosys consumed 257 million units of electricity globally during 2014-15, and 30 per cent of this came from renewable energy sources.

In 2011, Infosys had made an announcement at the United Nations committing to meet all its energy needs from renewable energy sources, to become carbon neutral, and to cut per capita power and water consumption by half (on 2007-08 baseline) by 2018.

The company said its per-capita power and water consumption declined by 45 per cent and 35 per cent, respespectively, during 2014-15.

From 2011, Infosys has spent about 50 million US dollar or 320 crore rupees retrofitting its equipment such as lighting, air-conditioning, power, etc. The buildings built after 2008 are all green structures complying with the highest sustainability standards.

GMR INFRA SIGNED MOU WITH GIIC FOR DEVELOPING KAKINADA SEZ

GMR Infrastructure Ltd on 18 May 2015 signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Guizhou International Investment Corporation (GIIC) for developing Kakinada Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) in Andhra Pradesh.

The MoU was signed by Challa Prasanna, President of Kakinada SEZ (KSEZ) Pvt Ltd. It seeks to set up industrial park for Chinese high-end equipment manufacturing companies in Kakinada SEZ (KSEZ).

In this regard, GIIC plans to set up 2000 acres industrial park. The fully developed facility by KSEZ and GIIC will in turn generate over 5000 jobs for both skilled and unskilled workers.

For developing the infrastructure and various facilities of the industrial park, GIIC will invest 500 million US dollars. In addition, Chinese companies setting up units at the park will invest 2-3 billion US dollars on their operations for over five years.

About Kakinada Special Economic Zone

• The Kakinada Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) is a port based Multi Product Special Economic Zone, spread over approximately 10500 acres.

• Situated strategically on the Eastern Coast in an area rich in oil and natural gas deposits, this zone has an excellent logistical linkages to National Highways, Railway networks, Air and Sea Ports.

• This SEZ caters to the existing process industries and emerging industries like Refinery, Renewable Energy, Ship Building, Biotech, Nanotech, IT/ITES, Toys, Games and Sports Goods manufacturing Park, etc.

MAMATA BANERJEE INAUGURATED THE NEW HEADQUARTER OF COAL INDIA LTD AT RAJARHAT IN WEST BENGAL

Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the new headquarter of Coal India Ltd at New Town Rajarhat in West Bengal on 15 May 2015.

The inauguration was held in the presence of Union Minister of state for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal and the Minister of State for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Babul Supriyo.

The new building came up at a sprawling 27000 Sq. Ft. area and it was built by the National Building Corporation (NBCC), a public sector company of Urban Development Ministry.

Coal India Limited (CIL), a Maharatna company, is the largest coal producer company in the world. It contributes around 81% of the coal production in India.

SAIL AND ARCELORMITTAL SIGNED MOU TO SET UP AUTOMOTIVE STEEL PLANT IN INDIA

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and ArcelorMittal on 22 May 2015 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up an automotive steel manufacturing facility under a Joint Venture (JV) arrangement in India.

The MoU was signed in London by CS Verma, Chairman of SAIL and Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal in the presence of Rakesh Singh, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Steel.

The JV will construct a state-of-the-art cold rolling mill and other downstream finishing facilities in India that will offer technologically advanced steel products to the country’s rapidly growing automotive sector.

To operationalise the MoU, a working group with representatives from both companies will be set up to evolve a structure for the proposed JV and carry out feasibility studies as part of a comprehensive due diligence process.

The proposed plant will help to meet growing demands of the Indian automotive sector which is poised to become the world’s fourth largest automobile manufacturing nation by 2020 with the production of approximately 7 million units per annum from the present 3.5 million units per annum.

The agreement is also in tune with the Union Government’s Make In India campaign which has been designed to transform India into a global manufacturing hub.

At present, while the ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel supplier to the global automotive sector with a market share of approximately 17 per cent, SAIL is India’s largest steel producer with 13.5 million metric tons production per annum.

MICROSOFT ANNOUNCED TO OPEN INDIA'S FIRST DIGITAL EXPERIENCE CENTRE IN GUJARAT

Microsoft on 27 May 2015 announced to open the India’s first Digital Experience Centre in Vadodara, Gujarat. Microsoft will open the centre in collaboration with the Vadodara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

The centre aims to bring to life these experiences for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs and educational institutions and help them leverage contemporary cloud technology to drive business growth as well as enhance skills and promote learning.

In addition to SMEs, Microsoft and VCCI will also help educational institutions to adopt technology that will prepare future generations for the mobile-first, cloud-first world.

As a part of this initiative, Microsoft's latest innovative cloud-computing based offering Edu-Cloud will help education institutions enhance digital learning and teaching by providing them with access to digital content and free access to Office 365 on Windows-powered tablets.

The centre will help businesses, institutions, partners and individuals gain a first-hand experience of modern technologies on devices running Microsoft software, including Windows apps and Office 365.

VA PRASANTH APPOINTED AS THE CFO OF INDIAN BANK

VA Prasanth was on 28 May 2015 appointed as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Indian Bank with immediate effect. Before this appointment, he was serving as the General Manager of the Indian Bank. Prasanth succeeded K Srinivasa Raghavan.

Indian Bank, established in 1907, is an Indian state-owned financial services company, headquartered in Chennai, India. It has 20000 employees, 2412 branches in India and is one of the big public sector banks of India. 
It has overseas branches in Colombo and Jaffna in Sri Lanka, and in Singapore. Since 1969, the bank is owned by Government of India.


SPORTS NEWS IN BRIEF

 

RAILWAYS WON THE 5TH HOCKEY INDIA SENIOR WOMEN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2015

Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) on 3 May 2015 won the 5th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship 2015.

In the final match played at the Master Chandgi Ram sports stadium at Saifai, Uttar Pradesh, Railways defeated Hockey Jharkhand by 12-2.

The third position was bagged by Hockey Punjab who beat Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy by 2-0.

Earlier on 28 April 2015, the 5th Hockey India Senior Men’s National Hockey championship 2015 was also by the Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB). In the final match Railways had defeated Uttar Pradesh Hockey (UPH) by 5-3.

CHELSEA WON BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE 2014-15 TITLE WITH 1-0 WIN OVER CRYSTAL PALACE

Chelsea won the Barclays Premier League 2014-15 football title by defeating Crystal Palace 1-0 in the final match held on 3 May 2015 at Stamford Bridge in London.

This is their first premier league title in five years since winning the 2009-10 season title by defeating Manchester United.

With the present win, Chelsea qualified for Champions League Group Stage which will be held from September to December 2015.

About Premier League

The Premier League is the top league competition for English football. The competition started in 1992 when some clubs in the Football League First Division decided to break away from The Football League, founded in 1888 and has since become the world's most watched sporting league.

Till date, a total of 46 clubs have competed in the Premier League, but only five have won the title viz.,  Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.

ROGER FEDERER WON THE INAUGURAL ISTANBUL OPEN TENNIS MEN’S SINGLES TITLE

Switzerland tennis player Roger Federer on 3 May 2015 won the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open Men’s singles title by defeating Pablo Cueves of Uruguay 6-3 7-6.

With this win, the world No 2 ranking player took his 85th ATP World Tour title and ended a long drought on clay since his previous title of 2012 Madrid Masters.

This is the first ever World Tour event in Turkey and was held from 27 April to 3 May 2015 in Istanbul, the Capital City of Turkey.

In the 439405 Euro prize money tournament, Radu Albot and Dusan Lajovic won the Doubles Men’s title by defeating  Robert Lindstedt and Jurgen Melzer.

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. DEFEATED MANNY PACQUIAO TO WIN FIGHT OF THE CENTURY OF BOXING

American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. on 3 May 2015 defeated Manny Pacquiao from Philippines to win the unified World Welterweight title. The match termed as Fight of the Century was held at iconic MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mayweather won the title in 12 rounds with a unanimous decision in which Ringside Judge Dave Moretti scored the bout 118-110, while judges Glenn Feldman and Bert Clements both scored it 116-112.

With this win, Mayweather added Pacquiao’s World Boxing Organization (WBO) title to his World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Council (WBC) crowns.

Also, he extended his winning streak record to 48-0, that is, he has remained undefeated for 19 years as a professional fighter and a victory would push his record to 49-0, the same as American Rocky Marciano’s.

The match between Mayweather and Pacquiao was valued at 300 million US dollars and was the richest boxing match in the history.

INDIAN ARMY EMERGED CHAMPIONS IN 19TH FEDERATION CUP NATIONAL ATHLETIC CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Indian Army team on 3 May 2015 emerged as champions in the 19th Federation Cup National Senior Athletic Championships. The team scored 123.5 points at the end of the four-day event at the Mangala Stadium in Mangaluru, Karnataka.

The Tamil Nadu team notched the second position by securing 114 points.

The overall men's championships went to the Army when they totalled 123.5 points, while Tamil Nadu came second with 48 points.

Kerala claimed the overall championship in the women's category with 86 points. They were followed by Karnataka with 68 points.

The best athlete award in the men's category went to Inderjeet Singh of team Haryana. He was awarded for his stupendous toss in the shot put event, which helped him qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Best athlete in the women's category went to Srabani Nanda from Odisha for the agility she displayed in the 100 metre event.

INDIAN ARMY EMERGED CHAMPIONS IN 19TH FEDERATION CUP NATIONAL ATHLETIC CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Indian Army team on 3 May 2015 emerged as champions in the 19th Federation Cup National Senior Athletic Championships. The team scored 123.5 points at the end of the four-day event at the Mangala Stadium in Mangaluru, Karnataka.

The Tamil Nadu team notched the second position by securing 114 points.

The overall men's championships went to the Army when they totalled 123.5 points, while Tamil Nadu came second with 48 points.

Kerala claimed the overall championship in the women's category with 86 points. They were followed by Karnataka with 68 points.

The best athlete award in the men's category went to Inderjeet Singh of team Haryana. He was awarded for his stupendous toss in the shot put event, which helped him qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Best athlete in the women's category went to Srabani Nanda from Odisha for the agility she displayed in the 100 metre event.

PETRA KVITOVA OF CZECH REPUBLIC WON THE WOMEN’S SINGLES TITLE OF MADRID TENNIS OPEN

Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic on 9 May 2015 won the Madrid Open women’s singles title in the final matches held in Madrid, Spain.

She defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-1, 6-2 to secure the title for the second time. She won her maiden title in 2011.

With the present win, she equals Serena Williams’ record of two titles in Madrid.

At present, Kvitova is ranked World No. 4 in Women’s singles category.

The men’s single title was won by Andy Murray of Britain who defeated Rafael Nadal of Spain in the final.

MERCEDES DRIVER NICO ROSBERG OF GERMANY WON SPANISH GRAND PRIX OF FORMULA ONE

Mercedes racing driver Nico Rosberg of Germany on 10 May 2015 won the Spanish Grand Prix Formula 1 World Championship title by winning the final race held at Barcelona in Spain.

While his team mate Lewis Hamilton of Britain stood at the second position, Sebastian Vettel of Germany representing the Ferrari team stood at the third position in the race.

This is the ninth championship title for Rosberg in his Forumula 1 career and the first victory in the 2015 season having lost the four earlier races viz., Australian, Malaysian, Chinese and Bahrain Championships held in the season.
Sergio Perez (Mexico) and Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) of Force India were at the 13th and 15th positions respectively in the final race.

GAGAN NARANG WON BRONZE IN 50M RIFLE PRONE MEN EVENT AT ISSF RIFLE/PISTOL WORLD CUP IN FORT BENNING

Indian shooter Gagan Narang on 15 April 2015 won the Bronze medal in the 50m Rifle Prone Men event of International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Rifle/Pistol World Cup held in Fort Benning, USA.

The Gold medal of the event was won by McPhail Michael of USA and Silver medal was won by Bryhn Ole Kristian of Norway.

With the present win, Narang, the bronze medalist in 10m Rifle event at the London Olympics 2012, became the third Indian shooter to earn a quota place for the 2016 Rio Olympics after Jitu Rai and Apruvi Chandela.

Chandela had secured the quota place by winning the bronze in the 10m Rifle at the World Cup held in South Korea in April 2015.

Jitu Rai had secured India's first Olympic quota place by winning silver in the 50m Free Pistol event at the World Championships held in Granada, Spain in September 2014.

Each country can win a maximum of 30 quota places in Olympic Games from a total of 15 shooting disciplines that is two each from each discipline.

JOE ROOT AND CHARLOTTE EDWARDS NAMED ENGLAND CRICKETERS OF THE YEAR 2014-15

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

Root who was recently appointed vice-captain of England's Test team was named as the cricketer of the year for scoring 1135 test runs at an average of 95 including four scores of 149 and above. His top test score of the season was of 200 not out against Sri Lanka at Lord’s. He also made three one-day international centuries.

Charlotte Edwards, the women’s captain won the award for consecutive second year. She was chosen for averaging above 75 in ODIs and nearly 60 in Twenty20 internationals in the season. Under her leadership, England secured ODI series victories against India and New Zealand, alongside T20 series wins against South Africa and New Zealand.

She was also presented the silver England cap by the England and Wales Cricket Board to celebrate her 200th match as women’s captain against New Zealand in February 2015.

Other awards announced were

• England development programme cricketer of the year award: Saqib Mahmood, the Under-19s right-arm seamer of Lancashire and England

• England disability cricketer of the year award: Luke Sugg from the England visually impaired team

BRITISH MAGAZINE SPORTSPRO RELEASED WORLD’S 50 MOST MARKETABLE 2015 REPORT

The British sports business magazine SportsPro on 20 May 2015 released the World’s 50 Most Marketable 2015 report. According to SportsPro's listing of the top 50 most marketable athletes in the world for 2015, Eugenie Bouchard, Tennis player from Canada, topped the list.

While, FC Barcelona soccer Neymar stood at second place and was followed by Golfer Jordan Spieth at the third place.

List of top 10 most marketable athletes

Rank

Athlete

Sport

Nationality

1

Eugenie Bouchard

Tennis

Canada

2

Neymar

Soccer

Brazil

3

Jordan Spieth

Golf

USA

4

Missy Franklin

Swimming

USA

5

Lewis Hamilton

Auto Racing

Great Britain

6

Virat Kohli

Cricket

India

7

Stephen Curry

Basketball

USA

8

Kei Nishikori

Tennis

Japan

9

Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Athletics

Great Britain

10

Usain Bolt

Athletics

Jamaica

Indian Cricketer Virat Kohli was placed at the sixth position ahead of United States basketball star Stephen Curry. Another Indian, ace shuttler Saina Nehwal was placed at the 44th position.

On the other hand, Tennis player Novak Djokovic was placed at 14th position while Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were at 16th and 22nd respectively.

Athletes across the world were ranked on the basis of different criteria including age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal. The SportsPro team and external industry experts analysed the players for several weeks.

SHUTTLER SAINA NEHWAL OF INDIA RANKED NO.1 IN SINGLE RANKINGS RELEASED BY BWF

Badminton World Federation (BWF) on 21 May 2015 released the latest single’s rankings. The ranking was topped by Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal. She was followed by Li Xuerui of China.

Saina Nehwal regained the top position ahead of the Australian Open. In April 2015, she secured the number one position for the first time. But she subsequently slipped from the top spot.

She has won two titles in 2015 -India Open Super series and India Grand Prix Gold, and also reached the final of the prestigious All England Open, which is a Super Series Premier event.

Meanwhile, Nehwal's compatriot and two-time World Championship bronze medalist PV Sindhu dropped to number 12.

In men’s singles, K Srikanth retained his fourth place. Even P Kashyap and HS Parnnoy also maintained their 13th and 15th positions, respectively.

MUMBAI INDIANS WON IPL 2015 TITLE BY DEFEATING CHENNAI SUPER KINGS

Mumbai Indians (MI) on 24 May 2015 won the eighth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). In the final clash played at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Mumbai Indians defeated Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by 41-runs.

This was the second title triumph for Mumbai Indians after their maiden win back in 2013.

Mumbai Indians after being invited to bat first posted a score of 202 for five, while batting second, Chennai Super Kings were able to score just 161 for eight.

With this win, Mumbai Indians joined Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Rider, as a team that has claimed two IPL trophies. Mumbai had won their first title in 2013 at the Eden Gardens, by defeating the Chennai Super Kings. With this defeat, Chennai has lost four finals of 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015 in six appearances.

• Man of the Match: Rohit Sharma for his match winning score of 50 in 26 balls

• Player of the Tournament: Andre Russell

• Orange Cap awarded to: David Warner

• Purple Cap awarded to: Dwayne Bravo

• Emerging Player of the Season: Shreyas Iyer

• Most Valuable Player: Andre Russell

Captains of the two teams

• Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma

• Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni

The previous winners of the IPL are as follows

IPL Season 1: Rajasthan Royals

IPL Season 2: Deccan Chargers

IPL Season 3: Chennai Super Kings

• IPL Season 4: Chennai Super Kings

• IPL Season 5: Kolkata Knight Riders

• IPL Season 6: Mumbai Indians

• IPL Season 7: Kolkata Knight Riders

MERCEDES DRIVER NICO ROSBERG OF GERMANY WON MONACO GRAND PRIX OF FORMULA ONE

Mercedes racing driver Nico Rosberg of Germany on 24 May 2015 won the Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 World Championship title by winning the final race held in Monaco.

While Sebastian Vettel of Germany representing the Ferrari team stood at the second position, Rosberg’s  team mate Lewis Hamiltion of UK was at the third positon.

It is the tenth overall championship title for Rosberg and the second title in the 2015 season having won the Spanish Formula 1 World Championship on 10 May 2015.

With the present victory, he has become the fourth driver to win three Monaco Grand Prix titles in a row. The others were Graham Hill, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Sergio Perez (Mexico) and Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) of Force India stood at the 7th and 11th positions respectively in the final race.

INDIAN BOXERS WON THREE GOLD AT WORLD JUNIOR WOMEN'S BOXING CHAMPIONSHIP

Indian boxers on 23 May 2015 won three Gold medals and two silver medals at World Junior Women's boxing Championship. The event was held at Taipei in Taiwan.

Savita (50kg), Mandeep Sandhu (52kg) and Sakshi (54kg) struck gold for the country, while Soniya (48kg) and Niharika Gonella (70kg) settled for silver medals.

Soniya was the first to take the ring for India by defeating American Heaven Garcia. She went down 1-2 to open the Indian account with a silver medal. Savita defeated her Ukrainian rival Kateryna Rohova 2-1 to clinch gold for India.

This was followed by Mandeep's 3-0 triumph over Ireland's Niamh Earley before Sakshi made it three in a row by out-punching American Yarisel Ramirez 3-0. However, Niharika proved no match for Russian Anastasiia Sigaeva and lost 0-3 to settle for a silver medal.

Earlier in the youth competition, Jamuna Boro (57kg) had bagged a bronze medal after losing in the semifinals.

INDIAN BOXER WON FOUR GOLD MEDALS AT DOHA INTERNATIONAL BOXING TOURNAMENT 2015

Indian boxer on 23 May 2015 won four Gold Medals, One Silver and two bronze medals at Doha International Boxing Tournament 2015. Commonwealth Games silver medallist L Devendro Singh (49kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Manish Kaushik (60kg), and Manoj Kumar (64kg) won the gold medals.

The silver medal went to Gaurav Bidhuri (52kg), while Mandeep Jangra (69kg) and Vikas Krishan (75kg) bagged bronze medals.

In the finals, Devendro defeated Philippines Aldren Moreno by 3:0. This was followed by Gaurav defeating Montassar Bouali by 2:1.

Former Asian gold medalist Shiva defeated Egypt's HYM Abdelaal 2:1. Manish beat Moroccan Rabi Hamza 3:0, while Manoj thrashed Filipino Magliquian Nicole by a similar margin.

KUMAR SANGAKKARA NAMED CEAT INTERNATIONAL CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 2015

Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara on 25 May 2015 was named as the International Cricketer of the Year 2015 while the middle order batsman Ajinkya Rahane was named as the CEAT Indian Cricketer of the Year 2015.

Former Indian captain Kapil Dev was conferred with the International Lifetime Achievement Award at the 19th edition of the awards.

Rohit Sharma was given a special award for his record-breaking 264 made against Sri Lanka in an ODI at Kolkata.

List of award winners:

•International Lifetime Achievement Award - Kapil Dev

•International Cricketer of the Year – Kumar Sangakkara

•Indian Cricketer of the Year –Ajinkya Rahane

•International Batsman of the Year – Hashim Amla

•International Bowler of the Year – Rangana Herath

•T20 Player of the Year – Dwayne Bravo

•Popular Choice Award – Kieron Pollard

•Special Performance of the Year Award – Rohit Sharma

•Domestic Cricketer of the Year – R Vinay Kumar

•Young Player of the Year – Deepak Hooda

The CEAT awards honour the best of the cricketers based on their performances in international cricketing in all formats - Test, ODI and T20 - as rated by the CEAT Cricket ratings (CCR) for the year 2014 – 2015.

ABHINAV BINDRA BECAME 4TH INDIAN SHOOTER TO QUALIFY FOR 2016 RIO OLYMPICS

India's only individual Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra on 28 May 2015 won a berth for 2016 Rio Olympic in men’s air rifle event.

With this, he became the fourth Indian shooter to win a quota place for the Rio Olympics and this will be his fifth consecutive appearance in the Olympics.

Other three shooters who have secured a quota for Rio Olympics are Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai and Apurvi Chandela.

Bindra succeeded in getting the Olympic berth after he was placed at the sixth place in the Men's 10 metre Air Rifle final at the ISSF Shooting World Cup in Munich. The former World and Olympic champion shot a score of 122.4 and aggregated a total of 627.5 in the final to qualify for Rio Olympics.

The event was participated by 136 shooters from 58 countries in the shooting World Cup in Munich.

Each country can win a maximum of 30 quota places from a total of 15 shooting disciplines (including shotgun events), two each from each discipline.

SEVILLA FC WON EUROPA LEAGUE TITLE

Sevilla Football Club (FC) on 27 May 2015 won Europa League title. In the final clash at National Stadium Warsaw, Poland, Sevilla defeated Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk football club, 3-2.

It was second consecutive Europa Cup win for Sevilla.

With this, Sevilla, the Spain’s oldest club solely devoted to football practice, became the first side to win the Europa League four times. Last time, it captured the trophy in 2006, 2007 and 2014.

For the first time, this Europa League winner will straight go to the subsequent Champions League.

GURPREET SINGH BECAME 5TH INDIAN TO GET QUOTA PLACE IN SHOOTING FOR 2016 RIO OLYMPICS

Gurpreet Singh on 31 May 2015 won a quota place in shooting for the 2016 Rio Olympics by finishing fourth in the Men’s 10 meter Air pistol final at the ISSF Shooting World Cup in Munich.

Singh succeeded in getting quota place in shooting for Rio Olympics after scoring 154 points in the finals.

With this, he became the fifth Indian shooter to win a quota place for the Rio Olympics after Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai, Apurvi Chandela and Abhinav Bindra. He is also the second Indian to secure an Olympic berth at the ongoing World Cup after Bindra.

Each country can win a maximum of 30 quota places from a total of 15 shooting disciplines including shotgun events, two each from each discipline.

IN BRIEF

World Press Freedom Day is observed on 3 May.

World Asthma Day is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) in collaboration with health care groups and asthma educators to raise awareness about asthma and improve asthma care throughout the world. World Asthma Day 2015 was observed on 5 May 5 and the theme continued to be “You Can Control Your Asthma”.

India’s per capita retirement and pension assets as a percentage of GDP are among the lowest in the world, according to a survey report by Reliance Capital Asset Management. India has 15.1% of retirement assets as a percentage of GDP, when compared to 21% in Germany, 41% in Brazil, 78.9% in the USA and 146% in Australia.

India’s largest blast furnace for steel production is located in Burnpur, West Bengal.

Indian Air Force will have their first ever road runway as Agra-Lucknow expressway in Uttar Pradesh is being considered to be turned into an airstrip. Such road runways are important in case the regular airbases are rendered dysfunctional during hostilities. Indian Air Force will bear the cost of the project.

International Nurses Day (IND) is celebrated around the world on 12 May, to mark the contributions nurses make to society. The 2015 theme was: “Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective”.

The term “Masala Bond” is used to refer to rupee-denominated borrowings by Indian entities in overseas markets. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, in November 2014, issued a ₹1,000 crore bond to fund infrastructure projects in India. These bonds were listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). IFC then named them Masala bonds to give a local flavour by calling to mind Indian culture and cuisine. These bonds are issued to foreign investors and settled in US dollars. Hence, the currency risk lies with the investor and not the issuer, unlike external commercial borrowings (ECBs), where Indian companies raise money in foreign currency loans.

After Bharat Mala and Sagar Mala—aimed at improving road connectivity in border areas and coastal regions, respectively—the government has now cleared plans to connect 100 of the 676 district headquarters in India with world-class highways. The “Rashtriya Rajmarg Zila Sanjoyokta Pariyojna” entails development of 6,600 km of highways at an estimated cost of about ₹60,000 crore.

International Day of UN Peacekeepers was observed on 14 May.

The Union government has cleared the lone bid of Airbus-TATA consortium for replacing Indian Air Force’s fleet of ageing Avro transport aircraft for ₹11,930 crore, besides approving Russia’s offer to build Kamov Ka-226T helicopters under ‘Make in India’ initiative.

As per the data released by the Agriculture Ministry, India’s total estimated output during the 2014-15 crop year declined by around 5.25 per cent. India’s total foodgrain production during 2014-15 crop year (July-June period) was 251.12 million tonnes (MT), lower by 13.92 MT than the previous year’s record foodgrain production of 265.04 MT.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India grew by about 40 per cent year-on-year to ₹1.76 lakh crore in 2014-15. In 2013-14, the country had attracted ₹1.26 lakh crore FDI.

On 18 May 2015, India assumed the presidency of the the World Health Assembly (WHA), the high decision making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), after a gap of 19 years.

Infosys has become the first Indian company to join the RE100 renewable energy campaign, a global initiative where companies pledge to use only renewable power. The induction was announced by The Climate Group, which is coordinating the initiative. Infosys meets 29 percent of its electricity needs through green power in the fiscal year 2015. The initiative was launched in New York in September 2014 and has already seen global giants, such as IKEA, Swiss Re, Formula E, H&M, Mars, Nestlé, Philips, make a commitment to use only clean energy.

On 21 May 2015, IAF’s Mirage-2000 successfully landed on Yamuna Expressway near Mathura as part of trials to use national highways for emergency landing. A stretch of the Agra-Lucknow expressway in Uttar Pradesh is set to become a road runway for combat jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF), a first for military aviation in India. China, Pakistan, Sweden, Germany and Singapore are among the countries that have road runways.

Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd decided to buy a 33 per cent voting stake in the agricultural machinery-making unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd for $25 million. Mitsubishi Agricultural makes farm equipment such as tractors, power tillers, rice planters and combine harvesters for sale globally. It brought in about $408 million in revenue for the fiscal year 2015.

The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The 2015 theme is Biodiversity for Sustainable Development and is said to reflect the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period of 2015-2030.

Neeraj Ghaywan’s directorial debut “Masaan”, which premiered at 2015 Cannes Film Festival, has won two international awards—FIPRESCI, International Jury of Film Critics prize and Promising Future prize in the Un Certain Regard section.

India accounts for the highest estimated number of undernourished people in any single country, with an estimated 194.6 million, or about one in every four such people in the world. Globally, the number of undernourished people has fallen by 216 million between 1990-92 and 2015, from just over a billion to 795 million. However, India’s contribution to this fall has been small, with its numbers down by just 15.5 million. In the process, India has overtaken China, which has cut its numbers from 289 million in 1990-92 to 133.8 million in the latest estimates. China’s reduction also ensured that the south-east Asian region contributed most to the decline.

For the 2014-15 fiscal year-ending in March, India’s growth came in at 7.3 percent compared with an earlier official estimate of 7.4 percent. Growth was 6.9 percent in 2013-14.

MISCELLANEOUS

SINGAPORE PM LEE OPENED FIRST MUSEUM INDIAN HERITAGE CENTRE IN LITTLE INDIA

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong on 7 May 2015 opened first museum Indian Heritage Centre in Little India.

The museum was dedicated to Indian history. Singapore is celebrating 50 years of its independence in 2015 as well as 50 years of diplomatic relations with India.

The Government of India has presented busts of four nationalist leaders to Singapore's Indian Heritage Centre (IHC). IHC is now open to the public.

The nationalist leaders' busts - including of Mahatama Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Pandit Jawarhalal Nehru and Netaji Subash Chandra Bose - are displayed in IHC's gallery on Social and Political Awakening in Singapor.

The IHC is built at a cost of 16 million Singapore dollars and managed by the country's National Heritage Board.

The four-storey building is located in the heart of Little India, and blends traditional Indian and modern architectural elements.

Its thematic galleries showcase diverse stories of various groups within Singapore's Indian community and their rich links with the global Indian diaspora.

PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI RELEASED COMMEMORATIVE COIN ON SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA

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

Swami Chinmayananda born as Balakrishna Menon on 8 May 1916 pioneered works in the field of education and social reform. He died on 3 August 1993.

The Hindu spiritual leader and teacher inspired the formation of Chinmaya Mission, a worldwide nonprofit organisation, to spread the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta, the non dual system of thought found in the Upanishads, which epitomise the philosophical teachings of the Vedas.

He saw the need to inculcate India's great culture and spiritual traditions, through the English medium, among an elite class of people, who had moved away from this heritage.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF 10TH WORLD HINDI CONFERENCE LAUNCHED

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 16 May 2015 launched the official website of 10th World Hindi Conference at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan in New Delhi. It can be visited a twww.vishwahindisammelan.gov.in.
The logo for the Conference was also chosen by the Logo Selection Committee after a logo design competition was organized by the Ministry of External Affairs. Khyati Gupta from Banglore was awarded the prize money of 50000 rupees by the External Affairs Minister.

The 10th World Hindi Conference (WHC) will be held from 10 September to 12 September 2015 at Lal Parade Ground in Bhopal. The conference will be hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with state government of Madhya Pradesh. The main theme of the Conference is Hindi Jagat: Vistar avm sambhavnai.

Apart from this, to fulfill various aspects of the conference, three committees on Advisory, Management and Programme have been constituted. Sushma Swaraj will be the Chairperson of the Advisory and Programme Committees, while Gen. (Retd) Dr V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, will be the Chairman of the Management Committee.

The decision to organize the 10th edition of the Conference in India was taken at the 9th World Hindi Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2012.

The first World Hindi Conference was held in 1975 in Nagpur, India and since then, nine such Conferences have been held all over the globe.

Details of the previous nine Conferences held so far are as follows:

1.

First World Hindi Conference

Nagpur, India

10-12 January 1975

2.

Second World Hindi Conference

Port Louis, Mauritius

28-30 August 1976

3.

Third World Hindi Conference

New Delhi, India

28-30 October 1983

4.

Fourth World Hindi Conference

Port Louis, Mauritius

02-04 December 1993

5.

Fifth World Hindi Conference

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

04-08 April 1996

6.

Sixth World Hindi Conference

London, U.K.

14-18 September 1999

7.

Seventh World Hindi Conference

Paramaribo, Suriname

6-9 June 2003

8.

Eighth World Hindi Conference

New York, America

13-15 July 2007

9.

Ninth World Hindi Conference

Johannesburg, South Africa

22-24 September 2012

PRESIDENT INAUGURATED 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDIA’S FIRST HISTORIC CLIMB OF MT. EVEREST IN 1965

President Pranab Mukherjee on 20 May 2015 inaugurated the 50th anniversary of India’s first historic climb of Mount Everest in 1965 at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The event was organized by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.

On 20 May 1965, Indian team led by Captain Mohan Singh Kohli of Indian Navy made history by climbing 8848-metres high Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak, for the first time after a series of three unsuccessful attempt in as many as five years.

The team of Kohli comprised of 21-man and out of these nine men were successful in reaching the summit.

Nawang Gombu, the Sherpa who was the member of the team, became the first person to reach the summit twice, firstly with an American expedition in 1963.

Kohli, now 83, wrote a book on the expedition titled Nine Atop Everest.

IGBC REPORTED INDIA REGISTERED 3 BILLION SQ FT GREEN BUILDING FOOTPRINT

Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) on 21 May 2015 reported that India has registered green building projects of over three billion sq ft area. The achievement has put India at the second position in the world green building footprint.  IGBC aims to rope in 10 billion sq ft by 2022.

IGBC is a part of the industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which is involved in promoting the green building movement in India.

The reason for this significant progress is the fact that stakeholders are realising that green buildings make good business sense. This key proposition is encouraging them to go the green buildings way.

A green building is one which uses less water, optimises energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building.

The residential building sector is one of the largest consumers of electricity in India. Continuous urbanisation and the growth of population result in increasing power consumption in buildings.

INDIA REACHED 6TH POSITION IN TERMS OF SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS

Department of Science and Technology on 21 May 2015 said that India reached sixth position in terms of scientific publications. Earlier, India stood at the tenth position in terms of publishing scientific research papers in different journals.

Secretary, Department of Science and Technology Ashutosh Sharma gave this information at a function organised by Research Council UK (RCUK) in New Delhi to mark the progress between United Kingdom and India in the field of scientific research.

At present, India and UK are collaborating in various sectors in fields like nuclear energy, solar energy, monsoon and public health, rejuvenation of Ganga River and climate change. In 2011, the scientific collaboration between India and UK was just few million pounds, which has risen to 150 million pounds, at present.

 

CURRENT AFFAIRS MCQ’S

Ques. : 1 The govt has set a target of installing _______of power from solar energy by 2022.
1) 40 GW 
2) 50 GW
3) 80 GW 
4) 100 GW
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) 100 GW

Ques. : 2 The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on 29 May cleared the appointment of who among the following as the new cabinet secretary?
1) G Mohan Kumar 
2) RK Mathur
3) Ajit Seth 
4) Pradeep Kumar Sinha
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) Pradeep Kumar Sinha

Ques. : 3 Sepp Blatter was elected as the president of which of the following international sports bodies on 29 May?
1) ICC 
2) FIFA
3) FINA 
4) International Tennis Federation (ITF)
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) FIFA

Ques. : 4 Who among the following is the Union minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) in the present cabinet?
1) Jitendra Singh 
2) Kiren Rijiju
3) Inderjit Singh Rao 
4) General VK Singh
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Jitendra Singh

Ques. : 5 For the full year 2014-15, India's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at what per cent? The growth is based on a new methodology of calculating GDP, with 2011-12 as the base year.
1) 5.1 per cent 
2) 7.5 per cent
3) 6.9 per cent 
4) 7.3 per cent
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) 7.3 per cent

Ques. : 6 As per the data released on 29 May for Jan-Mar quarter, the central govt managed to rein in its fiscal deficit for 2014-15 at _________of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
1) 4 per cent 
2) 5.1 per cent
3) 3 per cent 
4) 3.9 per cent
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) 4 per cent

Ques. : 7 As per a recent report, cancer has emerged as the second-leading cause of death globally. Which of the following is the leading cause of death globally?
1) Malaria 
2) Cardiovascular diseases
3) AIDS 
4) Tuberculosis
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Cardiovascular diseases

Ques. : 8 The govt has renamed the national optical fibre network (NOFN) as
1) BharatNet 
2) IndiaNet
3) PanchayatNet 
4) SamparkNet
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) BharatNet

Ques. : 9 The govt has asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to probe Maggi noodle brand against complaint of excessive lead and MSG in it. The Maggi brand is owned by
1) ITC 
2) Nestle
3) Amul 
4) P&G
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Nestle

Ques. : 10 The Anti-Terrorism Day is observed on which day in India with a purpose to wean away the people from terrorism and violence?
1) 21 May 
2) 22 May
3) 23 May 
4) 25 May
5) 29 May 
Answer:- 1) 21 May

Ques. : 11 During Narendra Modi's visit to Ulan Bator, recently, the Mongolian PM gifted ‘Kanthaka’ to his Indian counterpart. ‘Kanthaka’ is the name of a
1) dog 
2) cat
3) horse 
4) bull
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) horse

Ques. : 12 Which of the following states on 27 May decided to withdraw the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa) that was enforced in the state 18 years ago?
1) Manipur 
2) Assam
3) Jammu and Kashmir 
4) Tripura
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) Tripura

Ques. : 13 According to the report, State of Food Security in the World 2015, released by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome on 27 May, which country accounts for the highest estimated number of undernourished people in any single country as of now?
1) China 
2) India
3) Bangladesh 
4) Nepal
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) India

Ques. : 14 The central govt has come to rescue the country's largest public-private hydel project, Athena hydel project. The project is situated in which state?
1) Assam 
2) Arunachal Pradesh
3) Himachal Pradesh 
4) Sikkim
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) Sikkim

Ques. : 15 According to the UN FAO’s State of Food Security in the World 2015 report, the number of hungry people globally has declined from about one billion in 1990 to about ______today.
1) 875 million 
2) 795 million
3) 725 million 
4) 700 million
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) 795 million

Ques. : 16 The govt aims to train what number of people to become solar professionals over next three years to help solar product users access manpower for fixing snags easily?
1) 5,000 
2) 10,000
3) 20,000 
4) 25,000
5) 50,000 
Answer:- 5) 50,000

Ques. : 17 The govt withdrew the proposal for setting up of the PDMA and shifting of regulation of G-Secs from RBI to Sebi from the Finance Bill. Here, what is full form of PDMA?
1) Public Debt Monitoring Agency
2) Public Debt Management Agency
3) Public Debt Minimising Agency 
4) Public Debt Maintenance Agency
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Public Debt Management Agency

Ques. : 18 The Railways will relaunch the premium trains service after making certain changes in the system from Jul. These trains will be called ________ trains.
1) Suvidha 
2) Priority
3) Vishisht 
4) Safari
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Suvidha

Ques. : 19 Who among the following was on 28 May appointed as the new Director General of DRDO after a gap of several months?
1) Avinash Chander 
2) GS Reddy
3) S Christopher 
4) VK Saraswat
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) S Christopher

Ques. : 20 Who among the following was on 28 May appointed as the scientific advisor to the defence minister?
1) Avinash Chander 
2) GS Reddy
3) RK Mathur 
4) VK Saraswat
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) GS Reddy

Ques. : 21 The Lok Sabha on 13 May cleared the changes in Negotiable Instruments Act. The changes provide for filing of cases of cheque bouncing only in places where
1) cheque is presented 
2) cheque is issued
3) issuing bank’s headquarters is located 
4) payee bank’s headquarters is located
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) cheque is presented

Ques. : 22 Which of the following is NOT correct with respect to 19th Ceat Cricket Awards presented on 25 May?
1) International Lifetime Achievement Award – Sachin Tendulkar 
2) International Cricketer of the Year – Kumar Sangakkara
3) International Batsman of the Year – Hashim Amla 
4) International Bowler of the Year – Rangana Herath
5) T20 Player of the Year – Dwayne Bravo 
Answer:- 1) International Lifetime Achievement Award – Sachin Tendulkar

Ques. : 23 Who among the following has won the Ceat Indian Cricketer of the Year Award on 25 May?
1) Rohit Sharma 
2) Ajinkya Rahane
3) Ravindra Jadeja 
4) Suresh Raina
5) Virat Kohli 
Answer:- 2) Ajinkya Rahane

Ques. : 24 Footballer Cristian Gomez died after collapsing during a game for his club Atletico Parana on 24 May. He is the second footballer from which of the following countries to die on the field in May 2015 itself?
1) France 
2) Spain
3) Argentina 
4) Brazil
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Argentina

Ques. : 25 Name the Indian-origin entrepreneur who has been elected as the head of the Bureau of International Recycling. It facilitates free and fair trade of recyclables in a sustainable and competitive world economy.
1) Karan Bilimoria 
2) Naina Lal Kidwai
3) Indra Nooyi 
4) Ranjit Singh Baxi
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) Ranjit Singh Baxi

Ques. : 26 G Mohan Kumar has taken over as the new ________ Secretary recently.
1) Revenue 
2) Finance
3) Defence 
4) Cabinet
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Defence

Ques. : 27 The govt has appointed Manoj Mishra as Chairman and Managing Director of state-run
1) IFFCO 
2) National Fertilizers
3) Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers 
4) Fertilizer Corporation of India
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) National Fertilizers

Ques. : 28 Mandeep Kaur Sandhu won two gold medals on 23 May at the Women's World Junior Boxing Championship in Taipei. She is an Indian
1) pugilist 
2) weightlifter
3) wrestler 
4) shooter
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) pugilist

Ques. : 29 Who among the following is one of the Indian women included in the world’s 100 most powerful women, according to the Forbes’ 2015 list?
1) Shobhana Bhartia 
2) Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
3) Chanda Kochhar 
4) Arundhati Bhattacharya
5) All the above 
Answer:- 5) All the above

Ques. : 30 The Forbes’ 2015 list of the world’s 100 most powerful women has been topped by
1) Angela Merkel 
2) Sheryl Sandberg
3) Dilma Rousseff 
4) Mary Barra
5) Janet Yellen 
Answer:- 1) Angela Merkel

Ques. : 31 All branches of the Public Sector Banks (PSBs) in the country will remain closed on all __________from Jul as the RBI has approved the same.
1) first and second Saturdays 
2) first and third Saturdays
3) second and third Saturdays 
4) second and fourth Saturdays
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) second and fourth Saturdays

Ques. : 32 Who among the following is the present chairman of the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA)?
1) VG Kannan 
2) P Pradeep Kumar
3) TM Bhasin 
4) Balachandran M
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) TM Bhasin

Ques. : 33 The Indian-origin councillor _____________ has taken charge as the mayor of Britain’s Wokingham Borough Council.
1) Priti Patel 
2) Rishi Sunak
3) Parvinder Singh Batth 
4) Keith Vaz
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Parvinder Singh Batth

Ques. : 34 Which bank on 25 May announced the launch of a voice recognition service, which can identify and authenticate a customer, based on his/her voice?
1) HDFC Bank 
2) ICICI Bank
3) Axis Bank 
4) Federal Bank
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) ICICI Bank

Ques. : 35 Which of the following films has been awarded Palme d’Or Award at 68th Cannes Film Festival?
1) Chronic 
2) Dheepan
3) The Assassin 
4) Son of Saul
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Dheepan

Ques. : 36 Which of the following is the correct order in which the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments are played in a year starting from Jan?
1) Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open 
2) French Open, Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open
3) Wimbledon, Australian Open, French Open, US Open 
4) US Open, French Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open

Ques. : 37 Who among the following is the present chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)?
1) Rajiv Mehrishi 
2) Hasmukh Adhia
3) Chitra Ramkrishna 
4) Anita Kapur
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) Anita Kapur

Ques. : 38 Who won the Orange cap for most runs in the eight edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL)?
1) David Warner 
2) Kieron Pollard
3) Chris Gayle 
4) Rohit Sharma
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) David Warner

Ques. : 39 Who won the Purple cap for most wickets in the eight edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL)?
1) Andre Russell 
2) Ashish Nehra
3) Dwayne Bravo 
4) Harbhajan Singh
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Dwayne Bravo

Ques. : 40 Which of the following franchises has NOT won the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament so far?
1) Chennai Super Kings 
2) Mumbai Indians
3) Kolkata Knight Riders 
4) Kings IX Punjab
5) Rajasthan Royals 
Answer:- 4) Kings IX Punjab

Ques. : 41 According to govt sources, only 8,000 account holders have availed of the overdraft (OD) facility under the Jan Dhan Yojana so far. The scheme envisages extending households an overdraft facility of ________after satisfactory operation of accounts for six months.
1) Rs 1,000 
2) Rs 2,000
3) Rs 5,000 
4) Rs 10,000
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Rs 5,000

Ques. : 42 The IDFC is all set to start full-fledged banking operation by the end of the year. IDFC is involved in ___________ at present.
1) general insurance 
2) asset reconstruction
3) micro finance 
4) infrastructure financing
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) infrastructure financing

Ques. : 43 PM Narendra Modi has visited 17 countries till Jun 2015. Which of the following countries is NOT among those visited by him so far?
1) Bangladesh 
2) Brazil
3) Myanmar 
4) Seychelles
5) Mauritius 
Answer:- 1) Bangladesh

Ques. : 44 Hwang Kyo-ahn was appointed as the new Prime Minister in which of the following countries on 21 May?
1) Vietnam 
2) Singapore
3) Thailand 
4) Philippines
5) South Korea 
Answer:- 5) South Korea

Ques. : 45 Who among the following is the National Security Advisor at present?
1) Sujatha Singh 
2) Ajit Doval
3) Nripendra Misra 
4) Shivshankar Menon
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Ajit Doval

Ques. : 46 Who is the chairman of the Rajya Sabha committee on the constitutional amendment Bill regarding national goods and services tax (GST)?
1) Abhishek Singh 
2) Kirti Azad
3) Bhupender Yadav 
4) Ram Kripal Yadav
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Bhupender Yadav

Ques. : 47 The central govt has cleared Isro's Rs 3,090-cr augmentation programme of PSLV. What does letter ‘P’ denote in the term PSLV?
1) Polar 
2) Primary
3) Parallel 
4) Pentahedron
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Polar

Ques. : 48 The Indian Navy got the INS Sindhukirti back on 22 May after a nine-year refit. It is a/an
1) anti-submarine warfare corvettes 
2) aircraft carrier
3) diesel-electric submarine 
4) nuclear submarine
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) diesel-electric submarine

Ques. : 49 What is India’s ranking among 70 countries in the first Environmental Democracy Index launched by Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) and Access Initiative on 21 May?
1) 24th 
2) 21st
3) 19th 
4) 32nd
5) 41st 
Answer:- 1) 24th

Ques. : 50 The Union Cabinet on 21 May gave its approval for the revival of closed urea unit of Fertilizer Corporation India Limited (FCIL) at Sindri with an investment of Rs 6000 cr. The unit is situated in
1) Bihar 
2) Jharkhand
3) Odisha 
4) Madhya Pradesh
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Jharkhand

Ques. : 51 Who among the following is the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize?
1) Lydia Davis 
2) Philip Roth
3) Alice Munro 
4) Laszlo Krasznahorkai
5) Ismail Kadare 
Answer:- 4) Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Ques. : 52 Ajit Kumar Seth retires on Jun 13, after a four-year term, from which of the following positions?
1) Cabinet Secretary 
2) Defence Secretary
3) Principal Secretary to the PM 
4) Secretary General of Lok Sabha
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Cabinet Secretary

Ques. : 53 India has decided to oppose any expansion of the products list under the ITA agreement of the WTO. The term ITA stands for
1) Information Transfer Agreement 
2) International Technology Agreement
3) Information Technology Agreement 
4) International Taxation Agreement
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Information Technology Agreement

Ques. : 54 Name the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvette launched by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata on 19 May.
1) INS Kamorta 
2) INS Ajay
3) INS Kiltan 
4) INS Kadmatt
5) INS Kavaratti 
Answer:- 5) INS Kavaratti

Ques. : 55 Which of the following automakers launched the global small car Kwid, to be priced at Rs 3-4 lakh in Chennai recently?
1) Renault 
2) General Motors
3) Toyota 
4) Ford
5) Nissan 
Answer:- 1) Renault

Ques. : 56 Who among the following has been appointed chairman of a Joint Committee of Parliament that will look into the provisions of the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, 2015?
1) Ramesh Bidhuri 
2) Ashwani Kumar Choubey
3) Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia 
4) Bijoya Chakravaorty
5) Bishnupada Ray 
Answer:- 3) Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia

Ques. : 57 Which of the following banks on 20 May signed an MoU with Amazon to develop payment and commerce solutions for customers and small businesses?
1) HDFC bank
2) ICICI bank
3) State Bank of India 
4) Bank of Baroda
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) State Bank of India

Ques. : 58 Five global banks have been fined about $5.7 bn over manipulation of foreign exchange rates in US. Which of the following is/are among these banks?
1) RBS 
2) Barclays
3) UBS 
4) JPMorgan Chase
5) All the above 
Answer:- 5) All the above

Ques. : 59 As announced by PM Modi, India will provide a Line of Credit to support expansion of Mongolia's economic capacity and infrastructure. The amount of the credit will be
1) USD one billion 
2) USD two billion
3) USD five billion 
4) USD ten billion
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) USD one billion

Ques. : 60 The govt has extended the date for states to complete digitisation of all beneficiaries under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) by one year. The new deadline for the same is
1) Dec 31, 2015 
2) Jan 31, 2016
3) Mar 31, 2016 
4) Apr 31, 2016
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Dec 31, 2015

Ques. : 61 India and China on 15 May signed 24 deals worth over $10 bn during PM Narendra Modi's visit to China. There is a pact to establish consulates-general at Chengdu in China and at _________in India.
1) Mumbai 
2) Hyderabad
3) Bangalore 
4) Chennai
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) Chennai

Ques. : 62 As informed by the govt to the Parliament on 13 May, the trade deficit between India and China increased about 34 per cent in 2014-15 to
1) USD 28 bn 
2) USD 34 bn
3) USD 36.21 bn 
4) USD 41 bn
5) USD 48.43 bn 
Answer:- 5) USD 48.43 bn

Ques. : 63 The govt has approved an exit policy for highway developers who can now divest 100 per cent equity two years after completion of construction. The decision will apply to
1) pre-2009 projects 
2) pre-2008 projects
3) pre-2007 projects 
4) pre-2004 projects
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) pre-2009 projects

Ques. : 64 The govt has approved the new urea policy. Which of the following statements is NOT correct in this regard?
1) The govt is likely to cover the entire cost of natural gas, the main feedstock accounting for almost 80 per cent of the production cost. 
2) The govt has suggested a 12-20 per cent post-tax return on fresh capital infusion by manufacturers.
3) India produces about 22 million tonnes (mt) of urea annually and imports 8-10 mt to meet the total demand of 30-32 mt. 
4) The retail price of urea has been fixed by the Government at Rs 5,360 per tonne.
5) None of these 
Answer:- 5) None of these

Ques. : 65 The Reserve Bank of India has waived the second or the additional factor of authentication (AFA) for small value transactions up to
1) Rs 1,000 
2) Rs 2,000
3) Rs 2,500 
4) Rs 3,000
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Rs 2,000

Ques. : 66 The new insider trading regulations came into effect starting
1) 5 May 
2) 11 May
3) 15 May 
4) 16 May
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) 15 May

Ques. : 67 BB King passed away at 89 recently. He was a veteran
1) novelist 
2) economist
3) singer and guitarist 
4) drummer
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) singer and guitarist

Ques. : 68 The number of telephone connections in India crossed _________ mark at the end of Apr.
1) 500 million 
2) 1 billion
3) 1.5 billion 
4) 2 billion
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) 1 billion

Ques. : 69 The Central govt on 15 May said that it has finalised the rural business process outsourcing (BPO) policy and approved ________ seats for setting up call centres across the country.
1) 28,000 
2) 32,000
3) 38,000 
4) 48,000
5) 52,000 
Answer:- 4) 48,000

Ques. : 70 PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on 14 May visited the iconic Giant Wild Goose Pagoda built in 652 AD in recognition of monk
1) Hiuen Tsang 
2) Asanga
3) Zhang Qian 
4) Faxian
5) Kumarajiva 
Answer:- 1) Hiuen Tsang

Ques. : 71 Which of the following countries is India’s largest trade partner as of now?
1) US 
2) Saudi Arabia
3) China 
4) Japan
5) Russia 
Answer:- 3) China

Ques. : 72 India is seeking from China reduction in tariffs on close to 200 products under Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), the preferential trade agreement between six Asian nations. The other four nations in the APTA agreement are
1) Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and South Korea 
2) Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal and Myanmar
3) Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Laos and South Korea 
4) Bangladesh, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Laos and South Korea

Ques. : 73 PM Narendra Modi went on a three-nation tour starting 14 May. These countries are
1) China, Mongolia, South Korea 
2) China, Vietnam, South Korea
3) China, Mongolia, North Korea 
4) China, Thailand, Philippines
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) China, Mongolia, South Korea

Ques. : 74 Mark Rutte is the present Prime Minister of which of the following countries? He is scheduled to visit India in the month of Jun.
1) Spain 
2) Norway
3) Sweden 
4) Netherlands
5) Canada 
Answer:- 4) Netherlands

Ques. : 75 What is India’s position on the 124-nation global Human Capital Index compiled by World Economic Forum (WEF)?
1) 64th 
2) 80th
3) 69th 
4) 106th
5) 100th 
Answer:- 5) 100th

Ques. : 76 Which country has topped the 124-nation global Human Capital Index compiled by World Economic Forum (WEF) recently?
1) New Zealand 
2) Germany
3) Finland 
4) France
5) Norway 
Answer:- 3) Finland

Ques. : 77 Economist Jim O'Neill has been named as Treasury Minister in the new govt in the UK. He had coined which of the following terms?
1) GATT 
2) WTO
3) BRICS 
4) ASEAN
5) SCO 
Answer:- 3) BRICS

Ques. : 78 PM Narendra Mod met Zhang Dejiang, the Chairman of the China's Parliament during his visit to China. The Chinese parliament is called
1) National House of People 
2) National People's Congress
3) People's Congress of China 
4) Central People's Congress
5) None of these 
Answer:-2) National People's Congress

Ques. : 79 The govt has cleared the purchase of 56 transport planes from which of the following firms in collaboration with local partner Tata Sons?
1) Boeing 
2) Airbus
3) Kamov 
4) Bombardier
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Airbus

Ques. : 80 As announced by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the FDI in India grew by about 40 per cent year-on-year to __________ in 2014-15.
1) Rs 1.76 lakh cr 
2) Rs 2.5 lakh cr
3) Rs 2.96 lakh cr 
4) Rs 3.5 lakh cr
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Rs 1.76 lakh cr

Ques. : 81 Who among the following has been appointed as president of Japan's SoftBank Corp?
1) Nikesh Arora 
2) Krishna Bharat
3) Sundar Pichai 
4) Salar Kamangar
5) Amit Singhal 
Answer:- 1) Nikesh Arora

Ques. : 2 The global automatic information exchange system, which is aimed at curbing the menace of black money globally, will come into effect in
1) 2016 
2) 2017
3) 2018 
4) 2019
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) 2017

Ques. : 83 The Cabinet approved the changes in child labour law on 13 May. Which of the following statements is NOT correct about the new child labour law?
1) It allows children below 14 years of age to work only in family enterprises/entertainment industry. 
2) The children between 14 and 18 years will not be allowed to work in hazardous industries.
3) In case of parents, the repeat offenders may be penalised with a monetary fine up to Rs 10,000. 
4) In case of first offence, the penalty for employers will be up to Rs 50,000.
5) None of these 
Answer:- 5) None of these

Ques. : 84 What is India’s position globally as the largest emitter of CO2, the chief greenhouse gas?
1) Second 
2) Third
3) Fourth 
4) Fifth
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Third

Ques. : 85 Who among the following has been appointed as the new chairman of the National Safety Council (NSC)?
1) Venu Srinivasan 
2) Satish Reddy
3) Srini Koppolu 
4) GV Prasad
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Satish Reddy

Ques. : 86 DBS Bank has applied to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to convert its branches into a wholly-owned subsidiary (WOS). The bank is based in
1) Switzerland 
2) Singapore
3) UK 
4) Sweden
5) Germany 
Answer:- 2) Singapore

Ques. : 87 The Supreme Court on 13 May restrained the Centre and state govts from publishing pictures of ministers, CMs and presidents of ruling parties in govt advertisements. Only pictures of the ________ would be published in govt advertisements.
1) Chief Justice of India 
2) PM
3) President 
4) All the above
5) Only 2) and 3) 
Answer:- 4) All the above

Ques. : 88 PM Narendra Modi began his three-day China sojourn from which of the following Chinese cities on 14 May?
1) Nanjing 
2) Xining
3) Xian 
4) Taiyuan
5) Jinan 
Answer:- 3) Xian

Ques. : 89 The govt on 12 May named new governors for six states. Which of the following is NOT correct in this regard?
1) JP Rajkhowa: Arunachal Pradesh 
2) Lt Gen (retd) Nirbhay Sharma: Mizoram
3) Syed Ahmed: Manipur 
4) V Shanmuganathan: Meghalaya
5) None of these 
Answer:- 5) None of these

Ques. : 90 The cabinet on 13 May cleared a proposal for 10 per cent and 5 per cent disinvestment in _________ and _______ respectively.
1) Indian Oil Corp, NTPC 
2) ONGC, NTPC
3) SAIL, Indian Oil Corp 
4) SAIL, NTPC
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Indian Oil Corp, NTPC

Ques. : 91 India has appointed who among the following as the chief of the BRICS Bank or the New Development Bank?
1) KV Kamath 
2) Kaushik Basu
3) Arvind Subramanian 
4) Raghuram Rajan
5) YV Reddy 
Answer:- 1) KV Kamath

Ques. : 92 As informed by the govt to the Lok Sabha, it will award how many kilometers of highways for the year 2015-16 to meet the construction target of 30 km of roads per day during the next two years?
1) 10,000 km 
2) 8,000 km
3) 7,000 km 
4) 4,000 km
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) 10,000 km

Ques. : 93 The RBI has asked all PSBs and the leading private and foreign banks to engage chief customer service officer (CCSO) or internal ombudsman. The RBI introduced the banking ombudsman scheme in
1) 1991 
2) 1995
3) 1999 
4) 2001
5) 2009 
Answer:- 2) 1995

Ques. : 94 Economist Alexandre Lamfalussy died on 9 May. He was one of the founding fathers of the
1) Asian Development Bank 
2) World Economic Forum
3) European single currency euro 
4) General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) European single currency euro

Ques. : 95 The HDFC has made it to world's top-10 list of consumer finance firms compiled by Forbes’ magazine. The list is topped by
1) Franshion Properties 
2) Hua Nan Financial
3) CITI Group 
4) Mastercard
5) American Express 
Answer:- 5) American Express

Ques. : 96 Shashi Kapoor was presented Dada Saheb Phalke award for 2014 on 10 May. Who was the winner of the coveted award for 2013?
1) Shammi Kapoor 
2) Pran
3) Soumitra Chatterjee 
4) Gulzar
5) Dilip Kumar 
Answer:- 4) Gulzar

Ques. : 97 Name the Indian tech billionaire who has been ranked as Asia's wealthiest entrepreneur under the age of 40, according to the Wealth-X list released on 11 May.
1) Kunal Bahl 
2) Sachin Bansal
3) Rishi Sunak 
4) Arun Pudur
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) Arun Pudur

Ques. : 98 The Indian-origin Priti Patel got Cabinet rank in the new govt in which of the following countries recently?
1) Canada 
2) UK
3) Norway 
4) Spain
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) UK

Ques. : 99 Indian hockey team defeated which of the following teams 4-0 in a 4-match series on 9 May in Bhubaneshwar?
1) Japan 
2) Malaysia
3) South Korea 
4) Pakistan
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Japan

Ques. : 100 Who won the Spanish Grand Prix F1 championship on 10 May?
1) Kimi Raikkonen 
2) Valtteri Bottas
3) Sebastian Vettel 
4) Lewis Hamilton
5) Nico Rosberg 
Answer:- 5) Nico Rosberg

Ques. : 101 Name the former Gujarat Chief Secretary who has been appointed as the Election Commissioner of India recently.
1) Achal Kumar Jyoti 
2) Sanjay K Srivastava
3) Ramesh Negi 
4) Kewal K Sharma
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Achal Kumar Jyoti

Ques. : 102 The Parliament has cleared the Constitution (Amendment) Bill to operationalise the Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh. It has become the _______ Constitutional amendment passed by the Parliament.
1) 98th 
2) 99th
3) 100th 
4) 101st
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) 100th

Ques. : 103 After the Parliament has cleared the Bill to operationalise the Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh, India will get 510 acres while Bangladesh will get
1) 1,000 acres
2) 1,500 acres
3) 5,000 acres 
4) 10,000 acres
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) 10,000 acres

Ques. : 104 Jean-Yves Le Drian, who visited India on May 5, is the present Defence Minister of
1) Germany 
2) France
3) UK 
4) Australia
5) Canada 
Answer:- 2) France

Ques. : 105 Aimed at protecting customers from frauds, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to issue only EMV chip-based and PIN enabled debit and credit cards from _______this year.
1) 1 Jun 
2) 1 Jul
3) 1 Sep 
4) 1 Dec
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) 1 Sep

Ques. : 106 Geeta Phogat is associated with which of the following games? She won bronze in Asian championship in Doha on 6 May.
1) Weightlifting
2) Wrestling
3) Boxing 
4) Discus throw
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Wrestling

Ques. : 107 The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was passed in the Lok Sabha on 6 May. Which of the following item(s) is/are excluded from the proposed GST?
1) Real estate 
2) Petroleum
3) Alcohol 
4) Tobacco
5) All the above 
Answer:- 5) All the above

Ques. : 108 Who among the following is/are the winner(s) of the inaugural Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) presented on 7 May?
1) Jitu Rai (Sports Person of the Year) 
2) Saina Nehwal (Youth Icon)
3) Milkha Singh (Lifetime Achievement Award) 
4) Sunil Chhetri (Football)
5) All the above 
Answer:- 5) All the above

Ques. : 109 The road transport ministry has set a deadline for new model cars to pass minimum frontal and side crash tests besides pedestrian protection test. The deadline is
1) Jan 2016 2) Dec 2016
3) Apr 2017 4) Oct 2017
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) Oct 2017

Ques. : 110 Who among the following is all set to be sworn in as the next Prime Minister of UK after his Conservative Party won 331 out of 650 seats in the recent general elections?
1) Nick Clegg 
2) Edward Miliband
3) George Osborne 
4) Ed Balls
5) David Cameron 
Answer:- 5) David Cameron

Ques. : 111 As announced by the Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, on 2 May, the Centre would invest Rs 20,000 cr to revamp road infrastructure in the
1) Bihar 
2) Uttar Pradesh
3) Northeast 
4) Jammu and Kashmir
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Northeast

Ques. : 112 According to just-released data from the 2011 census, over ___________of all girls aged 19 in India having married.
1) 20 per cent 
2) 21 per cent
3) 33 per cent 
4) 41 per cent
5) None of these 
Answer:- 4) 41 per cent

Ques. : 113 The software giant Microsoft has unveiled its new product named 'Edge'. It is a new _____________ from Microsoft stable.
1) web browser 
2) word processor
3) spreadsheet programme 
4) mobile operating system
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) web browser

Ques. : 114 The banks have fixed the upper limit on withdrawals at micro automatic teller machines (ATMs) at __________as part of rules governing small transactions, especially under financial inclusion.
1) Rs 1,000 
2) Rs 2,000
3) Rs 5,000 
4) Rs 10,000
5) Rs 15,000 
Answer:- 4) Rs 10,000

Ques. : 115 The CCI is now starting intense analysis of multi-sided high technology market as it looks to boost its vigil against unfair business ways. The term CCI stands for
1) Costing Commission of India 
2) Coordination Commission of India
3) Competition Commission of India 
4) Customs Commission of India
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Competition Commission of India

Ques. : 116 India has 29 states and ________Union Territories.
1) seven 
2) six
3) five 
4) four
5) nine 
Answer:- 1) seven

Ques. : 117 Yuki Bhambri is associated with the game of
1) badminton 
2) tennis
3) squash 
4) hockey
5) shooting 
Answer:- 2) tennis

Ques. : 118 The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 27 Apr welcomed which of the following countries as its 161st member, ending 20 years of negotiating its accession terms?
1) Maldives 
2) Seychelles
3) Fiji 
4) Myanmar
5) Cuba 
Answer:- 2) Seychelles

Ques. : 119 The logo for International Day of Yoga was launched in New Delhi on 29 Apr 2015. As approved the United Nations, the ‘International Day of Yoga’ will be observed every year on
1) 14 Jul 
2) 23 Sep
3) 15 May 
4) 17 Sep
5) 21 Jun 
Answer:- 5) 21 Jun

Ques. : 120 According to the data published in 2014 by Power Reactor Information System of International Atomic Energy Agency, India stands at what position in generating electricity from nuclear source?
1) 7th 
2) 11th
3) 13th 
4) 16th
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) 13th

Ques. : 121 The KYC requirement can be fulfilled through e-KYC only for those who have
1) PAN Card 
2) Voter Identity Card
3) Aadhaar number 
4) Passport
5) Other than those given as options 
Answer:- 3) Aadhaar number

Ques. : 122 World AIDS Day is observed on
1) 1 Dec 
2) 25 Apr
3) 24 Mar 
4) 28 Sep
5) 4 Feb 
Answer:- 1) 1 Dec

Ques. : 123 World Cancer Day is observed on
1) 1 Dec 
2) 25 Apr
3) 24 Mar 
4) 28 Sep
5) 4 Feb 
Answer:- 5) 4 Feb

Ques. : 124 World Rabies Day is observed on
1) 1 Dec 
2) 25 Apr
3) 24 Mar 
4) 28 Sep
5) 4 Feb 
Answer:- 4) 28 Sep

Ques. : 125 World Tuberculosis Day is observed on
1) 1 Dec 
2) 25 Apr
3) 24 Mar 
4) 28 Sep
5) 4 Feb 
Answer:- 3) 24 Mar

Ques. : 126 World Malaria Day is observed on
1) 1 Dec 
2) 25 Apr
3) 24 Mar 
4) 28 Sep
5) 4 Feb 
Answer:- 2) 25 Apr

Ques. : 127 An individual having a ‘Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account’ with a bank cannot have which of the following accounts in that bank?
1) Recurring Deposit 
2) Term/Fixed Deposit
3) Savings 
4) Loan
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Savings

Ques. : 128 The KYC norm stipulated by the RBI is NOT applicable in case of issuance of which of the following?
1) Credit Cards 
2) Debit Cards
3) Add-on/supplementary cards 
4) All the above
5) None of these 
Answer:- 5) None of these

Ques. : 129 Which of the following banks has launched kids account named ‘Smart Star’ for school-going children as young as 10 years?
1) SBI 
2) ICICI
3) Axis Bank 
4) HDFC
5) Kotak Mahindra 
Answer:- 2) ICICI

Ques. : 130 The Asian Infra Investment Bank (AIIB) set up by India and 20 other countries, will be headquartered in which of the following cities?
1) Manila
2) Dhaka
3) Astana 
4) New Delhi
5) Beijing 
Answer:- 5) Beijing

Ques. : 131 Who among the following is the Minister of State for Finance in the present Union Cabinet?
1) Manoj Sinha 
2) Giriraj Singh
3) Sanwar Lal Jat 
4) Jayant Sinha
5) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Answer:- 4) Jayant Sinha

Ques. : 132 The Finance Minister, in his budget speech on 28 Feb, announced that two more Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) will be set up which will take the total number of IIMs in the country to 20. These new IIMs will come up in
1) Jammu & Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh 
2) Punjab and Tamil Nadu
3) Himachal Pradesh and Assam 
4) Bihar and Karnataka
5) None of these 
Answer:- 1) Jammu & Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh

Ques. : 133 As announced in the Union Budget for 2015-16, the govt will infuse what amount in PSU Banks in FY16?
1) Rs 6,999 cr 
2) Rs 7,240 cr
3) Rs 7,940 cr 
4) Rs 7,999 cr
5) None of these 
Answer:- 3) Rs 7,940 cr

Ques. : 134 Who among the following has been sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir?
1) Nirmal Singh 
2) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
3) Mehbooba Mufti 
4) Sajjad Lone
5) None of these 
Answer:- 2) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed

Ques. : 135 Who among the following is the new president of the BCCI?
1) Anurag Thakur 
2) Sanjay Patel
3) Sharad Pawar 
4) N Srinivasan
5) Jagmohan Dalmiya 
Answer:- 5) Jagmohan Dalmiya

Ques. : 136 The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) celebrated its silver jubilee on Mar 1. The present chairman of NASSCOM is
1) Krishnakumar Natarajan 
2) R Chandrasekaran
3) Phaneesh Murthy 
4) Kris Gopalakrishnan
5) Ashok Soota 
Answer:- 2) R Chandrasekaran

Ques. : 137 The winner of the men’s singles title of the 2015 Dubai Tennis Championships is
1) Roger Federer 
2) Novak Djokovic
3) Stan Wawrinka 
4) Andy Murray
5) Rafael Nadal 
Answer:- 1) Roger Federer

Ques. : 138 In the General Budget for 2015-16, the service tax has been increased from current 12.36 per cent to
1) 12.50 per cent 
2) 13 per cent
3) 13.50 per cent 
4) 14 per cent
5) 14.50 per cent 
Answer:- 4) 14 per cent

Ques. : 139 As proposed in the General Budget for FY16, the rate of corporate tax is to be reduced to what per cent from the current 30 per cent over next four years?
1) 28 per cent 
2) 25 per cent
3) 23 per cent 
4) 22 per cent
5) 20 per cent 
Answer:- 2) 25 per cent

Ques. : 140 Wealth tax has been abolished in the general budget for FY16. It is to be replaced by surcharge of __________on income of Rs 1 cr and above.
1) 1 per cent 
2) 2 per cent
3) 5 per cent 
4) 8 per cent
5) 10 per cent 
Answer:- 2) 2 per cent

 

THOUGHT OF THE MONTH

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 25 April 2016 04:50