Tuesday, 05 April 2016 03:10


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04-APRIL- 2016



The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) signed a Special Currency Swap Agreement with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Under the arrangement, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka can draw up to 700 million US dollars for a maximum period of three months. This special arrangement is in addition to the existing Framework on Currency Swap Arrangement for the SAARC Member Countries.

The proposal to extend the additional currency swap facility of 700 million US dollars to Sri Lanka for a limited period was decided with concurrence of the Union Government in March 2016 for short-term liquidity management in the context of India’s strong bilateral relations and economic ties with Sri Lanka.


Renowned playback singer P. Susheela Mohan entered the Guinness Book of Records for singing 17695 songs in 12 Indian languages.

On the other hand, Asia Book of Records also officially recognised Susheela for singing most number of songs in Indian languages.

While the Guinness Book of Records officially credited her for singing 17695 songs (solo, duet and chorus backed songs) in twelve Indian languages, Asia Book of Records recognised her for singing 17330 songs.

About P. Susheela Mohan

Pulapaka Susheela Mohan, popularly known as P. Susheela, is an Indian playback singer.

She is associated with the South Indian cinema for over six decades.

She was the first playback singer to receive the first National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1969. She went on to receive the same four more times in 1971, 1978, 1982 and 1983.

She was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in January 2008.

In a career spanning more than six decades, she has recorded numerous songs in various Indian languages including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Sanskrit, Tulu, Badaga.


The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) notified Guidelines for 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Business to Business (B2B) e-commerce.

The guidelines were issued under the Consolidated FDI Policy Circular 2015 that was notified by the DIPP of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Highlights of the guidelines

• E-commerce means buying and selling of goods and services including digital products over digital and electronic network.

• 100 percent FDI under automatic route is permitted in marketplace model of e-commerce.

• FDI is not permitted in inventory based model of e-commerce.

• Marketplace e-commerce entity will be permitted to enter into transactions with sellers registered on its platform on B2B basis.

• E-commerce marketplaces may provide support services to sellers in respect of warehousing, logistics, order fulfillment, call centre, payment collection and other services.

• E-commerce entity providing marketplace will not exercise ownership over the inventory. Such an ownership over the inventory will render the business into inventory based model.

• An e-commerce entity will not permit more than 25 percent of the sales affected through its marketplace from one vendor to their group companies.

Marketplace model vs. Inventory model

• Marketplace based model of e-commerce means providing of an information technology platform by an e-commerce entity on a digital and electronic network to act a facilitator between buyer and seller.

• Inventory based model of e-commerce means e-commerce activity where inventory of goods and services is owned by e-commerce entity and is sold to the consumers directly.

• Indian Scenario: In India, 100 percent FDI under automatic route is permitted in marketplace model, while no FDI is permitted in inventory based model of e-commerce.

• In marketplace model, any warrantee or guarantee of goods and services sold will be responsible of the seller.

• E-commerce entities providing marketplace will not directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods or services and shall remain level playing field.


As per the Consolidated FDI Policy Circular 2015, FDI up to 100 percent under automatic route is permitted in B2B e-commerce, while no FDI is permitted in Business to Consumer (B2C) e-commerce.

Though this consolidated policy was issued in May 2015 and led to large scale foreign investments in this sector there had been considerable vacuum with respect to operational guidelines of e-commerce platforms. This present guidelines fill that critical gap.


Htin Kyaw was sworn-in President of Myanmar at a joint session of parliament in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

With this, Aung San Suu Kyi's close aide Kyaw also became the first elected civilian leader to be the President of the country after 53 years of military rule. Army took power in a 1962 coup.

Htin Kyaw, 69, from the National League for Democracy (NLD) took over from Thein Sein, who introduced wide-ranging reforms during his five years in power.

Although, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the Presidency, she said that she will rule by proxy. The handover completes the transition that began after the NLD won a landslide win in elections in November 2015.

Kyaw was elected as the president of the country by the Myanmar's Parliament on 15 March 2016. Others to sworn-in included Vice-presidents Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe, who lost to Kyaw in the presidential vote on 15 March 2016. They were also sworn in, as were new cabinet ministers. Suu Kyi will be in charge of foreign affairs, the president's office, education, and energy and electric power.

Besides, the military also appointed its own nominees for three key ministries namely defence, home affairs and border affairs.


The Environment Ministry notified Construction & Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 for the first time.

The rules were notified to effectively tackle the issues of pollution and waste management.  The basis of these rules is to recover, recycle and reuse the waste generated through construction and demolition.

Key features of the Construction & Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016:


Applies to everyone who generates construction and demolition waste.

Duties of waste Generators

Every waste generator shall segregate construction and demolition waste and deposit at collection centre or handover it to the authorised processing facilities.

Shall ensure that there is no littering or deposition so as to prevent obstruction to the traffic or the public or drains.

Large generators (who generate more than 20 tons or more in one day or 300 tons per project in a month) shall submit waste management plan and get appropriate approvals from the local authority before starting construction or demolition or remodelling work.

Large generators shall have environment management plan to address the likely environmental issues from construction, demolition, storage, transportation process and disposal / reuse of C & D Waste.

Large generators shall segregate the waste into four streams such as concrete,  soil,  steel, wood and plastics, bricks and mortar.

Large generators shall pay relevant charges for collection, transportation, processing and disposal as notified by the concerned authorities.

Duties of Service providers and Contractors

The service providers shall prepare a comprehensive waste management plan for waste generated within their jurisdiction, within six months from the date of notification of these rules.

Shall remove all construction and demolition waste in consultation with the concerned local authority on their own or through any agency.

Duties of State Government and Local Authorities

The Secretary, UDD in the State Government shall prepare their policy with respect to management of construction and demolition of waste within one year from date of final notification of these rules.

The concerned department in the State Government dealing with land shall provide suitable sites for setting up of the storage, processing and recycling facilities for construction and demolition waste with one-and-a-half years from date of final notification of these rules.

The Town and Country planning Department shall incorporate the site in the approved land use plan so that there is no disturbance to the processing facility on a long term basis.

Shall procure and utilize 10-20% materials made from construction and demolition waste in municipal and Government contracts.

Local Authority (LA) shall place appropriate containers for collection of waste, removal at regular intervals, transportation to appropriate sites for processing and disposal.

LA shall seek detailed plan or undertaking from large generator of construction and demolition waste and sanction the waste management plan.

Seek assistance from concerned authorities for safe disposal of construction and demolition waste contaminated with industrial hazardous or toxic material or nuclear waste if any.

LA shall give appropriate incentives to generator for salvaging, processing and or recycling preferably in-situ.

LA shall establish a data base and update once in a year.

Million plus cities (based on 2011 census of India), LA shall commission the processing and disposal facility within one-and-a-half years from date of final notification of these rules.

0.5 to 1 million cities, LA shall commission the processing and disposal facility within two years from date of final notification of these rules.

For other cities (< 0.5 million populations), LA shall commission the processing and disposal facility within three years from date of final notification of these rules.

Duties of Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee

The Central Pollution Control Board shall prepare operational guidelines related to environmental management of construction and demolition waste.

State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) shall grant authorization to construction and demolition waste processing facility.

Monitor the implementation of these rules by the concerned local bodies.

Submit annual report to the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Government.

Standards for products of construction and demolition waste

The Bureau of Indian Standards needs to prepare code of practices and standards for products of construction and demolition waste.

Indian Roads Congress needs to prepare standards and practices pertaining to products of construction and demolition waste in roads construction.

Duties of Central Ministries

The Ministry of Urban Development, and the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Panchayat Raj, shall facilitate local bodies in compliance of these rules.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change shall review implementation of these rules as and when required.

Facility for processing / recycling facility

The operator of the facility shall obtain authorization from State Pollution Control Board or Pollution Control Committee.

The processing / recycling site shall be away from habitation clusters, forest areas, water bodies, monuments, National Parks, Wetlands and places of important cultural, historical or religious interest.

The processing/recycling facility exceeding five tons per day capacity, shall maintain a buffer zone of no development around the facility.


The Government of Russia approved a deal for ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) to acquire 15 percent stake in Vankor oilfield from Rosneft.

The deal is worth 1.3 billion US dollars. It was signed between the OVL and Rosneft in September 2015.

This deal is in addition to another deal that was signed between the OVL and three other oil companies in March 2016.

As per the deal, OVL’s stake in Vankor will raise to 26 per cent from 15 per cent, while the other three companies could together pick up 23.9 per cent. Consequently, Rosneft will retain the remaining 50.1 per cent.

Both these deals will help India secure access to lucrative Russia's oil market, while Rosneft will gain access to the Indian market.

About Vankor oilfield

• It is located in Russia’s east Siberia and consists of 500 mn tonnes of oil and 182 bn cubic meters of gas.

• It started commercial production in 2009 and, at present, produces 440000 barrels of oil per day.

• The field, which was discovered in 1988, is the largest field in Russia and key provider of volumes to the East Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) Pipeline that fulfills the energy needs of China.


Union Minister for Minority Affairs Najma Heptulla launched innovative entrepreneurship and skill development programme of Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS)through leading national and international experts in different skill sets.

The innovative Scheme proposes to use leading celebrities who belong to Minority communities in various skill sets as the driving force behind the skill development projects in their respective fields.

It is for the benefit of marginalised sections of minority communities.

Who are these celebrities?

The Celebrities are icons for youths all over the country and are well known public figures, who are recognized by their name, face and their associated trades/skill sets.

They could motivate young population to excel in the chosen field of trade/expertise.

Most of them are, more than eager to repay their respective communities by using their expertise and stature in their respective fields, for the benefit of marginalised sections of their communities and also for the society at large, by supporting the cause of skill development/up-gradation in their own areas of expertise.

This is based upon the feedback received from the interaction with several leading personalities and icons in different skill sets, mainly, in Beauty and Wellness Sector, Textile & Fashion Designing, Media & Entertainment etc. like Javed Habib Akter, Shahnaz Hussain, Wendell Rodricks, Kamal Haasan and many more personalities.

About Maulana Azad National academy for Skills (MANAS)

It was established under the aegis of Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA) by National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) on 11 November, 2014 to fulfil the vision of Skill India and also achieve the over-riding goal of the Union Government SabkaSaath – SabkaVikas.

It provides an institutional arrangement to meet all Skill Development or Up-gradation needs of the Minority communities in India. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), it comprises of an extensive All India Level, Training Framework based on Collaboration (PPP mode) with leading and reputed Training Providers at National/ International level, in India.


China launched its 22nd satellite for its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). The satellite was launched aboard a Long March-3A carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The BeiDou system will be completed in 2020 and will comprise over 30 satellites.

It was the 225th launch of the Long March carrier rocket.

BeiDou currently provides navigation services within China and the neighboring regions. After entering its designated work orbit and finishing in-orbit testing, it will join others available in the orbit.

After completion, the project would become an equivalent of the US Global Positioning System, Russia's Glonass, and Europe's Galileo navigation satellites.


The Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar launched Project Salamati in Chandigarh. The project seeks to maintain a healthy balance between the births of children by using injectable contraceptive.

With this launch, Haryana became the first State in the country to launch injectable contraceptive as part of a government initiative.

Highlights of Project Salamati

• It is a public sector family planning programme implemented by the Haryana Health Department with the assistance of Pathfinder International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

• Under this initiative, injectable contraceptive will be provided free of cost at all Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres, Sub Divisional and District Hospitals.

• It seeks to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes among women of reproductive age with a special focus on young women between 15 and 24 years of age.

• Its objective is to increase demand for and access to quality service provision of family planning mix methods.

• It will be implemented on a pilot basis in 9 health blocks of four districts of the State. The 9 blocks are - 4 health blocks in district Palwal, 3 in Mewat, Kurali block in Faridabad and Khor block in district Rewari.

• These districts have been chosen as a pilot project, as Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) are high in these districts compared to other districts.

• After the success of this project in these health blocks, it would be implemented throughout the State.


The Indian Institute of Technology Patna (IIT-P) organised the First International Symposium on Fifth Generation (5G) technology. The symposium commenced in Patna.

The Patna 5G Summit is co-sponsored by IEEE Communications Society, Center for TeleInfrastruktur, Aalborg University (CTIF), Global ICT Standardization Forum for India (GISFI) and IEEE Kolkata Section.

The aim of the symposium is to bring academia, industry, government organizations etc. to participate and share their research intuition and views over the possible 5G technologies, standardization aspects, heterogeneous networks, architectural designs, wireless techniques and new hardware designs.

During the symposium, Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that IIT-P along with IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore will be a part of innovation and research for 5G technology in India.

Besides, the Union Government also allocated 36 crore rupees for innovation and research in 5G.

About 5G

5G denotes the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards. 5G has speeds beyond what the current 4G can offer.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in June 2015 had defined the speed of 5G standard for mobile networking as 20 Gigabits per second (Gbps).


  • Four authors and a translator from India are in the running for the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which has shortlisted 26 “fresh and unexpected” stories by writers from 11 countries.
  • Currently in its 5th year, the prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English.
  • Short stories that are translated into English from other languages are eligible too.
  • The stories by the 4 shortlisted Indian writers include ‘Cow and Company’ by Parashar Kulkarni, ‘Dirty White Strings’ by Kritika Pandey, ‘Girdhar’s Mansion’ by Sumit Ray and ‘Instant Karma’ by Vinayak Varma.
  • Additionally, noted Indian translator Arunava Sinha is shortlisted for his translation of Bangladeshi writer Sumon Rahman’s short story ‘NiroporadhGhum’ (Innocent Sleep).
  • Each year, five winning writers from five different Commonwealth regions are selected..
  • Regional winners who will be announced on May 4 will receive £2,500 and the overall winner, to be announced in September, will receive prize money of £5,000.


  • One in five adults could be obese by 2025, said a major survey that warned of a looming epidemic of “severe obesity” with significant health and economic costs.
  • The ratio of obese adults has more than doubled in the 40 years since 1975, and will climb further in the coming nine, the research showed.
  • It used data from 1,698 studies involving 19.2 million adults from 186 countries which are home to 99 per cent of the world’s population. Children were excluded.
  • Of about 5 billion adults alive in 2014, 641 million were obese, it found. The figure was set to exceed 1.1 billion by 2025.
  • Obesity and especially severe and morbid obesity, affect many organs and physiological processes.We can deal with some of these, like higher cholesterol or blood pressure, through medicines. But for many others, including diabetes, we don’t have effective treatment.
  • People are divided into healthy or unhealthy weight categories based on a universally-adopted measure dubbed Body Mass Index (BMI) — a ratio of weight-to-height squared.A healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9.
  • One is considered underweight below 18.5, overweight from 25 up, and obese from 30 — when the risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease and some cancers escalates massively.
  • With a BMI of 35 one is categorised as severely obese, and from 40 upward as morbidly so.
  • Among men globally, obesity tripled from 3.2 per cent of the population in 1975 to 10.8 per cent in 2014 (some 266 million), and among women it rose from 6.4 per cent to 14.9 per cent (375 million), said the survey — 12.9 per cent combined.
  • The ratio of underweight people in the world declined at a slower rate than obesity grew, said the authors — from about 13.8 per cent in 1975 to 8.8 per cent for men, and 14.6 per cent to 9.7 per cent for women.
  • At current rates, more women will be severely obese (a BMI of 35 or more) than underweight by 2025, and world will miss its stated target of halting obesity at 2010 levels.
  • Nearly a fifth of world’s obese adults (118 million) lived in six high-income countries — the U.S., Britain, Ireland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
  • The U.S. was home to one in four severely obese men and almost one in five severely obese women in the world.
  • At the other extreme, Timor-Leste, Ethiopia and Eritrea had the lowest BMI numbers in the world, with averages as low as 20.1.
  • More than a fifth of men in India, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, and a quarter of women in Bangladesh and India, were underweight.


  • A day after an incomplete flyover collapsed in Kolkata killing at least 23 people, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari asked the National Highways Authority of India to submit a status report on all under-construction bridges in the country and ensure that safety measures are in place for all highway projects.
  • Govt is issuing instructions and Minister has also issued instructions to all our project directors and regional officers to be vigilant and ensure safety measures are taken and that no neglect takes place.
  • Government is not immediately reviewing contracts of IVRCL, however they are saying if something like this happens it spoils entities reputation.


  • Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan, a Central government’s campaign to strengthen Panchayati Raj in villages and ensure social harmony, empowerment of women and uplift of farmers will be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • This will be launched atMhow in Madhya Pradesh in April, on the occasion of 125th Birth anniversary of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar.
  • Rural Development Minister Birender Singh told that the campaign would be held all over the country from April 14 to 24.
  • The campaign will be run jointly by Union Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Agriculture, Social Justice, Labour and Information and Broadcasting Ministries along with States and will culminate on April 24 on the Panchayati Raj Day with the Prime Minister addressing villagers in Jamshedpur.


  • Meteorologists have said that an average rise of 1 degree Celsius in summer temperatures — as predicted by the IMD over most of India would mean more days of extreme heat as well as a higher likelihood of heat waves compared to last year.
  • The Indian Meteorology Department (IMD) defines a heatwave as an excess of five to six degrees C over the maximum daily temperature (over a 30-year period) of less than 40 degree C or an excess of four to five deg. C over a normal historical maximum temperature of over 40 degree C.
  • The IMD declares a heat wave when the actual maximum temperature is above 45 degree C.
  • More heatwaves could mean a greater public health concern. Last year, heat waves killed over 1,500 in Andhra Pradesh alone.
  • This year the IMD will be issuing a summer fortnightly forecast about the likelihood of heatwaves across the country.
  • The Met Department stated that the summer months of 2016 would be warmer than normal across all meteorological sub-divisions of the country and above-normal, heat wave (HW) conditions are very likely over central and northwest India during the period.
  • India experienced significantly above normal temperatures during January and February of this year with monthly anomalies of 1.5 deg. C and 2 deg. C, when compared to the thirty-year average of 1961-90.
  • Moreover, 2015 was the third warmest year ever recorded since 1901.
  • All the temperatures (maximum, minimum and mean) of most of the sub-divisions from northwest India, Kerala from south India and Vidharbha from Central India are likely to be above 1 deg. C.
  • The IMD concurs that the frequency and duration of heat waves over the country are increasing and attributes it to increasing greenhouse gases due to anthropogenic activity and the El Niño.


  • Global terrorism has evolved over time and terrorists are now using modern technology and devices while the national and international efforts to counter them have become outdated, PM Narendra Modi told a gathering at the White House.
  • This is the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), an initiative of Mr. Obama to coordinate international efforts to prevent acts of nuclear terrorism.
  • Leaders from over 50 countries and four international organisations were scheduled to discuss the topic on Friday in more detail.
  • Making his brief intervention at the dinner, the PM thanked Mr. Obama for putting the “spotlight on nuclear security.” “President Obama has done great service to global security,” Mr. Modi said.
  • Mr. Modi said: “The recent terror strikes in Brussels showed the world how real and immediate the threat to nuclear security from terrorism was.”
  • The Prime Minister identified three “contemporary features of terrorism.” “First, today's terrorism uses extreme violence as theatre.
  • Second, we are no longer looking for a man in a cave, but we are hunting for a terrorist in a city with a computer or a smart phone.
  • Third, State actors working with nuclear traffickers and terrorists present the greatest risk.
  • The Prime Minister said without prevention and prosecution of acts of terrorism there could be no deterrence against nuclear terrorism.
  • Drop the notion that terrorism is someone else’s problem and that “his” terrorist is not “my” terrorist,” the PM said.


  • U.S. President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of China said that they would sign the Paris Agreement on climate change on April 22, the first day the UN accord will be open for government signatures.
  • It is a statement of joint resolve by the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters, even though there are doubts about whether the U.S. can meet its obligations under the agreement.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked an Obama administration regulation to curb greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, the centrepiece of Mr. Obama’s climate change policy.
  • Mr. Xi, said: “As the two biggest economies, China and the U.S. have a responsibility to work together.”
  • The Paris Agreement, reached in December, is the first global accord to commit nearly every nation to take domestic actions to tackle climate change.
  • To promote the accord, Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, planned the signing ceremony for April 22, Earth Day, although world leaders will have a year afterward to sign.
  • The Paris Agreement will enter into legal force only when enough countries have signed on: together they have to be responsible for causing 55 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Combined, the U.S. and China account for about 40 per cent of global emissions.
  • In the U.S., enactment of Mr. Obama’s climate change commitments under the Paris deal will ultimately fall to the next President.
  • But that fact also worries some climate diplomats as they watch the 2016 presidential campaign from afar.
  • Although the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, has pledged to enact and strengthen the Paris Agreement, on the Republican side, both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have questioned or denied the science of human-caused climate change.


  • China sidestepped a direct response to queries about its alleged role in blocking sanctions at the UN against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief, Masood Azhar, who is accused by India of plotting the January attack on the Pathankot air force base.
  • Earlier, media reports had said China requested the UN Committee, which was considering a ban on Azhar, to hold the decision of listing the JEM chief under the al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, hours before the inclusion deadline expired.
  • China had apparently taken the decision in “consultation” with Pakistan.
  • The 1267 Committee, also known as the al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, is one of three Security Council committees dealing with counter-terrorism.
  • Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs KirenRijiju warned that the government would take appropriate action in view of China’s move.
  • “What China has done [in the UN] was not good. The Ministry of External Affairs will take an appropriate action. Whatever action is required, we will take it,” he said.
  • India has accused Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Asghar Rauf of being directly linked to the attack, planned at the JeM’s Bahawalpur headquarters. It has sought the voice samples of the brothers from Pakistan.


  • A day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in Saudi Arabia for his first visit, the Gulf kingdom and the U.S announced joint action against two groups and four individuals for promoting terrorism.
  • These groups and individuals are suspected of supporting the al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Lashar-e-Taiba that targets India have been put under sanctions.
  • Entities and individuals in the U.S and Saudi Arabia are barred from dealing with them.
  • Abdul Aziz Nuristani and the Jamia Asariya Madrassa that he runs in Peshawar, Pakistan; Naveed Qamar, an LeT operative and Muhammad IjazSafarash, also an LeT operative who has been active in fund-raising in Saudi Arabia are the others sanctioned.


  • A woman has died of Ebola in Liberia, months afterthe West African nation was declared free of the virus and weeks after neighbouring Guinea also recorded a new flare-up.
  • More than 11,300 people have died over the past two years in the world’s worst Ebola epidemic, nearly all of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • Liberia was declared free of active Ebola transmission in January, having passed 42 days, twice the length of the virus's incubation period without a new case.
  • While the World Health Organisation said this week that West Africa’s Ebola out- break no longer constitutes an international public health risk, the region has continued to see small flare-ups even after countries received the all-clear.
  • Guinea announced new cases on March 17 just hours after Sierra Leone declared an end of active transmission, a fact that briefly meant that West Africa was oicially free of Ebola.
  • Liberia subsequently closed its border with Guinea its northern neighbour, fear- ing the potential spread of the outbreak.


  • Even as the Bill to amend the land acquisition law remains stuck with a parliamentary committee, the NITI Aayog is all set to propose a Model Act for freeing up of farm land through leasing.
  • The Act is meant for States that plan to legalise farm land leasing. State governments are expected to improvise it to suit the local socio-political requirements.
  • Attestation of the lease is proposed to be done at the level of the sarpanch, local bank official or notary.
  • The Model Act proposes that farmers and farmer groups be allowed to lease out land. The definition of ‘farm land’ is proposed to be broadened to include food processing.
  • The Model Act proposes quicker litigation process in case of disputes, by suggesti- ng recourse through criminal proceedings and special tri- bunal, the source said.
  • At present, only land owners can avail of crop insurance schemes or loans. Also, disaster relief in case of drought and crop damage is provided only to the owners and not cultivators.
  • The Model Act will enable share croppers to receive such benefits and relief. “Lessee cultivators could raise crop loans on the basis of expected produce.
  • The Model Act is being finalised by an expert commit- tee which NITI Aayog Vice- Chairman Arvind Panagariya had set up in September 2015 under former Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) chairman T. Haque.


  • The government will utilise the upcoming Global Exhibition on Services (GES) to garner support for India's proposal for a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on Services that it wants to be taken up for negotiations at the (WTO)-level.
  • The second (annual) edition of GES is slated for April 21-23 to boost trade and foreign direct investment in the services sector and will be held at Greater Noida in the national capital region.
  • The GES will also see discussions on another important area of India's interest — regarding elimination of curbs on temporary movement of professionals and relaxation of labour mobility norms across the world.
  • The TFA on Services was proposed by India along the lines of the WTO's TFA on Goods (aimed at easing customs rules to expedite global trade flows in the merchandise sector).
  • However, so far India's proposal for a TFA in Services has found few takers at the multilateral level, the sources said.
  • India had recently dragged the U.S. to the WTO over the Obama ad- ministration's move to hike fees for H1B and L1 visas — temporary work visas for skilled professionals.
  • Being the largest user of these visas, India feels America’s decision is discriminatory because it will mainly impact Indian tech firms.
  • India is also taking up with the U.K. its concerns over the recent restrictions in the British immigration law that is likely to hurt professionals including from India.
  • In a statement to promote the GES, Govt said: “Removal of restriction on temporary movement of professionals and easing labour mobility could constitute major step towards facilitation of international trade in services leading to global growth, employment and prosperity.
  • The GES focus sectors, among others include banking and financial services, education and environmental services.


  • India hopes to receive one of the first loans issued by the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) later this year, as it looks to raise $500 million for solar power projects from the newly created lender.
  • Funding for clean energy projects would allay fears of environmental lobbyists that the bank’s relaxed lending criteria could promote dirty fuels like coal in developing economies, like India, that are in a hurry to ramp up energy output.
  • The multilateral investment bank, which has authorised capital of $100 billion, plans to join global clean-energy initiatives, and could fund eco-friendly investment projects to avoid allegations of promoting pollution.
  • India, the bank’s second biggest shareholder after China, is looking to borrow from the AIIB, to back Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan of expanding installed solar capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2022.
  • Interest on the loan is likely to be 2-2.5 per cent and would be linked to LIBOR — a floating benchmark based on the rate at which commercial banks lend to each other — for a term of over 15 years.
  • The AIIB, which is head- quartered in Beijing and was launched in January, did not comment directly on borrowing by India but said it was developing a project pipeline in a number of countries.





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Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 April 2016 03:33