Home Daily Updates IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 29 - MAY - 2016
IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 29 - MAY - 2016
Monday, 30 May 2016 08:00

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DAILY NEWS UPDATES

29 - MAY - 2016

 

UNION GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES EPACE, INFRACON AND UP-SCALED INAM PRO FOR ROAD TRANSPORT SECTOR

Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari launched three initiatives for best practices in road transport sector. These three innovative IT initiatives are: INFRACON, ePACE and up-Scaled INAM PRO.

These initiatives are aimed at making the road building procedure faster, more transparent and more efficient.

These innovative IT initiatives are developed in house by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL).

Key points of these initiatives

ePACE: It stands for Projects Appraisal & Continuing Enhancements and it is an online integrated Management  Information System.

•    It brings projects from all wings of the Ministry under a common platform,  ensuring  their effective and real time tracking.

•    More than 2000 projects being executed by multiple agencies are currently listed on the portal.

•    The portal can be freely accessed by anybody, and information regarding projects in any particular state can be found at the click of a button.

•    The portal also allows for validation checks to prevent wrongful entries, making it difficult to fudge figures.

•    It has provision to obtain reports in multiple formats with graphical interface for round the clock monitoring.

•    It has also been provided with GIS interface to enable easy geo-tracking of the projects.

•    The architecture of the application is scalable and customizable.

•    ePACE as a platform is amenable to be used for monitoring projects pertaining to any ministry in the country and can improve governance of such projects.

INFRACON: It is the National Portal for Infrastructure Consultancy Firms and Key Personnel.

•    It acts as a kind of bridge between consultancy firms working in the road engineering and construction sector and domain experts and key personnel

•    It has linkages to Aadhar and Digi-locker for data validation and purity.

•    474 consultancy firms and 2387 key personnel under various categories are already registered with the portal.

•    It will lead to a significant reduction of  paper work  during bid submissions and also brings in a lot of transparency and speed since the evaluation of technical bids can be done at the click of a button.

INAM PRO: It has been developed as a web-based application (www.inampro.nic.in) for Infrastructure and Material Providers.

•    It is a kind of a web based market place that brings together the material providers and the prospective buyers on a common platform.

•    It was launched in March 2015 to facilitate contractors and cement buyers engaged in executing projects in road transport sector to place cement orders online with the registered cement companies.

•    With the help of INAM Pro, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is able to track and monitor the activities of buyers and suppliers, and remove impediments of both the parties

•    Given the success of INAM-PRO, other materials like steel and steel slag have also been brought on this platform so as to make this as a comprehensive e-market place for infrastructure providers.

Besides, these Nitin Gadkari also released the IT Task Force Report, which has suggested many innovative ways in which IT can be used to make the working of the transport sector more efficient and transparent.

SOUTH KOREAN AUTHOR HAN KANG WINS 2016 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR 'THE VEGETARIAN'

South Korean author, Han Kang, won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for her novel 'The Vegetarian'.

The prize ceremony was held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London Han is the first South Korean to win the prize. The writer and her British translator will share the 72000 Dollar prize money. The book was translated by Deborah Smith.

About the novel 'The Vegetarian'

• The novel tells a story of a wife who decides to become a vegetarian.

• Her decision provokes cruelty from her husband and her father.

• She also faces obsession from her sister’s husband, as the woman, Yeong-hye, dreams obsessively about becoming a tree.

Han Kang

• Han Kang was born in Gwangju, South Korea, and moved to Seoul at the age of ten.

• She studied Korean literature at Yonsei University.

• Her writing has won the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today's Young Artist Award, and the Korean Literature Novel Award.

• The Vegetarian, her first novel to be translated into English, was published by Portobello Books in 2015.

• Human Acts was published by Portobello books in 2016.

• She currently teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.

The novel was picked unanimously by the panel of five judges, beating six other novels including "The Story of the Lost Child" by Italian sensation Elena Ferrante and "A Strangeness in My Mind" by Turkey's Orhan Pamuk.

Judging panel chairman Boyd Tonkin said Han Kang's work was unforgettably powerful and original.

Survey commissioned by the Man Booker International prize in first week of May 2016 found that translated literary fiction is selling better on average in the UK than literary fiction originally written in English.

The Man Booker Prize

• The Man Booker Prize was established in 1969.

• The Man Booker Prize is the leading literary award in the English speaking world.

• The winner receives 50000 pound as well as the 2500 pound awarded to each of the shortlisted authors.

• Both the winner and the shortlisted authors are guaranteed a worldwide readership plus an increase in book sales.

• It has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction for over four decades.

WOMEN ARCHERS DEEPIKA, BOMBAYLA, LAXMIRANI NAMED FOR 2016 RIO OLYMPICS

A three-member Indian women's archery team comprising Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi and Laxmirani Majhi was named for the Rio Olympics.

The women's trio will compete in the individual events as well as team event at the Rio Games in August 2016.

India's women archers earned three individual berths and a team quota by virtue of the team's performance at the World Championships in Copenhagen in 2015.

Process of selection for Rio Olympics

• Archery Association of India (AAI) selected Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi and Laxmirani Majhi to represent India in the games.

• During a series of selection trails, they underwent rigorous six stages of selection trials and training.

• The selection process was started in January 2016 in Jamshedpur, then at Delhi and finally in Bengaluru.

Apart from this, the AAI also announced a three-member men’s team consisting Jayanta Talukdar, Atanu Das, Mangal Singh Champia for the third stage World Cup in Antalya, Turkey, to be held from 12 June to 19 June 2016. This selection was done in order to have a shot at Olympic berths. India has earned one individual spot for the Olympics in men's archery during the World Championships in 2015.

INDIA, US HELD FIRST MARITIME SECURITY DIALOGUE

India and the United States (US) held the first round of discussions under the recently-constituted Maritime Security Dialogue. The dialogue was held between the officials of Defence and External Affairs ministries and their US counterparts.

The Indian side was represented by Shambhu Kumaran, Joint Secretary in-charge of Planning and International Cooperation (PIC) and Munu Mahawar, Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary, Americas (AMS).

While, David Shear, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs; Manpreet Anand, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Vice Admiral Aucoin, Commander, US Seventh Fleet, were the officials from the American side.

Highlights of the Maritime Security Dialogue

• Both the sides discussed various issues including Asia-Pacific maritime challenges, naval cooperation, and multilateral engagement.

• They also agreed for the white shipping technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic.

• Navy-to-Navy discussion on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare was also undertaken.

When was the Dialogue constituted?

• The dialogue was one of the several new initiatives agreed between Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his US counterpart Ashton Carter during the latter’s visit to India in April 2016.

• It was created as a part of the maritime security objectives under the India-US Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.

Comment
The newly constituted Maritime Security Dialogue between India and US is a sign of the growing relations between our two countries.

The dialogue comes as India and the US are cautiously eyeing the rise of China. The US wants its regional allies to adopt a more united stance against China over the South China Sea, where tension has spiked since China's construction of artificial islands with facilities for military use.

Even though US wants it, India had flatly refused to conduct joint naval patrols in areas including the South China Sea where Beijing has maritime disputes with several neighbours.

5 INDIANS POSTHUMOUSLY AWARDED WITH DAG HAMMARSKJOLD MEDAL OF UN

The United Nations announced that four Indian peacekeepers and a civilian will be honoured along with other 124 personnel with a prestigious U.N. medal.

Head Constable Shubhkaran YadavRifleman Manish Malik,Havildar Amal DekaNaik Rakesh Kumar and Gagan Punjabi will be honoured with the Dag Hammarskjold Medal awarded posthumously.

The 124 personnel will be honoured on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The day, observed annually on 29 May, will be commemorated this year on 19 May.

About Head Constable Shubhkaran Yadav

Head Constable Shubhkaran Yadav served in the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

He made the supreme sacrifice in April 2015.

About Rifleman Manish Malik

Rifleman Manish Malik also served in the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He died in August 2015 during the mission.

About Havildar Amal Deka

Havildar Amal Deka served in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

He died in June 2015.

About Naik Rakesh Kumar

Naik Rakesh Kumar served in the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

He died in January 2015.

About Gagan Punjabi

Gagan Punjabi was serving in MONUSCO in a civilian capacity under the U.N. Volunteers programme and died in an incident in January 2015.

About Dag Hammarskjöld Medal

The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a posthumous award given by the United Nations to military personnel, police or civilians who lose their lives while serving in a UN peacekeeping operation.

The medal is named after Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations. Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash in September 1961.

On 22 July 1997, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1121, in which it established the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal.

The first medals were awarded in October 1998.

WORLD BANK APPROVED 625 MILLION US DOLLARS SUPPORT FOR ROOFTOP SOLAR PROGRAM IN INDIA

The World Bank Board approved a 625 million US dollars loan to support the India’s program to generate electricity from widespread installation of rooftop solar photo-voltaic (PV).

The Board also approved a co-financing loan of 120 million US dollars on concessional terms and a 5 million US dollars grant from Climate Investment Fund’s (CIF) Clean Technology Fund.

Highlights of IBRD-CIF loan of World Bank

• This IBRD-CIF loan has been designed to tackle a number of these barriers.

• It will support a number of solar PV business models, to expand the reach of rooftop PV systems to a variety of customer groups.

• The loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 19.5 year grace period, and a maturity of 20 years.

• Loan from CIF’s Clean Technology Fund has a 10 year grace period and a maturity of 40 years.

Highlights of India's Rooftop Solar Project

• The project will finance the installation of at least 400 MW of Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic (GRPV) across India.

• The solar PV installations will provide clean, renewable energy and  will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing thermal generation.

• The project will be implemented by the State Bank of India (SBI). SBI will on-lend funds to solar PV developers/aggregators and end-users.

• Financing will be provided to those with sound technical capacity, relevant experience and creditworthiness as per SBI standards.

Why there is the need of Rooftop Solar PV systems in India?

Frequent energy shortages and high cost of backup supply in India are the reasons behind the need of rooftop solar PV systems.

Until now, those who wanted to install solar rooftop PV systems had to pay the full cost up-front. Aided by government policy and declining costs, rooftop solar has the potential to transform the energy sector. The overall potential demand for rooftop solar is estimated at about 124000 MW.

Position of Electricity grid of India

• India is one of the lowest per capita consumers of electricity in the world.

• Over 200 million people remain unconnected to the electricity grid, and those who are, they continue to face frequent disruptions.

• Power shortages also affect industrial output with many industries and manufacturers relying on expensive and polluting diesel-based back-up power supplies.

ONE OF THE STRONGEST EL NIÑO IN THE HISTORY ENDED

  • Australia’s weather bureau said the withering El Nino — among the strongest in history and responsible for two years of consecutive droughts and record summer temperatures in India — had ended.
  • While that bodes well for the monsoon, weather officials in India said this could also be a precursor to floods during August and September and monsoon possibly spilling over to October.
  • The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday that there was “…little chance of [sea surface temperatures] returning to El Niño levels, in which case mid-May will mark the end of the 2015–16 El Niño.”
  • Typically, an El Nino — marked by above-average temperatures in the Pacific — that begins to cool is followed by a neutral phase before transitioning into La Nina.

ASSOCHAM STUDY SAYS INDIA DISCARDS 18.5 LAKH TONES OF E-WASTE ANNUALLY

  • India, which has emerged as the world’s second largest mobile market, is also the fifth largest producer of e-waste, discarding roughly 18.5 lakh tonnes of electronic waste each year, a study says.
  • Telecom equipment alone accounts for 12 per cent of the e-waste, a joint study by Assocham-KPMG said.
  • The rising levels of e-waste generation in India have been a matter of concern in recent years. With more than 100 crore mobile phones in circulation, nearly 25 per cent end up in e-waste annually, it said.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified e-waste management rules, 2016, in which producers are for the first time covered under extended producers’ responsibility (EPR).
  • The rules prescribe a waste collection target of 30 per cent waste generated under EPR for the first two years, progressively going up to 70 per cent in the seventh year of the rule.
  • The rules prescribe stringent financial penalties for non-compliance. However, the study said the unorganised sector in India is estimated to handle around 95 per cent of the e-waste produced in the country.
  • Given the huge user base and vast reach of telecom in India, it is practically difficult and expensive for the handset manufacturers to achieve the targets prescribed in the rules from first year, the study said.

GOVT DOES NOT AGREE WITH SC’S ESTIMATE ABOUT JUDGES VACANCY

  • Union Law & Justice Ministersaid observations in the Law Commission report, on the basis of which Chief Justice of India Tirath Singh Thakur had said that 40,000 judges were needed in 1987, were not based on scientific data.
  • In an emotional appeal to the government to increase number of judges, the Chief Justice of India referred to the report stating it had recommended 40,000 judges in the country to tide over the problem of pendency.
  • The report said there were only 10 judges to a million when there should be at least 50 judges per 10-lakh population.
  • Mr. Gowda said the Law Commission observations relied upon expert opinions. “In the report itself they said that this has to be calculated on the basis of scientific data. But no scientific data was available.
  • Even in the Imtiaz Hussain case, the Supreme Court asked the Law Commission to once again look into the matter. They once again said it may not be possible unless we get the scientific data.
  • Mr. Gowda said the Ministry is yet to receive the Supreme Court Collegium’s comments on the revised memorandum of procedure.
  • Stating that the government had expedited the process of judicial appointments, the Minister said 86 additional judges were made permanent and 51 new judges had been appointed.
  • “Appointment of another 170 judges in the higher judiciary is being processed. Judges’ sanctioned strength in the High Courts has been increased from 906 in June 2014 to 1,065 in April 2016. In the case of district/subordinate courts, the sanctioned strength has been increased from 17,715 in 2012 to 20,502 in 2015, he said.
  • On “ease of doing business”, the Minister said the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division, and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act (2015) was enacted by Parliament to ensure speedy and fair disposal of commercial disputes.
  • Also, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act has been amended. This Bill was pending before the government since 2003.

MODI TO ADDRESS JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS IN US

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s busy day on Capitol Hill on June 8 will underscore the significance the U.S. legislature has acquired in promoting ties between the two countries.
  • The Obama administration has to balance its policies to accommodate Pakistan, but the Congress has no such ambivalence. A series of legislative measures in the recent past demonstrates the bipartisan consensus in India’s favour.
  • Mr. Modi will spend almost the entire day on the Capitol. Speaker will host him for an interaction with Congressional leaders in the morning; then there will be the address to the joint session of Congress, followed by a lunch.
  • Unlike in the past, when the India Caucus hosted the Prime Ministers for Capitol Hill receptions, this time the U.S. Congress and its various committees host the entire series of events.
  • The other recent Congressional initiatives that favour India include a Bill encouraging the administration to help India join the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, one restricting U.S. military aid to Pakistan and another one that blocked U.S. funding for a proposed sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan.
  • Unlike in India, U.S. foreign policy decisions made by the executive are subject to approval by the legislature.
  • U.S. lawmakers are, however, increasingly impatient with India on one count: trade liberalisation.
  • The lawmakers have also raised concerns over the reported incidents of intolerance in India. In February, six Senators and 26 Representatives wrote to Prime Minister, asking him to condemn religious violence.

PRESIDENT BEGINS HIS CHINESE VISIT

  • President Pranab Mukherjee was given a rousing welcome by Chinese officials as he landed in Beijing on the second of a four-day visit to China.
  • Speaking at a reception in Beijing presided over by Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchan, the President emphasised cultural and people-to-people links as key to expanding relations between the two countries.
  • Mr. Mukherjee harked back to the past to refer to strong cultural linkages between India and China, including the exchange of knowledge to set the context for the present.
  • Arguing that Indians and Chinese today “rely on borrowed prisms and secondary sources to understand each other”, he emphasised the need for direct exchanges between the civil societies.
  • Mr. Li said that both India and China were engaged in the projects of national rejuvenation and domestic reform. China had increased its investment and participation in railway projects and industrial parks in India, he said.
  • Mr. Mukherjee wrapped up his visit to Guangzhou, by inviting Chinese investors to expand their foreign direct investment in India and to leverage the various flagship initiatives launched by the Indian government such as Make in India, Digital India and the Smart City projects.
  • While the trade deficit between the two countries was a concern, “India would like to see a greater market for our products … in IT and IT-related services, pharmaceuticals and drugs and agro-products... in China”, he said.
  • He added that he was confident about greater engagement and enhancement of ties between Guangdong and India.
  • Initiatives such as sister-province relationship, for example between Gujarat and Guangdong which was established in 2014, were also discussed in the meeting.

PAKISTAN CONDEMNS DRONE ATTACK ON PAKISTAN’S SOIL

  • The U.S. drone attack on Pakistan’s soil to kill Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mansour is detrimental to bilateral ties, Pakistan army chief GeneralRaheel Sharif said.
  • Gen. Sharif told this to U.S. Ambassador David Hale who visited the military’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Army said, adding that the situation arising after U.S. drone strike in Balochistan on May 22 came under discussion.
  • While expressing his serious concerns over the said drone strike, the Chief of the Army Staff said such acts of sovereignty violations are detrimental to relations between both countries and are counter-productive for ongoing peace process.
  • It is for the first time that Army has spoken on the issue.

INDIAN INVESTMENT IN CHABAHAR PORT ASSESSED POSITIVELY

  • Two commentaries: one on Xinhua and another in Global Times , assessed positively the Indian investment in the Chabahar port project in Iran.
  • The Global Times commentary strongly objected to the perception that the project “is aimed at countering the [Gwadar sea port project in Pakistan that is part of the] China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”.
  • It argued that the port offers a strategic foothold for India in the “northern Indian Ocean [the Arabian Sea]” and access to Central Asia and this must not be seen as detrimental to Chinese interests in the region.
  • The Xinhua commentary blamed the West for the distorted narrative on the perceived competition between India and China with respect to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports.

CABINET APPROVED THE FIRST-EVER POLICY FOR CAPITAL GOODS SECTOR

  • The Cabinet approved the first-ever policy for the capital goods sector in the country that aims to triple the value of production of these goods to Rs.7.5 lakh crore by 2025 and create more than 21 million jobs.
  • The policy also envisages increasing exports to 40 per cent of production from the present 27 per cent.
  • The share of domestic production in India’s demand will also be increased from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, making India a net exporter of capital goods.
  • This is first ever policy for Capital Goods sector with a clear objective of increasing production of capital goods from Rs.2,30,000 crore in 2014-15 to Rs.7,50,000 crore in 2025.
  • “The policy will help in realising the vision of ‘Building India as the World class hub for Capital Goods’. It will also play a pivotal role in overall manufacturing as the pillar of strength to the vision of ‘Make in India’,’ according to the statement.
  • The objectives of the policy will be met by the Department of Heavy Industry in a time-bound manner through obtaining approval for schemes as per the roadmap of policy interventions.
  • The Union Cabinet also approved financial restructuring of Hindustan Steel Works Construction Limited (HSCL) and its takeover by National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC), which is a PSU under the Ministry of Urban Development.
  • HSCL will become subsidiary of NBCC with the latter holding 51 per cent equity. The shareholding of Government of India in HSCL will be reduced to 49 per cent.
  • As per the proposal, the government’s loan along with accumulated interest and outstanding guarantee fee worth Rs.1,502.2 crore will be converted into equity and equity capital of the company will be raised to that extent.
  • The paid-up equity capital of the company will become Rs.619.3 crore from Rs.117.1 crore at present. After writing off of the accumulated losses, the equity and paid up capital of HSCL will become Rs.34.3 crore.
  • Further, NBCC will infuse funds of Rs.35.7 crore as equity into HSCL. The equity and paid up capital of HSCL will become Rs.70 crore.
  • The Cabinet also approved waiving off of loan Rs.1,916.14 crore and the outstanding interest of Rs.7,163.35 crore on the loan owed by Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Ltd (HFCL) as part of a financial restructuring package for the PSU.
  • The transfer of 56 acres of ash dyke land of Barauni unit to Bihar State Power Generation Company Limited (BSPGCL) to settle dues of HFCL for faster revival of Barauni Unit was also given a nod.
  • The Cabinet also granted ex-post facto approval to the proposal for undertaking cadre review of the Indian Postal Service.
  • It will also reduce the existing stagnation and improve the career prospects of Indian postal service officers.
  • The proposal will be implemented through measures that include creation of various posts at different levels. However, there will be no change in overall number of posts in the cadre.

GOVT TO AUCTION SMALL AND MARGINAL OIL FIELDS

  • The first round of auctions of discovered small and marginal fields will start on July 15 and conclude on October 31, the government said. As many as 67 fields,clubbed into 46 contract areas, will be auctioned.
  • Bids are being invited for developing and monetising these contract areas having an estimated 625 million barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas in-place volumes spread over 1,500 square kilometers in on-land, shallow water and deepwater areas.
  • India is now moving towards a new era of hydrocarbon production, driven by a forward-looking Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) and a new fiscal model based on revenue sharing contracts,” Mr. Pradhan said.
  • The fields, with resources worth Rs.70,000 crore, were surrendered by the ONGC and Oil India after being deemed non-renumerative, he said.
  • In March 2016, the Cabinet approved HELP which replaced the existing New Exploration Licensing Policy and introduced significant reforms in the sector.
  • The main changes made to the previous policy include a uniform policy for the exploration and production of all hydrocarbons, both conventional (oil and gas) and unconventional (shale oil, shale gas and coal bed methane).
  • “The contracts would not allow the production of unconventional hydrocarbons because they were meant only for conventional sources. “The new policy does away with this distinction.”
  • The second major change had to do with the time period of exploration.

 

 

 


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