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20 - MAY - 2016




The British Labour party's Sadiq Khan was elected new Mayor of London. His election as Mayor of London made him the first actively affiliated Muslim to become mayor of a major Western capital.

Khan emerged victorious in the 2016 mayoral elections after defeating Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Zac Goldsmith by 1310143 votes to 994614. Khan assumed the office on 9 May 2016.

Khan succeeds Conservative Party Mayor Boris Johnson.

Who is Sadiq Khan?

Sadiq Aman Khan is a British politician.

A member of the Labour Party, he is situated on the party's soft left and has been ideologically characterised as a social democrat.

Born in London to a working-class British Pakistani family, he gained a degree in Law from the University of North London.

He subsequently worked as a solicitor specialising in human rights. He chaired Liberty for three years.

Before being sworn in as the Mayor of London, he previously served as MP for Tooting.

He was a Councillor for the London Borough of Wandsworth from 1994 to 2006 before being elected MP for Tooting in 2005.

Under the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Kahn was appointed Minister of State for Communities in 2008. He later became Minister of State for Transport.


Atomic Oxygen was detected in the upper layers of the Martian atmosphere known as Mesosphere. This presence of Atomic Oxygen for the first time since the last observation 40 years ago was detected by an instrument onboard theStratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

Atomic oxygen affects how other gases escape Mars and therefore has a significant impact on the planet’s atmosphere.

The research was published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Findings of the detection

• Scientists detected only about half the amount of oxygen expected, which may be due to variations in the Martian atmosphere.

• To better understand these variations in the atmosphere of the Red Planet, scientists will continue to use SOFIA.

• These more recent observations were possible due to SOFIA’s airborne location, flying between 37000-45000 feet, above most of the infrared-blocking moisture in Earth’s atmosphere.

The advanced detectors on one of the observatory’s instruments, the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT), enabled astronomers to distinguish the oxygen in the Martian atmosphere from oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.

The last measurement of the atomic oxygen in Martian atmosphere was diagnosed by Viking and Mariner missions of the 1970s.

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

• SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 100-inch diameter telescope.

• It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center.

• NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, manages the SOFIA program, science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

• The aircraft is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center's hangar 703 in Palmdale, California.


India is ranked at ninth position in crony-capitalism index that was released by the Economist. India has a crony sector wealth accounting for 3.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Highlights of the Index

• As per the latest crony-capitalism index the non-crony sector wealth in India amounts to 8.3 per cent of the GDP

• India stood at the same ninth place in the previous 2014 rankings.

• Russia topped the list and followed by Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.

• Russia fares worst in the index, wealth from the country's crony sectors amounts to 18 per cent of its GDP.

• Crony wealth has fallen by 116 billion US dollars since 2014 among the 22 economies in the index.

• The worth of billionaires in crony industries Worldwide is soared by 385 per cent between 2004 and 2014 to 2 US dollars trillion.

About crony-capitalism index

• The Economist newspaper designed this new measurement of crony capitalism.

• It was based on the work by Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Aditi Gandhi and Michael Walton of Centre for Policy Research of New Delhi, and others in 2014.

• The index aims to indicate whether the livelihood of the people from certain country or city with capitalist economy is easily affected by crony capitalism.

• Due to its limitations the index was not recognized internationally.

• It also aims to measure the increase trend in the number of economic rent-seekers.


The Insect Museum of West China announced that a stick insect measuring 62.4 centimeters has broken the record for length among the world’s 807625 known insects.

The insect, named Phobaeticus chani or Chan's megastick was discovered two years ago in the southern province of Guangxi, China.

The previous record-holder was a Malaysian 56.7-centimeter-long stick insect discovered in 2008. One of its specimen is on display in London’s Natural History Museum.

About Chan's megastick

Phobaeticus chani or Chan's megastick is species of stick insects.

The bug is named after amateur Malaysian naturalist, Datuk Chan Chew Lun.

Very little is known about its biology. However, it is speculated that it may live in the canopy of the rainforest, making it especially hard to find.

It was selected as one of The Top 10 New Species described in 2008 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an international committee of taxonomists.

The species was also listed as one of the top 10 discoveries of the decade in the BBC television documentary Decade of Discovery.


The Karnataka Government decided to establish Asia’s first-ever Rice Technology Park at Gangavati.

Besides, a Maize Technology Park will also be established at Ranebennur in Haveri district.

The rice park is being established at Navali-Karatagi villages on the outskirts of Gangavati, and the maize park is to be come up in the APMC market yard at Ranebennur.

Key facts related to the establishment of parks

These parks will be established under public private partnership (PPP).

The establishment of the Rice Technology Park will help paddy cultivators in the Tungabhadra Command Area in Ballari, Raichur and Koppal districts.

It will also help the paddy cultivators in the command areas of the Upper Krishna Project in Shahpur and Surpur taluks in Yadgir district and Vijayapura and Bagalkot districts.

As a value addition, the technology park will have facilities for rice flour, rice rava, rice bran oil, noodles, rice-based alcohol, animal and poultry feed and paddy husk used for power generation and brick-making.

The proposed Maize Technology Park at Ranebennur will have a storage capacity of 32000 tonnes.

The maize technology park will be established at a cost of 111 crore rupees.

About Gangavati

Gangavati is a town, municipality and taluk in the Koppal district of the Indian state of Karnataka.

It is a big commercial city in the whole of undivided Raichur District.

It is also a largest city in terms of area and population when compared to any towns within Koppal district.

It is a commercial hub and is often known as Rice Bowl city of Karnataka.


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released consultation paper on Peer to Peer (P2P) lending to classify it as Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC). The suggestions or comments on the Paper may be sent to Department of Non-Banking Regulation, RBI on or before 31 May 2016.

The Consultation paper outlines the pros and cons of regulating the sector and proposes a suitable framework for regulating the activity.

It includes minimum capital, permitted activity, governance requirements, and fair practices code for customer dealing and data security.

What is Peer to Peer lending?

It is a form of crowd -funding which can be defined as the use of an online platform that matches lenders with borrowers in order to provide unsecured loans.

Features of Peer to Peer lending

• The borrower can either be an individual or a business requiring a loan.

• The lender can also be a natural or a legal person.

• Fee is paid to the platform by both the lender as well as the borrower.

• There are many variants of nature and extent of services provided by P2P platforms and global regulatory practices also vary.

• P2P lending is approached differently by regulators in different jurisdictions.

• They are treated as banking by some jurisdictions and as an intermediary in some others.

• Some jurisdictions like Israel and Japan have prohibited it altogether.

Five different ways to regulate P2P lending

P2P lending is regulated in five different ways across the globe. They are

I. Exempt market/ Unregulated through lack of definition- China, Ecuador, Egypt, South Korea, Tunisia

II. Intermediary Regulation- Australia, Argentina, Canada (Ontario), New Zealand, United Kingdom

III. Banking Regulation- France, Germany, Italy

IV. US Model- United States of America

V. Prohibited- Israel, Japan

In India, at present, there is no clear regulatory framework governing in functioning of P2P lending platforms despite having many online P2P lending platforms.


  • The Enforcement Directorate will approach the Ministry of External Affairs to initiate extradition proceedings with the UAE against Christian Michel, British middleman and prime accused in the AgustaWestland deal case.
  • It had earlier sought his extradition from the United Kingdom, which wanted certain clarifications on the status of the case against him.
  • Dubai agencies are also probing Mr. Michel’s role in a case ofalleged cheating
  • The investigating agencies have already got Inter- pol to issue Red Notice against Mr. Michel, who has been accused of routing 30 million euros to bribe Indian oicials for swinging the deal in AgustaWestland’s favour.


  • The National Green Tribunal has convened a meeting of all stakeholders involved in cleaning of River Ganga from Haridwar to Kanpur to deliberate on the mechanism to make the river pollution-free.
  • The green panel has divided the work of cleaning the river into different segments - Gomukh to Haridwar, Haridwar to Kanpur, Kanpur to border of UP, border of UP to border of Jharkhand and borderof Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.
  • On December 11, last year, the tribunal had imposed a complete ban on use of plastic of any kind from Gomukh to Haridwar along the river from February 1 and decided to slap a penalty of Rs. 5,000 per day on erring hotels, dharamsalas and ashrams spewing waste into the river.


  • The first technology demonstrator (TD) launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), or the spaceplane in popular par- lance, will take place on May 23
  • Visually, the RLV-TD is a rocket-aircraft combination measuring about 17 m, whose first stage is a solid propellant booster rocket and the secOnd stage is a 6.5 m long aircraft-like winged structure sitting atop the rocket.
  • In RLV-TD that is awaiting launch at SHAR, the first stage, weighing about 9 tonnes, is merely the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) flown in the 1980s.
  • The objective is to achieve hyperSOnic speeds to basically test the hypersonic aero-thermo-dynamic characterisation of the winged body’s re-entry, its control and guidance systems, autonomous mission management to land at a specific location at sea and test- ing of “hot structures” that make up the structure of the RLV.
  • Also, while an LV experiences limited flight regime of say Mach 0 to Mach 2 or so, the RLV experiences a much wider range of flight regimes.]
  • The ultimate objective of the RLV programme of ISRO is to enable the vehicle traverse a very wide range of flight regimes from Mach 0 to Mach 25 based on air-breathing propulsion for achieving two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO) launch capability.
  • The present design is basically “a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion using a scramjet engine.
  • The HEX series of experiments will be followed by the landing experiment (LEX), return flight experiment and scramjet propulsion experiment (SPEX)


  • A team of wildlife experts submitted a crucial report, which hinges the fate of the first-ever inter-State river linking project since India’s independence.
  • The submitted report — not yet public — warns of the dangers to the ecology and animal life due to the proposed Ken-Betwa project.
  • The main feature of the project is a 230-km long canal connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers which will irrigate 3.5 lakh hectares of drought- prone Bundelkhand.
  • However, it will also inundate about 400 of the 4300-hectare Pan- na Tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The report neither endorses nor disapproves of the Ken- Betwa project but notes that if the government were to go ahead it ought to ensure that the proposed canal does not hinder tiger movement and that there should be enough habitable forest land developed to compensate for theloss of tiger reserve land.\
  • The Ken-Betwa river inter-linking project is being vigorously promoted by the incumbent NDA government as the first in a series of projects to transfer surplus water from certain rivers into deficient ones and improve irrigation as well as hydropower availability.
  • Given the threat to the tigerreserve, the Environment Ministry, whose clearance is mandatory for the project, tasked the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) with an ex- pert analysis on the environ- mental impact.
  • The number of tigers in the reserve had plummeted from 25 in 2006 to zero in 2009, sparking national consternation.In conservation efforts in the seven years since, tigersfrom other reserves were relocated and are now believed to number 18.
  • The Environment Minis- try’s go-ahead will enable the National Water Development Agency (NWDA), a Water Resources Ministry body, to begin work on the project.


  • Asking the U.S. to respect the efforts by China and India to resolve their boundary dispute peacefully, a top Chinese official said the two nations are wise enough to deal with it.
  • “The Chinese side is committed to safeguarding peace and tranquillity of the border areas between China and India and resolving the boundary question through negotiation,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
  • The U.S. military report also warned of increasing Chinese military presence in various parts of the world, particularly in Pakistan.
  • “It is difficult to conclude on the real intention behind this,” Mr. Denmark said after submitting Pentagon’s annual 2016 re- port to the U.S. Congress.
  • “It is difficult to say how much of this is driven by internal considerations to maintain internal stability, and how much of it is an external consideration,” he said in response to a question on China upgrading its military command in Tibet.


  • World powers said they supported the lifting of an arms embargo on Libya and were ready to supply weapons to the country’s new unity government to help it fight the growing threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
  • The Government of National Accord has voiced its intention to submit appropriate arms embargo exemption requests to the UN Libya Sanctions Committee. We will fully support these efforts,” read a statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and 24 other top diplomats after talks in Vienna.
  • The conference was co-chaired by Mr. Kerry and his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni whose country has faced a major influx of migrants from Libya fleeing violence and poverty in the post-conflict years.


  • Towards deepening the evolving partnership in the maritime domain, India and the U.S. held the first round of discussions under the recently-constituted maritime security dialogue between officials of two countries.
  • Among the issues discussed were Asia-Pacific maritime challenges, naval cooperation, and multilateral engagement.
  • The dialogue was one of the several new initiatives agreed between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his U.S. counterpart Ashton Carter during the latter’s visit to India last month as part of the maritime security objectives under the India- US Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.
  • Security Dialogue, cochaired by officials at the Joint Secretary/Assistant Secretary-level of the Indian Ministries of Defence and External Affairs and the U.S. Departments of Defence and State,”
  • U.S. Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, who participated in the discussions, noted that the creation of this dialogue “is a further sign of the growing relations be- tween our two countries.”
  • The other initiatives agreed include the conclusion of a “white shipping” technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic and Navy-to-Navy discussions on submarine safety and anti- submarine warfare.


  • Wholesale prices moved out of deflationary territory after 17 months in April, rising by 0.3 per cent compared to a contraction of 0.8 per cent in March—driven largely by rising food prices.
  • With consumer price inflation in April rising to 5.4 per cent, prospects for a fresh interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have dimmed for the next few months.
  • On the food side, there were some alarming signals as pulses saw an increase of close to 4 per cent from the previous month showing that supply constraints in certain pockets can lead to flaring upof food inflation.
  • The food articles category, among primary articles, saw inflation accelerating to 4.2 per cent in April, compared to 3.7 per cent in March. Manufactured food inflation surged to 8 per cent from 4.5 per cent over the same period.
  • Inflation in manufactured products moved into positive territory after 13 months, rising to 0.7 per cent in April from a contraction of 0.13 per cent in the previous month.]
  • The situation in the fuel and power segment easedsomewhat in April with infla- tion in the sector contracting 4.8 per cent compared to a contraction of 8.3 per cent in March.
  • There are, however, other factors that could drive infla- tion up in the future such as monsoon and fuel prices.
  • If the outlook on the monsoons turns negative, the prices of food products may go up further with traders trying to hedge their posi- tions now to gain in the fu- ture.


  • The World Bank Board announced it had approved a loan worth $625 million for the government’s initiative for rooftop solar power generation.
  • The Board also approved a co-financing loan of $120 million on concessional terms and a $5 million grant from the Climate Investment Fund’s Clean Technology Fund.
  • The project will finance the installation of at least 400 MW of Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic(GRPV) across India,” ac- cording to a statement from the World Bank.
  • The project will alsostrengthen the capacity of key institutions, and support the development of the overall solar PV market.
  • The project is to be implemented by the State Bank of India, which will on-lend the funds to solar photovoltaic developers and end-users.
  • Despite energy shortages, and the high cost of backup supply, rooftop solar PV systems have not yet become widespread in India,” according to the World Bank.






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Last Updated on Monday, 23 May 2016 03:26