Home Daily Updates IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 22 - JUNE - 2016
IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 22 - JUNE - 2016
Thursday, 23 June 2016 03:58

 

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DAILY NEWS UPDATES

22- JUNE - 2016

NIIF, QATAR INVESTMENT AUTHORITY SIGNED MOU TO FACILITATE INVESTMENT IN INDIAN INFRASTRUCTURE SECTOR

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) Ltd. signed a MoU with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) to facilitate investment in Indian infrastructure sector.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Doha during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Qatar.

Features of the MoU

• Its objective is to facilitate QIA to study investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector in India.

• The QIA will develop a framework for exchange of information with regard to such investments opportunities, in order to enable both sides to decide on joint investments.

• The MoU will remain in effect for 12 months during which period, both parties will discuss and agree on the terms, principles, criteria for such investments.

• The NIIF shall share with QIA a pipeline of investment opportunities available in the infrastructure sector in India

About Qatar Investment Authority

• It is the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar.

• They are long-term investors and access investment opportunities across all geographical areas, sectors and asset classes.

• The majority of their investments are outside Qatar with assets spanning a wide range of sectors and spread across asset classes.

• The fund deploys a wide range of investment strategies and invests through a carefully selected network of top-tier fund managers.

About National Investment and Infrastructure Fund

• It was approved by the Union Cabinet in July 2015 to fund new and rejuvenate stressed projects so that stalled investment cycle is revived in the country.

• It was established as a Category II Alternate Investment Funds (AIF) as per the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

• It has an initial corpus of 20000 crore rupees which can be leveraged by infrastructure companies including Indian Rail Finance Corporation (IRFC) and National Housing Bank (NHB).

• Similar to the agreement with the QIA, the NIIF signed a MoU with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities in February 2016 to mobilize investments into the Indian infrastructure sector.

UNION GOVERNMENT RELEASES THE ROAD ACCIDENTS IN INDIA 2015 REPORT

The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari launched the report titled Road Accidents in India 2015. As per the report, road accidents have emerged as a major public health problem in India where almost 5 lakh accidents occurred last year killing 146000 people.

The report was compiled by the Transport Research Wing.

Highlights of the report

• The total number of road accidents increased by 2.5 percent from 489400 in 2014 to 501423 in 2015.

• The total number of persons killed in road accidents increased by 4.6 percent from 139671 in 2014 to 146133 in 2015.

• Road accident injuries have also increased by 1.4 percent from 493474 in 2014 to 500279 in 2015.

• The severity of road accidents, measured in terms of number of persons killed per 100 accidents has increased from 28.5 in 2014 to 29.1 in 2015.

• About 1374 accidents and 400 deaths take place every day on Indian roads which further translates into 57 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour  in our country.

• About 54.1 percent of all persons killed in road accidents were in the 15 -34 years age group during the year 2015.

• Thirteen top states namely Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, UP, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Telengana, Chattisgarh, West Bengal and Haryana accounted for 86.7 percent of all road accidents in the country.

• Around 83.6 per cent of all road accidents fatalities also occurred in these top thirteen states.

• The fifty Million Plus Cities accounted for a share of 22.1 percent in total road accidents in the country, 11.3 percent in total persons killed in road accidents and 16.4 percent people injured in road accidents.

• Mumbai had the highest number of road accidents while Delhi had the highest number of deaths due to road accidents.

• Accident severity in terms of percentage share of 50 Million Cities was 14.9 percent in 2015 as against 15.0 percent in 2014.

• Drivers’ fault has been revealed as the single most responsible factor for road accidents, accounted for 77.1 percent of total road accidents during 2015 as against 78.8 percent during 2014.

Background
Earlier in January 2016, Union Government unveiled measures to improve road safety across the country during the launch of the Road Safety Week in New Delhi.

PM MODI CONCLUDED FIVE-NATION TOUR TO AFGHANISTAN, QATAR, SWITZERLAND, THE USA AND MEXICO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded five-nation visit to Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico.

During the five-day tour between 4 June and 8 June 2016, Modi met with Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani; Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani; President of Swiss federation, Johann Schneider-Ammann; US President Barack Obama; and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieta.

During this visit, he held high level meetings on a wide range of bilateral issues and matters of regional and global concern. With US President, Swiss President and Mexico President, Modi discussed India's NSG membership issue and secured their constructive support.

Major Highlights of the visit to Afghanistan

• In Herat, Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani dedicated Afghan-India friendship dam, earlier known as Salma dam to the people.

• The project built by India at a cost 1700 crore rupees will irrigate 75 thousand hectares of land, generate 42 megawatt power and also supply drinking water in 620 villages.

• Afghan President conferred the highest civilian honour of Afghanistan, the Amir Amanullah Khan Award on Narendra Modi.

Major Highlights of the visit to Qatar

• The two nations signed 7 agreements in various fields.

• Prime Minister as a rare and special gesture shared meal with workers at a medical camp in Doha.

• The two sides agreed 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.

• Modi held detailed talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and addressed the business community of Qatar, a country which is India's largest supplier of LNG requirements, accounting for 65% of the country’s total imports in financial year 2015-16.

Major Highlights of the visit to Switzerland

• Prime Minister meets Indian scientists and students at CERN in Geneva.

• Delegation level talks were held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Switzerland President Johann Schneider Ammann in Geneva.

• Switzerland supported India's membership in the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

• Switzerland agreed to provide mutual support to India for becoming non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

• Switzerland agreed to help India in combating the menace of black money and tax evasion

• The country agreed to build Swiss style vocational and educational training centres in India that suit India's requirements.

• It also agreed to share clean technology and work on energy security and sustainable development.

Major Highlights of the visit to the US

• Modi addressed a joint session of the US Congress.

• He met the Congressional Leadership at Capitol Hills.

• He addressed the gathering at 40th AGM of US India Business Council in Washington.

• He interacted with think tanks in Washington.

• He attended ceremony for repatriation of cultural objects in Washington.

• He laid wreath at Space Shuttle Colombia Memorial at Arlington Cemetery in Washington.

• The two nations announced the creation of a 20 million dollar US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) initiative. The initiative will be equally supported by both and is expected to mobilize up to 400 million dollar to provide clean and renewable electricity to up to 1 million households by 2020.

• The two nations signed and exchanged 6 MoUs and 2 documents.

Modi was the fifth Indian prime minister to address a joint session of US lawmakers. Other four Prime Minister’s to address the joint session include Rajiv Gandhi (June 1985), P V Narasimha Rao (May 1994), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (September 2000), Manmohan Singh (July 2005).

Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the House and Senate separately in 1949 when he was the head of the interim government.

Major Highlights of the visit to Mexico

• Prime Minister meets Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico during his visit to Mexico

• Mexico is an important partner for India’s energy security. We are now looking to move beyond a buyer-seller relationship, and into a long-term partnership.'' - Prime Minister

• Foreign Ministers of the two countries were instructed to develop the roadmap of the Privileged Partnership suitable for the 21stCentury, in the framework of the Seventh Mexico-India Joint Commission Meeting to be held in Mexico in 2016.

NRDC INKS MOA WITH ANDHRA PRADESH GOVERNMENT TO ESTABLISH SMART AGRIBUSINESS PLATFORM NETWORKS

National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the AP Food Processing Society of Andhra Pradesh Government to establish Smart Agribusiness Platform Networks of Andhra Pradesh (SAPNAP).

These networks will strengthen the agribusiness and food-processing sector by focusing on creation of enabling ecosystem for accelerated growth of agribusiness by involving all the stakeholders.

Smart Agribusiness Platform Networks of Andhra Pradesh (SAPNAP)

• It is an initiative to increase food production and food processing units under AP Food Processing Policy 2015-20.

• It will have two key development platforms, they are:

(i) Smart Agribusiness Value-chains:

• These chains focus on intelligence, analytics, big data, innovations and partnerships.

• Farm-to-Fork value chains will be mapped and developed for existing and potential crops, commodities and products

(ii) Smart Agribusiness Incubators and Accelerators:

• These focuses on establishing 13 district level incubators, which will enable infrastructure and ecosystem for start ups, enterprise development and FPO mentoring.

• They will have Office or lab spaces, trial fields, common facilities, pilot equipment and start up ecosystem to help new enterprises take off.

National Research Development Corporation (NRDC)

• It is an enterprise of the department of Scientific & Industrial Research under Union Ministry of Science and Technology.

• It shall be the knowledge partner in the programme and would provide the required technologies, know-how, IPRs and other value added techno-commercial services to the start-ups of SAPNAP and linkages to the stakeholders of national and international level.

INDIA SIGNS EUROPE-LED CLAMPDOWN ON TAX EVASION AND CORRUPTION

India signed a Europe-led scheme that seeks to clampdown on tax evasion and corruption by committing to automatically exchange information on beneficial ownership.

With this, India joined a group of nearly 40 nations that are signatories of a scheme.

Under the scheme, the signatories commits to the initiative to automatically exchange information on beneficial ownership. The next stage will be for the development of a global standard for this exchange.

  • The scheme was announced in April 2015 by Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
  • The signatories to the scheme will have to provide one another free access to information on who ultimately owns companies.

Besides India, some of the other countries outside Europe on the list include Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mexico and the UAE. Most European countries except Switzerland are part of this automatic exchange mechanism.

It seems that the step is in the direction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 election pledge in which he said that he will recover billions of dollars sent to tax havens abroad to avoid income tax.

MTCR, NSG AND OTHER GLOBAL INITIATIVES AGAINST WMD & INDIA'S STANCE

India joined the Hague Code of Conduct (HCoC) against Ballistic Missile Proliferation as its 138th subscribing state. India joined it by notifying HCoC Central Contact, Vienna, through diplomatic channels.

India’s joining the Code signals its readiness to further strengthen global non-proliferation objectives. Its subscription reinforces its support for international missile non-proliferation.

Earlier, on 12 May 2016, India formally applied for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership that culminated the process began more than a decade ago with the signing of the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement or 123 Agreement.

Against this backdrop, we present a list of major global agreements, conventions and export control regimes that regulate and control various types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related technologies.

Grouping/Agreement

Objectives & Features

India’s Stance

Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG)

  • Group of nuclear supplier countries based on Non-Proliferation Principle
  • Mandate is to regulate nuclear exports & nuclear-related exports
  • Set up in 1974 as a response to Indian nuclear test
  • Being a signatory of NPT is an important criteria to join the elite club
  • Has 48 members including P5 of the UNSC

  • Applied for membership in May 2016
  • Sought exemption from NPT on grounds of clean track-record
  • India’s pledge of “no-first-use” policy will help in getting membership
  • Got support from all major members; China poses hurdle
  • Membership helps in lucrative global nuclear trade
  • Will get access to sensitive nuclear material & technologies
  • Big boost to domestic industries & clean energy initiatives

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

  • An informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries
  • Set up in 1987 by the G7 countries
  • Aims to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology
  • Focus on those that carry minimum payload of 500 kg & minimum of 300 km
  • Not a treaty and does not impose legally binding obligations on member
  • Has 34 members & China is not a member

  • Applied for membership but denied membership in October 2015
  • Major countries supported but Italy was reluctant (“due to rift on Marine case”)
  • Membership helps India in curbing global missile proliferation threat
  • More of strategic concern and no additional benefit in terms of trade
  • Because the group has no restrictions on trade with non-members

Wassenaar Arrangement

  • Set up in 1995 in Wassenaar (the Netherlands) & operation in 1996
  • Focus is on conventional arms & dual-use goods and technologies
  • Seeks to achieve peace and security through export controls
  • Has a 4-point criterion for membership
  • 41 members including the USA and Russia

  • Interested in joining this export control regime
  • Meets 3 of the four conditions needed to join
  • They are – Producer of arms; Adherence to non-proliferation policies
  • Third - Fully effective export controls (announced a list of 16 in August 2015)
  • Fourth - Yet to comply with SCOMET list criteria
  • Benefits – participation in trade and Play key role in deciding export regulations

Australia Group

  • Informal group set up in 1985
  • As a response to Iraq’s use of chemical weapons in 1984
  • To control the export of chemical and biological weapons
  • Key role in the conclusion of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1997
  • Willing to join the group with the USA’s backing
  • Ratified the CWC and set up a national authority in 2000
  • With membership, gets a chance in deciding export items list

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

  • To prevent the spread of nuclear weapons & weapons technology
  • Binding treaty and came into force in 1970 for 25 years
  • In 1995 extended indefinitely; Joined by 195 parties so far
  • Two categories Nuclear Weapon States (NWS), which are also P5, & Non-NWS
  • NWS are those that conducted tests before 1 January 1967

  • Unwilling to sign the treaty as it is biased towards NWS
  • NPT discriminatory because it enables development of weapons only by NWS
  • India, Israel and Pakistan are the major non-signatories
  • Signing of NPT is crucial as it linked to membership in other control regimes

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

  • Seeks to ban all nuclear explosions in all environments
  • Applicable to military as well as civilian purposes
  • Adopted by UN General Assembly in September 1996
  • Signed by 183 and ratified by 164
  • Not in force because not ratified by all 44 Annex II countries including India
  • Not a signatory to the convention
  • Because the USA signed and not ratified so far
  • Other non-signatories: Pakistan, North Korea & Myanmar

Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

  • Legally binding treaty that outlaws biological arms
  • In force since 1975 & has 174 states-parties
  • Non-signatory States – Israel and many African nations

Ratified the convention and strongly committed to not to produce the biological weapons

FORBES RELEASES 2016 WORLD'S 100 HIGHEST-PAID ATHLETES LIST

Forbes released the list of 2016 World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes. The list has been topped by soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo with earnings of 88 million US dollars.

The 100 top-earning athletes hail from 23 countries and compete in ten sports with Americans (65) and baseball players (26) are being the most numerous among all sports. Over the last 12 months, they banked a cumulative 3.15 billion US diollars out of which 29 percent of which came from endorsements and appearances.

Highlights of the list

• Ronaldo is only the second team athlete after Michael Jordan to rank as the top-paid since Forbes began tracking athlete earnings in 1990.

• Other soccer superstar Lionel Messi ranks No. 2 with earnings of 81.4 million US dollars. He earned bonuses from Barcelona and chief sponsor Adidas when he racked up his fifth FIFA player of the year award in January 2016.

• The NBA’s LeBron James ranks third with total earnings of $77.2 million and leads 18 basketball players on the list

• Roger Federer is the top-earning athlete in an individual sport with 67.8 million US dollars, ranks fourth followed by Basket ball player Kevin Durant with 56.2 million US dollars.

• Novak Djokovic lands in the top 10 for the first time at No. 6 with 55.8 million US dollars over the past 12 months.

• The two athletes Golfer Tiger Woods and boxer Floyd Mayweather who have dominated the top of Forbes’ annual look at the highest-earners in sports over the past decade and a half have dropped their ranks to No.12 and No. 16 respectively.

• Earlier to 2016 list, Tiger Woods landed the No. 1 spot for 12 times, while Floyd Mayweather was ranked among the first three places for the past four years.

• Serena Williams (No. 40) and Maria Sharapova (No. 88) are the only two women to make the cut in the list for the second straight year.

How the earnings are calculated?

• The earnings were calculated based on salaries, prize money and bonuses paid out between 1 June 2015, and 1 June 2016.

• Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12 month period based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders.

• Taxes or agents’ fees are not deducted and investment income in not included.

• The list only includes athletes active during the given period.

BP STATISTICAL REVIEW OF WORLD ENERGY 2016 RELEASED

The 65th edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy that sets out energy data for 2015 was released.

The review provides high-quality objective and globally consistent data on world energy markets, while the energy outlook makes projections to 2035. Its first edition was released in 1952

It revealed that in 2015 there were significant long-term trends in both the global demand and supply of energy.  As the Growth in global primary energy consumption remained low in 2015 and the fuel mix of energy sources shifted towards lower-carbon fuels.

Highlights of the BP Statistical Review

• Global primary energy consumption increased by just 1 percent in 2015, similar to the below-average growth recorded in 2014 (+1.1 percent) and well below its 10-year average of 1.9 percent.

• Oil remained the world’s leading fuel which was accounting for 32.9 percent of global energy consumption. It gained market share for the first time since 1999.

• Although merging economies continued to dominate the growth in global energy consumption, growth in those countries (+1.6 percent) was well below its 10-year average of 3.8 percent.

• Global oil consumption grew by 1.9 million barrels per day (b/d), or 1.9 percent which was nearly double the recent historical average (+1 percent) and significantly stronger than the increase of 1.1 million b/d seen in 2014.

• Natural gas market share of primary energy consumption was 23.8percent.

• Global crude runs rose by 1.8 million b/d (+2.3 percent) which was more than triple their 10-year average growth, although there were declines in South & Central America, Africa and Russia.

• World natural gas consumption grew by 1.7 percent in 2015 which was a significant increase from the very weak growth (+0.6 percent) that was seen in 2014 but still below the 10-year average of 2.3 percent.

• Global nuclear output grew by 1.3 percent with China (+28.9 percent) accounting for virtually all of the increase. China has passed South Korea to become the fourth-largest supplier of nuclear power.

• Renewable energy sources in power generation continued to increase in 2015 that reached 2.8 percent of global energy consumption, up from 0.8 percent a decade ago.

About BP

• BP is one of the world's leading integrated oil and gas companies.

• It provides fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, lubricants to keep engines moving for its customers.

• It also provides the petrochemicals products used to make everyday items as diverse as paints, clothes and packaging.

• Its projects and operations help to generate employment, investment and tax revenues in countries and communities across the world.

• It aims to create value across the hydrocarbon value chain, which starts with exploration and ends with the supply of energy and other products fundamental to everyday life.

MICROSOFT RELEASED MALWARE INFECTION INDEX 2016

Microsoft Asia launched its Malware Infection Index 2016 (MII2016). The index identifies the key malware threats and ranks markets in Asia Pacific.

The index MII2016, revealed Pakistan as the location with the highest malware encounters followed by Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Vietnam respectively. India stands at No. 8 in region.

The findings were based on data from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) and the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report.

Other highlights of the Index

• The Asia region is especially vulnerable with emerging countries most at risk of malware threats where more than 1 billion people are on the Internet and individuals and businesses are increasingly operating in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

• The top three most encountered malware include

Gamarue:

• It is a malicious computer worm that is commonly distributed via exploit kits and social engineering.

• It is particularly prevalent in Southeast Asia and was the third most commonly encountered malware family world in 2H 2015.

Skeeyah and Peals:

• These are trojans that tries to look innocent to convince the users to install them.

• These malware can steal personal information of the user, download more malware, or give a malicious hacker access to user’s Computer.

About Microsoft

Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world.

Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

GOVERNOR OF THE CENTRAL BANK ANNOUNCED THAT HE WOULD NOT SEEK SECOND TERM

  • In a surprise move that sent ripples across the financial sector, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan announced that he would not continue to head the central bank after his term expires on September 4.
  • Mr. Rajan announced his decision to RBI employees via an email which was published on the central bank’s website for ‘wider dissemination’.
  • This is the first time during Dr Rajan’s tenure that his communication to staffers has been made public.
  • Speculation is rife on why Mr. Rajan decided not to continue and communicated his decision two and half months before his term ends.
  • The government’s decision to form a search panel, headed by a cabinet secretary to select financial sector regulators has not gone down well with the RBI governor as the governor’s post is also cabinet secretary rank.
  • In the past, the prime minister and the finance minister have held consultations to select the governor of the central bank.
  • The Finance Ministry’s proposal in last year’s budget to hand over bond market regulation to the SEBI was criticised by Mr. Rajan following which the proposal was rolled back.
  • More recently, Mr Rajan’s comment that India is one eyed king in the land of blind has not gone well with ministers with Nirmala Sitaraman, minister of state for commerce criticised the comments in the media.

HISTORY WAS CREATED WHEN DEFENCE MINISTER PRESENTED ‘WINGS AND BREVETS’ TO 3 WOMEN

  • History was created at the Air Force Academy (AFA) at Dundigal when Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar presented ‘wings and brevets’ to three women — Avani Chaturvedi,BhawanaKanth and Mohana Singh.
  • After commissioning 129 cadets in all at an impressive Combined Graduation Parade in the AFA, including the trio, he said it was the endeavour of the Centre to bring gender parity in the Armed Forces.
  • He would discuss the details with service chiefs before taking any step forward. “Any move towards ushering in gender parity has to be a smooth affair and not a forced operation,” he told press-persons.
  • He described it as a ‘golden day’ and one that should be open up for more women to join the armed forces”.
  • Hoping that more would volunteer for combat duties, he said it was a challenge when it came to having the required women-friendly infrastructure in place.
  • Citing an example, he said the women would need separate hostels and washrooms and a host of related facilities.
  • For now, the government was going ahead with a need-based approach, he said and pointed out that a completely different set of infrastructure was required to be put in place.

DRAFT REPORT ON THE NEW NATIONAL POLICY ON EDUCATION

  • The draft report on the new national policy on education submitted by a panel headed by T.S.R. Subramanian wants reservation for disadvantaged children to be extended to unaided minority schools.
  • While the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, mandates that even private, unaided schools shall provide admission to children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections in admission.
  • But private, unaided minority institutions are exempt from this requirement of 25 percent quota for disadvantaged group.
  • The Supreme Court, in April, 2012, held that the provision did not extend to institutions set by minorities, which are defined as religious and linguistic minorities in India.
  • The panel report says that “it is now important to reconcile the rights of the economically weaker sections with the rights of the minorities under Article 30 (1), particularly when minority institutions appear to clutch at any prop to ensure that their obligations, met by other aided or unaided schools, are circumvented.”
  • The Right to Education Act includes the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes in its definition of “disadvantaged group” and defines a child belonging to “weaker sections” as one whose parent or guardian earns below a minimum level of income specified by the appropriate government.

ROLE OF SAUDI ARABIA IN 9/11 STILL UNCLEAR

  • In February 2004, two U.S. investigators interrogated a man they believed might hold answers to one of the lingering mysteries of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: What role, if any, did officials in Saudi Arabia’s government play in the plot?
  • However, nearly, 15 years after the attacks, the question of a Saudi connection has arisen again amid new calls for the release of a long-classified section of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that discusses a possible Saudi role.
  • At the FBI, the Sept. 11 plot officially remains an open case. While there is broad agreement on how it unfolded, there are aspects of the investigation that remain unresolved.
  • And the mystery begins with the arrival at Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 15, 2000, of two Saudi men who more than year and a half later would be among the hijackers who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
  • That circumstance would make it all the more critical for the FBI, after the attacks, to find out whether the two hijackers received help after reaching Los Angeles.
  • An FBI document from 2012, cited last year by an independent review panel, concluded that al-Thumairy “immediately assigned an individual to take care of al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar during their time in the Los Angeles area”.
  • Whether out of charitable instincts or at someone’s direction, Bayoumi helped the two future hijackers settle in San Diego, in the apartment building where he himself lived.

TWO AMENDMENTS FOR CUT IN THE U.S. AID TO PAKISTAN HAVE BEEN DEFEATED

  • Two legislative amendments seeking a cut in the U.S. aid to Pakistan have been defeated in the House of Representatives with most lawmakers arguing that it is essential to maintain ties with a nuclear armed country.
  • The first amendment moved by Congressman Ted Poe that sought to cut funding to Pakistan from $900 million to $700 million in coalition support fund (CSF) was defeated on the House floor by a recorded vote of 191 to 230.
  • Another amendment moved by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher seeking to prohibit funds from being used to provide aid to Pakistan has been defeated by a recorded vote of 84 to 236.
  • However, majority of the lawmakers did not support Poe and Rohrabacher in cutting aid to Pakistan.

PSLV-C34 TO TAKE HIGHEST NUMBER OF SATELLITES

  • The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34), which will lift off at 9.25 a.m. on June 22 from Sriharikota, is an important mission for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • The vehicle will not only put 20 satellites into the same orbit — the highest number of satellites to be put into orbit by a PSLV — but it will perform two tricky experiments of the same nature.
  • Fifty minutes after the satellites are injected into the orbit from the fourth stage of the vehicle, its engine will be re-ignited for five seconds.
  • The ISRO wants to master this complex manoeuvre so that it can put multiple satellites into different orbits using the same rocket.
  • A forthcoming PSLV launch will put the ISRO’s SCATSAT-1, meant for forecasting weather and cyclone detection, and a foreign satellite in two different orbits.
  • On December 16, 2015, after the PSLV-C29’s fourth stage put six Singapore satellites into the same orbit, the ISRO re-started the fourth-stage engine for four seconds.
  • On June 22, eight minutes after the PSLV-C34 lifts off, the fourth stage engine will sizzle into life, taking the stage to an altitude of 514 km.
  • The fourth stage engine will be cut off 16 minutes and 30 seconds after the lift-off. Over the next 10 minutes, 20 satellites will be injected into the same orbit from the fourth stage, one after another.
  • In 2008, the PSLV-C9 deployed 10 satellites, but in the same orbit.

MINISTRIES TO STUDY ADDING LABOUR RULES IN TRADE TALKS

  • The Labour Ministry will initiate a dialogue with external affairs and commerce ministries to explore the possibility of inserting labour provisions in trade negotiations, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said.
  • This comes on the back ofBharatiyaMazdoor Sangh (BMS) move opposing India’s stand at the recently concluded International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva.
  • He said that adding labour as a condition in trade agreements will become a “trade barrier and impede the growth of the country.”
  • “The net importing country would say that your labour laws are not in conformity with our laws and this will affect our own production and economic growth,”.
  • The issue was taken up at the ILO where India had objected to bringing labour conditions as a part of trade agreements and BMS had issued a statement earlier this week saying their “condemn the stand” taken by the government.
  • The Centre had introduced a system-generated inspection system in 2014 under various labour law Acts wherein inspectors were not allowed to inspect a factory on his own will, unless he receives a complaint or gets an instruction from a Central Analysis and Intelligence Unit.

TATKAL WINDOW FOR PATENTS SET A LIMIT ON APPLICATIONS THAT IT WILL CONSIDER

  • The government, which opened a ‘tatkal’ window to expedite examination of patent applications in the backdrop of 2.37 lakh pending patent applications, has now set a limit on applications that it will consider under the fast-track clearance mechanism.
  • The number of requests for expedited examination to be received by the Patent Office on or before December 31, 2016 has been limited to 1,000 requests.
  • The ‘tatkal’ window was opened after the amendments to the patent rules came into effect from May 16.
  • Under the ‘tatkal’-like system, applicants can opt for the ‘expedited examination’- route on the grounds that they have chosen India as the competent International Searching Authority or International Preliminary Examining Authority in the corresponding international application, and file their applications first in India.
  • The ‘expedited examination’-route is also available to all entities that qualify as a start-up as per the definition for start-up provided in the Patent Rules. The applications for this route have to be filed only electronically.
  • There is a need to have more patent examiners with technical skills because the top ten filers of patent applications belong to the hi-tech category, namely telecom, semi-conductors and consumer electronics.
  • The 'tatkal' window was aimed at popularising India as a patent filing hub to ensure more companies file applications in India.
  • Currently, several applications for the initial examination are filed abroad, in places like Europe, the US or Japan.
  • Under the ‘expedited examination’ route, the fees for individuals and start-ups have been fixed at Rs.8,000, while for small firms it is Rs.25,000 and for large companies, the fee is Rs.60,000.
  • The Centre is aiming to bring down the time period for clearing applications from the present 5-7 years to two-and-a-half years.

INDIA’S TEA OUTPUT MADE NEW RECORD

  • India’s tea output rose three per cent to 1,233.1 million kgs in the last fiscal year — a record for the commodity, according to the Tea Board of India.
  • Tea exports gained 17 per cent by volume and value during this period, according to official statistics. Exports, breached the 230-million-kg mark for the first time since 1980-81, touching 232. 9 million kgs in 2015-16 and valued at Rs.4,493.1 crore.
  • Auction prices of tea rose as did the volume sold through auctions. Bought Leaf Factory sector (which buys teas produced by the small tea growers) increased its share by 5.8 per cent.
  • About 33.9 per cent of total tea production is now coming from small growers.
  • In a statement, the industry regulator said that north Indian tea estates led by Assam were able to increase their output, offsetting the reverses suffered by South India which accounts for a quarter of India’s tea crop.
  • The Tea Board statement said that Russia, Iran, Germany and Pakistan accounted for most of the increase.
  • Russia, India’s single largest market, and one which is showing increased preference for high value teas, bought 22.4 per cent more teas.

INDIA GETS CHAMPIONS TROPHY SILVER MEDAL

  • The Indian hockey team settled for a silver medal in its best ever Champions Trophy performance after the spirited side went down 1-3 to world champion Australia in a controversy-marred summit clash penalty shootout here.
  • Only Harmanpreet Singh was able to score in the shootout, while S.K. Uthappa, S.V. Sunil and Surender Kumar all missed the target. Just four attempts were required from the two teams as Australia had gained a winning 3-1 lead.
  • India thus improved on its bronze medal show in the 1982 edition.
  • There was plenty of drama in the shootout as Beale’s shot was re-taken after he failed to score and sought a video review. The video umpire asked the shot to be taken again, leaving Indian coach RoelantOltmans fuming on the sidelines.
  • At the end of the match, India protested against the second successful attempt awarded to Beale, delaying the final announcement on the result of the match.
  • After discussing the appeal for more than an hour, the jury declared that there was unintentional obstruction on part of Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh in the seventh second thus the re-take of the shot was justified.

 

 

 

 

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