Thursday, 09 June 2016 03:32


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09 - JUNE - 2016



The Union Cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to the MoU between Indian and Japan for promoting sustainable, stable and low-carbon thermal power development in India.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will help India in formulating suitable policies and developing technologies involved in producing sustainable, stable and low-carbon thermal power.

The agreement will support Clean Coal Technology (CCT) for thermal power plants such as Ultra Super Critical (USC) and other environmental technologies.

It will also explore possibilities for acquisition of carbon credits with bilateral or multilateral offset schemes that are anticipated to be materialized in the future as a result of low-carbon power development.


Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced to open its first branch in India at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. IDB is headquartered at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The plans to set up the branch at Gujarat is part of MoU signed between India’s EXIM Bank  and IDB during Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April 2016. As part of the MoU a 100 million dollar line-of-credit was to be given to facilitate exports to IDB's member countries.

Besides, it also announced to provide 30 medical vans as part of IDB’s social sector initiatives. These vans will be used for the tribal areas of Chhota Udepur, Narmada and Bharuch in Gujarat, in the first phase.

This plan is part of 55 million dollar pact signed between IDB and Rashtriya Institute of Skill and Education (RISE) to provide medical care to rural poor in India. As part of it, IDB will provide 350 fully-equipped medical vans (mobile clinics) to India

The IDB is also keen at investing in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of Gujarat and in executing a project on Wakf properties in different countries.
Other than IDB, the government of Saudi Arabia is planning to set up BPOs for Saudi women with the support of India.

About Islamic Development Bank

• The Islamic Development Bank is an international financial institution was established in 1975.

• It was established in pursuance of the Declaration of Intent issued by the Conference of Finance Ministers of Muslim Countries held in Jeddah in December 1973.

• IDB's main objective is to foster the economic development and social progress of member countries as well as the Muslim community in accordance with principles of Shariah (Islamic law).

• The bank has 56 Islamic countries as its members.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released the report titled Actions on Air Quality. The report was released during the second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2).

As per the report, with the decline of the global air quality, action in some air quality areas points to political will to tackle this global public health emergency although current efforts still fall short.

Highlights of the report

• According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global urban air pollution levels increased by 8 percent between 2008 and 2013.

• More than 80 percent of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits, threatening lives, productivity and economies.

• The report found improvements in some areas such as access to cleaner cooking fuels and stoves, renewables, fuel sulphur content and public transport - pointing to a growing momentum for change.

• However, action in other areas is less impressive and will not halt the increase in air pollution that is threatening to claim many more lives.

• While policies and standards on clean fuels and vehicles could reduce emissions by 90 percent, only 29 percent of countries worldwide have adopted Euro 4 vehicles emissions standards or above.

• Less than 20 percent of countries regulate open waste burning, which is a leading cause of air pollution.

• On the positive side, 97 countries have increased the percentage of households that have access to cleaner burning fuels to more than 85 percent.

• At least 82 countries out of 193 have incentives that promote investment in renewable energy production, cleaner production, energy efficiency and pollution control equipment.

• The report, which looks at attempts to control Beijing's air pollution over a 15-year period, finds that steady improvements are being made.

• More than three billion people still use solid fuels and inefficient cook stoves, but the Seychelles was able to improve indoor air quality by transitioning the whole country from solid fuels to LPG.

• Only a quarter of countries have advanced fuels and vehicles standards, which can significantly reduce small particulate matter pollution, especially in cities.

• Electric cars have been on the increase, with strategies being developed in many countries around the world. One-third of all cars bought in Norway are now electric.

• Some countries and cities have been able to increase waste recycling, reducing the need to burn waste.

• The majority of countries around the world have now put in place national air quality standards. India, with major air quality challenges in many cities, has established air quality laws and regulation.

• Coal use fell from a peak of 9 million tonnes in 2005 to 6.44 million tonnes in 2013, while the 2013 levels of carbon monoxide dropped by 76 percent compared to 1998.

About UNEA

• The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world's most powerful decision-making body on the environment, and responsible for tackling some of the most critical issues of our time.

• The assembly holds the power to dramatically change the fate of the planet and improve the lives of everyone, impacting everything from health to national security.


Technology Academy Finland (TAF) declared American innovator Frances Arnold as winner of the 2016 Millennium Technology Prize.

The 1 million euro prize is awarded biennially and Arnold is the first female winner in its 12-year history.

Biochemical engineer Arnold received the 2016 Millennium Technology Prize in recognition of her discoveries that launched the field ofdirected evolution, which mimics natural evolution to create new and better proteins in the laboratory.

Who is Frances Arnold?

Frances Hamilton Arnold is an internationally recognized American scientist and engineer.

She pioneered methods of directed evolution to create useful biological systems, including enzymes, metabolic pathways, genetic regulatory circuits and organisms.

She obtained her BS in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 1979.

She earned her PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Her work has been recognized by many awards, including the 2011 Draper Prize and a 2013 National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

About Millennium Technology Prize

The Millennium Technology Prize is one of the world's largest technology prizes.

It is awarded once every two years by Technology Academy Finland, an independent fund established by Finnish industry and the Finnish state in partnership.

The prize is presented by the President of Finland.

The aims of the prize are to promote technological research and Finland as a high-tech Nordic welfare state.

The prize was inaugurated in 2004.

Stuart Parkin was the winner of the 2014 Millennium Technology Prize.


The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Zubin Irani launched the multilingual knowledge portal www.bharatvani.in at Lucknow. With its launch, Bharatavani became the largest online repository of dictionaries in India.

The portal has been launched in 22 scheduled languages, which eventually will be extended to 100 more languages. It will help the government to showcase the Indian culture and heritage to the world.

This project is in line with the HRD Ministry’s efforts to not only ensure universalization of education but also towards creation of a knowledge society in the digital age.

Key features of Bharatavani Portal

Aim: It aims at brining in people of India under one portal and establishes itself as a single point online window to knowledge in and about Indian Languages, dictionaries, language IT tools and textbooks.

Goal: Its goal is to bridge the Digital and language divide, with the idea to publish as well as involve people in the Open Knowledge movement.

One Point language resource: It is the first knowledge portal of its kind in India which focuses on becoming a single point source for multiple language learning, content and technology.

Window to language diversity: It will help the government to protect, preserve and include all Indian languages through technological development without discrimination. It will also allow government to take all measures required to develop the spread of Indian languages across communities and cultures.

Fostering National Integration: It is a multilingual and cross-lingual learning tool and aims at fostering integration by providing many cross-lingual grammar books, learning courses and others. It will also allow their transliteration.

Implementation: The project is being implemented by the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysuru.

Content Published on Bharatvaani Portal

The Bharatavani Portal would publish the content in the following main sections:

• Paa Thyapustaka Kosha: Textbooks by various authorities

• Jnana Kosha: Encyclopedic Knowledge base in all languages

• Shabda Kosh: Dictionaries, Glossaries, Terminologies

• Bhasha Kosha: Language learning books

• Suchanaa Praudyogikii Kosha: It tools (right now linked to TDIL)

Bahumaadhyama Kosha: Multimedia content

More than 130 Dictionaries, Glossaries and Terminology books have been posted on the web portal.

These dictionaries are available in text and PDF formats and its content is protected by fair usage clauses under the Indian Copyright Act.

Bharatavani App

Smriti Irani also launched Bharatavani Multi-lingual App called Bharatavani. It will enable users to search for one language text in another language as well as get meanings in different languages.

Currently the App has 35 multilingual Dictionaries and MHRD aims to extend it to 250 dictionaries in a year’s time. On the day of its launch, the app also became India’s first and largest multilingual dictionary.


The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved for financial restructuring of Hindustan Steel Works Construction Limited (HSCL). It also approved its takeover by National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC) to takeover HSCL.

The decision will benefit in economies of scale for NBCC and would assist in better manpower utilization. NBCC and HSCL will benefit from each other’s resources and expertise. HSCL will be able to fulfill its commitments of execution of projects and the orders.

Key features in financial restructuring of HSCL

• The existing paid up equity capital of the HSCL is 117.1 crore rupees.

• Under the proposal, Uni0on Government non-plan loan and plan loan along with accumulated interest thereon and outstanding guarantee fee worth 1502.2 crore rupees.

• It will be converted into equity and equity capital of the company will be raised to that extent.

• The paid up equity capital of the company will become 1619.3 crore. Against this as on 31 March 2015, the accumulated losses of 1585 crore rupees will set off.

• After writing off of the accumulated losses, the equity and paid up capital of HSCL will become 34.3 crore rupees.

Takeover of HSCL by NBCC

• NBCC will infuse funds of 35.7 crore rupees as equity into HSCL.

• HSCL will become subsidiary of NBCC with NBCC holding 51 percent equity holding.

• The shareholding of Government of India in HSCL will be reduced to 49percent.

• The equity and paid up capital of HSCL will become 70 crore rupees.


• HSCL was established in 1964 for construction of modern integrated steel plants.

• It diversified into other civil infrastructure construction projects over the years.

• HSCL started incurring losses since 1978-79 mainly due to absorption of large workforce of several PSUs and private companies increasing the workforce from 4100 in 1970 to 26537 in 1979.

• The revival package for HSCL approved by Union Government in 1999 and further attempts for financial restructuring the company were not successful.


The finding of the first of its kind survey conducted at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai were released by the Research Team of L.N.Welingkar Institute of Management (WE School) at Mumbai Customs House.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) engaged a WE School to conduct a survey of Passenger Satisfaction levels of customs clearance process at the Mumbai International Airport.

The scope of the Survey was to assess Passenger Satisfaction levels with the Customs Clearance Process, focusing on three aspects. Those three aspects were InformationBehaviour and Process.

A research team comprising of faculty members and research associates of WE School conducted the survey over a week on 24x7 basis in May 2016.

Key findings of the survey:

• Overall Satisfaction level at Mumbai Airport

The passengers were asked to rate their experience of Mumbai Customs vis-a- vis other international Airports across the world.

69% rated their experience with Mumbai airport customs as better as or somewhat better than other international airports.

15% rated on par.

About 16% felt that it was worse .

• Respondents appreciated the improvements in customs clearance process over the years. 35% of the respondents mentioned that clearance process has drastically improved while 37% mentioned that there is marginal improvement.

• Three areas where major improvement is expected by passengers are: (a)Access and availability of information, (b) Speed of processand (c) Greater transparency of duty assessment process.

• Customs assessment for TV and jewellery appeared to be less widely known and are two commodities causing maximum discord.

The manner of payment of assessed duty amount at the designated bank’s counter (SBI) and lack of alternative facility to pay duty by Debit/Credit card/ Cash Card & Foreign exchange rate differential vis-à- vis others exchange operators was another cause of Passenger dissatisfaction.

The study found that lack of information awareness has a direct bearing on passenger satisfaction levels.

• Only 27% were Fully Aware of the Indian customs rules and regulations while the vast majority was either partly aware or unaware of the legal requirements. Only 17% of the passengers were found to be accessing Indian Customs website for information, while the rest relied on various other sources, which may not be fully authentic and reliable.

• 43% of the passengers preferred medium of mobile phone for seeking information. Only 50% of passengers were aware that the Baggage Declaration Forms had been withdrawn, which was a major simplification undertaken recently, with 68% welcoming the move as a positive initiative.

The study has identified specific actions to address the information awareness gaps, prominent among them being Web promotion and optimisation, mobile App based information dissemination and increased use of social media.

• 77% of the passengers stated that they did not face any difficulty or harassment.

The study revealed that passengers are sensitive to the time they spend on the entire Customs Clearance Process.

In the case of Green Channel passengers, threshold time is up to 15 minutes while in the case of Red Channel Passengers, threshold time appeared to creep in the 15 to 29 minutes time interval.


  • India and Qatar agreed to share intelligence to combat ‘hawala’ transactions and terror financing as the two countries signed seven agreements.
  • The two sides highlighted the need to “isolate” the sponsors and supporters of terrorism and agreed that urgent action against all such entities which support terrorism and use it as an instrument of policy, must be taken.
  • Two sides decided to constitute an inter-ministerial high-level joint committee to regularly review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.
  • An MoU was signed between the Finance Intelligence Unit-India (FIU) and Qatar Financial Information Unit to share intelligence on illegal movement of money, termed ‘hawala’
  • There is a lot of money flow and investment from Qatar. A number of black money investigations have taken Indian authorities to Qatar’s shores and the MoU is seen as a move to help combat money offences.
  • Under this pact, the two sides also agreed to exchange financial intelligence to combat terrorism financing and other economic offences.
  • They asserted that acts of violence and extremism cannot be justified, regardless of their motivation.


  • All India Civil Services topper Tina Dabi opines newspaper reading is a must for all the aspirants of all India services.
  • Ms. Tina said that there were no short-cuts to the examination.
  • A packed Hari Hara Kala Bhavan listened to her at the felicitation function for achieving the unique feat of first SC/ST candidate to secure first rank in first attempt in the Civil Services examination.
  • Deputy Chief Minister K. Srihari and former judge Chandraiah said Ms. Tina’s achievement once again proved that given an opportunity anyone can come up trumps.


  • The death of Col. Santosh Yashwant Mahadik while battling militants in the forests of Kupwara in Kashmir instilled in his 32-year-old widow a single-minded determination to take forward his work by joining the Army.
  • Swati Mahadik is set to don the olive green uniform after clearing the gruelling Service Selection Board (SSB) examination.
  • She will undergo training at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai.
  • To realise her aim stated so plainly with such a powerful directness at her husband’s funeral, Ms. Mahadik displayed the rare quality of moral courage to sublimate her personal pain for an ideal her husband had passionately fought.
  • "Her daughter Kartiki is in Std. VI and she has been sent to a boarding school at Dehradun and son Swarajya is studying in a boarding school at Panchgani.


  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is on visit to Mangolia, sandwiched between undemocratic China and increasingly authoritarian Russia, the desire for deeper relations with US is mutual.
  • Mr. Kerry’s stop in this nation of 3 million people included heaps of praise for its unlikely democratic story.
  • But the top American diplomat also pushed for greater transparency in Mongolia, a sensitive issue given the foreign scramble for its rich resource deposits.
  • He also reached Beijing for annual U.S.-China strategic and economic talks.
  • Reports are suggesting China may establish an air defence zone in the contested South China Sea.
  • Mr. Kerry warned against what he said would be a “provocative and destabilising act”.
  • Such action would raise tension between China and its Asian neighbours, he said, and undermine China’s commitment to diplomatically resolve disputes over islands and maritime claims.
  • The matter is likely to be a major focus of discussions in the next days.


  • The Saudi-led coalition fighting Shia rebels in Yemen rejected a UN report that placed it on an annual blacklist over the deaths of hundreds of children in air strikes.
  • The report, released on Thursday by the office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said 785 children had been killed and 1,168 injured in Yemen last year, blaming the Saudi-led coalition for 60 per cent of the toll.


  • Government will come out with revised IIP and WPI indices by the end of this year with a new base year of 2011-12 in order to make them more representative of the changing economic scenario.
  • The present indices of IIP and WPI have base year of 2004-05.
  • As part of the revision, the basket of items and weightage assigned to different entries on the basis of which indices is computed will be updated, he said.
  • With the new series in place, both the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI) will become more comparable with the GDP numbers than it is currently, he said.
  • The National Statistical Commission has recommended to revise the base year of all economic indices every five years.
  • Government had last revised these indices in 2011 with the base year of 2004-05.
  • In addition to this, the Chief Statistician also informed that the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) is working on bringing out an index for the services sector.


  • Pegging India’s ‘black economy’ at over Rs.30 lakh crore or about 20 per cent of total GDP, a new study said it has been contracting gradually over the years but still remains large.
  • Besides, a crackdown on black money has made the cost of capital costlier in the black economy with the lending rates having risen to as high as 34 per cent, from about 24 per cent a year ago, as per the study by Ambit Capital Research.
  • The study said that the crackdown has had some “unintended consequences” in form of an increase in preference for cash in its physical form and a notable decline in the usage of formal banking channels with record low deposit growth
  • It said the size of the India’s black economy expanded rapidly over the 1970s and 1980s, but since then had been contracting at a gradual pace and is now estimated at USD around 20 per cent of the country’s GDP.
  • The term ‘black economy’ typically refers to the economic activities outside formal banking channels and include cash transactions in high-value assets like gold and real estate.
  • A majority of black money is locked up in physical assets such as real estate and gold, it added.
  • Physical savings instruments have been historically preferred to financial savings instruments in India because purchase of physical assets can be funded using black money, while the purchase of financial assets can not be funded in such a manner due to a strong paper trail.
  • The report said that since the NDA government assumed power, there had been a clear step-up in checks around gold transactions and it has become increasingly difficult to park unaccounted cash in the form of jewellery or bullion.
  • Due to various measures taken by the government to tighten the noose around black money, there has been a clear drop in the prices of land and real estate and a decline in the appetite in gold, it said.
  • The crackdown has, however, resulted in an increase in the preference for cash in physical form and a notable decline in the usage of formal banking channels as evinced by the decline in bank deposits as well as usage of debit cards.


  • The Centre will soon establish an institutional framework for better collection and analysis of data on India’s services export and import.
  • The framework is likely to include setting up of a nodal agency for international trade data in services, creation of an international services trade business directory.
  • It will also include provisions mandating enterprises to report their international services trade to the proposed nodal agency, according to sources working on the proposed framework.
  • As a deterrent, there could be stringent penalties for misreporting and for failing to report.
  • To ensure legal certainty to the framework, there is a proposal to incorporate the above said provisions as amendments to the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008.
  • Besides, a few explicit additions on services export and import will be made to the questionnaires already being sent out regularly to enterprises by regulators of service sectors for collection of general data pertaining to these sectors.
  • The nodal agency on services trade data could be the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S, which currently compiles and analyses only goods trade data) or an entirely new one.
  • The objective of having the framework is to improve targeting of incentives based on services exports, besides firm up a superior strategy for the country to be used in negotiations on bilateral free trade agreements as well as on regional and multilateral trade pacts.
  • The services sector accounts for over half of India’s GDP and its foreign investment inflows as well as more than a quarter of its total trade.
  • India has also found a place in the top ten World Trade Organisation-member countries in services exports and imports.
  • Despite services being such a crucial part of the country’s economy, there has so far been no institutional framework on services trade data collection and analysis.
  • The government has been relying on the Reserve Bank of India for services trade data.
  • India has had a positive trade balance in services sector, with exports being more than imports.
  • The commerce ministry had said the net export of services for FY’16 was $69.6 billion. It was lower than net export of services of $76.6 billion during FY’15.
  • Though India’s goods trade deficit in FY’16 was $118.46 billion, the country’s overall trade deficit (goods and services trade) came down to $48.86 billion thanks to the net export of services worth $69.6 billion.


  • Novak Djokovic lauded French Open final victory over Andy Murray as ‘the biggest moment’ of his career.
  • Murray suffered an eighth Major final defeat in 10 appearances, five of which have been inflicted by Djokovic, but the Briton was quick to lavish praise on his opponent.
  • In all, eight men have completed the career Grand Slam but even Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson and Fred Perry were unable to claim all four at the same time.



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Last Updated on Friday, 10 June 2016 06:08