Monday, 06 June 2016 03:10


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06 - JUNE - 2016



Rakesh Kumar Mishra was appointed the new Director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Who is Rakesh Kumar Mishra?

Mishra is a noted expert in the study of function of genes.

He had joined CCMB in 2001 as a senior scientist after stints at the IISc, Bangalore, the University of Bordeaux, France, Saint Louise University, USA and the University of Geneva, Switzerland for post-doctoral experience.

He obtained his masters degree from Allahabad University.

His research interests include investigating evolutionarily conserved features of genome organisation, chromatin structure and epigenetic regulation of genes during embryonic development stages.

About Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology is an Indian Biotechnology research establishment of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research located in Hyderabad, India.

It is a designated Center of Excellence for Global Molecular and Cell Biology Network, UNESCO.

The National Biosafety level - 4 Containment Facility for Human Infectious Diseases, is Located in CCMB.

Its objectives are to conduct high quality basic research and training in frontier areas of modern biology, and promote centralized national facilities for new and modern techniques in the inter-disciplinary areas of biology.


Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani was awarded with the prestigious Othmer Gold Medal for his entrepreneurial leadership by the United States based Chemical Heritage Foundation.

Ambani was presented the award by Carsten Reinhardt, President & CEO of Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) during the occasion of the Heritage Day of CHF at Philadelphia, United States of America.

Why was Ambani awarded with the prestigious Othmer Gold Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership?

He was awarded for his entrepreneurial leadership that has resulted in:

• Expansion of India’s petroleum refining industry

• Creation of the Jamnagar Refinery in Gujarat – the largest grassroots petroleum refinery in the world

• Path-breaking initiatives in oil and gas exploration.

About Othmer Gold Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership

• The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) established the Othmer Gold Medal in 1997 to honour outstanding individuals who have made multifaceted contributions to chemical and scientific heritage.

• The medal commemorates Donald Othmer (1904–1995), a noted researcher, editor, engineer, inventor, philanthropist and co-editor of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopaedia of Chemical Technology.

• The medal is presented annually and co-sponsored by the CHF and its four affiliated organisations- American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), The Chemists’ Club, and the Societe de Chimie Industrielle (American Section).


United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointments of Mary Robinson of Ireland and Macharia Kamau of Kenya as his Special Envoys on El Nino and Climate.

The El Nino weather phenomenon, which occurs every two to seven years, affects rainfall patterns and causes both drought and flooding.

The United Nations Special Envoys will provide the leadership required to tackle these challenges, raising the profile and sounding the alarm.

Who is Mary Robinson?

Robinson is currently President of the Mary Robinson Foundation — Climate Justice.

She served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997.

From 1997 to 2002, she served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

She has also served as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region and as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Climate Change with John Kuofor and Michael Bloomberg.

Who is Macharia Kamau?

Kamau is the Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations.

He is a former President of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Board and former Co-Chair of the General Assembly Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals.

What is El Nino?

El Nino is the warm phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (commonly called ENSO).

It is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific, including off the Pacific coast of South America.

ENSO refers to the cycle of warm and cold temperatures, as measured by Sea Surface Temperature (SST) of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean.

It is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific.

The cool phase of ENSO is called La Nina with SST in the eastern Pacific below average and air pressures high in the eastern and low in western Pacific.

The ENSO cycle, both El Nino and La Nina, causes global changes of both temperatures and rainfall.


India and Iran signed 12 memorandum of understandings (MoUs) and agreements in various areas including building and operating the Chabahar port by India.

The MoUs and agreements were inked after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Modi is on a two day (from 22 May – 23 May 2016) visit to Iran.

Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Iran in last 15 years. On his arrival to the country he was received by Iran’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ali Tayyebnia at the Mehrabad International Airport.

The 12 Agreements/MOUs signed include

• India-Iran Cultural Exchange Programme: The objective is to extend the CEP for the period 2016-2019 covering the areas of culture and art; radio, TV, mass media and cinema; and relevant general and financial terms.

MoU on Policy Dialogue between Governments and Interaction between Think Tanks: The MoU was signed between the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Iran. It seeks to create a Joint Secretary/Director General policy dialogue as well as encouraging new institutional mechanisms between think tanks on both sides. There is also a provision for a conference on contemporary issues of regional and global significance.

• MoU for training of diplomats and exchange of eminent speakers:It was inked between Foreign Service Institute (MEA) and the School of International Relations (Iran’s MoFA) under which the two bodies will enhance cooperation.

Implementation Protocol (IP) on Cooperation in the Fields of Science and Technology: it should be maintained between Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of S&T and Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. The IP fleshes out the specific cooperation between the two sides pursuant to the 2003 MoU and covers areas like exchange of experiences, seminars, conferences etc.

MoU for cooperation between ICCR and ICRO: The MoU signed between Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Islamic Culture and Relations Organizations of the IR Iran provides for institutional mechanisms for cooperation between ICCR and ICRO and lays down the modalities for the cooperation.

• Bilateral contract on Chabahar Port for port development and operations between IPGPL [India Ports Global Private Limited] and Arya Banader of Iran: The contract envisages development and operation for 10 years of two terminals and 5 berths with cargo handling [multipurpose and general] capacities.

• MoU between EXIM Bank and Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization [PMO] on current specific terms for the Chabahar Port project: This MoU is intended for the purpose of credit of 150 US dollar million for Chabahar port.

• Confirmation Statement between EXIM Bank and Central Bank of Iran: This confirms the availability of credit up to 3000 crore rupees for the import of steel rails and implementation of Chabahar port.

MoU to establish a framework of cooperation between ECGC and EGFI: it was inked between ECGC [Export Credit Guarantee Corporation] Limited of India and the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EGFI) to in support and encourage foreign trade and foreign investment between India and Iran and, where appropriate, the supply of goods and services from their respective countries as part of a project to a third country.

• MoU to jointly explore the possibility of manufacturing aluminium metal: the MoU was signed between National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) and the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO). The objective is for the two parties to jointly explore the possibility of manufacturing aluminium metal by setting up of a smelter on joint venture basis in Iran and/or entering into tolling arrangements with smelters in Iran or any other form of business collaboration including sale of alumina etc.

MoU to enable IRCON to provide requisite services for the construction of Chabahar-Zahedan railway line: It was inked between IRCON and Construction, Development of Transport and Infrastructure Company (CDTIC) of Iran. Under its IRCON will provide requisite services for the construction of Chabahar-Zahedan railway line which forms part of transit and transportation corridor in trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan. Services to be provided by IRCON include all superstructure work and financing the project (around 1.6 billion US dollar).

• MoU for cooperation between the National Archives of India and the National Library and Archives Organisation of the Islamic Republic of Iran: This MoU aims at facilitation of exchange of information and knowledge in the field of archival matters through exchange of manuals, guidelines, rules, publications and other special literature on archival topics.


The agreements signed between two countries open a new chapter in the history of India-Iran bilateral relationship.

Out of these 12 agreements, the most important is signing of agreement to develop strategic Chabahar port and related infrastructure. It  is an important milestone with potential strategic advantage to India.

It is strategically important because it will enable India to bypass Pakistan and open up a route to land-locked Afghanistan with which India has close security ties and economic interests.

Besides, both the countries also agreed to consult closely and regularly on combating threats of terrorism, radicalism, drug trafficking and cyber crime among others.


Renowned scientist S K Sharma was appointed the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

Sharma will be responsible for design, construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear power reactors. He has been appointed to the new post for a period of five years.

At present, Sharma is working as Distinguished Scientist and Director (Operations) in NPCIL.

About Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is a government-owned corporation of India based in Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra.

It is wholly owned by the Central Government and is responsible for the generation of nuclear power for electricity.

It is administered by the Department of Atomic Energy, Govt. of India (DAE).

It was created in September 1987 under the Companies Act 1956.

All nuclear power plants operated by the company are certified for ISO-14001 (Environment Management System).

It was the sole body responsible for constructing and operating India's commercial nuclear power plants till setting up of Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (BHAVINI) in October 2003.


  • Have an opinion about the NDA government that you would like to share with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself?
  • More than 15,000 people have already done so on MyGov.in, a portal run by the government of India, and much like your Friday matinee, ratings have been solicited by the PM on 15 of his pet projects.
  • At the end of these responses, (and they are there for anyone who logs on to MyGov.in to see), the scores on just what and whose work makes the cut in the government is telling.
  • Ranking right there at the top, with an average of 4.6 stars are the initiatives taken by the government on rail connectivity and modernisation, so hurray for Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
  • Following closely in the list of above average work are the initiatives on roads and highways; they score an average of 4.55 stars.
  • Number three is the work of a Minister who was conspicuous by her absence (due to ill-health) from the second anniversary: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Her Ministry’s work gets an average of 4.5 star rating.
  • Make in India, and initiatives in the power sector are the next two popular areas of government work. Each scored an average of 4.2 stars.


  • Strengthening worldwide attempt to contain the spread of ballistic missiles, India has joined The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC).
  • It is a voluntary legally non-binding multilateral body aimed at preventing the spread of ballistic missiles that can deliver weapons of mass destruction.
  • "India’s joining the Code signals our readiness to further strengthen the global non-proliferation regimes,” Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson of the Ministry told journalists.
  • In recent years, the HCoC has been focused on West Asia, South Asia and the East Asia due to the rising missile and nuclear arms race among rival powers.
  • In the latest meeting of the HCoC which concluded on May 29, a special mention was made of the increased number of missile launches by North Korea in 2015.


  • Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States, the Home Ministry signed an agreementto join the global terror database maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) of the U.S.
  • An arrangement between the authorised governmental agencies of the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America for exchange of terrorist screening information was signed.
  • The U.S. has already finalised such agreements with 30 countries and the Terrorist Screening Center has details of 11,000 terror suspects on its database, including nationality, date of birth, photos, finger prints (if any) and passport number.
  • Under this arrangement, both sides will give each other access to terrorism screening information through designated contact points, subject to domestic laws and regulations.
  • The proposal was initially made by the U.S. in 2012, but had made little progress due to objections raised by security agencies.
  • The Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) had opposed giving the United States unhindered access to the database of terror suspects in India.


  • The official committee on constitutional reforms in Sri Lanka has not been able to arrive at a consensus while making recommendations on several contentious areas such as the nature of state, religion, merger of provinces and land powers.
  • Despite this, the 20-member committee has come up with an exhaustive Bill of Rights and provisions for curtailment of powers of the office of Governor, a subject that has been of great interest to the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
  • It covers 32 types of rights, ranging from right to life (not included in the 1978 Constitution) to freedom of religion to rights of people with diverse sexual and gender identities.
  • In many ways, views of the committee also presented a microcosm of diversities of views and positions in society.
  • On the issue of religion, the committee points out that despite the existing constitutional position of providing Buddhism “the foremost place”, the Supreme Court has called Sri Lanka a “secular State”.
  • The committee is also for retaining the present national flag or designing one without any reference to ethnicity, while representing Sri Lankan collective life, or framing a new flag symbolising the equality of all ethnic groups.
  • Terming the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces as “the most controversial”, the committee makes six recommendations.
  • One of them is for allowing the current structure of nine provinces with constitutional provisions for power- sharing.


  • U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Singapore ahead of a regional security summit likely to be dominated by China’s continued military build up in the South China Sea.
  • His attendance at this weekend’s Shangri-La Dialogue is part of a broader U.S. diplomatic push to build and maintain alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, which America sees as key to its own long-term economic and security interests.
  • In the year since the last summit, China has stepped up its maritime patrols across the South China Sea and built up a series of military bases on small islands it reclaimed from the ocean.
  • Mr. Carter has spoken forcefully about China’s military moves in the South China Sea and last week said Beijing risked building a “Great Wall of self-isolation”.
  • China has indicated it may soon declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that would require civilian aircraft to identify themselves to military controllers in the region.


  • German lawmakers passed a resolution recognising the First World War massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide, defying Turkey’s warnings that the vote could hurt ties.
  • Only one MP voted against and another abstained, as Parliament approved overwhelmingly by a show of hands the resolution titled “Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in 1915 and 1916”.
  • Turkey, however, recalled its envoy to Germany and summoned the German charge d'affaires to a meeting at the foreign ministry in Ankara.
  • The resolution, put forward by the ruling left-right coalition and the opposition Greens, carries the contentious word throughout and also puts partial blame on the German Empire.
  • The “genocide” recognition comes at a particularly awkward time as Germany and the European Union are relying on Turkey to help stem a record influx of migrants even as tensions are rising between both sides over human rights and other issues.
  • Acknowledging Turkey’s fury over the Bundestag move, political leaders argued, however, that a clear recognition of historical facts was a key step to healing old wounds.
  • Berlin has until now not taken a clear position on the WWI massacre, and President Joachim Gauck had been the highest-ranking German official who has called the killings a “genocide”.
  • His speech last year during commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the killings had drawn fire from Turkey.
  • The issue is particularly sensitive in Germany, as it has special ties with Ankara not least due to its three-million-strong ethnic Turkish population which settled following a massive “guest worker” programme in the 1960s and 1970s.


  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has told commercial banks to ‘immediately’ put in place a cyber security policy, duly approved by the board, in the wake of increasing cyber attacks in the financial system.
  • The policy would also include setting up an adaptive incident response, management and recovery framework to deal with adverse incidents/disruptions, if and when they occur, according to the central bank.
  • “There is an urgent need to bring the board of directors and top management in banks up to speed on cyber-security related aspects, where necessary and hence banks are advised to take immediate steps in this direction,” according to the statement.
  • Banks have been asked to formulate a Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) which should be a part of the overall board-approved strategy.
  • “CCMP should address the following four aspects—Detection, Response, Recovery and Containment.”
  • The central bank has observed that with the use of technology by banks gaining momentum, the number, frequency and impact of cyber incidents/attacks had increased manifold in the recent past.
  • The regulator has emphasised that the cyber security policy should be distinct and separate from the broader IT policy/IS Security policy so that it can highlight the risks from cyber threats and the measures to address or mitigate these risks.
  • The Reserve Bank of India said it had observed banks were hesitant to share information on cyber security-related incidents.


  • Government plans to set up 250 small agro-processing clusters at an estimated cost of over Rs.5,000 crore, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said.
  • After getting required approvals, the Food Processing Ministry will invite expressions of interest from public and private players.


  • OPEC decided to keep oil gushing after a moderate recovery in the crude eased the pressure to limit output, with Saudi Arabia saying the cartel is “very satisfied” with the oil market.
  • A final statement from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, after a meeting in Vienna, made clear that the 13-nation group had not set a new output target.
  • It said that since its last meeting in December, “crude oil prices have risen by more than 80 per cent, supply and demand is converging and oil and producer stock levels in the OECD have recently shown moderation.”
  • Traditionally OPEC, which pumps around a third of the world's oil, has cut production to boost falling prices.
  • But in the most recent drop, tumbling from over $100 in 2014 to close to $25 in January, OPEC — driven by Riyadh — has changed tack, keeping oil flowing to maintain market share and squeeze competitors.
  • It has taken some time — straining even Saudi Arabia's finances, to say nothing of on-the-brink OPEC member Venezuela — but the tactic now appears to be working at last.
  • Non-OPEC output is falling and prices last week briefly rose above $50 for the first time in six months, although they have softened slightly since.


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 June 2016 03:00