Monday, 16 May 2016 05:50



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15 - MAY - 2016


World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a report titled ‘Protecting people through nature’ with the subtitle ‘Natural world heritage sites as Drivers of sustainable development.’

The report says that nearly half of the iconic 229 natural and mixed World Heritage sites in 96 countries around the world, including Western Ghats, face significant threats.

Further, the iconic symbols of conservation are facing threats to their unique values, putting the livelihoods and well-being of people who depend on them at risk.

Main Highlights

• Almost half of all natural World Heritage sites, and their outstanding universal value, are threatened by harmful industrial activities.

• Eleven million people, equivalent to the population of Portugal, depend on these sites, and could be affected negatively by the impacts of harmful industrial activities.

• Avoiding these harmful industrial activities and focusing on sustainable, carefully managed alternatives will enhance World Heritage sites and the benefits they provide.

• As the World Heritage Committee has recognized the potential for World Heritage sites to support sustainable development, it should be incorporated into the management of sites going forward.

• Five key principles are consistent across examples of well managed World Heritage sites, and can help decision makers achieve an appropriate and equitable balance between conservation, sustainability and development. These five key principles include:

1. Valuation that it is socially conscious

2. Investment decisions that focus on long-term value

3. Governance that is representative of all beneficiaries

4. Policymaking that is evidence based and transparent

5. Regulators that are enforced and followed

Report with respect to India

• In context of India, the report talks about Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, Kaziranga National Park, Keoladeo National Park, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Sundarbans National Park and Western Ghats.

• It says that three of the seven such Indian sites, namely Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Sundarbans National Park, and the serial sites of Western Ghats, are threatened by harmful industrial activities such as mining.

• Western Ghats supports the single largest population of endangered Asian elephants and vulnerable Indian bison, faces the extractive threats that include oil/gas concessions and mines/mining concessions.

• On the other hand, Sundarbans National Park and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary are facing non-extractive threats.

• The non-extractive threats include dams/water management/water use (unsustainable water use), Logging/wood harvesting, marine/fresh water aquaculture (overfishing), roads/railways, shipping lanes and utility/service lines.

Global Call of Action

To manage these Natural World Heritage sites like Galápagos Islands, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Grand Canyon, the WWF has recommended Global Call of Action from national government, world heritage committee, corporate and finance entities and civil society groups and non-governmental organisations.

Global Call of Action for the national government includes

• Ensure that no harmful industrial activities, which involve significant impacts on the attributes of outstanding universal value and other natural, economic and cultural values, are permitted in world heritage sites or in the areas that could negatively affect them.

• Integrate a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the world heritage convention, as indicated by the policy recently adopted by the states parties to the convention, as a first step to recognizing the potential of world heritage sites to deliver outcomes in line with the sustainable development goals.

• Incorporate the ecosystem and biodiversity value of world heritage sites into national and local planning and development strategies as a way of advancing 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly goals 14 and 15.

• Guarantee that those who depend on world heritage sites for their livelihoods and well-being are informed and consulted adequately about proposed projects by applying the principle of free, prior and informed consent, as well as applicable international standards for community consultation and engagement.

• Define clear buffer zones that help maintain the outstanding universal value of world heritage sites by providing an additional layer of protection to sites.

• Hold accountable multinational enterprises, operating in or from their territories to the highest standards of corporate accountability and stewardship.


Astronomers discovered three planets which have similar sizes and temperatures those of Venus and Earth, using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. They have been found orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth.

Michael Gillon-led team of astronomers of the University of Liege in Belgium used the TRAPPIST telescope to observe the ultra-cool dwarf star 2MASS J23062928-0502285, now also known as TRAPPIST-1.

They found that the dim and cool star faded slightly at regular intervals which indicated that several objects were passing between the star and the Earth.

On the detailed analysis, it showed that three planets are present around the star.

An ultra-cool dwarf star-TRAPPIST-1

• It is much cooler and redder than the Sun and barely larger than Jupiter.

• Despite being so close to the Earth, the star is too dim and too red to be seen with the naked eye or even visually with a large amateur telescope.

• It lies in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Carrier).

• After crossing checking with larger telescopes like the HAWK-I instrument on ESO’s 8-metre Very Large Telescope in Chile, the three planets showed to have sizes very similar to that of Earth.

• Two of the planets have orbital periods of about 1.5 days and 2.4 days respectively, and the third planet has a less well-determined orbital period in the range 4.5 to 73 days.

Although the three planets were found to orbit very close to their host dwarf star, the inner two planets only receive four times and twice, respectively, the amount of radiation received by the Earth. They were defined to have surface temperatures where liquid water can exist, although it is still possible that they possess potentially habitable regions on their surfaces.

The third, outer, planet’s orbit is not yet well known, but it probably receives less radiation than the Earth does, but maybe still enough to lie within the habitable zone.


Sameer Chadha was on 3 May 2016 appointed as the partner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of KPMG's offshore arm in India.

Chadha joined KPMG Global Services (KGS) from Barclays Shared Services, where he was the Chief Executive Officer.

About Sameer Chadha

• Chadha has 25 years of experience with leading organisations across the financial services and consumer goods sectors.

• Chadha began his career with Nestle India.

• Prior to working with Barclays, he held strategic leadership roles at firms such as Bank of America, First Source Solutions and Lehman Brothers.

• He is a chartered accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University.

About KPMG India Pvt Ltd

• KPMG was established in India in September 1993 and has rapidly built a significant competitive presence in the country since then.

• KPMG India Pvt Ltd offers financial advisory services, business advisory services, tax and regulatory services and risk advisory services.

• The firm operates from its offices in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad in India.


England's world number one Mark Selby won World Championship title of Snooker. In the final match played in Sheffield, Selby from Leicester defeated China’s Ding Junhui 18-14.

With this win, Selby also ended Ding’s chance of being the first Asian player to win the world title.

This was Selby’s second trophy of the year, earlier he had won minor Gdynia Open event in Poland.

This was Selby’s second World Snooker title, the first was won against Ronnie O'Sullivan in 2014. This win also added his name in the list of Steve Davis, Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan, the stars who have won at least two world titles since the event rocked up in Sheffield in 1977.

Titles of Selby

• 2008: Beats Ronnie O'Sullivan 9-8 to win Welsh Open

• 2011: Beats Mark Williams 10-9 in Shanghai Masters final

• 2012: Wins UK Championship with 10-6 win over Shaun Murphy

• 2014: Wins World Championship 18-14 against Ronnie O'Sullivan

• 2015: Wins German Masters and China Open

• 2016: Clinches second World Championship

• He also won the Masters, an invitation event, in 2008, 2010 and 2013


Ghar SodhonA room disinfectant for silkworm rearing houses and appliances.

Ghar Sodhon, a room disinfectant for silkworm rearing houses and appliances, was in news.

It came in news after the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), under the Union Ministry of Science & Technology inked licence agreements with M/s Nabagram Resham Shilpa Unnayan Cooperative Society Ltd and M/s Dariapur Rural Development Society, Kalia Chak of West Bengal for the commercialization of Ghar Sodhon.

About Ghar Sodhon

• It is a user friendly and non-corrosive room disinfectant, devoid of the requirement of labour, water, electricity and spraying machines.

• It has been developed at the Central Silk Research & Training Institute (CSRTI), Berhampore, West Bengal, a constituent Research Institute under Central Silk Board, Bengaluru, under the Union Ministry of Textiles.

• It is gaining popularity among the silk farmers of the States of West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand.

Besides, NRDC also signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Satyabhama University, Chennai represented by its Vice Chancellor, Dr. B. Sheela Rani for IP Protection and technology commercialization of their scientific and technological developments.

With this agreement both organizations will put efforts to bring the fruits of research for awareness and betterment of the society.


  • In a scathing 53-page verdict on the “lack of will” shown by the Centre and States in combating drought and saving lives, the Supreme Court pronounced the Centre guilty of “washing its hands of” a national disaster.
  • It also pulled up Gujarat, Bihar and Haryana for adopting an “ostrich-like attitude” towards declaring drought and driving their own people to suicide, starvation and mass migration.
  • A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and N.V. Ramana issued a slew of directions on tackling the drought situation on a petition filed by the NGO Swaraj Abhiyan.
  • Among the steps it suggested were taking the help of the National Disaster Response Force and a Disaster Mitigation Fund.
  • The PIL plea had alleged that parts of 12 States, such as Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh, were hit by drought.
  • The court found that the total population in the districts affected by drought is about 33 crore.
  • “Can we afford to ignore the plight of such a large population,” the Supreme Court asked the government. It accused the Centre of taking refuge in the concept of “federalism” to pass the buck to the States.
  • “The ostensible purpose of introducing this concept [of federalism] is to enable the Union of India to wash its hands of in matters concerning drought declaration and to give enough elbow room to a State government to decide whether to declare a drought or not,” the Bench observed.
  • Meanwhile, States such as Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana, the court observed, were not even willing to acknowledge a drought.
  • Their failure to declare drought has robbed the poor of their fundamental right to dignity of life, the court held.


  • The government told the Rajya Sabhathat “some times” provisions of the Domestic Violence and Anti-Dowry Acts were misused and several NGOs had also given reports supporting it.
  • MoS (Home) said that only 13 persons were convicted out of the 639 charge sheeted in 2014 under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.
  • After the reply of the Minister in question hour, Samajwadi Party member Javed Ali Khan raised the issue of misuse of the Act, a contention which was resented by women members vehemently but was supported by Vijay Goel (BJP).
  • Mr. Rijiju told the House that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) started collecting data on the Act only since 2014.
  • According to the reply, 426 cases were registered under the Act in 2014, of which charge sheet was filed in 312 cases. Conviction happened in just nine cases. Trial was completed in 19.1 per cent cases.
  • Of the 693 persons arrested in these cases, 639 were charge-sheeted. Only 13 were convicted.
  • The Minister said that in many cases, the husband and wife reach a compromise at a later stage and that the offences under the Act were of “civil” nature.


  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee dealing with the Department of Space has favoured early enactment of a national Space Law to promote commerce and regulate Space-related activities in the country.
  • While suggesting that the department's outlays should not be reduced during year-end revision of the budget, the committee pulls up the DoS for not fully using allocated funds and delaying a few projects in the preceding two years.
  • The draft National Space Act of India which is in the making may take at least a year before it completes the mandatory processes and reaches the Cabinet or Parliament, says the department-related Standing Committee on Science & Technology and Environment & Forests of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The draft law, it notes, must first get the approval of the Prime Minister, who holds the Space portfolio, and go through parliamentary procedures, public comments and inter-ministerial consultations.
  • Coming at a time the DoS is increasing its engagement with public and private sector industries, a Space Law will cover licensing, authorisation, regulation and supervision of activities by other players in the sector.
  • The report was tabled in the Lok Sabha and presented to the Rajya Sabha on Monday. The Department has also been urged to speed up its decision on an internal committee report relating to supporting start-ups in the Space sector.


  • Australian scientists claimed to have unearthed a fragment of the world’s oldest known ground edge axe, created up to 49,000 years ago, around the time humans first arrived on the continent.
  • Australian National University (ANU) said the axe dates back between 46,000 and 49,000 years, around the time people first arrived on the continent.
  • This is the earliest evidence of hafted axes in the world. Nowhere else in the world do you get axes at this date.
  • In Japan such axes appear about 35,000 years ago. But in most countries in the world they arrive with agriculture after 10,000 years ago.
  • This discovery showed early Aboriginal technology was not as simple as has been previously suggested. A hafted axe is an axe with a handle attached.
  • Prof. O’Connor said evidence suggested the technology was developed in Australia after people arrived around 50,000 years ago.


  • Brazil’s Senate opened debate ahead of a vote on suspending President Dilma Rousseff and launching an impeachment trial.
  • Debate was expected to last all day with a vote during the night or early hours of 12th May. A simple majority in the 81 member Senate would be enough to trigger Ms. Rousseff’s six-month suspension pending judgment, in which a two thirds majority would force her from the office of President permanently.
  • Ms. Rousseff’s government lawyer lodged a last-ditch appeal with the Supreme Court to block the vote, but the court had not even responded before Senators sat down in their futuristic building in the capital Brasilia.


  • Activists from the Islami ChatraShibir, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, clashed with police in parts of Bangladesh after their party chief Motiur Rahman Nizami was hanged for 1971 war crimes.
  • They also organised funeral prayers for Nizami. As part of their countrywide plan, the Jamaat activists held prayers at the BaitulMukarram national mosque in Dhaka and at the port city of Chittagong.
  • Clashes erupted at the Parade Grounds near the Chittagong College when activists from the Bangladesh Chaatra League, student wing of the ruling Awami Party, tried to stop the prayers.


  • NASA’s Kepler mission has announced the largest collection of exoplanets ever discovered after it verified 1,284 new planets outside the solar system.
  • Of the nearly 5,000 planet candidates found to date, more than 3,200 now have been verified, and 2,325 of these were discovered by Kepler.


  • Indirect tax collections for April 2016 grew 42 per cent over their level in April 2015.April's collections amount to 8.3 per cent of the Budget Estimates for the financial year.
  • The Budget Estimate for indirect tax collections for this financial year is Rs. 7,78,000, 9.7 per cent higher than the actual collections during 2015-16 of Rs. 7,09,022 crore.
  • Central excise collections saw a 71 per cent increase in April 2016, coming in at Rs. 28,252 crore compared to the Rs. 16,546 crore in April 2015.
  • Excise collections thus made up nearly 44 per cent of the government’s total indirect tax collections in April.
  • The growth in total indirect tax collections were mainly driven by the growth in excise collections due to several additional revenue generating measures taken by the government over the last year such as increasing the excise duty on petrol, diesel, and tobacco.
  • Excluding such measures, the growth in total indirect tax collections stood at 17 per cent, according to the government.
  • Service tax collections amounted to Rs. 18,647 crore in April 2016 compared to Rs. 14,585 crore during the same period of the previous year, a growth of 27.9 per cent.
  • The third category of indirect tax collections, customs duty collections, came in at Rs. 17,495 crore in April 2016, up 22.5 per cent from the Rs. 14,286 crore seen in April 2015.
  • This data comes at a time when the government announced on Tuesday that it has unearthed approximately Rs. 50,000 crore of indirect taxes evasion and undisclosed income of Rs. 21,000 crore over the last two years.


  • The government is ready to import at least 70 to 80 million metric standard cubic metres (mmscm) of natural gas for India’s idle gas-based power plants if it can secure long-term ‘affordable’ rates.
  • Obtaining the required gas will lead to the re-starting of 20,000 MW of idle power capacity in India.
  • The minister recently visited Australia and secured assurances for gas supply at $5 per mmbtu but suppliers were not willing to sign long-term contracts.
  • If the government gets gas at $5 per mmbtu, gives custom duty waiver, reduces marketing margins and gas transportation charges by half and reduces inter state transmission charges to zero, the industry will be able to absorb the price.


  • The government is likely to come out with a definition for the term ‘new employees’ for implementing its Budget promise of footing the bill for pension scheme contribution in a bid to create more formal sector jobs.
  • Accordingly, ‘new employees’ may be defined as those in excess of the average employee base of a firm for the previous three years,
  • The payment of the EPS contribution will be in the form of reimbursements to employers.
  • The scheme will be applicable for the new employees, earning Rs.15,000 a month, who have worked for 240 days during a year in an establishment.
  • About 3.5 lakh establishments, which hire more than 20 workers, will be covered under the scheme.
  • The Finance Minister had said the government had decided to pay 8.33 per cent of wages to Employees Pension Scheme (EPS) on behalf of employers for workers during first three years of employment.
  • For this an allocation of Rs.1,000 crore had been made in the Budget under the scheme, Pradhan MantriRojgarProtsahan Yojana .


  • Expressing concern over larger pictorial warnings on tobacco products, industry bodies CII and FICCI said that this had led to a spurt in illegal import of cigarettes.
  • They urged the government to take steps to curb such activities while maintaining the status quo on the matter.
  • In letters to Health Minister J.P. Nadda, the industry chambers said illicit cigarettes were threatening the “livelihood of crores of farmers and people employed in the industry.”
  • An increase in unscrupulous trade activity had resulted in law and order problems as well as a threat to the livelihood of millions of farmers and the legal (tobacco) industry.
  • CII urges the government to look into the matter and ensure that a balanced view on the issue of graphic health warnings is taken. Until we are able to rein in the illegal trade in the sector effectively, it would be desirable to maintain a status quo on pictorial warning.
  • Companies making cigarettes had been compelled to shut operations due to lack of clarity on the warnings.


  • V.R. Raghunath, Dharamvir Singh and Ritu Rani have been nominated for the Arjuna Award for sporting excellence for 2016.
  • The trio has been nominated by Hockey India, along with veteran Sylvanus Dung Dung, who has been recommended for the Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award, while coach C.R. Kumar has been named for the Dronacharya Award.
  • India captain Ritu is not only one of the most experienced and talented midfielders of all time but also has the distinction of leading the side to an Olympic qualification for the first time in 36 years.
  • A product of the hockey nursery of Shahbad, Ritu is considered among the most astute readers of the modern game.
  • Drag-flicker Raghunath has been part of the Indian team’s defence for more than a decade, having made his international debut during the bilateral series against Pakistan in 2005.
  • He has been part of most of the Indian team’s recent successes, including the 2014 Asian Games gold, the HWL Finals bronze and the 2007 Asia Cup gold.
  • Dharamvir was also part of the Asiad gold-winning team and the silver-winning Commonwealth Games 2014 side.
  • The 70-year-old Dung Dung struck the winning goal to help India claim gold at the 1980 Olympics, the last time the team managed to do so, while Kumar is currently part of the senior women’s team staff and has been associated with various teams for almost two decades.



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