Saturday, 11 June 2016 02:39


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11 - JUNE - 2016



Lakshadweep signed 24x7 Power for All document. It became the first Union Territory (UT) to sign the document which aims to provide each household access to electricity through 24x7 Power supply by 2019.

Key Features of the Document

• It chalks out a plan to increase solar capacity of the region from 2.15 MW to 8.45 MW.

• The plan also envisions reduction of AT & C losses from current level of 21 percent to 6.7 percent till 2019 by increasing the collection efficiency up to 99 percent.

• As a part of energy efficiency measures, 1 lakh LED bulbs will be distributed by UT administration through Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and Incandescent lamps/CFL bulbs will be replaced with LED bulbs under UJALA programme.

• In addition to that 3000 conventional street lights will be replaced with LED street lights.

• Union Government is committed to improve the quality of life of its citizens through higher electricity consumption.

24x7 Power for All

• It is a major step in the direction to provide each household access to electricity, 24x7 Power supply by 2019.

• It is a joint initiative of union Government with respective State Governments for preparation of State specific documents for providing 24x7 power supply to all households /homes, industrial & commercial consumers and adequate supply of power to Agricultural consumers as per state policy.

• As on 27 May 2016, 22 States have already signed the ‘24x7 Power For All’ Documents.

• Implementation of the plan envisaged in the document is under progress, which is being jointly monitored by the State and the Union Governments.

• Successful implementation of these plans will ensure reliable and affordable power round the clock to all the consumers.


Union Power Ministry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched India’s first integrated web portal.

The portal (www.nzeb.in) was designed to promote and mainstream Net Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) in India.

Special Features of the Portal

• The portal is first of its kind and provides complete information about Net Zero Energy Buildings that generate as much energy as they use.

• It will help to achieve near-zero energy status through the use of efficient lighting and equipment, integration of renewable energy technologies, and best practice design strategies.

• The portal also hosts the NZEB Alliance, an industry-wide body setup to drive the Indian markets toward highly energy-efficient buildings.

• This portal will provide a wealth of information for policymakers, developers, architects, engineers, sustainability consultants, and academia.

• It will also allow the vibrant Indian building industry to leapfrog towards energy efficiency standards and practices.

Net Zero Energy Building

• A net-zero energy building (NZEB) also known as a zero-energy building, zero net energy (ZNE) building, or net zero building.

• It is a building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site or in other definitions by renewable energy sources elsewhere.

• Zero-energy buildings can be part of a smart grid. Some advantages of these buildings are as follows:

• Integration of renewable energy resources

• Integration of plug-in electric vehicles

• Implementation of zero-energy concepts


Pakke Tiger Reserve received the 'India Biodiversity Award 2016' in one of its four categories in Mumbai. The reserve is in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme of the Pakke Tiger Reserve was awarded the prize under Conservation of threatened speciescategory.

Besides this, Hong Niitii, Lower Subansiri was awarded under category IV Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) award.

Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme

• It is a collaboration of Ghora-Aabhe Society, Nature Conservation Foundation and the State Forest Departments.

• Under this programme, urban citizens contribute money to protect hornbill nests around Pakke Tiger Reserve.

• It is a major step towards conservation of four hornbill species that are found in the adjoining areas of the Tiger Reserve.

India Biodiversity Awards

• These awards are joint initiative of Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and United Nations Development programme (UNDP).

• It recognises the contribution of the stakeholders towards the biodiversity conservation.

• The four categories in which the awards given are Conservation of Threatened SpeciesSustainable use of biological resources,Successful models for access and benefit sharing and Biodiversity Management Committees.

• Each category winner receives a cash prize of 1 lakh rupees while the runners up receive 50000 rupees.


The Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully test-fired the land-attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. It was test fired from a defence base in the western sector at the Pokaran in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

About the Test

• The flight conducted met its mission parameters in a copybook manner and the weapon hit and annihilated the designated target.

It is maiden air launch from a fighter aircraft.

The Indian Army and Navy have already inducted the BrahMos missile system. The accuracy in mountain warfare mode of the missile system was re-established in an exercise conducted by the Indian Army in the eastern sector in 2015 and the test was conducted in April 2016.

About BrahMos missile

• BrahMos missile was developed by an Indo-Russian joint venture (JV) after the two countries signed an agreement in February 1998.

• It has derived its name from the names of two rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva Rivers of the two countries.

• The nine-metre long missile can travel at a speed of Mach 2.8(that is, three times the speed of sound).

• It is the fastest missile in the world which has a flight range of up to 290 kilometers and carries a conventional warhead of 200 kilograms to 300 kilograms.

• It delivers with high-precision, devastating power at supersonic speed.

• It operates on fire and forgets principal and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets.


Bharti Enterprises founder and Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal received 2016 Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award.

He was one of the five recipients of the year. the others include Mary Callahan, CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset Management; Alan F. Horn, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios; W. James McNerney Jr., retired chairman of The Boeing Company;   and Thomas J. Tierney, former worldwide managing director of Bain & Company and chairman and cofounder of The Bridgespan Group.

About Sunil Bharti Mittal

• He is the founder, chairman and Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises, which has interests in telecom, financial services, retail and agri business.

• The Group flagship Bharti Airtel, with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa and has customer base of over 275 million.

• It is India’s largest telecom company and world’s third largest mobile operator.

• He is listed as the eight richest person in India by Forbes with a Net worth of 7 billion dollars.

• He serves on the Prime Minister of India’s Council on Trade & Industry.

• He also held various prestigious positions like Vice-Chairman of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

• He was also felicitated with India’s third highest civilian honour, Padma Bhushan in 2007.

About Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award

The award is presented annually since 1968 and is the highest honour given to any alumni of the institute.

The award confers on who have contributed significantly to their companies and communities while upholding the highest standards and values.


Aditi Krishnakumar, an Indian woman author in Singapore, won the 'Scholastic Asian Book Award'. She was awarded for her 32000-word manuscript "Codex: The Lost Treasure of the Indus".

She won the 10000 Singapore dollar award for her manuscript that carried contemporary feel and roots deep into history of India. The manuscript will be published by Scholastic Asia.

Aditi Krishnakumar

• She has worked in the finance industry in India and Singapore.

• She has been living in Singapore for the past three year.

• At present, she is working with Agent Lila Raman to decipher the mysterious script of the Indus Valley civilization.

• Her first book, A Whole Summer Long, was published in 2012.

• Additionally, another of her manuscripts was shortlisted for the Scholastic Asian Book Award in 2014.

Runner Ups of the award

1st runner up: Tina Cho from South Korea was selected for Chasing Freedom

2nd runner-up: Stephanie Ho Lee-Ling from Singapore for Island Girl

Scholastic Asian Book Award

The Scholastic Asian Book Award (SABA) is the joint initiative of the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) and Scholastic Asia. The NBDCS, founded in 1969, promotes reading and literature, and champions’ literary works of Asians.

Scholastic, founded in 1920, is the largest children's books publisher and distributor in the world.


The Scholastic Asian Book Award is awarded every two years to an unpublished manuscript (original or translation) targeted at children aged 6 to 18 years, written by writers of Asian descent, living in Asia, who are 18 years of age and above.


The President of India Pranab Mukherjee presented the Malti Gyan Peeth Puraskar for the year 2016 at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The award was conferred upon 15 teachers from Punjab for their rare contribution in the field of education.

The awardees were facilitated with 1 lakh rupees cash, certificate of excellence, a Robe of Honour and a medal.

The initiative was mainly taken to promote the quality teaching in the schools besides encouraging the hundred percent attendance of girl students in the government schools.

About Malti Gyan Peeth Puraskar

The Malti Gyan Peeth Puraskar was instituted by Mohinder Singh Syngle Education & Research Society.

It was instituted in honour of its founder Malti Mohinder Singh Syngle, eminent educationist and social worker.

Every year, government school teachers from Punjab Government’s High & Higher Secondary Schools receive this award for their contributions in the field of education.

The teachers already awarded with the National or State Awards were not considered for this award.


Indian-American scientist Arnab De received the prestigious Springer Theses award. He was awarded for his research in which he developed transgenic mice to study a critical tumor-suppressor called A20.

His thesis was nominated by New York’s Columbia University.

Earlier, his project in which he developed peptide-based prodrugs as therapeutics for diabetes, had received the Young Investigator Award at the American Peptide Symposium.

He dedicated his PhD thesis to cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar and his alma mater, Kolkata’s Presidency University.

Springer Theses Award

The Springer Theses Award is awarded by Springer, a leading global publisher of renowned scientific journals and books, to recognise outstanding PhD research.


• It publishes internationally top-ranked research institutes best thesis annually for publication in the book series: “Springer Theses: Recognising Outstanding PhD research”.

• Winners also get a cash prize of 500 euros (555 US dollars).

• The research work was highlighted by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Reports.

• Only research considered to be of ‘fundamental relevance to a general readership’ is chosen to be highlighted by EMBO.


  • The Union government is working to develop a suite of Bt cotton genes that can be integrated into traditional varieties and be made available to farmers as a viable alternative to the current technology.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has for many years unsuccessfully tried to develop Bt cotton, which contains insecticidal genes sourced from a soil bacterium and targeted at key cotton pests.
  • There were already several genes available in various labs and stages of development, but the aim was “that India not be dependent on foreign technology”, said a top official privy to the project but who did not want to be identified.
  • Agriculture Ministry mooting a change in the way seed companies and seed-technology companies such as the MMB share royalty, technology and determine the price as which farmers buy cotton seed.
  • Different arms of government are split over whether seed tech companies have the right to, or are obliged to license, their technology to seed companies on request.
  • Cotton is the only genetically-modified seed that’s legally allowed in India.
  • Gm food crops such as brinjal and mustard, which are in advanced stages of regulatory clearances, are yet to become available to farmers due to stringent opposition by anti-GM activist groups.
  • Historically multinational companies’ research budgets far outweighed that of Indian research agencies.


  • U.S. government handed over the Chola age Sripuranthan Ganesha idol and 200 other stolen Indian artefacts to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • It was in 2013 that, an accountant in the shipping sector, matched the photograph of the idol taken by the French Institute at Puducherry (IFP) with that of an idol housed in the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) in Ohio, U.S.
  • In an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Homeland Security department into art dealer Subhash Kapoor’s questionable dealings, the Ganesha idol was among the many object d’arts found to be stolen and housed in museums across the world.
  • In the case of the Ganesha idol, Mr. Sundaresan’s tip off and painstaking matching of pictures (showing at least 19 similarities between the idol in Toledo and the picture kept by the IFP) were decisive in terms of establishing that the art work was stolen.


  • The Union government is planning big for developing Sabarimala into an international pilgrim centre.
  • The Centre will set up a joint committee comprising representatives of the Union Ministries of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Water Resources, Tourism, Railways, Road Transport, and Highways and Shipping soon to study various aspects of the development,
  • The sacred grove of Sabarimala is situated in the buffer zone of the Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Ministry will have to take a key role in initiating any development programme there.
  • High security for the temple as well as the pilgrims, full insurance cover for pilgrims, and foolproof pilgrim facilities would be major attractions of the Centre’s proposal, he said.
  • The administrative body of the temple is the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), a constitutional body headed by nominees of the State government.
  • The Centre will have to constitute a statutory board chaired by a high-ranking civil servant for Sabarimala administration once it is declared a national pilgrim centre.
  • Mr. Rajasekharan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was keen on Sabarimala development and funds would never be a problem for it. Mr. Modi is likely to assign the task of Centre-State coordination on Sabarimala to a senior Union Minister.
  • Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu expressed his willingness to make additional fund allocation for the Sabari Rail project if the State promised its active cooperation for the project.


  • The recent India-Iran deal to develop the strategic Chabahar Port is part of India’s “larger geostrategic calculations” to gain access to West Asia and Central Asia and to counter the Pakistan-China plan to develop Gwadar port, a media report said.
  • The sea-land route of Chabahar Port is designed to bypass Pakistan. Indian strategists suggest that India can take further advantage of its ties with Iran and Afghanistan and gain new leverage,” the report said.
  • It added that Indian also views the investment “as a counterweight against Pakistan’s Gwadar Port”.
  • However, it said that “India may not be able to meet its generous offers and high-sounding rhetoric”.
  • The report said that if India expected too much from Iran, it is “bound for disappointment”.


  • Unidentified assailants shot and hacked to death a Hindu priest in Jhenaidah in southwestern Bangladesh in an attack that bore the hallmarks of the recent murders of activists and writers in the country.
  • Farmers discovered Mr. Ganguly’s body in a rice field near his home in the village of Naldanga. The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the murder.
  • In the last two days, two other people have been killed in a similar manner. The wife of a senior police officer, who was involved in counter-terrorism, was stabbed and shot in the head in the port city of Chittagong.
  • Bangladesh has seen a rise in suspected Islamist attacks in the last two years targeting bloggers, online activists, secular intellectuals, and members of religious minorities.
  • The IS and the al Qaeda have reportedly claimed responsibility for many of these attacks, though the government has kept denying any “organisational presence” of such terrorist groups in the country.
  • Meanwhile, Bangladesh police launched a deadly crackdown on Islamist militants.
  • Two “high-ranking” members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) were shot dead in a battle in Dhaka and another was killed in a northwestern district, police told AFP.
  • Home Minister again linked the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party to the attacks, saying they were part of a wider conspiracy that also involved Mossad.
  • Amnesty International demanded "a prompt, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation" into the recent killings, adding that the government must “protect those still under threat”.


  • Americans voted in the last major State primaries of the 2016 White House race from New Jersey to California, after delegate counts showed Hillary Clinton clinching the Democratic nomination.
  • Ms. Clinton declare victory as the first woman in U.S. history to secure the presidential nomination of a major party, putting her on course for a showdown with New York billionaire Donald Trump,
  • Her challenger Bernie Sanders ignored media reports that she has already clinched the magic number of delegates.
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — who was the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives and is a California super-delegate this year — formally endorsed Ms. Clinton shortly before voting kicked off in her home State.
  • The comments came on the heels of a weekend phone call with President Barack Obama, who has stayed out of the Democratic primary to date but is poised to endorse Ms. Clinton as early as this week.


  • It may take more than a year for the India-Japan civil nuclear agreement to fructify.
  • This is because the National Diet, the Japanese legislature, failed to take up the agreement in the summer legislative session that ended on June 1, even the “technical details” were yet to be finalised.
  • The pact, firmed up during the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in December 2015, needs the legislative approval as the Japanese government wants to convince parties in the Diet.
  • Bilateral discussion on the nuclear deal is likely to take place during the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Tokyo. However, the visit has not been finalised so far.


  • U.S. President Barack Obama held discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on measures to bring the landmark Paris climate change agreement into force as quickly as possible.
  • They also discussed financing for India’s ambitious plans to expand solar power and clean energy.
  • Mr. Modi said the U.S. and India were cooperating on issues of global concern, including nuclear security, climate change and terrorism.
  • The two leaders also welcomed the start of preparatory work on six nuclear reactors in India, a key step in closing the first deal stemming from a U.S.-India civil nuclear accord, which was struck over a decade ago.
  • A joint statement said that India and the U.S. Export-Import Bank intend to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project and would work to finalize agreements by June 2017.
  • Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • India and the U.S agreed to initiate domestic processes to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change — negotiated by over 190 countries in December 2015 — and complete the process within this year.
  • Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCL) and nuclear reactor builders, Westinghouse, will immediately start the engineering and site design work on six reactors to be set up in Gujarat under an early work agreement; all commercial agreements will be completed by June 2017.
  • The Obama administration has already made a public commitment that it would seek to ratify the Paris agreement. India’s ratifying the deal — which will be a decision of the Union Cabinet — will take it closer to coming into force.
  • At 6.96 per cent of the total global emissions, India ranks fourth after China, the U.S. and the EU on the list of polluters.
  • India came closer to the first of four nuclear regimes it is trying to gain entry into, with countries belonging to the 34-member Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) raising no objection to India’s membership later this year.
  • Meanwhile, the MTCR chair has now begun the next stage of formalities for India, which require each of the 34 member countries to send a “diplomatic note” stating formally that they accept India’s membership.
  • India’s membership had been blocked in 2015 by Italy that seemed to link it to the standoff over the detention of the Italian marines. With the return of the second marine to Rome, Italy is no longer blocking the consensus.
  • India is also hopeful of building on the MTCR entry with membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  • Meanwhile, China has insisted on consensus among the NSG members over India's admission. “Members still differ on the accession of countries which are not party states to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).


  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan cited the April retail inflation “surprise” as the key factor that prompted the central bank to leave interest rates unchanged.
  • The central bank chief said the RBI was also committed to providing liquidity as required by the banking system and observed that the Centre could also aid credit flows through a timely infusion of capital into “constrained” public sector banks.
  • On growth, the central bank said some high frequency indicators for April point to a firming recovery, although it is still uneven.
  • The central bank said the transmission of the monetary policy as well as timely capital infusion in the banks remained critical for growth to revive.
  • Banks have been reluctant to cut lending rates which prompted the central bank to ask banks to shift to a new loan pricing mechanism — Marginal Cost of funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) from April.
  • Mr. Rajan said the RBI will review the implementation of the new framework .
  • The RBI also said there could be outflows of about $20 billion once the foreign currency non-resident (bank) deposits, which were garnered during the 2013 currency crisis, mature.
  • While the RBI has covered those requirements in the forward markets, Mr. Rajan said there could still be a shortage of dollars and assured market participants of dollar supply in case of extreme volatility.
  • On the issue of cleaning up of banks’ balance sheets, Mr. Rajan reiterated that the central bank will not reconsider any kind of regulatory forbearance.
  • He said the RBI is in discussion with the government to facilitate flow of credit to projects with appropriate capital structures.


  • India will soon submit a formal proposal before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in services.
  • The objective of the proposed TFA in Services is to ease the flow of global services trade, including temporary movement of software, accounting, medical and consulting professionals as well as similar skilled workers.
  • The WTO DG and most of the trade ministers welcomed the idea. The DG wanted India to formally submit a proposal.
  • Once India will have a TFA in services at the WTO-level, it will even pave the way for better negotiations on services at the bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
  • In the formal proposal, India is likely to push for a clear distinction between temporary movement of professionals and (permanent) migration.
  • This is important because India is strong in terms of skilled white-collared workers and professionals from streams like IT, medical and para-medical services, and architecture.
  • Therefore, their easier movement to other countries for short-term projects has been high on its agenda.
  • A global pact on services trade facilitation will also help in providing greater clarity in case of disputes arising out of visa-related restrictions, the Minister said.
  • India and the US are currently engaged in a dispute at the WTO level after Washington increased visa fees for H-1B and L-1 categories which are extensively used by Indian IT companies.
  • Meanwhile, countries including China are pushing for a ‘TFA in Investment’ at the WTO level, but that proposal has not received much support, sources said, adding that several developed countries also wanted discussions at the WTO level on e-commerce and global value chains.
  • India and several other countries have already ratified a ‘TFA in Goods’ for easier movement (including release and clearance) of goods across borders.


  • With an aim to make Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) more attractive to investors, markets regulator SEBI plans to relax its norms to allow these trusts to invest more in under-construction assets and have a larger number of sponsors.
  • SEBI had put in place its regulations for REITs in September 2014 but these trusts have not generated enough interest among investors and industry players who have been seeking further measures to make them attractive.
  • While the government has already announced various tax-related and other sops for REITs, SEBI has now decided to further amend its regulations by taking into account representations received from various quarters.
  • A proposal to amend REIT Regulations would be placed before SEBI’s Board next week, after which a consultation paper would be floated for seeking further comments from various stakeholders before making the final changes to the norms.
  • A consultation process is already underway for making the InViT (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations.
  • India’s real estate sector has grown rapidly in recent years and the growing scale of operations of corporate sector has increased the demand for commercial buildings, office spaces, shopping centres, warehouses and conference centres.
  • Among the proposed changes, SEBI plans to remove the restriction on the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) to invest in other SPVs holding the assets, which in turn would allow REITs to invest in a holding company owning stake in SPVs.
  • It is being proposed that the REIT would hold controlling interest and at least 50 per cent equity in the Holding Company. The Holding Company can in turn hold controlling interest and at least 50 per cent equity in underlying SPV.
  • A large proportion of real estate projects in India are financed by financial institutions on project-finance basis where lenders require a pledge on shares of the SPV.
  • In such cases, if the SPV is held directly by the SPV, the lenders would want pledge of the SPV shares held by the REIT and this might not be attractive for REIT investors with the existing restriction.
  • Currently, an SPV is required to hold at least 80 per cent of its assets directly and cannot invest in other SPVs.
  • Another proposed move is to allow the REITs to have up to five sponsors.



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Last Updated on Monday, 13 June 2016 06:14